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How should we organize our teams?

Q1: How should we organize our teams? My team is owner of different trading platforms and the core services around it. But we depend heavily on other products (e.g. financial feeds, client identification, services to send orders to stock markets, etc.). And of course each of the team managing these services have other platforms that are their clients. The picture ...

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The Importance of Cadence

Thousands of years ago, military thinkers realized that the only way they could effectively move thousands of troops in the battlefield was through cadence. Individual skill and bravery were often defeated by armies that were better coordinated. The reason we have Sprints or Iterations (however you want to call it) in most Agile methodologies is so that business and development move in ...

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Release or be damned

Back when I was still paid to code I had a simple question I posed to troubled development efforts: “Why can’t we release tomorrow?” This short simple question turns out to be amazingly powerful. I remember one effort I was involved with in California where a new CEO took over and started cutting jobs. I posed this question to the ...

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Individual Contributor vs. Team Member

Many people draw distinctions between people who do management-kind of work and people who do  “individual contributor” kind of work.  I’ve been asking if they mean individual work or team member work. Sometimes, they do mean individual work. More often, they mean team member. Our culture shapes our language. (And, our language shapes our culture.) When we recognize and reward ...

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Sprint Planning Tips for Product Owners

As its name suggests, the sprint planning meeting sets up the sprint and establishes what can be done. While it’s an important meeting, I find that some product owners struggle with it. The following tips help you reflect on how you use the meeting and discover how you can get the most out of it. Come Prepared Make sure you ...

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Improving Agile Team Performance

A phenomenon that often pops up in software development teams, and one that seems to be a major cause of underperformance, is the Lonesome Cowboy Reflex (LCR). It’s not hard to recognize, however, if you know what to look for, and there are ways of alleviating the issue. What is the Lonesome Cowboy Reflex? Consider the following scenario from a ...

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Planning: Risk Management to Manage Uncertainty

Many organizations plan to create certainty, guarantees of some variety. What if we thought about agile planning as a way to manage uncertainty? When I look at long roadmaps with all the “must-do” feature sets and the pressure managers put on teams to commit to delivery, I wonder about this question: How well do we understand the problems we want ...

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Objectives & Accountability vs Responsibility & Autonomy, Part 2

I explained about objectives and the differences between MBOs and OKRs in Part 1. I’m tackling the issues of “accountability” in this part. Examine Accountability What does accountability mean to you? I’m serious about that question. For many people—managers included—people are accountable when we can blame them for not doing something. If you don’t achieve one of your MBOs, your ...

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When OKRs Become MBOs and Accountability, Part 1

I have personal and professional goals. Sometimes, I state them as objectives: complete this book, learn that thing. Those are personal objectives. My personal objectives look like MBOs, Management By Objectives. These personal objectives contribute to my company, but they are not a corporate objective. Some of my goals are corporate objectives: release that book, build that workshop in service of ...

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