Showing posts with label Management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Management. Show all posts

Scrum Master: 5 Kinds

Whether you are in an organization that follows Agile or not chances are you already have pre-determined notions about Scrum Masters- their roles and responsibilities.

In my experience of working within the Agile domain in India, there are five kinds of Scrum Masters I have come across:

  • Managers- This specially happens when the organization is moving into Agile initially. Reasons are often genuine and till a scrum master is identified in a team, the team manager in some cases will volunteer for the role. Also, managers who like to know what exactly is happening in the team so they step up into this role which always might not be a very good sign.
      • Pros- Understanding the role will eventually help the manager better appreciate the role. Boosts positive communication within the team and change in process.
      • Cons- it shouldn’t be the case where micro management is the agenda and so why not take up the role and still be the decision maker instead of allowing the team to self-organize
  • Tech Leads- Some organization focus on having adequate experience required for the role of the Scrum Master, the focus is on people who have considerable domain knowledge and its mostly been in the industry ten years or more.  
      • Pros-The vast experience of a lead could help the team manage the domain and deliver work with better quality. 
      • Cons-It shouldn’t end up being a practice that others don’t speak up because the lead is always right. 
  • Project Manager- The team project manager takes up the role as natural transition in a lot of cases. While the project will definitely be delivered with this one in charge, being a servant leader might not be something that will be easy to adopt to; where team calls the shots.
      • Pros- Communication, delivery and milestones will always be in check.
      • Cons- unless the right mindset has been achieved, you don’t want to encourage/continue with the command and control situation.
  • Functional Team Members- This happens commonly as a core team member is either assigned or volunteers to take on the role. This means a split of hours for being a Scrum Master and performing the core competency work.
      • Pros- Buy in within team is easier
      • Cons- Time management during deadlines; the time split doesn’t mean when extra hours are required you drop the scrum master responsibility and take in more hours to finish for example testing.
  • Full Time Scrum Master- Very few organizations will go ahead and hire full time members into this role. When it does happen one Scrum Master is assigned to at least two teams and the unit is very confident of the them working within Agile methodologies. 
      • Pros- Someone available and accountable to ensure the process is in places and problems are looked into and resolved immediately.
      • Cons- Dedicated scrum masters don’t mean they are administrators for the team, filling out details (like in the agile tool) that should be done by everyone themselves. Also, lack of discussion on what the role is about and the responsibilities are by management can create misunderstanding within team members. 

What have you experienced or observed?

(Pic courtesy: Google images)

Whats in my Bedside Table- The Reading List

Oct 25, 2016 | | 0 comments |
This is whats going on right now.

The last book I read was The Sleep Revolution.

Current Read- The Checklist Manifesto.

To read- The Talent Code.

To see why you should be reading these as well, check this space next week.

Whats in your bag?

(Pic Courtesy: Soma Bhattacharya)

What I have been reading and why it matters to you

I wanted to share with you some random links that makes sense when you look at it from your personal development point of view.

For success, life not only has to be organized, you have to be in a very stable mental space and none of them just happen to happen. I hope you find something in these stories that helps you find that zone. 
And looking for a real pick me up, don't miss this. Malcolm Gladwell being interviewed by Tim Ferris.

"For one hour of writing, there's three hours of thinking". 

This is How I work- Lindsay Scott

Lindsay Scott is a Director at Arras People, the programme and project management recruitment specialist in the UK. She’s also founder of the PMO Flashmob and PMO Conference. She is PMI’s PM Network career columnist and writes for TwentyEighty Strategy Execution and Project Challenge. Lindsay is also Co-Editor of the Handbook of People in Project Management

When do you wake up every day? What’s your alarm set to? 
Unfortunately my alarm goes off about 7.15am each morning, which is not necessarily the time I get up! I’m a real night owl so don’t like early mornings at all. I’ve often wondered if I would be better suited to the night shift but my work relies on being around when most other people are.

