środa, 9 października 2013

Are we doing things that needs to be done?

Those from you, who use Scrum in their work knows daily stand-up meetings and three famous questions to ask and answer:
  • What did I accomplish yesterday?
  • What will I do today?
  • What obstacles are impeding my progress?

środa, 2 października 2013

Activities without a vision leads nowhere

Recently I had great discussion with one of my friends about vision, goal, an idea or however you will call it. We talked why vision is so important, why we need to know how to verbalize it and why we need to share it.

Last "why" leads me to two questions that I asked:
"Do everyone in your team knows the vision that you want to share?"
"Well, it would be great, but... I don't think so."
"Do you know why it's like this?"
"You know, they've got their own visions, ideas and I let them to have it. Thanks to this they can feel free and I believe that helps to avoid micro-management."
"I understand, but let me ask you another question, because I think the problem may be somewhere else. How are you sharing your vision, how often are you doing it?"
"All the time! Through things I'm doing. I think that action is far more important than words."
"Yeah, that's true, but only if everyone knows where they are going."

wtorek, 24 września 2013

Daily (after stand-up) presentations

In my team we are always trying something new, we like to experiment with new ideas, we looking for new ways of learning something which is worth to be learned.
After one of our's retrospection we decided to do a presentations, at least once a week. We had presentations before, but we wanted to start with someting that would be organized in better way, would be regular.
We knew that each of us reads a lot, tries many new things on daily basis and it would be great to spread this knowledge and share it with teammates. We created even a list with our propositions of subjects for those presentations.

That was good idea and we were so eager to do so... but...

After a few weeks it turns out that not so much presentations were done. We had ideas (many of them was already listed), we had knowledge (each of us already knew something about some of the subjects on the list), but in most times, we couldn't convert our knowledge into a few slides of presentation. It was just too... hard? I believe, not, it was just too time consuming.
Yeah, what can I say, we are lazy, we like to learn, but to teach is a different story, if you want to teach you need to be prepared, it requires additional work on something that you already know. That leads to simple conclusion - if I can spend my time to learn something new or on creating presentation about something that I already know, choice is easy and obvious for most of us.

That's why our "presentations plan" died... but not completely.
We talked about the idea almost on each retrospection and many times on daily meetings. On the other hand, we shared a links with each other, we had short conversations in pairs or in bigger groups.
When I noticed all those facts I started to merge them into an one idea - daily (after stand up) presentations.

What it's all about?
After our stand-up meetings we started to do a short (not longer than 10 minutes) presentations. It can be anything, summary of a great article, short introduction to a new idea or tool, it just must be short and interesting.
We agreed that no presentation (I mean document or something similar) is required. Just whiteboard, presenter and all interested people.

Whether it is revealing? I think, not, but I believe that organizing somehow our short and random discussions (with various number of participators) improved spreading a knowledge. Removing necessary of creating a real presentation (documents) decreased our laziness and we are more likely to doing such a presentations even once a day (or even more if it won't take more than 10).

I believe that most of us want to learn, want to develop their skills almost all the time. Why don't try to do it together? It will be more efficient and you will increase a chance to learn something that you could even didn't know it exists.

piątek, 2 sierpnia 2013

Sometimes it's worth to lose

I heard once, that the best end of any situation, any action or discussion is when everyone are a winners. I know that it sounds great and for most of us such a positive endings are something that we are dreaming about.
But is it always right? Should we always be focused on winning? Should we always be a winner? Maybe opposite side don't have to be a winner as well? Not because we want to lose or we want to hurt our opponent, no, that's not the reason.
Maybe sometimes win-win situation isn't the best choice? Maybe sometimes it's better to lose, even when we are focused on benefits for both sides?

wtorek, 9 lipca 2013

Start with something easy

Most of people don't like changes, or maybe in different way - they like, but only if changes won't have any impact on their current life and doesn't require additional effort. Unfortunatelly those kind of changes happens rarely, if at all.
It doesn't matter do we talked about improvements, development or solving a problems - if we want to do something, it will always require to move people from their safe zone. Even if we plan to fix an issue, most of people will tell you something like: "yeah, we should fix it, but maybe not now, maybe it's not so important and, to be honest, I get used to it and I can live with this." or: "we shouldn't do anything, because after ... problem will solve itself."

