Every week (or in case of this week) we hold a short
retrospective. It’s very informal is basically just
us asking ourselves what worked and what did not. And then we change
something. I think that is very important. We change something. In order
to improve. Those changes doesn’t have to, and up to now most haven’t,
been suggested and implemented at the retrospective meeting. But we try
to improve in small steps. Often. Hmmm someone should write about that.
Going into this week we decided two things to improve:
- Deep dive into why we don’t get reports in time
- Lower our work in process limit from 14 to 12.
One of those were very successful and one was not…
Sloppy board management
I have coached more than 40 different agile teams using board, like ours
(btw here's the state on this morning). Many of them has not used a
board before and there's one recurring pattern I see with these teams.
And with Team Yayasan as well, that I'm now a team member in.
After about 2-5 weeks we start to get sloppy; we don't put things we
work on up on the board, we don't follow the WIP limits, we stop seeking
cooperation and generally is sloppy about keeping the board up to date
and following the policies we had discuss.
I think this is why a team coach can be handy. I think. Someone that
stands a bit on the side and take a little different perspective.
It's now confession time;
> I have only been team member of 2-3, maybe 4 agile teams!
There. I've said it. Most of my work has been coaching team. That is
standing on the side of the team. Now that I'm in one I see how easy it
is to get lost and forget things. This is also why visualization and
clear, big policies is important. We want to "fall into the pit of
success". It should be easy to do right and hard to do wrong.
In our team this sloppyness has manifested itself in these things:
- Breaking the work in process limit for days, with no discussion
(great coaching there, Marcus. Not!)
- Adding items into the Doing column without checking if there's
something we can help complete
- Not estimating tasks to Small, Medium and Large
- Not talking about a Definition of Done.
So we have now (on this short retrospective we had this morning) decided
to try to be better. I will try to be a bit more active in my coaching
around the board and we all will try to follow the few rules that we
have set up.
It's very important to remember that these rules were created by us, for
us. No one has told us to set these up. If we break them... we're
letting ourselves down. This is one of the things I very often have to
repeat to teams starting with
### We don't get our reports in time
Now to something very much more interesting and fun. And rewarding too.
We had a problem that we had to nag and remind our hospitals to get
their reports to us in. This week we completed the finance reporting for
last year. And right now we are 76 days (yeah, nothing for this year)
for the current finance reporting.
We decided to invest a couple (2 x 2) hours to try to understand more
about this. I wanted to try something that I haven't run before too, so
we created two workshops with different purposes: first understand the
problem and then come up with actions to try to allivate the problem.
In the first session we ran a root cause analysis, much like the one we
one of the hospitals a few weeks back.
You can read
more about the format in that post, but here are a few of the things we
talked about (click for larger):
Again I was impressed with how this exercise helps you do understand the
consequences of not fixing the problem. The Why-questions was also
important and good things came out of that, but to really see the
long-reaching (failing to reach vision/mission for example) consequences
of not fixing this problem is the thing that sticks.
For the next session (the day after) we tried something new. I am a fan
and have written many times
about it. I've always thought that it would
make a great workshop and now I got the time to try it.
I put together a slideshow based on the
excellent one page summary
of the book. It's free
and requires a login to access and that you have read the book to
understand. Here's my presentation:
**Make a Switch -
the Switch framework in Action
My idea was to go through all of the aspects of change Switch is
mentioning and try to come up with ideas around each one of them. And
that was what we did. But first, a short intro to the ideas in Switch,
or the rest of this blog post will be silly.
### What is Switch?
The authors talk about the human psyche being like a rider and an
elephant going down a jungle path.
- The rider is our conscious, logical reasoning. We know where we
going and why. Let's do it!
- The elephant is our subconscious, emotional side. The one that is a
bit oh I'm hungry, let's get a cookie... Yeah, you know that side,
right. The problem is that the elephant weight 5 tons and the rider
is directing him with two leather reins... The rider cannot win
- The path they are travelling on is also part on how to make change
happen. Is it full of distractions? Is it easy to follow? Is there a
path or do they have to make one?
To maximize the possibility of change to happen you have to address the
rider and the elephant and help to form the path. To me the ideas in
Switch is a thinking framework. Different aspects that you can think
about how to tackle change. We can come up with only one idea and that
might work. But if we make sure to address all the parts of the Switch
framework we have a much higher chance to make change happen.
The book is awesome and full of inspirational stories about how people
have directed the rider, motivated the elephant and shaped the path.
### Back to the workshop
I used that in my workshop by telling one of these stories before we
dived in. It worked... not flawlessly but it worked. It's of course a
lot to take in.
We created a one page whiteboard picture to gather our thoughts:
And then we dot voted
to get a list of the thing we would make
the biggest difference. Here is our list, with two of the items being
crossed over already;
Two of the things that we have start doing have actually made a
The first thing is that we're talking about "WE" and never "THEM", "YOU"
or "US" in our reminder communication. I'm really proud of the team to
come up with this. Here's our summary, that we've posted above the
And here's how a reminder email can look like, following that advice:
> Our goal for the Kantor Yayasan is: "to help the hospitals and clinics
> to improve". That's why we keep pushing us and keep nagging about
> reports being late. Like this. I am NOT angry with any single one of
> you, I just want us to improve. Us. The Yayasan. And all the hospitals
> and clinics in it. And the Kantor Yayasan. Us.
> Ok, right now we are waiting for the finance report. I learned this
> monday that we have got all the reports from all hospitals up to 31/12
> 2013. That's great! But that also means that we 73 days that is not
> reported. See attached photo. Our goal is that it should be 1.
> This renders a lot of extra work for Bp Deny and Bp Anton since they
> have to call several times a day (see attached photo) and remind us to
> get our reports in on time. And keeping the Kantor Pusat accounting up
> to date is considerable harder too, since the different books from the
> different hospitals is out of synchronization.
> Let's help them and get the report for February in. It's the only
> thing that is still missing, so it's not that much left now! We're
> halfway there!
> Thank you for help us to be a better Yayasan!
Sorry about that lengthy text, but it was really interesting to try to
follow our own advice. Try it yourself and you'll see that you get a
completely different tone in your emails.
The second thing was a board we created to show how much time we are
spending on reminding people about the reports. Here's the current
That is showing the number of calls we do each day as well as showing
how many days behind (76) we are compared to the goal (1).
We will be continuing working with the other things we came up with as
Oh, man! This was a long post. I hope I didn't bore you totally with
that. We learn. We improve. That's the summary of all of this.