Tea or Coffee? 
Definitely tea – Yorkshire Tea, decaff with milk. Almost impossible to get in any other part of the world and always appreciated when I return from travels abroad. Us English certainly have a thing about tea 

Any rituals to set the tone for the day in the morning? 
Oh yes, bad habits too – tea, a cigarette and a look at the Times cryptic crossword. If its summer, sat outside overlooking the garden – or if it’s typical Manchester weather, rain, then its quickly out the door to work.

When do you feel most productive? 
I actually feel most productive mid morning and then later on in the evening so I tend to do different types of work at those times. In the morning I do a lot of writing about project management careers for various outlets, the first being the Camel blog. Later in the evening its more about research and reading.

Where do you work? 
I work in different places. We have an office in North Manchester, that’s the main office for Arras People. It’s in a small town, nothing fancy but I have a large desk and lots of in-trays. It looks like chaos but there is a system honestly! I work in London a lot too so there’s time spent working on the train, which I love, two hours of no interruptions because the phone network is so bad. In London I work in an apartment I rent, or grab a desk at the Institute of Directors in London’s Pall Mall (the pink one in Monopoly!). I tend to like working in different places because I’m a firm believer in a change is as good as a rest, especially when you’re trying to be creative in writing articles and suchlike.

Three must have items in your desk.
A cup of tea, lots of pencils and my day workbook.

What do you listen to while working? 
Nothing other than the general chatter of those around me at work or on the train. I’ve never been one for music or the radio playing in the background but can work well if there is. I just tune out.

What are you reading currently? 
I’ve got about three books on the go at the moment. For fiction it’s The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, set in London, an intriguing read so far. For non-fiction but not work related its The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons – I did a Psychology degree many years ago and still pick out books related to that. I’m also dipping in and out of The small BIG: Small Changes that Spark Big Influence. A good interpersonal book for any project manager. I’m a big reader so tend to have books on the go on Kindle and the real thing!

How do you organize? 
I tend to use the calendar a lot – Outlook Exchange so it works on every device I have. I’m also a sucker for a good old-fashioned list. I use a workbook – just a jotter from the stationery store and a “5 days a week” list. It’s standard stuff but I tend to list what needs to happen in the week on certain days then add in the activities I need to complete day by day. I often spend 5 minutes at the end of each work day updating the list, moving things around and doing that really satisfactory thing of striking a line through the things I’ve completed.

Any hacks you prefer for work? 
Because I’m working in different places all the time I totally rely on Dropbox to keep everything filed and easily accessible. I can’t bear not being able to lay my hands on things when I need to, plus Dropbox is also great for managing my photos taken by phone which I use for blog articles.

I use social media a lot for work too and I love reading and sharing great blogs. Dlvr is great for managing multiple social media accounts plus I love its Curator tool which allows me to save my favorite feeds, read blog articles and quickly share them across different platforms.

Finally another great tool if you use a lot of imagery in your work is PicMonkey  Although I use Adobe products a lot (Photoshop and Illustrator) you can’t beat Picmonkey for quick and easy image creation.

What are your favorite gadgets?
The usual I think – iPhone, iPad and laptop. I’m Apple on the mobile gadgets and good old fashioned Microsoft on the laptop and PC. I think that’s a Gen X thing! And I love the Kindle for being a good old workhorse of a gadget that withstands some serious knocking about. I’m also doing a lot of filming of sessions for the PMO Flashmob too so now camcorders have become a thing for me. Sennheiser wireless microphones are the best thing I’ve ever bought

What apps can you not love without? 
Oh wow, where do I start. Dropbox, Echofon (for Twitter), Facebook, Times newspaper, Daily Mail newspaper (guilty pleasure!), Weather app from the Met Office (we’re obsessed with the weather!), BBC iPlayer (TV on the go, great for the train), Anagram solver and the Thesaurus app (can’t do the crossword without it). I also like sketching when I’m at a conference – doing basic mindmaps, so I like basic drawing apps for those but no particular favorite (using Paper and Brushes at the moment)

Any new addition to your routines? 
Yes I’ve starting organizing an annual PMO Conference in London –  which has meant I have a whole new type of work to do. I love it. Especially the part where I get to choose what topic areas we’re going to cover and talk to potential speakers about their passions. It’s also meant I get out and about more listening to others speaking at conferences, like the PMO Symposium in the States. I suppose it’s like a big project for me – doing the project rather than writing about project management or recruiting for project managers like in the day job at Arras People. I like to have new things to do – to set new challenges – to blend with the work I’ve been doing for a while (it’s coming up to 15 years at Arras People!)

