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Squirrel tells stories of clients whose attempt to ringfence developers on certain tasks ended badly, and we explore why hiding from a difficult conversation with "dedicated" engineers doesn't work. SHOW LINKS:- Original tweet: https://twitter.com/douglassquirrel/status/1435602662796537861- https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/solving-the-problem-of…
 
We discuss making radical change in an organisation by violating its norms in use and producing productive conflict.SHOW LINKS:- How Should the Company Decide?: https://soundcloud.com/troubleshootingagile/how-should-the-company-decide---Our new book, Agile Conversations, is out now! See https://agileconversations.com where you can order your copy a…
 
We consider the dynamics—or perhaps statics!—of an organisation that is stuck running the same agile processes or following an unchanging strategy, even though it isn't providing any improvement, and consider why an organisation might get stuck in this way. SHOW LINKS:- Double-Loop Learning: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-loop_learning --- Ou…
 
We discuss why daily delivery via "elephant carpaccio"—already challenging for engineers—is doubly difficult for designers, and what to do about it.SHOW LINKS:- Elephant Carpaccio: https://alistair.cockburn.us/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Elephant-Carpaccio-exercise-instructions.pdf---Our new book, Agile Conversations, is out now! See https://agileco…
 
A listener asks how to find a great company to work for, and Jeffrey and Squirrel share a few opinionated, biased heuristics for discovering great environments to work in. SHOW LINKS:- CITCON conferences: https://citconf.com/- DevopsDays: https://devopsdays.org/- DOES conference: https://events.itrevolution.com- Joel Test: https://www.joelonsoftwar…
 
Squirrel and Jeffrey trade stories about coaching people who feel trapped by a decision seemingly outside their control—and how a recursive question can help unlock more options and a better result.SHOW LINKS:- Unilateral control: https://soundcloud.com/troubleshootingagile/how-to-fail-by-acting-unilaterally-part-i- Mutual learning: https://soundcl…
 
Continuing our discussion of codewords as a signal of intimacy, we look at how team cohesion changes as a team grows or shrinks, and how you can anticipate this and retain positive cultural elements as your team evolves.SHOW LINKS:- Alistair Cockburn communication graph: p. 6 of https://alistair.cockburn.us/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/A-concise-theo…
 
Squirrel explains how a telephone emoji helped a coaching client and we discover how codewords help build trust. SHOW LINKS:- Code words tweet: https://twitter.com/douglassquirrel/status/1421016370850971650- Alistair Cockburn communication graph: p. 6 of https://alistair.cockburn.us/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/A-concise-theory-of-software-developmen…
 
If you're already struggling to hit targets, don't add more! Recommendations for improving performance without overcomplication.SHOW LINKS:- Tilted slider: p. 139 of https://itrevolution.com/agile-conversations/- Metrics tweet: https://twitter.com/douglassquirrel/status/1418149716584501254- Transcript: https://agileconversations.com/blog/dont-add-m…
 
Squirrel rants about matrix management and then Jeffrey calms him down by describing self-managing team structures that work better. They agree that multiplying responsibilities and separating them from the place where the work happens is a bad idea. SHOW LINKS:- How Shirt / What Shirt episode: https://soundcloud.com/troubleshootingagile/the-two-sh…
 
Squirrel and Jeffrey shock a leader they're coaching by telling him to aim to increase complaints. It turns out that Amy Edmondson, ALCOA, and Toyota all agree with this seemingly counterintuitive advice.SHOW LINKS:- Amy Edmondson, Teaming: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7023600-teaming- Andon light: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stack_light- …
 
Our old friend Chris Clearfield explains how he helps leaders identify and fix overwhelmingly complicated organisational problems.SHOW LINKS:- Chris’s workshop: https://pages.chrisclearfield.com/webinar/?sc_ref=55TfdIkc52FEI1EH- Chris’s email, site, and podcast: chris@chrisclearfield.com , https://www.chrisclearfield.com/ , https://www.chrisclearfi…
 
