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Enter the Age of Agile!




Dear friends,

41T6mA9ISmL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_This is to let you know that Steve Denning and his partners are offering an amazing array of Agile leadership and management gifts will be available this week for early purchasers of Steve Denning’s new book, ‘The Age of Agile: How Smart Companies Are Transforming the Way Work Gets Done’. The list of gifts of gifts is here: http://stevedenning.com/Workshops/launch2018.aspx and the gifts will become available tomorrow, Thursday February 8 at 4pm US EST. Some gifts are in limited quantities and are likely to go quickly. Check it out. You won’t be disappointed!

There are 41 gifts, some worth thousands of dollars, and you get access to all of them. For instance, Richard Sheridan of Menlo Innovations is offering places at his famous five-day deep dive at Menlo Innovations, worth $3,650, Professor Rita McGrath and many other well-known figures from the Agile community are offering consultations, workshops, books, videos, articles and other tools. Myself I offer a presentation and an initial one-hour consultation about and for Agile MVP’s. In this presentation and consultation I share my experiences about what it takes to set up Agile projects for success, namely motivation, vision and Agile practice for the project, the team and the business. In addition to the presentation I share a free template ready for immediate use. Places will be limited.

And even if you cannot (or don’t want to) secure any of these free give-aways, you will still get so much out of Steve’s new book. It’s not another about Agile. It explains why Agile is a new business paradigm and how you can embrace it and succeed.

Good luck, happy reading and lots of joy practicing and being Agile,

Thomas

Posted in: Agile, Future of Work

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You have to behave like a kid to become a leader

Can trainee programs teach leadership? Yes, but most of them don’t

I conducted a project leadership for members of a trainee program.  Attendees were motivated and full of energy.  Participation was very good and some of the insights and outcomes of the interactive exercises were even astounding.  Then, toward the end, the bubble of excitement bursted when one of the attendees asked for more detailed instructions how to apply “my” 5 leadership principles for project success.  “Eh, what!?” I thought. “Have I missed anything? Didn’t we just go through a number of exercises that addressed the very same question?” – What went wrong?

108088_web_R_K_by_Jerzy Sawluk_pixelio.deYou have to act like a little kid again to become a leader

What went wrong was that I mistakenly assumed that the trainees to think on their own, to leave their old perceptions behind at least for a few moments and to walk on their own.  Sorry, this was a mistake. What I didn’t understand or at least forgot that students these days have been drilled to memorize whatever the teacher gives them.  The less they challenge the material, the better.  For it is more important to get a good grade and pass.
This is legitimate and it works for the grand majority of people.  However, if you want to train leaders it is a dead end.  You have to take (most) students back to when they were little kids asking the annoying “WHY?” question over and over again.  And – you have to encourage these leadership trainees to go ahead and ask the WHY? question on a daily basis.  Even if they face obstacles, opposition and rejection.  If they don’t have the guts and maybe even don’t see the necessity to take these steps, they should not claim to learn something about leadership.  They may become decent managers but probably never reach the level of leadership.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGood trainee programs build playgrounds

On this token, can trainee programs teach leadership? – Yes, if they start teaching their trainees the necessity and value of asking WHY? and to start walking on their own.  – Luckily, they do exist. – If instead trainee programs focus on technical and old-school management skills, forget it.

Posted in: Agile, Empowerment, innovation, Leadership, Training

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What are self-organizing teams?


Following up some of the questions in my last webinar on March 6 I want to explain what distinguishes a self-organizing team from a manager-led and self-governing team.

self-organizing teamsManager-led teams are defined and led by someone from the outside.  A manager appoints a project manager and the project manager becomes the boss of a team. The team reports to the project manager; the project manager to the project sponsor or another manager.  The team does whatever the manager tells it to do.  It is an extension of a linear hierarchy we still can witness in many organizations these days.