Well, problem won't solve itself, we need to do something to make it happen and if problem affect us somehow, solution also will. We cannot avoid it.
"Living with it" isn't a solution either. Sooner or later you need to handle the problem and if you won't, it will be someone from your team. This is not a solution, this is postponing. The later you start to handle the issue, the more difficult it will be to solve it.

So what to do if you are in situation that is worth to introduce changes/improvements/fixes and you need to convince people to follow you?

If your team already working in culture of continuous improvements then it's easy, you just need to show them reasonable arguments and they will at least try, they will put they effort to check whether the idea is good for them or not.

But what if you are far from it? What if they worked for many years without changes and they just used to this "complain and no action" state? Maybe they already talked about the problem many times and even agreed for solution, but it required lot of work and they just weren't motivated enough to finish it.
Situation like this have more negative impact, because problem still exists and additionaly team is demotivated, they felt they already made steps to solve the problem. It's not important they didn't have strength to endure to the end.

start with something small to succeed fast

When I'm start to work with new team or group of people I always do recognition, try to find the problems, bottlenecks and places for improvements. I also look at all people who would be affected because of potential change or who are affected right now because of existing problem.

When I have all those information, I'm trying to think about solutions for problems (only ideas, without details, just not-binding propositions). But not all of them at once, I'm starting with the easiest one. And the easiest doesn't mean unimportant.

After preparations I'm scheduling a meeting to talk with the team. At first time, we aren't focus on solving any issue, we just talk about them. I heard many times that is no more than waste of time, because on first meeting I don't have plan to get any conclusion, but in my opinion, this allows them to share their's problems with me, we are starting to build relationships and trust.
And this is the reason for this meeting - if I want to help them, they need to know I do care.

On next meeting I present them the list of issues and proposition for improvements. We are prioritizing them and after it's done I'm looking for the most important from the easiest. The one, which requires the lowest amount of effort and time to implement. Why?
If team have wrong experience with doing a changes, you need to prove them that is important and it will pay off. You cannot be another person who will promise everything and will leave them with nothing.
Even if they are eager to do changes, because you are the person who really know how to talk with people and know how to convince them, you still should start with something easy. The less experienced in well done changes team is, the bigger risk for failure. We want to minimize this risk, we need to give them experience, the fastest and shortest way is to start with easy problems.

The more things you will solve/improve, the most experienced team will become, the more effort and time they would dedicate to implement it. If they will see the results, they would be more open for further changes.
Each success will prove them that it's worth to invest their strenghts to achieve the goal, they will decide for longer term changes without fear and with motivation.
They will trust you, so it won't require as much effort from you as on the begining to convince them for next step.

Start with something small and you will achieve great things.

wtorek, 18 czerwca 2013

What defines a good meeting?

From today I've started to work with leader of second team in my project on introducing a few improvements in their work. Of course, it will require many changes, each change needs to be accepted by whole team, we need to show them, that is worth to try, that it make sense. We need to talk, discuss and even argue. And perferct place for such an activities are meetings.

But before we will start, I need to face with one great challenge - I need to convince them, there is value with doing meetings at all. They got many bad experiences with those kind of activities, they participated in boring meetings, in meetings, that was for them just a waste of time, they doesn't like interruptors, they want to work, work efficient and they're treating almost all meetings like a break from real work.

What can I say? It's great when people want to work and doesn't like those horrible moments when they need to do something else. But we need to make improvements to work in more efficient way, we need to remove impediements to do better all things, that we want to do as best as we can. If we want to, we need to schedule a meeting to discuss all ideas and propositions of potential solutions, we need to prepare a plan and each teammate should know and accept it.
That's why all team members should participate on the meeting.

