Category Archives: Business

The use of incentives

Luis Goncalves wrote a great posting concerning the consequences of incentives, regardless whether it was based on an individual’s or team’s level. The real world issues described by Jakob Carlsen’s comment may be familiar with some employees.

Once again I’d like to recommend »The surprising truth about what motivates us« by the Royal Society of Arts and Oscar Berg‘s marvellous »What makes knowledge workers productive?« venn diagram.

Acceleration

Since a couple of years, there’s quite some discussion on upscaling agility and which framework to use. IMO it’s quite hard to implement agility within a traditional pyramidal structure (except for celebrating some cargo cult), and even harder to scale it up.

In case you didn’t already, you may want to read a contribution of John P. Kotter to Harvard Business Review and to watch this video (alternatively via youtube).

Gijs van Wulfen on innovation

Gijs’ posting hits the nail on its head. Companies once may have created a great product, may have run a profitable business, and now are trapped by complacency as a consequence.

The last camera I bought was not one of the typical brands (like Canon, Nikon, or Sony) but one of Samsung’s NX series. As I replaced my master keyboard, I prefered the groundbreaking Korg Kronos over the products of Yamaha or Roland. The cell phone I’m using privately still is a Nokia N900, an attempt of Nokia to compete with the iPhone.

In case that sales begin to decrease, chances are given that it already is quite late to respond. Companies eventually leave the market rather sooner than later in case another one was more innovative. There’s just one remedy to avoid such a situation. Be more innovative than the rest of the world.

Gijs recommends to raise the awareness at one’s company. According to the ADKAR model, that’s a crucial, though just the first step. What’s actually required is a change of culture and the way people are working together. Excerpt of the principles behind the Agile Manifesto:

Build projects around motivated individuals.
Give them the environment and support they need,
and trust them to get the job done.

Those lines describe a completely different approach of collaboration, and there are still a lot of companies which aren’t on their way yet. Only time will tell us which ones will persist.

Getting things done – using Shuffle and Tracks

Though I read »Getting things done« by David Allen a couple of years ago, I never consistently used it. I was just comfortable with the tools I was used to, including notebooks.

Since I left my long time employer recently to start working as an “agile consultant”, things have changed. Though I’m still using plain old school paper, an Android powered handset became one of the most important tools (which can be read as »single point of failure«) to organise my activities.

Simple note taking applications, wich I used until now, just leave too much »noise« on the screen which does not fit the current context one is currently working on. As a consequence, I remembered David’s book. I started to search for a simple GTD application and stumbled upon several comparison lists like this one.

Astrid

Astrid Tasks & To-do List seems to be pretty popular and syncs its data with astrid.com or even Remember the Milk, though there seem to be some known issues. Since I was interested in a sync service I can control myself, I put it on the MaybeLater :) stack.

Shuffle

The next application that gained my interest was Shuffle. Though Andy Bryant seems to have retired concerning new features, I liked what it has to offer. The source code is publicly available, it’s features are limited to what you really need (e.g. no yagni), the user interface is kept tidy, and it provides sync with a Tracks server (see below). Additionally it provides a desktop widget which can display a configurable data set.

After the installation, Shuffle offers to create some example data. I didn’t use it but started to fill it with own content.

I’ll see during the next couple of days whether it will serve me well.

Tracks

When reading Allen’s book I also experimented with Ruby on Rails. I remember I also played with Tracks, an RoR GTD application meanwhile hosted on Github. I tried the BitNami installer, but got some ASCII vs. Unicode error after logging in. Admittedly I was too lazy to debug the issue (I guess it came from the german locale present on my Mac OS X 10.7.5 machine). Instead of setting up my own server, I (ab)used one of the ready to use installations, namely tracks.smajn.net. Thanks for the great service, BTW.

A test sync with Shuffle worked immediately:

I’m pretty curious whether the sync with a privately set up Tracks server will show some quirks during daily use. Due to the fact that the source code is available, I’ll hopefully be able to write a patch by myself in case such issues occur.

Conclusion

None so far :) . I’ll first check whether Shuffle will serve me well as a standalone application. If so, I’ll set up a Tracks server on one of my machines so that I can sync my data with it. The main purpose is that it is a bit cumbersome to enter text with the on screen keyboard of a handset device. In case the sync works, one could keep the entries done on the phone brief and edit them as soon as a computer with an internet connection is available. Last but not least, I’m curious whether this combo can serve as an impediment backlog of a Scrum Master :) .

Scrumday Conference 2012 is past

The Scrumday conference 2012 is past. The first day opened with some Open-space discussion, followed by a fishbowl conversation with Ken Schwaber and Dean Leffingwell, and ended with a “get together” party.

Today was organized as a traditional conference providing keynotes (Ken Schwaber, Dean Leffingwell, Martin Fassunge & Tobias Hildenbrand) and talks. Once again, a great event to exchange ideas and to learn from other Scrum professionals. I’m glad I made it, despite a couple of impediments :) .

How Real Is Real?

Paul Watzlawick has written a couple of popular books. Ages ago I read »The Situation Is Hopeless, But Not Serious: The Pursuit of Unhappiness« (1983), and recently »How Real Is Real?« (1976). Actually I read the german language issue »Wie wirklich ist die Wirklichkeit?«, the first book for some time now I was reading in my mother tongue.

The book is a joy to read, and I finished it in a couple of evenings. It is divided into three parts, confusion, disinformation, and communication. In short, Paul states that reality is a result of communication and provides a couple of astounding examples.

The book is capable of changing your point of view about everyday’s things, regardless whether private or professional issues. After reading two thirds of the book, it already helped me better understand what is happening in my team the next day. In case your job includes managing humans, I can recommend this book – you won’t regret.