Niko-Niko Calendar

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niko-niko

niko-nikoWhile I was at the recent Agile Leadership Network (ALN) event earlier this month, Dave Nicolette presented a talk on metrics.  I’ll admit, I’m fascinated by metrics.  I remember working on the NIH Executive Dashboard and then the NCI Dashboard between 2004 and 2007 .  But since then, I’ve grown to look at metrics differently.  Though I’ve taken steps to ask myself questions to ensure my metrics are worth something,  I’ve seen the Hawthorne Effect in action and it made me question how metrics can be easily manipulated. Don’t you hate it when you’re trying to measure team performance and then they start acting all crazy due to upcoming dates like the end of the sprint or the end of a deployment cycle?  I’ve seen developers start to rush.  Risk goes up and quality can go down, just to try and maintain a velocity.  Well, Dave showed a slide in his metrics presentation that really hit home for me.  It’s called the Niko-Niko (mood) Calendar.

Let’s say your position in the company is to ensure customer satisfaction.  A useful unit of measure would be NPS (Net Promoter Score).  Think of it as a customer satisfaction or “happiness” metric.  NPS is based on the fundamental perspective that every company’s customers can be divided into three categories: Detractors, Passives, and Promoters. By asking one simple question — How likely are you to recommend [Company X] to a colleague or friend? — you can track these groups and get a clear measure of company performance through its customers’ eyes.  I’ve written about it before in a post titled Outdated Success Criteria.

That’s all fine and good but what if your position in the company is to ensure employee satisfaction?  As a manager or a leader you should be working to keep your employees happy.  How would you measure their happiness?  You could use a Niko-Niko calendar.  Each individual on a team should identify their daily mood in one of three ways: happy, indifferent, or unhappy.  Because I keep a daily journal of what I do, I recreated a calendar to see if there were any trends.  Do you see any?  Can you see the the days I was working at my other job and I was dreading a particular meeting?  Can you see the days I spoke to LitheSpeed or when I was hired by LitheSpeed?  Though you can’t make everyone on your team happy, as a manager or servant-leader, you should be creating an environment that will, in the end, make them happier and more productive.  If everyone on the team maintained a mood calendar, a manager or leader could take action before negative feelings become caustic to a team.

P in your Network

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Welcome to our ool

Welcome to our oolI’ve recently been paying more attention to signs and indicators. Though Stop signs or Yield signs are a given, I’m talking signs that you find around homes (Welcome to our ool. Notice there is no “P” in it. Let’s keep it that way) and businesses (Drink coffee. Do stupid things faster with energy).

Last night, I attended the monthly APLN DC (Washington DC Chapter of the Agile Project Leadership Network). When friend and colleague Manoj Vadakkan kicked off the event last night, he announced that both the name (APLN) and logo had changed.  It will now be known as the Agile Leadership Network.  After telling people for the last few years that they could leverage agile principles and values in areas other than software development or just projects, I’m happy to see the change.  It should certainly help reinforce concepts like servant-leadership, outside of the application development world.  I went to the “new” ALN website and read a message on behalf of the board of directors.

In keeping with the agile spirit, APLN has continued to evolve since its inception. Over the last year or so, the national board has had an ongoing discussion about “getting the ‘P’ out”. That’s ‘P’ as in ‘Project’; as in Agile ‘Project’ Leadership Network. Why do that?

As agile practices for software development projects have become more prominent, broader application of agile principles and values has come more to the forefront. It is not that we no longer want to talk about these projects; we do and will. But we also want to talk about more than projects and we think the 10-year anniversary of the Agile Manifesto is an appropriate milestone to recognize that evolution.

Let this be notice to everyone out there to start updating their websites or documents listing APLN.

Walt Disney Quote

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As my family and I were walking through Disney World last week, we noticed a lot of construction going on.  Come to find out, Fantasyland is getting a big face-lift.  We could see what appeared to be another castle being built and some mammoth big top tents.  We were told that it will be completed in 2012.

But this post is not about Disney World construction, it’s about giving credit where credit is due.  As we were racing to get from one side of the Magic Kingdom to the other, my wife said she saw the perfect sign for me.  I’m sure I shot her some kind of momentary puzzled look without slowing my pace.  I was focused on getting from point A (Frontierland) to point B (Tomorrowland) in the shortest time possible.  It’s tragic that I was at the wonderful world of Disney’s Magic Kingdom and I couldn’t stop and soak in my surroundings.  Don’t worry, I got better as the day went on.  But let’s get back to this sign that my wife spotted.

Clearly my wife knew this sign was more important than getting to Tomorrowland in record time.  She was able to get me to look her right in the eye and this time she said “Honey, it talked about a project.”  I paused, processed the new information, did an about-face, and made a B-line for the sign.  Yep, she was absolutely right.  The sign was awesome.  Too many times I get my blog post ideas from my wife and I never give her credit for them.  The sign said

“When we go into that new
project, we believe in it all the
way.  We have confidence in our
ability to do it right.”