Jeffrey and Squirrel show you how to use "paradoxical agenda-setting" to help ensure a team or organisation is really committed—or to find out why commitment would be a very bad idea!- Invite to the Agile Conversations Slack: https://join.slack.com/t/agile-conversations/shared_invite/zt-nuw1f84n-62CQworE~PpuR7WOUCZp4g- Paradoxical Agenda-Setting: h…
 
Squirrel tells the story of an exec who operates at warp speed and leaves his director of technology behind in his wake. How can we best handle these rapid-fire questions and instant decisions? We have concrete suggestions for being productive and successful when your style doesn't match that of a stakeholder.SHOW LINKS:- Burying the lede: https://…
 
Squirrel tells the story of a conversation that took a sudden difficult turn, and we discuss methods like the Disarming Technique for handling surprises like this effectively.SHOW LINKS:- Roger Schwarz, Eight Behaviours for Smarter Teams: https://www.csu.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/917018/Eight-Behaviors-for-Smarter-Teams-2.pdf- David Burns,…
 
A listener asks us about why social hierarchy and popularity norms matter so much in team discussions. We riff on a number of ideas this inspires including the Tyranny of Structurelessness and the Core Protocols.- Tyranny of Structurelessness article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tyranny_of_Structurelessness- Project Aristotle (Google study): …
 
At #citcon Virtual 2021, Andy Parker makes the case that Fredrick Taylor, whom we sometimes like to bash as the father of the feature factory, created the foundation of our work as software teams.- CITCON: https://citconf.com/- Fredrick Taylor: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Winslow_Taylor- Previous Fredrick Taylor episode: https://www.con…
 
Our friends at CITCON help us think about why we feel like we're covering the same agile lessons over and over, like breaking epics down into very small stories. An analogy to teaching long division turns out to be surprisingly helpful.- CITCON: https://citconf.com/- Moore, Crossing the Chasm: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_the_Chasm- Chris…
 
We describe some data scientists we know who are stuck in a tricky bind - why won't others in their organisation listen to their insights? This is the "Last Mile" problem of data science, for which we recommend (surprise!) building relationships through better conversations.- Last Mile problem of Data Science: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestec…
 
"We'll keep an eye on it". "It's on our backlog." "It's on our tech debt list". These are all examples of voodoo charms, reassuring phrases that make you feel better but don't create real change. We suggest several ways to overcome the real fear behind your use of the voodoo charm. SHOW LINKS:- public pronouncements don’t work: https://blogs.scient…
 
Squirrel tells a dramatic story about preparing for a meeting under huge pressure, and we discuss how valuable it is to have a solid relationship to build on when negotiating over something as important as survival of your startup. SHOW LINKS:- Your first 30 Days as an Agile Manager: https://xebia.com/academy/en/training/first-30-days-agile-manager…
 
Vasco Duarte, master of Scrum, issues a call to arms for all scrum masters: you have nothing to lose but your estimates and feature factories! Noted Scrum sceptic Squirrel questions Vasco vigorously on what Scrum Masters do and discovers that Vasco's view of the role is very different from the traditional one.SHOW LINKS:- Vasco: http://softwaredeve…
 
Vasco Duarte, master of Scrum, issues a call to arms for all scrum masters: you have nothing to lose but your estimates and feature factories! Noted Scrum sceptic Squirrel questions Vasco vigorously on what Scrum Masters do and discovers that Vasco's view of the role is very different from the traditional one.SHOW LINKS:- Vasco: http://softwaredeve…
 
Alan Weiss has written over 60 books on consulting and advocates a no-holds-barred approach, "the martial arts of language", to business problems. He eats difficult conversations for breakfast! We find out why language controls business, how us engineers can drive strategy by emphasizing results and not technology , and what tough love is and why i…
 
