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Showing posts from 2011

Toasting Management in #stoos? Anstossen or anstoosen?

In ten days or so, barring bad weather or last minute emergencies, some 22 thought leaders, idea farmers, managers, agilists, community leaders or otherwise interesting people will get together in Stoos to catalyze a change management. It turns out, Stoos is a pun in German, which I'd like to explain.

Stoos is the name of a community overlooking Schwyz and located at about 1'300m above sea level, with ski slopes up to about 1950m. In German, it is often referred to as 'der Stoos' (the Stoos) as if it were the name of mountain, but I don't think that is case.

I don't know why Franz Röösli chose this hotel. We wanted a ski location (in honor of the gathering which produced the Agile Manifesto being held at the Snowbird Lodge in Utah). It needed to have a conference room, be willing to block rooms for 20 people, and be reasonably easy to get to for international travelers. It was the only alternative he proposed, but it looked good, so here we are.

Stoos is very s…

Towards an 'Agile Manifesto' for Leadership at Stoos?

The Agile Manifesto has been the basis of a shared identity for software developers for over 10 years. A diverse group of people - the thought leaders of the 'lightweight project management' movement - got together it the Snowbird Lodge in Utah, identified some common beliefs, gave themselves a name, and (inadvertently?) started a movement. At Stoos, we want to catalyze a change for the better in management. What would an 'agile manifesto' for business look like?

As Steve Denning and I prepared the Radical Management Gathering in Zurich, we felt that future radical managers would want training and recognition -- they are doing something important! -- but didn't feel certifications was the right way to do.

The concept was simple: Recognized and Committed. A participant who attended the gathering and committed to the principles became a 'Recognized and Committed Radical Manager'. Recognition came from attending the gathering - there could be other ways to be…

More ideas on How To Start Global Managment Warming in #Stoos

The interest is great, and feedback equally so. Today feedback from:
Sigi Kaltenegger on whether a big gesture will be helpful Scott C. Schuck on learning through visual experinceGerhard Andrey on 'Kill you job title!'Kurt Nielsen on managers as deep experts in planned economic behavior, on managers who see themselves as being 'above work', and on middle managers who are not interested in the customersSigi Kaltenegger (@sigikaltenecker) wrote:
I am still wondering if a big “revolutionary” or “radical” gesture is helpful in winning over managers. On the one hand, this gesture is perhaps too much of the same in terms of “heroic management”, where you are supposed to be the solution hero for every problem. On the other hand, remembering Maestro Senge´s “People don´t resist change. They resist being changed”, I doubt that a revolutionary approach shows appropriate respect to managers today.

As to the expected outcome of the Stoos Gathering, I would be happy to learn more a…

In Praise of Slack

One of the oldest questions in Scrum is, 'to how much work should a team commit each sprint?' The standard answer is, 'as much as the team thinks it can finish, no more, no less'.

A team I am coaching stumbled on to a different approach. They committed to somewhat less work than they were certain they could complete. In fact, they were done two days before the Sprint Review. Those two days were used for working on internal quality ("technical investments" to prevent future technical debt), a last minute feature requested by a manager, and building down some accumulated overtime (from the days before Scrum).

Although the last minute feature proved to be not such a good idea (the story wasn't "ready"), everyone was quite happy about the positive side effects of slack.

One of those pleasant side effects was that the question of how to deal with unfinished stories didn't come up!

Ideas on How to Start Global Management Warming in #stoos

Our call for help in preparation for the #Stoos Gathering has spurred much discussion throughout the web (see also here and here). Today feedback from
Andreas Schliep on role modelsDon Reinertsen on not whining and why he gave up on his slide ruleRoman Pichler on Scrum Start-UpsTom Mellor on the role of Business Schools
Andreas Schliep (@andreasschliep) wrote simply:
"Managers need positive role models, role models who have taken a different, new way, and were successful with that approach."
Don Reinertsen (@DReinertsen) wrote (modestly):
"I am not sure that I can really contribute a lot to the event other than to encourage you push forward on the hard issues. Having been on both the sending and receiving side of "why can't management change," I'd offer two thoughts: It is convenient for us all to externalize the obstacles that are holding back change. I have found it easiest to both obtain and to give support when the party requesting support has alread…

#Stoos Looking for a Simple Framework for Applying Radical Management

"Scrum has been so successful because it is a simple framework that is easy to teach and easy to follow. A framework for general management needs this same simplicity." This morning, fellow Scrum coach and evangelist Mischa Ramseyer and I were brainstorming on how to accelerate the transformation of management for the #Stoos Gathering. Mischa's words echoed my own long held beliefs. We have seen Scrum succeed over and over, mostly in software development contexts. What are the deeper patterns that can be applied to all management situations and how can we distill them into an easy-to-teach, easy-to-apply framework?

