Calming the storm !

During my busy schedules, some times at the end of the day, I am totally tired, and hit the bed immediately after the day’s work. Some days I work very long. Today I had a very calm day (Sunday). Slept nicely, watched a movie, did not do any official work, went to church, went for the local Y’smen get together and read the bible…and this is what I got;

‘Without warning a fierce storm hit the lake, with waves sweeping the boat. But Jesus was asleep. They woke him and cried, Lord save us!. We are Lost!. But Jesus answered, Why are you so afraid, you of little faith?”. Then he stood up and ordered the wind and the sea; and it became completely calm….”

Can we really get rest, without being spiritual!. I really doubt.

Adding one more white board – for the product backlog

While doing the sprint planning meeting, very often new feature ideas crops up and if not recorded immediately can be lost. Why not have another white board with post it notes, for the product backlog itself. This gives the team absolute visibility on the shape of things to come, ans their brains also will work on “how to improve the product better”.

In the classtube project, we have three white boards; one for the design to evolve, the second one for the product backlog and the third one for the sprint tracking. It is working well for us.

Implementing SCRUM in small teams – the need

Antony and Me are working on ClassTube for the last 3 months. It is just a two member team working together, based on continuous brainstorming. He is good in designs, coding where as my contribution is by way of¬† finalizing and prioritizing the features, removing the bottlenecks (getting uninterrupted power, upgrading the system, getting the right softwares, ensuring availability of drinking water etc etc ūüôā ) and testing the system. It is a great informal way of working and we are happy about the deliverables and team satisfaction. We really enjoy the work !

Now the product has taken it’s basic shape and the nature of work is more of a continuous improvement nature plus some solid features.¬† When my team member is engrossed in real technical work, I have started interrupting him¬† every now and then. Nobody is complaining about it right now, and at the same time I am sure that somebody will soon, if this continues. This can really eat into the job satisfaction levels, which in turn can bring in all sorts of issues.

Now we have decided to adopt SCRUM, to formalize the informality. The white board and the post its are ready !

The fun quotient @ work !

Working from home Рfrom  that small office is great fun !. You can enjoy the most when you really add all those small stuff in installments. Like going for that desktop and the lap top.. then waiting for another month to get the printer, fax, copier. Then really debating with the small team on whether we should go for a generator or a UPS or a better office or a better airconditioner Рall these without an office assistant !  Believe me, it is great fun.

This is even greater fun when I come across factions fighting over the temperature setting of the air conditioner and people complaining about the pizza (free luch paid by the company) and people complaining about lack of time to use those swimming pools and gyms within their offices Рand no time to sit idle for a while Рand even after getting all these facilities stll unhappy about everything and complain and still live with total under utilization of their potential with those golden handcuffs ON!.   Till how long friend?.

The answer is really really going after that dream project ūüôā

Have a great day!

Aby from his car shed getting converted to an office. Most of the great companies started in car sheds !.  HP, Microsoft, Infosys, Novell, Google all had very humble beginnings. I think scarecity of resources, improve the team bonding and the commitment levels.  

ClassTubing from Prologic Innovation Campus

Hey we are really working as a team now. There is that burning desire to wake up early to see the developments at http://www.classtube.com . Always daring to dream. We want to make it the best in it’s class. Day by day our product is evolving and she is getting more and more attractive day by day!. I am talking about www.classtube.com

In my workshops I preach about the need of a compelling product vision and what will happen when it really gets into you. You are really obsessed with what you are doing. You are really enjoying what you are doing.

Today Antony left our lab at 5.30 p.m and again at 7.30 p.m I am seeing him on Gtalk logging in from his home. He too is obsessed with classtube !

Classtube it guys!

If you have software development work to be offloaded to us, please email me. We need to make some money too -)

Aby from the Prologic Innovation Campus !