In the second of a two-part series, Johan Abildskov of Eficode has a conversation with Jeffrey and Squirrel about tools for using conversations to implement agile and DevOps methods, including Test-Driven Development for People (aka the Ladder of Inference). SHOW LINKS:- Eficode: https://www.eficode.com/- TDD for People: https://www.douglassquirrel…
 
In the first of a two-part series, Johan Abildskov of Eficode has a conversation with Jeffrey and Squirrel about culture, transparency, curiosity, and how to use all three to adopt DevOps methods successfully.Special addition: a video version of today's podcast! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6c8qIJUdwo SHOW LINKS:- Eficode: https://www.eficode.c…
 
We discuss two very different stories about leaders that communicate a cultural message pithily and clearly, and reflect on why these stories were effective and how all of us can communicate culture in this way. SHOW LINKS:- Steve Jobs aquarium story: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/10/in-praise-of-bad-steve/246242/ --- Our new …
 
If your boss isn't helping like you think she should, maybe she's not from Mars, but actually trying to give you more autonomy. We reflect on this in light of real-world coaching stories. SHOW LINKS:- Situational Leadership: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situational_leadership_theory--- Our new book, Agile Conversations, is out now! See https://con…
 
A reader asks whether following the "bad idea" advice from last episode can lead to an unrecoverable local maximum, sentencing the team to endless patches and obscure bugs. Squirrel and Jeffrey have different takes on this based on their ancient greybeard stories.SHOW LINKS:- The Power of a Bad Idea episode: https://soundcloud.com/troubleshootingag…
 
Drawing lessons from Squirrel's driving test experiences, we explore why making a cultural or process change that's intentionally suboptimal can be surprisingly valuable.SHOW LINKS:- Driving Lessons episode: https://soundcloud.com/troubleshootingagile/driving-lessons- Cynefin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynefin_framework- Kaizen: https://en.wiki…
 
We start with a listener question on roles in an agile team, but quickly divert to Squirrel's "driftwood theory" of hiring and role specification, which turns out to be based on effective conversations and flexible problem solving (what a surprise!)SHOW LINKS:- We're the Aliens episode: https://www.conversationaltransformation.com/blog/we're-the-al…
 
How giving work to your boss positions you as the driving force, not the bottleneck—and more methods and mindset shifts to change the perception "gee, that tech team sure is slow".SHOW LINKS:- Squirrel's workshop on “Decoding Tech Talk”: https://www.douglassquirrel.com/resources.html- Nudge book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nudge_(book)- Radiate …
 
We discover that we've given opposing advice about asking "Why" questions—including in our chapter on the Why Conversation! It turns out that a big factor in the success or failure of a "why" is your intent, and that (as usual) greater transparency can avoid misunderstandings and help you find new options.SHOW LINKS:- Never Split the Difference: ht…
 
Jeffrey tells us stories about three ways agile teams deal with uncertainty: seeking cover by looking to a single source of truth, or seeking similar cover by following a process, or seeking true psychological safety through conversations. We analyse why the first two often don't work and why the third is so threatening to adopt.SHOW LINKS:- Psycho…
 
The fabulous Johanna Rothman, author of 18 books on tech and management, joins us for part II to describe what modern management is and how empathy, safety, and purpose can motivate and inspire your agile team.SHOW LINKS:- Johanna: jrothman.com , createadaptablelife.com- Behind Closed Doors: https://www.jrothman.com/books/behind-closed-doors-secret…
 
The fabulous Johanna Rothman, author of 18 books on tech and management, joins us to describe what modern management is and how empathy, safety, and purpose can motivate and inspire your agile team.SHOW LINKS:- Johanna: jrothman.com , createadaptablelife.com- Behind Closed Doors: https://www.jrothman.com/books/behind-closed-doors-secrets-of-great-m…
 
After last week's episode on ahas in 2020, we describe what we're planning to do to help people do the work, move faster, and be productive.SHOW LINKS- 2020 Ahas episode: https://soundcloud.com/troubleshootingagile/our-biggest-a-has-of-2020 - London Organisational Learning Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/London-Action-Science-Meetup/- Episode on Con…
 
