Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Middle Management blocks Blogs, Wikis and such tools... How true

I came across this blog recently and found the statement "Middle Management block the use of blogs, wikis, syndications..." The first statement that read my mind was HOW TRUE.. and why not, I have seen it until very recent.

We recently in our project teams wanted to drive a revolution of using:
1. Wiki for Project documentation
2. XPlanner for Project Management
3. JIRA for Bug Tracking and time scehduling

Eventually not many understand and want to promote the usage of it... why?

1. They are not comfortable with the tools.
2. They are not sure how the tools fit into the process.
3. They are not really thinking on how a tool can make it work for them.

I see some more of the issues....

1. They are not ready to accept the tools that can accelerate Team collaborations.
2. They are not sure on how they can use the Tool.
3. They feel that the tool is a burden if they have to work with it every day.
4. They dont get what is called as readymade data to present to the Management (Heard of a word called Metrics?)
5. They are not sure what team collaboration means.
6. They understand the tool and its usage WRONG.
7. They think that there is a lot of investment in making this tool work for the Team.

A few of the common excuses we get from the Middle Management in implemnting such tools are:

1. It doesnt provide me the metrics.
2. Think we need to evaluate another better tool, can someone take up the investigation on this please?
3. It is a over load of tasks for the Team.
4. We dont have time to train the Team (Remember my earlier post on Highest priority?)
5. We have some other tool coming up and that can do better than this.
6. It will take long before we can roll this out.
7. No one uses it.
8. No one has time to use it.
9. They dont like the way it is now, we need to evolve.
10. There is no easy way to access this information....

Now can you find a way for these lousy bums and can somebody explain them that it will work only if they wish to make it work?

Monday, 16 June 2008

A Bad Presentation

Yesterday I was supposed to take up the Agile workshop for the part of the team that is really been damaged due to NO process and Process myths in the organisation. The "supposed to" was really for the last 7 months when each time I had to request for this and all I got is an answer saying "At the moment we dont really have time for this", eventually I was lucky enough this time to get through the Team and at least be prepared on some items on what and how I wanted to do things for this Agile workshop to make it more effective and more better. To my own surprise I relied on Powerpoint and really prepared something that I always hated.

But they say you need to have it your day and your way to make it work... eventually the fever, headache and fallout of some ideas and team members in contributing to the workshop lead this to be the BORING ever presentation I have been a part of... remember I have attended some corporate trainings on finance and technologies which were really boring and I claim this one from mine to be worst than any of them. The Idea of running the workshop was bright, though I was not able to successfully convert it to a involved workshop.

I retrospected what went wrong and here are the items I found:

1. Involve the crowd
Seems like I missed it for 2 reasons, I did not analyse the crowd before really kicking it off. The Idea I had was to involve a few guys bring them mid store and ask them some survey questions to bring out the Myers-Brigg indicator model out and also make them aware of how important Team plays in the Agile model.
Second I was not able to create some real time humour out of Agile and waterfall models... things that rushed my mind during my presentations were eventually to heavy than I thought they could be.

2. Never depend too much on PPT
I wanted to start with NO presentations... use the board and the Team speeches to make it more effective, however change of plans last minute made me think that its better to go the PPT way and try to address issues and tips and concerns while I talk... this was a bad plan honestly.

3. Unresponsive crowd is the truth
Its not that I have always seen very energetic crowd in the presentations... half the time I have presented to people who dont even know if they should keep their eyes open in the sessions or not. Anyways today i realised that Teams can really be unresponsive if they dont know why are doing what. Ideally I saw only 5 people involved in the entire presentation:
1. Vinaya the girl who was sitting right in front.
2. Shailesh : Who was trying to understand and respond in a way that would be pleasing to a presenter
3. Bhargavi : Who kind of knew the objective and was curious to know whats next
4. Eric : The guy in the bottom most corner who understands Agile and wants to enhance his knowledge
5. Arjun who wants to know more about it.