In contrast to manager-led teams are self-governing teams.  These teams do not have exposed leaders at all.  Indeed there is not even an outside manager.  Teams are self-selected in the sense that team members have found each other and work on something their teams decide.  The directions of such teams come from the teams themselves.  A mob may serve as a good example.

Self-organizing teams are somewhere between manager-led and self-governing teams.  While the overall direction of the work of self-organizing teams may be defined from the outside, self-organizing teams decide by themselves how to execute these tasks, manage processes and monitor progress.  Self-organizing teams design their own activities that cumulate in final project deliveries.

Questions from the webinar:

Dinesh K: How do you rate productivity of different team (managed vs. self-organized vs. self-governed team)?

Productivity can be high in either team.  However, it is most likely that self-organizing teams have a greater productivity in the long haul.

Thomas D.: Do Managed Teams use teamwork?

Yes, they can.  However, don’t necessarily expect team magic, i.e., team synergy effects, to evolve.  Often a “team” which is manager led is more like a group of indviduals.  In case the manager empowers the team, true teamwork can evolve.

Posted in: Agile, Empowerment, Leadership

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Questions about self-organizing teams


Following up my webinar about “The Illusion and Promise of Self-Organizing Teams” I gave on March 6, 2013 I have consolidated all questions asked during and immediately following the webinar.  As promised I will answer each of the questions in the coming weeks. In the meantime PLEASE share your thoughts about the following questions about self-organizing teams:

1)   Definition and understanding of self-organizing teams vs. managed or self-governed teams

Marc L.:  What’s the difference between a self organizing team and a mob?

Dinesh K: How do you rate productivity of different team (managed vs. self-organized vs. self-governed team?

Thomas D.: Do Managed Teams use teamwork?

2)   Development of self-organizing teams

Wilma L.: how does the self-organizing team begin to organize itself for a project? Who determines that this is going to be a SO team, especially in a corporate environment?

Rajakrishnan C.: A typical project team may comprise of people with different experience levels and pay scales. A junior member may not feel as equally responsible for the success of the project as a senior high paying resource. Will this hamper self organizing capability of the team? If so how do we handle such situations?

Alonso A.: Any additional suggestions for teams that are new and still going thru the storming phase?

3)   Roles in self-organizing teams

Elise O.: If this is a self-organizing team, why are we still framing it in terms of “YOU and YOUR team”?  It sounds as though you still need a leader/mentor/sponsor role to get this to work.  Does it really become a team where everyone is a peer?

Naga B.: What will be the role of project manager in self oraganizing teams?

Xavier Z.: what about the risks specific with scrum team with a scrummaster but without project manager?

4)   The MVP Model in action (Motivation, Vision, Project Objectives)

Douglas D.: Can you talk to the idea that, part of the value add for an engagement, is gaining, and documenting, the MVP?  In other words, they project team may not have been able to articulate this until you showed up.

Milagros L.: Thinking in the kick-off meeting, when would conduct the MVP workshop? After or before it?

Mounir G.: How you can apply MVP in a hierarchy, military environment where top down commands are applied?

Loui H.: What would you do if some stakeholder or team members don’t want to play along?

Nihad K.: Here is where the project sponsor gets into the mix.  Isnt it really about their vision?

William P.: What about assigning, defining roles?  Do the team members work out who does what?

5)   Empowerment

Oscar S.: which is the most important empowerment effect in the management?

6)   Acknowledgement

Krithika V.: is monetary acknowledgement (bonus) allowed ?

7)   Promoting performance

Shilpa E.:Q: In self organizing teams, micromanagment is out of question, then how can we promote self performance to ensure project milestones?

8)   Conflict management

Noemi J.: what about conflict management inside self organizing and cross-functional teams? how should a project manager manage it?

9)   Virtual teams

Justus B., Mitra B., Timothy B.: Do the same rules shown today also apply for vitural teams, for example in a culturally diverse environment?

10)         Cultural differences and respect, moral, ethics

Rebecca K: It seems that cultural differences can be the source of disrespect. How can this be overcome?