Scaling down SCRUM

I started with SCRUM due to my academic interest. Got opportunities to work with some brilliant teams very closely. As I experience it more and more, I am seeing vast potential of SCRUM to create healthy work environments and in turn organizations.

Since India is an outsourcing hub, many of the customers of the small and medium sized software organizations in India, want to allocate work, before they sleep and want to see the results when they wake up (exploiting the time lag). In these organizations, I never saw any opportunities to implement any kind of project management. Now I am just thinking ‘Why not a daily SPRINT’¬† – Please share your experiences/views on this

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Some GYAN from the first time users of SCRUM

  • Better team work
  • Pressure with pleasure
  • Better creativity
  • Better productivity
  • Peer pressure
  • Higher degree of commitment to work

The above points are from the practitioners. As a coach of scrum methodology, I have this case to share. There was one participant, who was very tired at the beginning of the SCRUM workshop. This participant looked tired and from the looks it was clear that this person did not have proper sleep the previous day. At the end of the workshop this person was full of enthusiasm and energy. SCRUM a great energy booster!

There was another person, who was using the word ‘BUT’ very frequently and was always on the problem side. After SCRUMMing he got transformed into a possibility thinker. He was talking only of the positives and the benefits.

Another manager had this challenge of poor knowledge sharing within the team. The experts did not share their knowledge with the new comers. At the end of the SCRUM workshop he had the solution to this problem.

As a SCRUM coach, after every workshop, I am wondering why people are adopting PDCA approach for software development project, when a wonderful framework like SCRUM is available.

Any organization which is serious about creating a better workplace, should adopt SCRUM as a way of doing work and in turn SCRUM can transform the organization.

Scrum and intellectual disobediance

In the last fifteen days, I had the opportunity to train around 40 indian engineers / managers on scrum. Do Indians by nature fear heirarchies?. While implementing SCRUM, this is one big challenge. People fear to express themselves, especially when the boss is around or in the presence of an expert. This is the biggest challenge for a SCRUM coach. What I mean is very intellectually obedient teams.  For effective teaming, we need to agree to disagree (intellectually) and at the same time, this cannot be a time wasting affair. The person should be able to disagree with valid reasons professionally, thus contributing to the solution. Without this the complete value based implementation of SCRUM will not be achieved.

Back to my office ūüôā

Patterns – Crisis of growth

I have worked with two startups in the past. One does not exist today and the other one is still growing, and may either grow further and crash or get into a sustainable growth path if the senior management learn faster than their work force. There are lot of similarities between these organizations.

  1. The growth of these companies were very rapid till a point
  2. There were ample opportunities for everyone to learn and experiment
  3. They all had a very informal work environment
  4. When they touched a 100 plus strength, the management started looking for ways to standardize things – killing the informalism
  5. The key leaders (founding members), started to distance themselves from the rest, by bringing in senior executives from other organizations (very often these senior executives had pre-set mind sets – they knew just one way of working, and thought that is the right thing – and this was in contrast to the company’s informal structures – creating a turmoil within.
  6. Bringin in senior exceutives from outside prevented growth opportunities of some very senir insiders. This created resentment within and sometimes even resignations, giving wrong signals.
  7. The founding members got little bit over confident and arrogant, becuse they are successful till that point.
  8. While all others are continuously lerning, the founder members did not learn anything new and at the same time they need new skill sets to manage a large organization with diversity. This is more like the parents failing to change their approaches towards their kids, as they grow. They still feel that their son or daughter is still that small baby.  In the startups I have seen, the promoters did not have neither the time nor inclination to go to a training program to gain new skills.
  9. They start to treat employees as cost not as resources. Till a point of growth, all were friends and colleagues, and at some point in time this changes to – cost to the company !
  10. The senior management did not have a concrete growth plan for their organizations, which they could share with the team memebers. This in turn created ambiguity about future in the minds of fellow professionals, thus demotivating them.
  11. The senior management failed to point out one single external enemy to their organization, leading to lack of teamwork and fighting spirit among the workforce.