What would be the characteristics of this framework?
It would be simple. The rituals can be followed easily.It would be based on the same values and principles as Agile, Scrum and Kanban. In particular trust, transparency and respect. It would focus on achieving customer delight.It would ensure a clear line of sight from those doing the work to those customers…

Announcing Radical Management Training

Radical Management Training
Delighting The Customer Through Continuous Innovation
with Steve Denning and Peter Stevens

As a business leader, have you ever wondered what Steve Jobs did to turn an almost bankrupt computer company into a firm that transformed the world of retail, music, mobile phones and tablets?  Have you ever thought about what you can do to not to fall victim to the disruptive innovation that has killed so many companies?

What would your company be like if your customers loved your products and services? How would work be different if your staff were totally motivated and happy to come to work?  If turf battles, silo organizations and layers of management did not stifle the creativity you need to survive and thrive in the 21st century?

It's not a dream. Your company can be innovative, responsive and profitable (and a seriously fun place to work!). There are companies like that today. Maybe even parts of your organization are like that today. Your organization…

Achieving Phase Change: Why is it so difficult to change management

In preparation for the #Stoos Gathering, we have been asking 'Why is it so difficult to change management? While we are not the first to ask the question, it has once again stimulated much discussion (@jurgen's blog, @steve's blog, or on the ScrumAlliance Linkedin group).

Back when the #Occupy movements were getting started, Steve Denning wrote, "What do the occupiers want? Phase Change."
People increasingly sense that things aren’t going to get better unless something big is done, some fundamental change is made in our financial structures. It won’t be small-time rejiggering—a tiny cut in this tax, a minor reduction in that program—that will get us out of this. Like Oliver Twist, they intuit—however incoherently and inarticulately—that we need a phase change, a change in which everything is different.

Phase changes follow patterns regardless of physical or social makeup. They entail a change from one level of order to another. Phase changes are everywher…

Talk to me

The first suggestion for improvement in my poll on Swiss Banks was poll on Customer Delight was quite simple: "I wish they would talk to me." This from a fairly well to do customer who was hit pretty hard while following the bank's investment advice.

A colleague of mine is an agile coach at one of the two largest banks. We were talking about the challenges faced by their CIO. In particular, he is rather constrained by the expectations of managers next to and below him in the hierarchy. I suggested the CIO should organize a collaborative work thru to break the ice and get things moving in the company. My colleague's response: "No can do! I can't reach him. I can't even send him an email."

It seems the CIO of this bank has a spam filter which prevents staff below a certain level from contacting him directly.   

Without communication, there is no movement, no change. Companies are frozen.

Are you managers available to talk to you? Or do they have spam…

#stoos: Global Management Warming Starts in Switzerland

W. Edwards Deming wrote decades ago that bonuses are bad for business. But most managers around the world are still using them.

Peter F. Drucker said ages ago that knowledge workers cannot be subordinates of managers. But managers still treat their staff as subordinates.

Dan Pink spoke on TED about motivation: what science knows and business ignores. Research tells us again and again that performance appraisals don’t work. But many companies keep relying on them as their primary evaluation technique.

Why? Why is management frozen and inflexible? Why is management changing so slowly?

10 years ago, the Agile Manifesto ignited a world-wide revolution in software development. Granted, the agile movement is still a work-in-progress. But we have made a lot of progress!

However, it seems the Arctic Ocean will have melted before we see traditional management replaced with a more functional paradigm. The rate at which it happens now is certainly not the same rate as the adoption of Scrum and …

Poll: How do you feel about your Swiss Bank?

A central tenet of Radical Management is that the purpose of an organization is to delight its customers. If customer delight is the key to success in the 21st century, how are Swiss companies doing at delighting their customers?

We could apply this to any industry, so let's start with an industry which is a key importance to the Swiss economy: her banks. How are they doing? And what could they do to improve?

I have compiled a list of the most important banks for the people who actually live and work in Switzerland (including Postfinance, which is not actually a bank, but excluding most private banks who cater to an international clientele).