How do you recharge? 
I’m the queen of chilling out when I need to – or want to – I enjoy watching TV and movies – anything period drama wise and you’ve got me! Love reading of course and at a weekend I love visiting places. In England we have so much history on our doorsteps and under our noses that you just have to get out and explore. Recent weekends away have included the castle where Harry Potter was filmed and the Plague Village. If there is a magnificent garden to visit I’m also right there, and a chance to combine them with a city visit even better. The Real Jardín Botanico de Madrid was a recent visit.

(Pic courtesy: Lindsay Scott)

To read the last interview of this series, please click here.

How to keep your life in control?

Overwhelmed with the to do list, promises, unending schedule and no time for you?  It’s true for many...Sometimes you have to be make smart choices and know what makes a difference for you. 

Here are few that can help you re-think:
  • Procrastinate to make decisions- Sometimes you can make the best of decisions when you have all the information you need. A hurried decision in most cases is always the wrong one. A study from Columbia University says, delaying can filter distractions. Now this is something that we aren't thought to think about, in fact procrastination has always been considered a negative aspect in our lives. Want to know how  a mind of a procrastinator works, try watching this TED talk.

  • Try to be happy
      • Create lists- Having a list takes your mind off the stress of constantly having to remember things and working on it. For example- there have been numerous occasions when I have come up with an idea for the blog and by next day I have completely forgotten it, which means I had to take another hour reading through things trying to come up with a topic or stress about how I ended up forgetting it. Only if I had written it down, I would save myself not only the hours but the worry. 
      • Meditate- 15 minutes of meditation can actually help people make better, more profitable decisions, “Most people have trouble admitting they were wrong when their initial decisions lead to undesirable outcomes,” says researcher Andrew Hafenbrack.  MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” center, the amygdala, appears to shrink. This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress. As the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex – associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making – becomes thicker.
      • Accept you can’t avoid stress in entirety- A little bit of stress is not only okay but is beneficial (watch the TED talk below).

  • Practice positive vibes- Create a routine and wake up doing something that makes you happy. You can listen to the same music every morning or go for a walk, water your plants, look at happy pictures- anything that resets your mood or gives a good head-start . A lot of successful people have created routines that allow them to practice positive vibes that translate into a better day for them and hence trick their minds in being happy or successful. When you start your day on a positive note, small glitches which you would otherwise allow your spirit to be dampened with, won’t set you back anymore. They will be smaller incidents that you can walk past by and still look forward in having a good day.
  • Know when to move on- Ask for a raise, ask for more responsibilities, ask for more learning and if at some point you see nothing’s working- you know it’s time to leave. Be clear about your objectives when you start looking for the next job, don’t be afraid to ask more questions, request to meet your manager you will be reporting to or find out the career and growth path in the organization you are interviewing at. It will only help you make better comparative decisions.

  • Look at the larger picture- Finding something new isn’t easy. It’s also difficult to start something new and perhaps looking for a new job is not something you feel like. Sometimes you have to look at what you want to do in the next 2 years and is being with your current organization, team or manager helping you attain those?  

Does Agile mean NO Managers?

Mar 6, 2014 | | 1 comments |
In trying to move in the right direction Agile-wise too soon, there are organizations who will consider removing managers or team leads completely from the equation.

However, removing the title doesn't mean, the role or the job has been removed and these management positions are simply disguised via different names. There are scrum masters sometimes who are actually functional managers for the team.

I think the reason these roles overlap is because sometimes organizations don’t realizes the role of a scum master.