11)         Project management vs. project leadership

Samuel J.: Dr. Juli has separated Project Management and Project Leadership.  Would he suggest that the PM should aim to be the Project Leader in order to be able to assert authority as necessary?

12)         Project challenges and the right leadership style

Shilpa E. Micromanagement or Delegation has been a question? But to meet the business goal in very rough projects which would help?

13)         A good project manager

Aida C.: How do you know if you are a good project manager other than the hard results which come in the end?

14)         Self-organizing teams and the PMBOK

Cory P.: Good luck mapping these concepts to the PMBOK

 

Posted in: Agile, Empowerment, Leadership, Project Management

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Free Webinar “The Illusion and Promise of Self-Organizing Teams” – March 6, 2013


On Wednesday March 6 I gave a free webinar on “The Illusion and Promise of Self-Organizing Teams” on on Wednesday March 6th, 2013 at 12:00pm (US Eastern Time, Coordinated Universal Time -5 hours).

NOTE:  If you happen to be one of the 989 individuals who attended the webinar and still have queastions, please leave comment below or send an email to tj@thomasjuli.com.  I will respond to all questions in due time.  Thank you!

For topic details, please visit PMI’s website. Click here for Details!

Content:

Teams and teamwork are the heart and soul of every project. This is especially true for agile teams. It is not the individual performance or accomplishment that counts but that of the team. Just like in team sports the team succeeds and fails together. Interestingly Agilists propose self-organizing teams. But what does “self-organizing” mean? If teams are self-organizing why do so many teams and projects fail?

This lecture sheds light on self-organizing teams. It explains what distinguishes them from manager-led and self-governing teams. It then outlines the ingredients that self-organizing teams need in order to develop and prosper.

Self-organizing teams have an immense potential for achieving powerful results on a project. However, there is no guarantee that self-organizing teams will form and be able to sustain themselves. This is particularly the case in non-agile organizations. Under those circumstances it is important to know common pitfalls of self-organizing teams and learn to overcome them. The lecture will discuss difficulties in developing and nurturing self-organizing teams. And it will show what it takes to master these challenges. This is not an easy task. The returns, however, are multifold and worth the investment. Self-organizing teams can thus become a cornerstone of project success.

A corresponding whitepaper of this presentation is available, too.  Please click here.

 

Posted in: Agile, Company News, Keynotes, Leadership, Project Management, Upcoming Events

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Project for Passion


Today I have come across an excellent article about passion in design.  It is entitled “The Game Has Changed. Design for Passion.” and has been written by Adam Nash. While Adam talks about design thinking his observations can and should easily be applied to your projects.  Hence, the question is “are you passionate about your project? are you passionate about your team members?”  If not, you better find out what it takes.  Have a look at Adam’s view below:

The Game Has Changed. Design for Passion (by Adam Nash)

One of the most exciting developments in software has been a resurgence in the focus and priority on design.  With the growing dominance of social platforms and mobile applications, more and more people are growing comfortable productively discussing and utilizing insights about human emotion in their work.

Google: The Era of Utility

The progress of the last five to seven years is really a significant breakout from the previous generations of software design.

For decades, software engineers and designers focused on utility:  value, productivity, speed, features or cost.

If it could be quantified, we optimized it.  But at a higher level, with few exceptions, we framed every problem around utility.  Even the field of human-computer interaction was obsesses with “ease of use.”  Very linear, with clear ranking.  How many clicks? How long does a task take?  What is the error rate?

In some ways, Google (circa 2005) represented the peak of this definition of progress.  Massive data.  Massive scalability. Incredibly utility.  Every decision defined by quantifying and maximizing utility by various names.

But let’s face it, only computer scientists can get really passionate about the world’s biggest database.

Social: The Era of Emotion

Like any ecosystem, consumer technology is massively competitive.  Can you be faster, cheaper, bigger or more useful than Google?  It turns out, there is a more interesting question.