I wrote previously about using Fred Reichheld's Net Promoter Scores to evaluate customer delight. Let's apply that simple approach to the Swiss banks and see how they fare.

To the poll: How do you feel about your Swiss bank? Tell us what you think...

and be sure to tell your friends about this study.

I plan to publish results in Februa…


A month long conflict at the construction site of the Zurich main train station ('HB' or Hauptbahnhof), boiled over this week, as workers tunneling under the station went on strike. Urine and excrement expelled by outhouse-style toilets in older trains continue to drip down on to the workers whenever a train with 'outhouse' toilets parks over the construction site. This issue was raised several months ago, but has now boiled over again.

Overall project leader Roland Kobel, chief of the two billion CHF 'diameter line', complained of "coercion" and hinted at legal action. "Every delay is wasting taxpayers money." The labor union is unimpressed, and is demanding contractual guarantees that the problem will be remedied before returning to work.

While Kobel is surely correct in his assessment, labor conflict could endanger his project, cause delays and raise the costs, he has missed the point of the root cause of the problems. The ongoing '…

Scrum Breakfast Zurich:

Four years ago, I started the Scrum Breakfast in Zurich. As my tenure as moderator of the Scrum draws to a (temporary) close, I thought it would be interesting to have some presentations about the longer term effects of Scrum, so both the November and December Breakfasts will look at this topic in more depth.

Ernst Basler and Partner is known for their work in Infrastructure and Transportation Systems, Energy + Technology, Environment + Water, Resources and Climate Change. The Swiss Federal Office of Roads (ASTRA) contracted with them to develop the MISTRA Base System - a database of virtually all relevant data around roads and road building in Switzerland.

Last Christmas, EBP and the ASTRA decided to use Scrum to organize this project. The project had already been started. The requirements were extensive, complex and in many cases still under discussion, and the time was short. Scrum should help them master this situation.

Today the project has been running under Scrum for about 10 m…

Getting the CEO's attention

At the #sglon London Scrum Gathering Joe Justice and I lead an open space on how to get the CEO's attention. Our goal was to come up with at least three things to try. I could not stay for the afternoon wrap up, so here is a summary of what we discussed:

Ideas for getting top management buy-in (un sorted)
C-Level Training "offsite" (offsite is a management word which is well understood and has positive connotations). The goals is to Take away the fear and Give them tools for the new worldApply the golden circle: From Why? (Business Goals) to How? to What? (See Video from TEDxPugetSound 'The Power of Why")As an external consultant, demand participation from management two levels up.Apply the AIDA process (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action) or AIDAA (AIDA followed by Ability). You have to get people willing to listen (Aware) before they will even discuss your issues. TED Videos are good for building Awareness. Give the CEO a book, e.g. Radical Management by Steve…


Shortly after the Lean Agile Scrum Conference, DasScrumTeam announced that I will be leaving the company, effective end of December. Here is an extract of that email (translated):
We, DasScrumTeam AG, established our company in 2009 and started successfully together. Our training and coaching structure meets the needs of our customers and our Certified Scrum Master and Scrum Product Owner training sessions are very popular. With the knowledge that the basic values ​​and practical aspects of Scrum correspond well to the requirements of a modern enterprise, we are very motivated to share our know-how with our customers. We do not forget to also expand our own knowledge.

Peter Stevens is traveling in the near future for several months in the U.S. to be active in the exciting and important areas of Radical Management. So he will leave DasScrumTeam AG at the end of September. Besides his own training and consulting assignments, Peter served as Managing Director and was responsible for mar…

The Car that Scrum Built

You have heard the objections: "Scrum is great for software, but we're doing hardware." Or, "we're doing embedded. Scrum won't work here." Or, "Would you really build a bridge with Scrum?"

Well maybe not a bridge, but how about a car?

Remember the Ansari X PRIZE? The winner N328KF by Burt Rutan and Paul Allen is now the basis for Virgin Galactic's space tourism venture. In 2008, the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize competition put out a 10 Million Dollar prize for the first/best company to to produce a car that:
you could actually drive on the streetwould achieve the equivalent of 100 mpg (2.35ltr/100km) and 200g/km well to road CO2 emmissionshas a reasonably convincing plan for going into production by 2014. Joe Justice, a soft-spoken Agilist, nerd and black belt kung-fu expert, was intrigued and, somewhat inadvertently, launched a Linux or Wikipedia-like project to create an entry in the class 'mainstream' (i.e. it should …

FAMOZ: Let's treat project failures like airplane crashes

Whenever an airliner crashes, two questions demand answers:
Who is responsible? -- so we can punish them, sue them or put them in jail (or gain advantage for ourselves)How did this happen? -- so we can prevent accidents like this in the future.  Oddly enough, if the investigation seeks to answer the first question, it becomes very difficult to achieve the goal of the second question. If people are afraid of punishment, they are reluctant to provide information which can and will be used against them. The investigation of airline incidents always focus on the second question and aviation has enjoyed an excellent and improving safety record because of it.