– Walt Disney

So, let it be known, my wife gets full credit for spotting the sign and inspiring this post. Without her, it wouldn’t have been.  If you’re leading a team or just a member of a team, don’t forget to listen to others.  You have to accept that some of the best ideas are going to come from them.  When those awesome ideas come your way, don’t forget to give them credit.

Social Norms at Work

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Social Norms

I recently gave a talk in Michigan on the topic of servant-leadership.  Unfortunately, servant-leadership is something that is painfully absent in so many organizations.  Just a few years ago, it (servant-leadership) was not something I had even heard of.  Going back and reviewing the PMBOK made me realize two glaring omissions.  There is a lack of content on stakeholder or team engagement and there is a lack of content on leadership.  Fortunately, in the last few years, I have enjoyed books by authors like Clay Shirky, Seth Godin, Dan Pink, and Dan Ariely.  I’ve also met and interacted with some amazing people in the Agile community.  I now interact differently with my peers, as a result of these experiences.  I now apply my social norms at work.  What are social norms?  They are patterns of behavior in a particular group, community, or culture, accepted as normal and to which an individual is accepted to conform.

We all go to work and we all get paid to do it.  Too many times, we take things for granted.  We don’t question the things we do or the things that happen to us.  I’m pretty sure this is based on conditioning over a long period of time.  Perhaps we need to start treating those we work with more like those we socialize with.  Next time you interact with a fellow employee, ask yourself if your behavior is socially acceptable.

Social Norms

Within an organization, where we are working with other people, things can get twisted.  Some exhibit bad behavior and believe it’s somehow forgivable because we’re all getting paid.  Well, I don’t think that’s acceptable.  It’s very interesting to see the same people behave differently, when not in the office environment.  Why is it some people forget basic manners or common courtesy, when in an office environment?

Case in point, I hold the door open for people, regardless if I know them or not.  I see this as socially expected behavior.  Socially, I expect a thank you.  To say I expect it is a slight embellishment.  Outside of the office, I still expect a thank you.  Unfortunately, at the office, I’ve started to accept not getting any reciprocation.  There are a few people in my building that I don’t personally know but I still hold the door for them.  They won’t make eye contact with me and they won’t say thank you.  When the situation is reversed, these same people do not hold the door for anyone.  But, I refuse to accept their behavior.

We all need to strive to understand and empathize with others. People need to be accepted and recognized for their special and unique qualities.  Assume the good intentions of your coworkers and don’t reject them as people, even while refusing to accept their behavior or performance.

Drawing:  Pictofigo

HT: Business Dictionary

My GLSEC Talk on Slideshare

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After my talk at GLSEC, I wanted to make my slide deck available for viewing by the general public.  I noted to the people attending that my presentation was going to be a little heavy on text, so the people reading it later could actually understand what I was talking about. The best talks I’ve seen have been those where the presenters only referenced their slides from time to time.  Of course, we’re all thinking of a Steve Jobs keynote.  But imagine if you viewed his slide deck after the fact?  It would be pretty hard to get detailed information, unless you read a transcript of the event.

After reviewing a few methods of distributing my presentation, I decided on slideshare. The original presentation lasted closed to 1 hour. We spent about 15 minutes of my talk playing two interactive games. (Simon Says and Red Light Green Light) Other than the games, the basis of the talk are all in the deck.

GLSEC Retrospective

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GLSECI’m back from a quick trip to Michigan.  The Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference was taking place and my talk had been accepted.  My talk was titled Breaking the Law of Bureaucracy (I’ll upload my deck in a few days) and the topic was Servant-Leadership.  Though I really enjoyed giving my talk, the best part of my visit was all of the people I interacted with.  I finally met Casey DuBois, a guy I’ve known via email and phone for over a decade.  We used to do business together (long distance) and this meetup was a long time coming.  Next, I met several people from Atomic Object and drank a bunch of their coffee.  Later, I met the organizers, sponsors, and other speakers who made the conference happen.  And to think that was just Friday.

Saturday went by way too fast.  Everything ran very smoothly. I gave my talk, we played Simon Says and Red Light Green Light, and I even had an opportunity to meet Ben Lichtenwalner from ModernServantLeader.com. If I could have done anything more, it would have been attend more of the sessions.  The speakers and content were top notch.

It was really exciting to talk to a few local startups from the Grand Rapids area and to hear about a local incubator called Momentum. It made me realize the importance of local incubators and helping startups succeed.  These startups have solid ideas!  I’d write about them now but I want to have standalone posts for them.

So, I’m going to keep this short.

Thank you to Grand Rapids for a truly awesome experience.  A very special thank you to Mr. Casey DuBois for his amazing hospitality.