Rest I saw were either there by force or for a sake. Eventually some of them may be involved but I did not find it out for some reason.

4. Missing exercises
25 minutes of the kickoff I understood that its getting boring and I need to change something, eventually when I changed to bring in some questions and role playing I found that the Team lacked feel of energy and enthusiasm. It would have been good to have some exercises to make it work better.

5. Wheres the Red Bull
The energizer was missing. These are the things I wanted to do:

1. Ask Deepesh , Yogesh and Nikhita to talk about the developer advantages they feel from the Agile we follow
2. Ask Sidd , Saket to make it work effectively and explain the QA and the Release processes.
3. Have the funfilled Crack my code exercise to get the developers write some code on the fly while others extract the mistakes.
4. Have the QA write flow cases for the developer code.
5. Have the Project Manager plan the 30 mins code and qa exercise
6. Have the architect review

7. Have the Stakeholders explain the requirements and do a official kickoff.

All of this was role playing eventually I dropped this after 25 minutes of session just to make sure that it doesnt go wrong way due to the sleepy crowd.

Anyways as a corrective measure I am going to continue the training and appoint some agile coaches to make this work effectively for the Team. Eventually looking at the team formation I think it will be at least a 6 month task to make this team understand agile and start implementing it to some extent.

Whoa .. Task is ahead......

Monday, 9 June 2008

Whats your highest priority?

I hear this very often....
1. I always wanted to do this, but never got time
2. This is what I wanted to do but never got enough support on it
3. We wanted to document it but never got chance
4. This is on a roadmap
5. We intend to do this but not now

While I review there maybe thousand valid reasons for all the so called excuses we give for not implementing things... I see one clear reason for the excuses above....


Dont you agree? If there is something you want to do and think you can stay without doing it it definitely means that IT IS NOT ON THE TOP OF YOUR GTD and this is where a lot of us get drowned. I asked a fellow lead on why we dont have any code review process for marshalling the development code? The answer was "We dont have time!" Well if we dont have time to review our own code I am sure we dont have time to write it too????

The fact that for anything we say that I want to but I cant means that it doesnt hurt me if I dont do this... and the same attitude has really got us dip the quality of Softwares we develop..... No wonder we hear these very often:

1. Code reviews???? We can do that later... what is more important now Delivery or Qaulity?

2. Qualitative and Incremental QA???? Gosh, No Jargons please... We are been asked to sign of ASAP, and our performance depends on it.

3. We will refactor it later... thre is too much of time to do this later.

This time I made up my minds... every time I hear or Speak things that hinder the quality process I call "BULLSHIT"..... Now you know why my dictionary only has this word?

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Successful Leadership is not only when you win!!!

Yesterday Indian cricket saw a Gala of cricket with the end of the DLF IPL T20, A spectacular performance from the Bollywood stars, followed by a nail biting T20 cricket match between Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings which went to the last over of the game and decide Rajasthan Royals lead by Shane Warne to be the winner of the first ever game. For India and part of the world that is keeping a close watch on this tournament it was just the finals and One Team win and One Team loosing concept... but eventually the game also displayed some great leadership values and skills from the captain of the team who lost the match... Yes Mahendra Singh Dhoni...

As a new trend in the cricket world the Teams do a scrum before and during the match to decide on quick strategies and some quick words of motivation... this is pretty common nowadays to see this been followed in almost every match you see... however after the last ball loss by Mahi's Team Dhoni ensured that he organises a quick scrum to tell the guys that "It was not your fault , It was just a bad day for us. We played better but luck was on other side... we did not loose this match... we got inspiration to win the next few from this"

Wow... Is this something called leadership? Yes of course it is... where the world tries to find sources to blame the moment you loose it was a different scene where Dhoni gathered everyone just to make them realise that Winning and Loosing is a part of the game and what they did would not have been better....

Great to see this!!!