Showing posts from 2010

If your company has meaning, write it down!

At first glance it may look as if most organizations do very well without having their values written down. However, this is only a surface impression, because all organizations are based on values. The most important concern how the organization views its customers and subcontractors – and how it treats its members. – From Kolindkuren , by Lars Kolind ( English version ) Lars Kolind was CEO of Oticon, a formerly successful manufacturer of hearing aids. The company eventually became a victim of its own success, and went into a seemingly unstoppable downwards spiral. Lars Kolind reorganized the company radically, turning traditional views about how a company should work on its head. His book, Kolindkuren, is a great example of a corporate guide: It is about meaning and values, yet contains a lot of practical advice useful to  everyone . The ability to care and play nice is becoming an increasingly important success factor for business organizations. The reason is simple: The Inte

How Shahin Khoshnood made great leadership easy

Shahin Khoshnood is a remarkable manager and leader. She was recently promoted to a higher position, but for the past few years, as area manager, she has transformed eldercare in Linnéstaden, a district in Gothenburg. To give you a small taste: Personnel turnover is in Shahin’s district is 0%. Her unit has always managed to keep within budget. When there was not enough money for a training budget, Shahin and her people turned the problem into an opportunity, and began packaging and selling courses to raise more money. I met with Shahin last Friday to interview her for my next book. (Please do not hold your breath while waiting for it. It is a long time project.) A friend of mine, Per Dosenius, had recommended that I should talk to her. I am very glad I did. When I arrived, Shahin showed me to her office. The office is quite spartan. Shahin has developed a very cost conscious organization, and she leads by example. The secret to Shahin’s success isn’t very secret. She has put the ess

Five Day Jonah Workshop with Bill Dettmer

Bill Dettmer will be in Linz again to hold a workshop on The Logical Thinking Process . The workshop will be held March 9-15 in Linz, Austria. The embarrassing thing is that Christoph Steindl of Catalysts emailed me about it months ago, and I forgot to blog about it. A Do-Not-Forget-note surfaced yesterday when I made a long-overdue clean-up of a list of Interesting Stuff.

How values drive HiQ

I saw an interesting presentation about how to build and manage a value-driven organization last Friday. The presentation was a collaboration between HiQ , a Swedish IT-consultancy, and Kevin Ryan, owner of the management consultancy Thread. The evening started off with,  Jerker Lindsten, CEO of HiQ Gothenburg, doing a Guitar Hero performance. I am definitely no Guitar Hero. I sometimes whistle a little bit, but that’s it! As you can see in the picture above, the performance was greatly appreciated the rest of the audience. When the audience was warmed up, Kevin Ryan took the podium. Kevin has worked closely with Lars Stugemo, CEO of HiQ International and one of the original founders, to articulate the company values and instill them in the HiQ organization. Kevin began by talking about the conceptual differences between a traditional maximize-the-profit business and a value-driven business. Kevin built the explanation up in stages and I believe the audience got it. When I

Anatomy-Based Planning workshop with Erik Lundh

Erik Lundh of Compelcon held a workshop on Anatomy-Based planning. Erik was kind enough to invite me. I jumped on an early morning train from Gothenburg, just barely made it off the train at the station in Lund, and found my way to the Lund Institute of Technology where the workshop was held. The workshop was well worth getting up early for. Anatomy-based planning offers a neat way of coordinating large projects involving several agile teams. The method is designed to get all stakeholders onboard with an overall plan before going into detailed iteration planning. It is a very fast planning method. All stakeholders are brought together, write the desired capabilities, or "money-making features" on Post-It notes, and build a network diagram showing "in order to have Y, we must first have X" type dependencies between the features. Anatomies are an implementation of the Blackboard Strategy pattern, an approach to collaborative problem solving. Because it is a ve

Callisto on creativity

Callisto Utriainen I was at a very interesting talk last Thursday. Callisto Utriainen , a creativity coach, talked about creativity, how it works, and how to find creative solutions to irksome problems. Callisto started off by talking about a great creativity killer: Too deeply rooted habits. Habits are not bad per sé. Habits free brain capacity up to do new things, like finding creative solutions to problems, but there is a flip side. When we get too deeply entrenched in following the same patterns every day, we may lose the most important habit of all, the habit of thinking and doing new things. When we get creative, we physically change the brain by creating new connections between neurons. Callisto also talked about what habits look like from a neurological perspective: Pathways in the brain where synapses (junctions between neurons) have grown strong because they are used a lot. She talked about how we can induce the brain to create new pathways by deliberately expos