A scrum master is the facilitator for the team and does not make decisions for the team. I think this is the trickiest factor that no management realizes. Scrum master isn’t the decision maker or someone who will appoint stories or tasks to the team. So a manager cannot disguise himself into this role.

So, one way to resolve this problem is to never merge both of these roles. Scrum master and the functional manager shouldn't be the same person. Even by overlapping roles for one team, you send out the wrong message to the other teams.  

The managers can happily co-exist with the agile teams and they can be great blocker resolvers. They should be the one helping teams deliver more by removing all impediments, looking into the patterns and trend of all teams and see what can be done to minimize the recurring causes of the issues.  

If management interferes and spoon feeds teams in every chance they get, teams never come close enough to becoming self-organizing teams and making their own decisions. Management can choose to either make teams adopt Agile better or make decisions that messes it u for the organization. 

(pic courtesy: google images)

How should teams be build?

When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, “It’s in the script.” If he says, “But what’s my motivation?” I say, “Your salary.”
                                                 —Alfred Hitchcock, filmmaker (1899–1980)

Jim Collins talks about getting the right people in the bus in his book “Good to Great”. And we all agree- but how do you decide who are the right people?

Hiring happens based on the core competency, but when you put them as part of the team, how do you know they will work out?

Does team dynamics matter to you or your organization? Do you think it changes the quality of delivery?

The common failings for any team at organization level usually comes down to:
·       Develop empowered people working together to serve the best interests of the organization, and
·       Create an environment in which every employee contributes all of their talents and skills to the success of organizational goals.

To ensure we get individual players be and feel part of the team- is there a way to create teams at the first place differently? Like do you think, if teams are created based on their compatibility or interest, they will perform better OR do you feel any team if mentored and trained in team/organization culture will perform at their highest level?

To think about creating the right team, I think we should first think why teams fail at the first place? Why do teams not perform the way they should be? Is it a bad apple? Is it lack of proper management and setting the expectations? Is it freedom without no boundaries and when things go wrong, blame the team? Here are 20 mistakes that employers make.

Are we aligning people with their interest and what they want to do or do we just not hear what they have to say and push them into any role and any teams?

The hedgehog concept talks about looking into 3 aspects before putting the right people in the right role
By considering:
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What can you best in the world at?
  • What drives your economic engine?
This definitely brings out the best in individuals but how do we ensure the best is brought out at team levels also?  What if you got the right person in the right role and then had a bunch of laggards as team mates. Do you think we have set the right environment for him/her to grow and contribute to the best of ability?

How does your organization formulate teams? What do you fee is the right way to do it? 

(Pic Courtesy: Google Images)

5 steps to be amazing at your job

Some people just are better than others and you know it!

Here are 5 ways to be amazing at whatever you do and show it too:Try to be content- Your first job might be to pay the bills, down the line find ways to look into what really makes you happy at work.

  •  Try to be content- Your first job might be to pay the bills, down the line find ways to look into what really makes you happy at work. Move into domains that you think are a better fit and then work on it. Content will come from your happiness at work . Turns out 41% of people think “the people” are most important factor as part of their happiness in job
  • Take genuine interest- You empower yourself by taking genuine interest in your work. Don’t restrict yourself only to your current role; look around how you can help the team, organization and take up the initiative. In the process you will learn, start thinking out of the box and be recognized for your interest.  And the morning routine sometimes helps too
  • Be good at what you do- To feel amazing, take the right steps when coming to work everyday. Come prepared, do your homework, get the facts right and be unbiased.  Try out some of these productivity secrets
  • Be social- Keeping your head down and getting the work done isn't always wise. By being social and building a good rapport with your team members and stakeholders, you make yourself visible and easy to work with. Here are 10 tips to be happy at work.  
  • Good communication- being clear about communicating the right things at the right time helps. A good communicator isn't just about being vocal, it is also abut developing your communication skills to the extent that you can customize it for different individuals. Every person has their preferred mode of communication and what convinces them (some stakeholders like data, some prefer bringing up similar case studies, some like formal presentations and report), use your knowledge about  a person to customize it for your communication plan.