If we want to convince people that meetings aren't just a waste of their time, each meeting needs to bring value for them, needs to show them how important it was to done it. Each meeting needs to be good. And what defines good meetings?

środa, 12 czerwca 2013

make evolution, not revolution

I love changes and improvements, I always looking for new ways of doing thing faster, better, in more efficient way.

I know that would sound like a cliche, but if you're not going forward, you are going backward. It doesn't matter about what we are talking, is it job, learning, personal life, relationships or hobbies - we just need to get better. To be honest, I think it's natural and this is the way how human beings works - we get excited whenever we can try or learn something new, it's like journey to the unknown land. Who cares how many people already been there, know this and saw everything. Right now it's your turn.

niedziela, 9 czerwca 2013

what achievement is?

Recently in company, where I work, we tryied to introduce new ways of people evaluation. I don't want to go into details, today I want to write down my thoughts on one word, which occurs on each meeting. The word is - achievement.

I noticed that we are using this word on those meetings in so many different contexts, so I proposed, that we should firstly define what achievement is, before we will go further in this discussion. Everyone agreed and each of us had to bring proposition of this definition on next meeting.

I thought about this definition, I even had my own propositions and just few hours before the meeting I sit down and asked myself - what we're trying to do? We want to define word which is already defined? We want to invent a circle once again?

piątek, 7 czerwca 2013

ladies, wall and sprints

improvements in team in progress

I recetly put our's sprint backlog on the wall. It's more readable, it requires no additional effort to know what is going on and you are always up to date. I wrote more about this here. We are still using reguar tools to manage sprints, but wall is used not for managing purpose, but for visualization. And from what I can see, everyone likes this idea.

The wall was only a first step to increase motivation in team and identification with product, that we are delivering. There are lot more in my head and I will definitely share everything just after I will have any observations.

Recently we startet to do meetings, which main purpose is to know our's customer better, to know what they want to get and to know what we need to beware. I need to admit, that I see many positive aspects of them and after few more meetings I'll describe how it works in our team.

środa, 5 czerwca 2013

what our customers want to get?

let's talk about what really matters

We are making preparation to start working on huge improvements in our's best selling product and one of the thing, that we recently done, was a revision through expectations which our's customers have.
We agreed it cannot be a features list, rather simple adjectives, generalities, not specifics, something which should be valid and important for any functionality that we want to add or improve, something which will be always true, at any time.

I believe that was pretty well invested time, even if each point on this list can looks like something really obvious (maybe even like a cliche?), but I think (and whole team agreed), that going through this list whenever change will come, can show us are we going in the right direction, before we start working on it.

In my opinion, the list which we created, can be useful not only for us, that's why I decided it would be worth to share the results. So let's see how this list look like?

czwartek, 23 maja 2013

Don't let yourself for time wasting

A few years ago I really hated when I had to participate in meetings. It wasn't important what topics were discussed on those meetings, it wasn't important who was there, I just found all of them time and strength consuming. For a long time I thought that meetings are useless activity and there are many others things which can be done instead, far more important things. I even could spend my time on such a "cool" activities as cutting a layout or writing a documentation. There also weren't too interesting activities, but at least I found them somehow useful, there was value in it.
And meetings? Useless conversations and almost always without any conclusions. And even if we made decision, it was, sooner or later, changed. Probably on the different meeting.

It was really hard times.

wtorek, 21 maja 2013

Use your wall

In my current project we're using Jira to track the progress in project, to storing backlog items and so on. And after few years I need to admit that is really great tool, at least is perfect for ours needs.

Ok, it's almost perfect - it's completely unrelated with motivation in our team.
Why I think so? Because we're looking at it only when one of us needs to do something there. Team members moves issues from one column to the other, product owner sorts backlog whenever there is a need, we are adding notes, attachments or we made clarification for the issues and many other things, but all of those are activities related with project life cycle. Not with motivation.

sobota, 11 maja 2013

It needs to be interesting

Do everything what we learn should be useful for us?
I believe so. In present days, we got no time for spend it on useless activities. But do we always know what would be useful for us? Do we know it, when we first time hear about something? All those blogs that we are reading, all those books, is there always something useful? Sometimes answer isn't so obvious, sometimes is. Sometimes even happens that we learned something, but life changes and knowledge which was never used before probably never won't be used.
But do we think that was a waste of time? I can answer only for myself, but many times, when everything changed, I didn't regretted what I've learned, even when I knew that knowledge won't be useful for me anymore.