Social networks helped bring the language of emotion into software.  A focus on people starts with highly quantifiable attributes, but moves quickly into action and engagement.

What do people like? What do they hate? What do they love? What do they want?

In parallel, there have been several developments that reflect similar insights on the web, in behavioral finance, and the explosion in interest in game mechanics.

Human beings are not rational, but (to borrow from Dan Ariely) they are predictably irrational.  And now, thanks to scaling social platforms to over a billion people, we have literally petabytes of data to help us understand their behavior.

Passion Matters

Once you accept that you are designing and selling a product for humans, it seems obvious that passion matters.

We don’t evaluate the food we eat based on metrics (although we’d likely be healthier if we did).  Do I want it? Do I love it? How does it make me feel?

The PayPal mafia often joke that great social software triggers at least one of the seven deadly sins. (For the record, LinkedIn has two: vanity & greed).  Human beings haven’t changed that much in the past few thousand years, and the truth is the seven deadly sins are just a proxy for a deeper insight.  We are still driven by strong emotions & desires.

In my reflection on Steve Jobs, he talks about Apple making products that people “lust” for.  Not the “the best products”, “the cheapest products”, “the most useful products” or “the easiest to use products.”

Metrics oriented product managers, engineers & designers quickly discover that designs that trigger passion outperform those based on utility by wide margins.

The Game Has Changed

One of the reasons a number of earlier web giants are struggling to compete now is that the game has changed.  Utility, as measured by functionality, time spent, ease-of-use are important, but they are no longer sufficient to be competitive. Today, you also have to build products that trigger real emotion.  Products that people will like, will want, will love.

Mobile has greatly accelerated this change.  Smartphones are personal devices.  We touch them, they buzz for us. We keep them within three feet of us at all times.

Too often in product & design we focus on utility instead of passion.  To break out today, you need to move your efforts to the next level.  The questions you need to ask yourself are softer:

  • How do I feel when I use this?
  • Do I want that feeling again?
  • What powerful emotions surround this product?

Go beyond utility.  Design for passion.

Posted in: Agile, Guest Blogs, innovation

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The Power and Illusion of Self-Organizing Teams [free download]


The final version of my presentation of “The Power and Illusion of Self-Organizing Teams” held at the PMI Global Congress North America 2012 on October 21, 2012 in Vancouver is now availalbe for free download.

Please let me know if you would like to receive the original file of the presentation which I would make available under the Creative Commons agreement.

Posted in: Agile, Keynotes

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Zen of Self-Organizing Teams


Zen has been, is and most likely always will be one of the most influential, inspiring philosophies, perspectives of life.  Self-organizing teams on the other side seem to be a rather modern phenomenon, some people believe.  What does Zen and self-organizing teams have in common?.  Well, I don’t want to answer this question in depth at this time. However, what I can offer are two presentations I have uploaded to Slideshare.net which deal with Zen and Self-Organizing Teams.

Project Management and Zen

Today’s projects become increasingly complex and a test of our leadership. The question is how we can master this increasing complexity? Individuals in the team and the whole team need orientation and guidance or an inspiration how to do so by themselves. Personally, I have found that the philosophy of Zen offers many insights which can help us achieves this. This presentation introduces 10 Zen insights and translates them into the language of project management. It shows how to apply Zen insights in a project setting. Zen can help inspire us personally and how to interact effectively with our team, customers and stakeholders. Applying Zen in projects makes it easier to build teams, perform on a high level and deliver results which delight our customers and teams alike. It thus helps us and the team to evolve into a performing unit and excel.

Note: I have published this presentation under the Creative Commons agreement which allows you download the PPT-file for free and re-use it for your own purposes as long as you acknowledge the copyrights.