Be inspired everyday and be happy. A happy project manager, makes  a happy team!

(Pic courtesy: Google images)

To learn about project management read my book Stepping into Project Management (Welcome to the #PMOT World). To connect with experienced Project Manager's from all over the world, get mentored or shadow for a day see the SIPM Community.

Office politics: whats your position?

Office politics is a relative term.

The one receiving the benefits always believes that politics never happened; he/she got the justice. The one on the other end has a different story to tell.

So, which side of office politics are you in? Or should you be part of it at all?

  • Is politics evil? - As a professional, you have 4 types of needs and more then often you will need alliances to build up your case, move to the next project, get sponsored and mostly get things done. Politics generally has a negative connotation unless you have used it to your benefit. Most professionals who are successful at what they do, are stakeholders or simply leaders have worked their way up, made themselves visible- is not only by the sheer power of their work, it’s also by getting a lot of help and support. And that takes time to build.  So, what is politics really?
  • Whom should you trust?- Are you allowed to have a real friend in office? How much information and personal life should you share? You know social networks use your information, so does  HR. Plus most of the information you share with your work friends might be shared with their office friends or simply used when the friendship goes sour. So, the best idea would be to be careful and not share anything that can be used against you to get leverage. 
  • You are at the receiving end of the smear campaign- All it takes is a small event to trigger off smear campaigns. So make sure, who you comment about and what you say. Plus as long as you are in office premises, don’t let your guard down even if it’s office parties. 
  • Power struggle- Politics is simply being part of power struggle and office politics is inevitable. No matter how much we try to stop it, it never will be. 
  • Positioning yourself- The ultimate goal whether you want to be part of office politics or not is to position yourself visibly. You want to keep an ethical and honest impression at your work place. Keep an eye on everyone and keep yourself safe from being portrayed negatively for others benefit. To reap the benefits, look into the organizational structure and people who are influential and have a positive impression and associate with them. Beware of being around people who are known to have negative impacts; it takes very little to turn tables against you. 

When to say - NO

Its all white outside and looks pretty until you have to go out and thats when you know all things pretty might not be the reality.

If you are new to your organization or department, what are you facing? Is it cold or warm?

Do you have problems keeping up with your work? Are you saying "yes" to everything and seem to overburdened with the work? I personally have this problem of saying yes. I always think I can learn so much more and commit. What happens is by the end of the day/week, you still have more to do. It never ends.

To learn when to say "NO" and stop right there might be a good idea, honestly am yet to learn and execute it. So, we can learn this together.

Here's how to not work the hardest and yet be the team favorite and when the time comes, how should you negotiate.

Taking breaks and once in a while "work from home" if your policies allow is great, because you can just relax, watch the snow, put on some good music and work. More than often working from home is so much more productive because you can simply cut the unwanted noise and focus on the required. Learn to handle busy-ness.

Relationship Management for Managers

Dec 9, 2008 | | 0 comments |
Out of the 10 articles I have read in the last 2days, perhaps 8 of them talk about networking. 

I know it's necessary, so do you. What about it? If you read my review for Beyond Code; see the Take Home section at the end of the review.

Relationship Journal is what the book and the author Rajesh Setty emphasizes. It's a must and you cant go wrong if you can maintain it. Sure I read the book, I even tried reviewing it. So, did I start keeping a  Relationship Journal? Yes, I just did.

I read Alec Satin's post this morning about Highrise and guess what, I signed up for Highrise! This is really cool and I must tell - you are free to sign up for a  FREE account. You get to keep 250 contacts and can upgrade to the paid version if you think it's necessary. So, I created mine and added Alec as my first contact. Well, he told me about it.

So, begins my relationship journal. 

I have used similar version for the project communication at work, never for my personal contact management. It's a great tool and am glad I signed up.

Here's the link, just incase you would like to see how it works.

(Picture: Google Images)