Command & Control: Let’s talk about power

Command and control isn’t just a mindset and a style of management (though it is both those things). What we don’t often talk about is the power that rests with people in management roles. Traditional managers have power, and that power comes from different sources. Part of what rankles people in traditional organizations is the

Agile Teams at Scale: Beyond Scrum of Scrums

Agile methods depend on effective cross-functional teams. We’ve heard many Agile success stories…at the team level. But what happens when a product can’t be delivered by one team?  What do you do when the “team” that’s needed to work on a particular product is 20 people?  Or 20 teams? There are no simple answers. But

Trifecta of Doom: How Expectations for/about Managers Stymie Learning

When I was promoted to a management role, I realized that the skills that made me standout as a programmer were not the skills I needed in my new role. I started reading. I found a mentor. I applied for a graduate program in leadership. But I was something of an exception. Many managers feel

Hiring for an Agile Team: 4 Reasons to Up Your Hiring Game

Most companies have policies that govern the selection and hiring process for new employees. Not a bad thing.  But I’ve noticed that in many of the companies I visit–especially the big ones–the guidelines put far less rigor around hiring people for dev teams than for management roles. (Occasionally, I see the opposite. Might write about […]

Building Effective Teams: Miss the Start, Miss the End

(This article originally appeared on Gantthead.com) “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” Plato, Greek philosopher and writer, 429–347 B.C.E. I’ve written several articles about a manager’s relationship with a team that has already formed. A manager’s relationship with a team as they work is essential for cultivating a self-organizing team and […]

New Roles for Managers: Interview with Lean Magazine

I recently did an interview with the nice folks at Softhouse.se for their Lean Magazine. The interview was a lot of fun, and made me think (which is fun). The full interview will be in their special anniversary edition, schedule to be out by Christmas.  (Information on obtaining the magazine here.)  In the meanwhile, some […]

Readings for Managers: Motivation

I’ve been having conversations lately with people about compensation and reward systems, and the role that money plays in motivation. All the research I’ve seen concludes that–for most people–money becomes the primary motivator at work when there are no other salient motivators. What might those other motivators be? Sense of purpose, pride in work, belief […]

Supporting Team-Based Work

Many of the companies I work with want the benefit of the team effect in software development. The managers in these companies recognize the enormous benefits teams provide to the company–creativity, engagement, learning. However, in many of these companies, the HR systems focus only on individual accomplishment. Individual goals, individual bonuses and merit-pay processes cause […]

Peck, peck, peck

A participant in one of my workshops of my workshops declared that in every team there is pecking order….and every one knows what the order is from one to n.  Since this is the case, he reasoned, it follows that ranking people in organizations is a reasonable management practice. This is not the first time […]