We describe our big ahas of a weird and somehow still educational year, including insights on productivity, deliberate practise, and speed of change.SHOW LINKS- Software Factory to Feature Factory episode: https://www.conversationaltransformation.com/blog/software-factory-to-feature-factory/ - London Organisational Learning Meetup: https://www.meet…
 
Squirrel and Jeffrey deconstruct the defensive reasoning behind planning 110% of velocity in each sprint. Hidden conversations and assumptions abound, including the perception that this is normal, that the team will do more as a result, and that we know what 110% is in the first place.SHOW LINKS:- Slack book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/123…
 
Squirrel tells the story of a client who was asked an impossible question about agile team productivity, and we explore why such impossible questions are actually valuable and worth investigating with curiosity.SHOW LINKS:- Kobayashi Maru: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobayashi_Maru- Mu: http://www.jargon.net/jargonfile/m/mu.html https://wiki.c2.c…
 
A listener asks us to explain the link between "normalisation of deviance" and fear. Using examples like an agile team dropping its retrospectives, or NASA launching the Space Shuttle in too-cold conditions, we illustrate how being afraid can drive a group away from its espoused norms and toward dangerous alternatives, and conversely how you can us…
 
Squirrel tells the story of an agile team faced with seemingly irresistible demands, and describes how switching to the "Yes, And" stance (originating from improvisational theatre) helped them find a solution that worked for everyone.SHOW LINKS:- "Yes, And" in improv and brainstorming: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yes,_and…- CTO Craft: How to Talk…
 
We look at two elements - Collaboration and Reflection - of the Heart of Agile approach developed by our friend Alistair Cockburn, and illustrate how conscious and attentive listening and reflection on emotions make a big difference for agile teams.SHOW LINKS:- Motherhood and Apple Pie: https://hotidioms.com/2012/02/21/motherhood-and-apple-pie/- Co…
 
We look at two elements - Collaboration and Reflection - of the Heart of Agile approach developed by our friend Alistair Cockburn, and illustrate how conscious and attentive listening and reflection on emotions make a big difference for agile teams.SHOW LINKS:- Heart of Agile tweet: https://twitter.com/TotherAlistair/status/1312407646364991489- Ali…
 
We are joined by the wise and thoughtful Misha Glouberman, who organises Internet cocktail parties and better, more human-friendly meetings for organisations and teams—and the two turn out to have a lot in common.SHOW LINKS:- Misha: http://www.mishaglouberman.com- Trampoline Hall: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/trampoline-hall/id1190668782?m…
 
Squirrel is gobsmacked by user stories that appear to be about aliens, who want "intuitive interfaces" and "modern technology", where customers from Earth want "fun with my kids" or "relief from boredom". Jeffrey reminds us that such stories can lead to conversations that tease out the emotions and the human stories behind the words. Both agree tha…
 
Jessica Katz is an agile coach who uses curiosity and conversational skills to help agile teams perform better. She explains why you need to liberate the elephant in the room, how you can do that through nonviolent communication, and how one person saying "good morning" unlocked better performance for a whole team.SHOW LINKS:- Jessica Katz: https:/…
 
Jeffrey is inspired by Jon Smart and the DOES Virtual conference to discuss homeostasis as a source of resistance to change, and Squirrel tells a client story about curiosity as a way to help a complex system adapt.SHOW LINKS:- DOES Virtual "Las Vegas": https://events.itrevolution.com/virtual/- Jon Smart: https://itrevolution.com/sooner-safer-happi…
 
Following last week's praise of Taylorism, a suitable approach for making complicated problems simple, this week we look at a similar revolution in democratising innovation and creating a learning organisation—by uncovering hidden complexity and removing status as a barrier to discovery of error.SHOW LINKS:Team of Teams: https://www.goodreads.com/b…
 
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