I don't want to work alone anymore

Few months ago we decided to focus more on pair programming. We were doing it from time to time before, but after few conversations with far more experienced people, I spoke with the team and we agreed that it's worth to try doing more pair programming.

If there were so many people, who found pair programming as a one of the greatest technique they have ever experienced, it should be worth to spend some more time to improve it in our Scrum. What bad could happen either way?

After those few months, I can say that was really good idea to invest more time and improve this technique in our team. Right now almost half of our user stories are implemented in pairs and everyone loves it. Why?

czwartek, 25 kwietnia 2013

Let's improve our Daily Stand-up

I found Scrum as a perfect solution for managing in my current project. Even if at first it was very difficult to implement it and our knowledge and understanding of this framework was poor. Day by day, week by week, sprint by sprint we gained more experience and everything became obvious and natural. We became agile team.

wtorek, 16 kwietnia 2013

Are we resources or not?

There was many discussion on this topic. I heard so many times complaines whenever I used word "resources", when I were talking about group of people. And, as I repeated it many times, it was not about disrespecting someone or treat him like a thing. No, it's all about terminology.

niedziela, 7 kwietnia 2013

Never postpone meetings

Recently, one of my friends asked me a question:

"What will you do if your's daily stand-up starts at 9:30 and one of your teammates, who went half hour ago to the shop and should already back, is still absent?"

I told him that answer is simple - I will call him and ask how long it will take for him to get back to us. If it won't be long, we will wait for him.

sobota, 6 kwietnia 2013

Nothing is obvious...

once upon a time there was a feature...

Recently we had hot discussion with product owner about one of the feature, that we are implementing right now. But let me start from the beggining.

What is feature about? Configure application through GUI.
Right now everything is in config file and configuration process isn't not as easy for our customers as it should be. That's why we decide to do first step to change it - first move the configuration of the most critical and important things.
After few conversations when PO explain what needs to be done, we created prototype to show him how it will look like. And that was it...

niedziela, 20 stycznia 2013

become a challenge seeker

another thing to do

So, you are starting. New feature to implement, complex modification, improvements in performance, user experience in UI or something completely different.

You got everything what you need to start, you got it from customer. Is he/her difficult with cooperation? Doesn't matter, you talked with him/her so many times, so many hours spent on learning his/her way of thinking, behavior. There is nothing unexpected in gathering requirements (or however you will call it). Even if it isn't easy job to do. You been there, you know what to do.

poniedziałek, 7 stycznia 2013

fails are not the worst thing on earth

failures happens

Almost everyone in IT knows that "the only constant is change", but I strongly believe there is another constant - failure.
If you never failed before, I got bad news - you will, that's for sure. One day, sooner or later, but it will happen. But, don't worry, everyone fails from time to time and there is nothing bad in this. Well, maybe there is, but it's not so tragic as someone can assume:)

The problem is not failure itself, problems comes after it. And this "after" defines either you will lose on this situation or not.

sobota, 5 stycznia 2013

sometimes it's better to let go...

when your work is what you love...

Personally I'm someone who can't work for 100 percent, it's impossible for me. Why? Because I always giving even more, I just really like what I'm doing. I always looking for new, better solution, I must improve my skills, increase my knowledge etc. It's just stronger than me.

And, as I notice, in IT this is common approach. We, developers, managers, designers, love what we are doing, this is our passion, this is not only 8 hours work, this is something more. We love challenges, we love problems, bugs, because these are the things, which gives us opportunity to test ourselves, to verify our skills and learn something new.
This attitude continues until we're motivated. And here comes the problem...