30 presentations in 90 minutes: A visit to BNI Gamla Ullevi

I visited a BNI team, BNI Gamla Ullevi on Wednesday the 29th. I was invited by Per Johansson of the  Skooter  advertising agency. Gamla Ullevi (Old Ullevi - there is also a New Ullevi) is a sports arena in central Gothenburg. BNI Gamla Ullevi has 27 members. The team meets for lunch every Wednesday. If you visit on a day when all members are there, you'll hear 27 one minute presentations and two six minute presentations from team members. In addition, guests, like me, get 30 seconds to present themselves and their company. I did not count the exact number, but I think I heard about 30 business presentations at the meeting. This may sound like a lot, but BNI teams are very well organized. (Self-organized, I might add, in case you are interested in Agile software development or management.) Meetings take 90 minutes. It is a tight schedule, but I have never seen a BNI meeting that feels hurried. The trick is to keep everything flowing smoothly. If you observe carefully, practi

Passionate about presentations

From a presentation teaser I held this morning. Note the absence of presentation software. I showed an example of long term effects of cause-and-effect chains: A train crash in 1848 has had repercussions that made companies unnecessarily vulnerable to the financial crisis and recession in 2008. I show the complete cause and effect chain in the full talk. I am going into the presentation business. (Just so you know: I am not leaving the management consultant business, just adding a related and much needed service.) I hold at least one presentation every week, and I hear at least 16-18 presentations per week, sometimes twice that. Some of the presentations I see are very good, but many are not. The ability to make a good business presentation is important. I have seen companies with superior sales offers getting blown out of the competition because of poor presentations. I have seen strategy presentations which could not be understood by anyone, including the presenter. In one sur

Visiting the Gothenburg Book Fair with Erik Lundh

Erik Lundh at the Gothenburg Book Fair 2010.  I visited the 2010 Gothenburg Book Fair last Sunday. It was partly because of the books. I really, really, like books. Mostly, it was to meet Erik Lundh . Erik is a well known agile coach. When Erik told me he, his family, and a friend of his were coming to the fair, it tipped the scale in favor of a visit. While Erik and I were talking, which we did a lot of, I mentioned a problem I had with finding a good hook for a presentation I am working on. Erik offered to help. I accepted, and he dug into my brains to see if there was usable story in there somewhere. There was, though we had to do a lot of hands on sifting to find it. Afterwards I scooped up the wrangled remains of my brains from the table, put it back where it belongs and screwed the lid back on. The funny thing is that once my writer's block, well, presenter's block, had been removed, several other ideas that had been fluttering about in my head, searching for a

Stephen Kovacs on understanding the nature of Agile

I got a very thoughtful email from Stephen Kovacs on how to develop a deep understanding of Agile and Lean. I asked him if he would allow me to publish it. He did, so here it is: This may just be throwing a half baked idea out. That said.... I was looking around on the net for some discussion of "lean", since people seemed to be talking about it as an alternative to Agile, and my sense of Lean was not an alternative. Perhaps a less structured version of Agile? (it seems to me Agile has become an umbrella under which Lean and others congregate). I looked at a link to Wiki about Lean development, and from there to several links down into underlying theories (psychology, etc etc).. I keep coming up with the same thing: that Agile is an effort to pull together more humanistic theories of motivation and, perhaps, communication, into a working model. And I keep coming to the same conclusion. The more effort put into creating the model (the rules?) , the more explicit the working

Re-Imagining Agile part 2: Designing from the outside in

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business. – Henry Ford In the first part of the Re-Imagining Agile series I wrote about some of the ideas Agile is based on. The most basic one is a theory about human behavior and motivation, Theory Y. I wrote that most business organizations are designed based on a different set of assumptions, Theory X. Moving to Agile therefore represents a paradigm shift, a change in how we think. Fig 10: The paradigm shift. Figure 10 illustrates the shift in paradigms. As you can see, the shift is much more extensive than switching from Theory X to Theory Y. You might wish to compare this figure with the reading map in Figure 1 (in Part 1 of this series). While it is difficult to make the transition, it is quite possible. One organization that has made this shift is the U.S. Marine Corps. They did something really sneaky: They kept the name Command & Control, but they changed the definition of the word control ! ...decentralized con