The city of Zurich has "pulled the plug" on "ELUSA" (or FAMOZ, as it was originally known). This system to integrate the operations of four departments of the city's social services office was originally budgeted at 11 million CHF, but after several rounds of additional financing was now expected to cost 29 mill…

Remembering Heaven

A Respectful Approach to Introducing Scrum (or some other framework).

At the Lean Agile Scrum Conference in Zurich, David Anderson explained the basic approach of Kanban:
Start with what you do nowAgree to pursue incremental, evolutionary changeInitially, respect current processes, roles, responsibilities & job titles The implication of course is that Scrum is disrespectful because Scrum comes with new roles. His comments were echoed by many participants. Given that Respect is a core value of Scrum, I was surprised at this insinuation. Why do so many people seem to find the Scrum approach disrespectful?

Here is how I prefer to introduce Scrum.

When I first read Ken Schwaber's 'Agile Project Management with Scrum', there was a paragraph which really got my attention: 'Remember your best project? How was it?'

In my case, I was working for the SIG in Neuhausen. Urban Wymann, my customer / project leader was responsible for introducing some 60 Sun Workstations in…

Management 3.0 Course (in German) for Line Managers in Agile Organizations

Agile management is an often overlooked part of Agile. There is much information available for Agile developers, testers, and project managers, but very little for development managers and team leaders. However, when organizations adopt Agile software development, not only developers, testers, and project managers need to learn new practices. Development managers and team leaders must also learn a new approach to leading and managing Agile organizations.

Mischa Ramseyer and I will be offering the first Management 3.0 course in Switzerland - in German of course.  Based on Jurgen Appelo's popular book of the same name, this course will teach you about:

Agile software development Complexity science and systems thinking -- the cornerstones of an Agile mindset. How you as a manager can to keep people active, creative, and motivated. How to make self-organization workHow to manage and lead a self organized team How to develop competence and skills of your team membersAgility in…

Getting Unstuck: An Interview with Deborah Hartmann Preuss

One of the best kept secrets of next weeks Lean Agile Scrum Conference is Deborah Hartmann Preuss's Workshop on Getting Unstuck. Originally from Canada but now based in Germany, Deborah is a long time figure in the Agile and Retrospective Communities and is known for her ability to bring out the full potential of a team. Deb and I chatted about her upcoming workshop.

Peter Stevens: Your workshop at the LAS Conference is about getting unstuck. What does a "stuck" team look like?

Deborah Hartmann Preuss: These teams want to get the benefits of applying Agile values to their work: products customers love, sustainable team, sustainable codebase. But a stuck team is significantly underdelivering in one or more of these areas, while being satisfied that "this is the best we can do, given our constraints". All teams have constraints and challenges, but not all are stuck - I define "stuckness" as the team attitude that says it's…

Eclipse Stammtisch in Zurich

Tursday, October 13th, 18:00 - 21:00, Technopark Zürich

Engage in the Eclipse community in Zurich at the Eclipse Stammtisch! The organizers have invited several interesting speakers to talk about their projects. The talks cover a broad variety of topics such as Eclipse Long Term Support, Eclipse Scout, Jubula Testing Tool, RT/RAP, Mylin/Git/Gerrit and Code Recommenders. We’ll have a short break with bear and snacks, but for real dinner we’ll move on. For all those in the mood for food (or more frosty beverage) please sign up on the Doodle.

Interested in any of these topics? Participation is free.

Please register by October 7 as described on their homepage.

Scrum Breakfast in October - Swisscom Project Vivo Casa

Last spring, I attended a Swisscom internal gathering of project leaders to present Scrum. There, I was stunned by the approach described in one the keynotes: a project case study on how they conceived, designed and launched Vivo Casa, their new Digital TV offering. When I heard this talk, I knew two things: 1) agility is finding it's way into corporate thinking, and 2) I had to convince this speaker to come tell us about this project at a Scrum Breakfast.

