“Exceptional” not required

Have you noticed all the job postings boasting that they’re looking for “exceptional” candidates? That, to my mind, is almost as daft as wanting ten years’ experience in a technology that’s only five years old.
If someone’s exceptional when they join your spiffy little company, where are they going from there? How about creating a company culture that brings out the exceptional in ordinary people?

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Video of my presentation “The Seven Wastes” at Portland

Thanks to Sanjeev Raman for inviting me up to Portland Agile & Scrum Meetup Group.  My topic was “The Seven Wastes”, also known as Type II Muda (Wastes of Activity).  There’s a spot of Lean for you!

The hosts, ISITE Design, kindly recorded the session.  They set it up to record the laptop I was using, so as I ran PowerPoint in presenter mode, you get to see the “cheat sheet” side of the presentation.  The recording stopped as we went into a live exercise.

Here it is:

The exercise was started during the talk, with people making notes on sticky-notes of aspects of their working world that they could now see qualified as waste.  We then had everyone swarm and group their notes, cross referencing them with Agile practices that could handle these wastes.

We also found that folks gained a new appreciation of why Agile practices work so well.

I gave an extra mini-talk afterwards, “How to Sell Agile to the Bean-Counters” but that is a story for another day.

In my estimation…

I’ve was asked some time back to be a panel member on a discussion about estimation.  The other panel members are all business analysts.  The audience is going to consist of business analysts and project managers.

Following a planning call with the organizer and other panelists, I realize that I’m dealing with some folks who are used to estimation being a quest for certainty, regardless of the fact that it’s an uncertain world. 

To prepare myself, I’ve been thinking of an analogy I can use to explain agile thinking about estimation.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Scenario The First

You’re going to play golf with some friends on a course with which you’re all familiar.  How long will it take to play each hole?  How long for the entire round?

Can you hear people answering already “It depends…”?

Scenario The Second

You’re going to play golf with some friend on a course with which none of you are at all familiar?  How long will it take to play each hole?  How long for the entire round?

Can’t you just hear people saying “Well, we could guess if we looked at a plan of the course” or “We wouldn’t really know until we’d played a few holes”.  Right.

Scenario The Third

You’re going to play gold with a group you’ve never met, at a course at which none of you have ever played.

… The Fourth

…this time not even on a course, but across country!  You have a map, but it’s not clear if the map is current.

…The Fifth

Now, back to the unfamiliar course with your buddies, but this time you have only four hours to play.  How many holes could you complete?  How about if you were only allowed a budget of seventy-five shots, how many holes then?

How about if I told you to play exactly eighteen holes, no more, no less, and they all had to holes in one, or you lose your bonus this year?  On three courses.  At the same time.  I’ve got a buddy who’s no longer a project manager as a result of roughly that scenario.  Which is one of the reasons I’m serious about agility.

Anyhow, that’s the analogy I ended up using.