Category Archives: Business

Quick read – Lateral Leadership by Tim Herbig

In his »practical guide for agile product managers« Tim sheds some light on a weak point of product managers – the soft skills required to succeed in nowadays mainly agile working environments. More often than not I wholeheartedly agree in what he’s writing. In the projects I’ve done so far, I seldom have seen a product owner respectively manager who really was able to do leadership. Instead their behaviour often leads to conflict, especially in case they do not respect agile values and principles.

The book is quite short and can be read during one single eve. I recommend it to any manager responsible for creating working environments where people can do the best job they can, to product owners respectively managers who are still struggling with agile setups, and to scrum masters who want to improve their coaching service for their product owners.

Motivation factors

My origins are based on education and experience I gained within the domain of industrial engineering and scientific management. After joining the IT industries, I eventually was working as a product Manager for a software product.

I never was pleased with the outcome of what we developed at that time. I wondered whether I could improve that situation by motivating my teammates. As a consequence, I read the book »Motivating Employees«. While reading it, I always asked myself wether the concepts would motivate myself. The answer always was »No. It would rather demotivate me.«. Thus my personal verdict read as:

I cannot motivate people. People only can motivate themselves. But there are a lot of things I can do to demotivate people.

But why is that? Don’t we all witness day by day that extrinsic motivation is an excellent tool to increase performance?

The answer is: »Well, it depends.«. The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) published a quite popular video based on a talk of Daniel H. Pink. Here’s the essential content:

As long as the task involved used only mechanical skills, bonuses worked as expected. Once the task called for rudimentary cognitive skills, a larger reward led to poorer performance.

[…]
3 factors lead to better performance & personal satisfaction…

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

Similar content appears in a posting published by Oscar Berg. Via Twitter he also shared the embedded venn diagram:

As I linked to this diagram a couple of years ago, I did the self test wether the things surrounded by the right circle did motivate myself. The answer was nine times »Yes, that’s me«.

Professional Scrum Master I Certification

Overview

Recently I attended a PSM training with Ken Schwaber. Part of the contract was one free attempt of scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Master I Assessment, which I successfully passed yesterday. It consists of 80 multiple choice questions, and the timebox is 60 minutes. To gain the certificate, the rate of correctly answered questions must be better than 85%. IMO you won’t pass the test in case you do not really share an agile mindset, which is required to answer some of the questions. In case you got interested, there’s the Scrum Open Assessment which asks 30 questions in 60 minutes (which I finished in 17 minutes).

Certificate

While writing this posting, scrum.org sent me the logo (see above), the certificate, and put my name on the stack. For me, two years after I introduced Scrum at my current employer’s, it’s just one minor step while learning more about product management, project management, agile software development (including Scrum, of course), and adjacent topics.

Inspect and Adapt

So what’s next? The more I learn, the more I want to learn even more. The next stack of books already is sitting on my couch, and I really enjoy the journey to grow my agile capabilities. The future will prove whether I will find opportunities to make good use of them.