Urs Geiser leads a Swisscom team of Experience Designers in the Private Customer segment. 'The dream of every large organization is get a big project done in a short period of time.' Swisscom tried a new approach for the development of Vivo Casa and was largely successful. The formal project management process took a back seat to the composition of the teams, freedom in designing the experience and the enthousiasm of the team members. Urs will tell us about the project and the success factors that made it possible.


Agile Software Development or Radical Management?

In any case, an idea who's time has come!

Steve Denning, recently wrote a 5 part series of articles on the blog: Why Amazon Can't Make A Kindle In the USA. The response was extraordinary for a management article and unheard of for an Agile article - as I write this, the first article alone has been read over 280'000 times. The follow up articles had another 100'000 reads.

Radical Management is taking the message of Lean, Agile and Scrum to general management.

Now, when I talk to thought leaders in business, I often hear - 'yes, I have been teaching 'this' for years! -- where 'this' means self-organization, short feedback loops, working with or delighting the customer, minimizing waste, removing impediments, creating a learning organization, or other values, principles and practices of Scrum, Lean, and Agile.

Finally the message is getting through!

IT and manufacturing organizations doing Agile, Scrum and Lean were the evangelists and ear…

Collaboration Work-Thru: Tapping the Knowledge of Your People

"We don't want to do Scrum." In the room were about 16 middle-managers. I had presented them Scrum on three different occasions, answered their questions, done Food, showed them (I thought) what Scrum would do for them, and applied (I thought) all the tools of the trade to motivate these people to do Scrum. The debate was endless. For every argument, there was always a "Yes, but..." to answer it. And all those 'buts' added up to 'No'.

What to do now? 'OK, if not Scrum, what do you want to do?' I reminded the assembled managers that the CEO would be back in the room in three hours, and he expected to find how how they want to proceed. I asked them to split into two groups. Each group should create a flip chart showing how they would like to organize product development. After two hours the groups came back together to review and understand each others proposals.

Three hours later the CEO came back, got a presentation on the two alternativ…

Recognition, Committment and the CSM

Scott Ambler recently launched (yet another) attack on the CSM program, pointing out the problems with the CSM program and the lack of identification and commitment of the CSM holders, and challenges the Scrum Alliance to do better.

As Ken Schwaber explained to me once over cheese fondue, the CSM program arose as a tactical response to a concrete problem. "My HR department will only pay for the training if it leads to a certification." "OK, after the completing the course you're a certified Scrum master." The guy got his participation funded, and so the CSM was born.

Since then, the CSM Program has been very successful, but also a victim of its own success.

Those who say the glass is half full will argue this made it much easier to get people into Scrum trainings and disseminate the practice. Those who say the glass is half empty will argue that this was good for selling courses.  The half-full types will now point out the positive effects of having a working b…

Swisscom - On the Road to Good Profits?

Good profits are the result of value that you generate for your customer. Bad profits are value that you extract from your customer.

Long contract durations, automatic rollovers, and cancellation windows (pay an exorbitant fee if you cancel too early, prolong for a year if you cancel too late) are classic examples of bad profits.  Bad products are seductive, because they seem like easy money. But nothing encourages your customers to leave like being shaken down for bad profits. Nothing inhibits your ability to move into a new market like bad profits in your home market. In short, nothing is long-term more dangerous to your profitability than a culture of raking in bad profits.

According to numerous reports, [Six: SCMN] announced that they are eliminating an important source of bad profits - the year-to-year automatic rollover for cell phone contracts. From now on, they have a 60 day notice period once the initial contract length has expired. (And yes, I think it is fair that if they s…

Thinking every day - Thoughts for July 2011

I thought putting out a radical management thought for the day (#RMtftD) would be a cool thing to do. It would attract attention, stimulate conversations, and improve my own learning. If there was one part that I underestimated, it was the last point. It is a challenge to come up with something interesting to say every day. So I have been reading more and reflecting more on what happens around me.

BTW - the RMTftD has also been a winner on the first two points. I now have over 210 followers, up from 140 when I started two months ago. I have gotten really encouraging feedback from my early retweeters, and stimulated some interesting conversations, like this July's discussion on why management innovation is so difficult.

On good profits, bad profits and the power of market position 

These tweets were largely inspired by Fred Reichheld, The Ultimate Question:
Dominant players have economic advantage. If this is not used to make customers :-), position and advantage will not lastWhen a …