Surprise! Prioritizing Options Results in Discovering Slack Time

Surprise! Prioritizing Options Results in Discovering Slack Time

We just hired a new person onto our Learning & Development team. The shift from three to four people caused me to have a serious think about improving our methods for prioritization. The expectation of increased workload may have prompted new thoughts. Maybe it was the beginning of a new year with new goals. Other factors may also have entered in—for instance, the broader subject matter requests our team received. And as additional requests flooded in, I realized that we…

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Kill the Zombies

Kill the Zombies

It’s October.  Monsters are appearing. Living dead zombies are lurking around looking for handouts. Similar to some projects at work, zombie projects are like the living dead. These are the low-value projects that are barely alive. They are starving for money, for resources and for people. They get no love. Projects starving for attention subtly schlep people’s time and energy away from higher value projects. If this is the case, kill them. Kill them so the more important work will be delivered…

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Devopsdays Silicon Valley: Why don’t we just say no?

Devopsdays Silicon Valley: Why don’t we just say no?

The problem for a spouse who can build or fix just about anything is that the other spouse provides them with a long list of things to do. And for a number of reasons, it’s hard for them to say no. Reason #1 is that they like the person who asked. We do things for people we like. The same is true at the office. But getting things done doesn’t always start with yes. In this talk, I describe four…

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Physical Boards Preferred

Physical Boards Preferred

I have facilitated a lean coffee http://leancoffee.org/ during day two of my Kanban for Ops workshops for over a year now.  It’s been interesting to hear common themes surface across multiple countries from various industries.  Typical topics include:  How to deal with frequent organizational changes, kanban vs. scrumban vs. scrum, every team uses a different tool, distributed teams. At last weeks Atlanta workshop, we had the following: “Why bother at all with an electronic kanban board?” The consensus amongst many…

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Don’t Break Down Silos

Don’t Break Down Silos

Each September, I spend time investing in my own education. This year, Steve Holt suggested I register for the Cynefin practitioner foundation class from Cognitive Edge. The class sparked many aha moments for me, among which, the notion that short stories from multiple sources are much more relevant and powerful than studies reported by experts in their field. However, the biggest eye opener for me was when instructor Michael Chevedave said, “Don’t break down silos.”  What?!?! Here I had been talking and writing about breaking down…

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Grawlixes, Slurm and the Dead Zone

Grawlixes, Slurm and the Dead Zone

Last week’s Kanban for Devops training class in Portland produced some notably creative ideas towards visualization. Grawlixes, Slurm and the Dead Zone are three ideas worth spreading. Capturing interrupts using grawlixes (series of typographical symbols representing profanity in comic strips) shows work impacts in an amusing manner. Here’s how it works. Each time work is interrupted, add one grawlix to the ticket on the board. The longer the grawlix series on the ticket, the longer the lead time and (presumably)…

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Yesh, But What Do you Do?

Yesh, But What Do you Do?

I did software configuration management for most of my career. I did builds and deployments and managed source code trees. I built out and maintained development, test and staging environments. My friends and family never really understood what I did for a living. But they knew from experience that if a release was happening that weekend, they might not see me until Monday morning. If The Phoenix Project had been around then, I could have just given them the book.  It’s a novel…

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How do Teams Continue to Win during Turmoil?

How do Teams Continue to Win during Turmoil?

We had a big snow this week.  Twelve inches total, a forty-three year record in our part of Puget Sound country.  We lost power for ten hours – no furnace, no computer, no lights. No problem – I cozied up to an emergency kerosene stove and opened Jim Collins’ new book, Great by Choice, a study of winning behavior when confronted by uncertainty – with comparisons between companies that win and companies that languish. I was especially fascinated by the parallels…

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