Archive for March, 2018

Optimistic Agile

March 28, 2018 8:40 am

[This is a re-post from LinkedIn]

Are you seeing pessimism and seeming division in the Agile community? I’m seeing some of that lately, expressed on LinkedIn.

I get that it can be hard to keep a positive attitude in the face of reports that tell us that a lot of Agile journeys seem to not bring the desired results. And I also firmly believe that Agile CAN bring about positive change. I’ve seen it first-hand in the work I’ve done. Of course, there have been times when the prevailing currents have made it difficult, but on the whole, I’ve seen that change IS possible.

I wonder what a sort of declaration of Agile optimism might look like? Maybe something like this:

  • I believe that people have the capacity to change – when supported with caring, courage and openness.
  • I believe that organizations have the capacity to change – when the people in it spend enough time listening well to each other.
  • I believe that Agile values and principles can help with change – when really internalized and lived out.
  • I believe that learning from others’ experience is possible – when keeping an open mind and taking a good look at context.

That is, change is possible – and we realize that we need to help each other in making it happen. Do you think about Agile optimistically?

P.S.: If you are interested in reading about what might help and hinder Agile journeys, check out the book Susan DiFabio, George Dinwiddie, Rich Valde, Dan Neumann and I wrote together on that very topic: http://leanpub.com/agilejourneys

Classical music and the job search

March 18, 2018 8:37 am

[This is a re-post from LinkedIn]

Picture this: You’re listening to a piece of classical music on the radio, and it really resonates with you. You want to listen to it again and again, so you want your own copy of it. But your radio doesn’t have RDS, and before you can find out from the radio host what it is, the signal dies, and all you hear is static. How would you know which LP/CD/MP3 you need to go look for? Chances are, you have no idea. All you know is that you heard some beautiful music, and you want to hear it again. You probably can’t tell which orchestra played it – was it the Vienna Philharmonic or the Boston Pops? So when you get to the record store/music download site, what will you do? Look for an enticing “cover” image/album art? Even if you find one that speaks to you and buy it, it may be that when you listen to the recording, it’s not the same. So now you’re out of money and disappointed. And the orchestra you really wanted to support has missed out on a small contribution to their financial well-being.

Now picture this: You’re at work, and you’ve convinced yourself that you need to hire someone to help you solve a problem. The people already on your team can’t solve it, or there is more work than they can take on. You’ve figured out the particular mix of skills a person needs to have to help you. How do you go and find that person? If you have a good network that might be able to connect you to someone with those skills, you probably start there. What happens if you don’t have that (or you come up empty-handed)? You probably talk to your HR people and tell them what you’re looking for, and since the people there are busy and don’t have the time to actually talk to the potentially hundreds of applicants that will be coming, they either call a recruiting firm or post an ad on a job-seeker website. Then applicants (who have been taught the rules of the job hunting game) craft a resume that matches 80% (or slightly more) of the skills you’re looking for (using an Internet service that promises to mimic very closely the applicant tracking system that will be used by the company to filter out “unqualified” applicants). They submit that resume, and the recruiter’s system (or the HR ATS) matches the resume and triggers an email. Then the recruiter (who most likely doesn’t really know anything about the mix of skills you’re looking for – they get paid for fast placement of people) may interview the person to make sure they didn’t exaggerate their skills. They send them on to the HR person, who probably also doesn’t know much about the skills you’re looking for (and that’s quite understandable – after all, HR has to deal with everything from custodial employees to CEOs). You get maybe ten or twenty resumes to look over, and you decide to bring five people in for in-person interviews. None of them turn out to have exactly the right mix of skills you need. So now you’ve lost time and you’re disappointed. And a person out there is missing out on a major contribution to their financial well-being.

What do you see in these two vignettes? What is broken? What is working? How would you change things? What advice would you give and to whom?