I Got a Feeling

I was sitting at my desk when this song by the Black Eyed Peas called "I got a feeling" came on Pandora.  My son rushed over yelling to turn it up. I attribute turning up the volume to the resulting earworm that has lasted the last few days.  There could be worse things in the world.  Each time I hear it, I think of the flash mob that danced in Chicago for Oprah.  It amazes me how so many (strangers) came together to create something that brings a smile to my face every time I see the video. As I was preparing for day zero for LitheSpeed (I don't officially start until tomorrow), I found myself singing the song and thinking about "the feeling".   After taking a week off, I was able to break the cycle that had me feeling a bit numb for so long.  Just a few weeks ago, I felt like I was trying to keep control of an uncontrollable situation.  That can become exhausting.  But today I felt completely different.  This morning I felt excited about what I was about to do.  I felt an entrepreneurial drive I haven't felt for a long time.  It's that feeling when you play offense not defense.

Tomorrow is day one.  I have my Kanban loaded.  I have my WIP limited.  I got a feelin' tomorrow is gonna be a good day.  Let's do it.

Agile Leaders Think Like Entrepreneurs

I found a half written blog post that I never published.  Honestly, I did not know if I wrote it myself or if I was intending to quote someone.  Because I don't like to take credit for other people's work, I began a search.  After about 10 minutes, I found it.  Entrepreneur Jason Calacanis wrote the quote below, back in May of 2010. Rather than keep it hidden in the lost-and-found of my blog, I thought it was worth publishing.

Step 1: Find a need, trend and/or pain point... Step 2: Discuss possible solutions and products to address #1. Step 3: Prototype the solution in step two and share... Step 4: Discuss the possibility of scaling the prototype with the smartest folks in that vertical. Step 5: Find a team to manage the growth of this product and give it the support of a couple of partners... Step 6: Debate, iterate, engage, recruit, inspire, pivot and communicate...

My Scrum TeamThough I trimmed a few words for brevity, what I like about these 6 steps is you can take them out of context and the formula still works.  Jason was writing about how to be an angel investor & business creator.  I am writing about how to be a Product Owner or Agile Team Lead.

Like the image? Find it at Pictofigo

ADD / ADHD Project Managers

While you’re probably aware that people with ADD/ADHD have trouble focusing on tasks that aren’t interesting to them, you may not know that there’s another side: a tendency to become absorbed in tasks that are stimulating and rewarding. This paradoxical symptom is called hyperfocus.  So writes HelpGuide.org I've spent my whole life with all of the symptoms but never wanted to admit actually having ADD/ADHD.  Perhaps it was out of concern someone would label me and force me to take some drug that would change me.  Though it doesn't help that I drink copious amounts of black coffee, for the most part, I think I've fared pretty well.   I think back to my childhood, remembering every report card included a comment from the teacher.

Derek has a hard time concentrating and talks too much.

Hyperfocus is actually a coping mechanism for distraction—a way of tuning out the crap and chaos. It can be so strong that I become oblivious to everything going on around me.  I still think hyperfocus is an invaluable asset.  How do you think I can sleep for 5 hours a night and get so much accomplished?  From the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep, I have a thousand ideas in my head.  I scramble to keep up with them, writing them down or logging voice-notes.  I still really don't like all of the negative connotations associated with ADD/ADHD.  Sure, I have a wicked temper, I'm impulsive, and I'm very forgetful.  But, I don't think the last is an issue thanks to Evernote.  As for the first two, if you cross me, I will write you off and being impulsive just means I seize on opportunities.  Perhaps this is why I'm doing well on my current engagement.  I am asked to focus my attention on specific issues or opportunities and advise.  But seriously, you think of a successful project manager or entrepreneur and you tell me they don't have ADD/ADHD.

I hate to cut this post short but I need to...

Hey, look a butterfly!

(graphic courtesy of meggitymegs )

How Owners Managers and Leaders Differ

I was asked a very interesting question today, requiring me to stop and think. How do I believe being an entrepreneur and a business owner differ? It's a very good question because if you don't know either an entrepreneur or business owner, I don't know how any textbook answer would satisfy. From my perspective, a business owner's identity is merely the act of having and controlling property.  They could potentially inherit the family business, therefore becoming a business owner.  They could be very excited or could care less, looking for an exit strategy.

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand are passionate, committed, skilled, creators of value.  They create because they have a fire in their belly.  As an entrepreneur, they can't help themselves.  It's in their DNA.  They are so laser focused on what they are trying to create, people can either think they are crazy or brilliant.  But, with that charisma, people will be inspired and follow.

These contrasts aren't too far off from Project Managers and Project Leaders. PMI defines a Project Manager (PMBoK Page 444) as the person assigned by the performing organization to achieve the project objectives. As I wrote in a previous post, there are several contrasts between a manager and a leader (Bennis & Goldsmith 1997)

  • Managers administer; leaders innovate.
  • Managers ask how and when; leaders ask what and why.
  • Managers focus on systems; leaders focus on people.
  • Managers do things right; leaders do the right things.
  • Managers maintain; leaders develop.
  • Managers rely on control; leaders inspire trust.
  • Managers have short-term perspective; leaders have long-term perspective.
  • Managers accept the status-quo; leaders challenge the status-quo.
  • Managers have an eye on the bottom line; leaders have an eye on the horizon.
  • Managers imitate; leaders originate.
  • Managers emulate the classic good soldier; leaders are their own person.
  • Managers copy; leaders show originality.

So, what are you?  Are you happy? Why?

(image by apogeehps.com)

How Do You Know Your Metrics Are Worth It

GQM Paradigm So you want to create some metrics.  More importantly, someone has told you that you need to create some metrics.  How do you know if you're just making work for yourself or if you're just putting a spin on the same old data?

Ask yourself what the goals of your project are.

In trying to determine what to measure in order to achieve those goals, I recommend using a Goal-Question-Metric (GQM) paradigm. It can actually be applied to all life-cycle products, processes, and resources. I've been using this process for a few years and it really helps me creat a quality metric.  The GQM paradigm is based on the theory that all measurement should be [1]goal-oriented i.e., there has to be some rationale and need for collecting measurements, rather than collecting for the sake of collecting. Each metric collected is stated in terms of the major goals of the project or program. [2] Questions are then derived from the goals and help to refine, articulate, and determine if the goals can be achieved. [3] The metrics or measurements that are collected are then used to answer the questions in a quantifiable manner.

Here is an example of the GQM in action:

Goal (use this 4-step process to shape a goal)

[1] Purpose [2] Issue [3] Object (process) [4] Viewpoint

Goal 1 [1] Purpose [2] Issue [3] Object (process) [4] Viewpoint Maintain a maximum level of customer satisfaction from the Help Desk user’s viewpoint
Question 1 What is the current help desk ticket trend?
Metrics 1 Metrics 2 Metrics 3 Metrics 4 Number of help desk tickets closed Number of new help desk tickets % tickets outside of the upper limit Subjective rating of customer satisfaction
Metrics 5 Number of new help desk tickets open
Question 2 Is the help desk satisfaction improving or diminishing?
Metrics 6 Metrics 7 Metrics 8 Metrics 9 Number of help desk calls abandoned Number of help desk calls answered Number of help desk calls sent to voicemail Subjective rating of customer satisfaction

As the great Lord Kelvin once said, "If you can not measure it, you can not improve it."

Image based on Basili, Caldiera, and Rombach "The Goal Question Metric Approach", 1990