The Power and Illusion of Self-Organizing Teams

Teams and teamwork are the heart and soul of every project. This is especially true for agile teams. It is not the individual performance or accomplishment that counts but that of the team. Just like in team sports the team succeeds and fails together. The Agile Manifesto puts the team at the center of interaction. It states, “The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.” But what does “self-organizing” mean? Does “self-organizing” mean that team building is no longer necessary and that instead the teams do this by themselves? And, if teams are self-organizing why do so many teams and projects still fail?

I will give this presentation at the PMI Global Congress North America 2012 on October 21, 2012 in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Posted in: Agile, Centeredness, Keynotes, Miscellaneous, Project Management

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The Power and Illusion of Self-Organizing Teams [whitepaper and presentation]


Teams and teamwork are the heart and soul of every project.  This is especially true for agile teams. It is not the individual performance or accomplishment that counts but that of the team.  Just like in team sports the team succeeds and fails together.  The Agile Manifesto puts the team at the center of interaction.  It states, “The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.”  But what does “self-organizing” mean?  Does “self-organizing” mean that team building is no longer necessary and that instead the teams do this by themselves? And, if teams are self-organizing why do so many teams and projects still fail?

This fall I will be answering these and other related questions at the PMI Global Congress North America in Vancouver. My whitepaper and preliminary Power Point presentation are now available for free download.

I am curious about your experiences with self-organizing teams.  Please share your thoughts and insights.

Posted in: Agile, Keynotes

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2011 – Going Strong – A Review of a Great Year


The big and typical question you ask yourself at the end of the year how the past 12 months were, how you faired.  This year it is a simple question to answer: yes, it was a great year!  Or, shall I say another great year.  Most of my consulting this year was for an internet service provider in Karlsruhe.  Not only did were these consulting engagements challenging and intellectually rewarding it was and is convenient to our family for it is only a 35 minutes commute from Heidelberg to Karlsruhe.  One of the main reasons I am very grateful for this consulting opportunity.

Next to consulting I have been giving seminars, webinars, podcasts, presentations and interviews on numerous topics such as leadership, collaboration, learning project organizations, ethics, agile product development, team building, innovation, project management, and empowerment.  The main conferences I attended and spoke at were the PMI Global Congresses in Dublin and Dallas and the NASA Project Management Challenge in Long Beach, CA.  Wonderful events.  I can encourage every professional project managers to attend at least one of these conferences.  The learning is exceptional as are networking opportunities.

One of the major milestones in 2011 was the founding of i-Sparks I founded this summer.  i-Sparks is an open online innovation and learning community that facilitates innovation across entire systems. It provides a platform for people and institutions to discover, develop, and test new ways of operating and to put their ideas to work.  i-Sparks aims at every person or institution which is motivated to understand the root causes of today’s and tomorrow’s challenges, to rethink how people and institutions live and operate, and thus to create opportunities for redesigning business models and social change protocols, working more collaboratively across groups, institutions and sectors.

At present we are working on a first prototype which we plan to launch this coming spring.  Stay tuned and follow us on our website www.i-sparks.com.

Business is only one element in our life though it absorbs most of it these days.  Luckily there are the welcome breaks called vacation.  Have a look at my online photo albums for impressions of Long Beach,

Vail,

Vals

and South Tyrol.

So, what about next year?  The outlook is more than promising.  It is funny that lots of people talk about an economic crisis.  Unemployment is at a record low in southern Germany, economic growth is strong, the overall atmosphere and outlook are positive.  And yet other European countries and their economies are struggling.  There are numerous reasons for this imbalance.  I don’t want to start this debate.  What is worrying however is that people, i.e., European politicians and so-called experts, continue to talk about the dawn of another recession in Germany.  This, of course, can have an impact – psychologically.  Rationally and ethically, this chitchat is not comprehensible.  Let’s see what next year will bring.  I am optimistic and hope you too share this enthusiasm.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Posted in: Agile, Book, Empowerment, innovation, Keynotes, Leadership, Miscellaneous, Project Management, TJEP company

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