Friday, November 2, 2007

The power of a pen and a notepad

During the last couple of weeks I have spent tuesday evenings drinkning coffee and discussing software development and change processes with a colleague. For our first meeting I brought a notepad and a pen for me to write down anything interesting that we would discuss. We sat down on opposite sides of the table and I subconsciously opened the notepad and placed it and the pen on the table between us. It didn't take long until my colleague started to draw images on the notepad explaining his thoughts and I did the same thing. Every week I bring my notepad and the same thing happens. Last week when we discussed learning we confirmed what we probably already knew, that we both have a strong visual learning preference.

My learning style

Continuing my trend on exploring NLP I came across learning styles and modalities. I decided to try an online questionnaire to determine my learning preference.

When filling out the VARK Questionnaire version 7.0 I was diagnosed with having a multimodal learning preference, my exact scores was:
Visual: 10
Aural: 5
Read/Write: 7
Kinesthetic: 13

The score is very interesting to me, my own opinion previous to taking the test was that I actually had a more dominant visual learning preference complemented with a Read/Write learning preference and that I would score lower on Aural and Kinesthetic learning preference.

This is something I will need to follow up on. By learning about the different learning preferences and what it means to be multimodal I can improve my learning process.

This I have to follow up!

(me to myself: - damn, my backlog is growing too large, time to focus and prioritize, I am all over the place right now!)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Satir Change Model

A couple of weeks ago I participated in a workshop with Dan North where he talked about the Satir Change Model, created by Virginia M. Satir. Virgina has worked with family change process and from those experiences she developed the model. The model seems to be applicable in many different change processes and Dan North suggested that it could be used e.g. when introducing change in the software industry.
The Satir Change Model seems to addcress the behavior I have seen when introducing changes and also when undergoing changes myself.

After discovering this model I have talked intensely about it with my colleagues, who also works with introducing change in software development companies. From my limited knowledge of the model so far, it seems to offer the ubiquitous language that we have been lacking when talking about introducing change.

This model hs been added to my backlog of things I would like to be proficient in!

The magic of Daily Scrums

Teams who introduce Daily Scrum as a part of their Scrum implementation, have a gut feel, or evidence that suggest, that by introducing these kind of meetings we improve our efficiency. We feel this because traditional status meetings have e.g. a tendency to stretch in time and lack focus but Daily Scrums e.g. are kept short and concisely.

What is a Daily Scrum?

In a Daily Scrum, the team and potential observers gathers, and while standing up, each team member answers three questions:

  • What did you do yesterday?

  • What will you do today?

  • What impediments are in your way?

During the Daily Scrum no observer are allowed to talk and the meeting should last a maximum of 15 minutes. The Daily Scrum is moderated by the Scrum master.

The magic of Daily Scrums

So by just standing-up we suddenly become more effcient! This must be magic!

The truth revealed

Some argue that the reason why Daily Scrums are more efficient is because people are forced to stand-up and want to get to the point and finish earlier. The routine of standing-up also reminds us about the timebox of the meeting.

In my last assignment as a Project Manager I replaced the daily standard status meeting, where all participants would sit down, chat, drink coffe etc. with a daily stand-up meeting. The stand-up meeting was almost like a Daily Scrum. I quickly got feedback that proved that we became more efficient in this way.

Some of the participants argued that my success with the daily stand-up meetings came from the fact that everybody was forced to stand up and this was more uncomfortable than sitting down and that's why we finished earlier.

Although, there might be some truth in that, the main reasons for the experienced improved result probably comes from other parameters that we got for free when we introduced the daily stand-up meetings. These parameters comes from what we associate with good meeting discipline, as put forward by Steven M Smith in is article Rethinking Stand-Up Meetings, Part 2, namely knowing the agenda, timeboxing the meeting, minimize number of participants. Steven M Smith also addresses other aspects and possible improvements of the stand-up meeting but I will not address these here and now.

In addition to the above discussed parameters the Daily Scum and my succesful implementation of the stand-up meeting also had a good moderator who always makes sure that the meeting sticks to the agenda and the rules. A good moderator is also a key to good meeting discipline.

So there is actually nothing magic about the Daily Scrum, only discipline, and discipline runs all through Scrum.