Reflections on TankWars or when 2 minutes was slow

My current team have a practice to do something “learning, inspiring and future-leaning” on every other Friday. We called it LAME (Learning Afternoon Mob Experience) since we started to run it on Friday afternoons first, but have recently changed into running it for a full day every other week. The other week we decided to give TankWars a go. It great fun and educational, and I got to observe an interesting phenomena about learning and feedback. Tank Wars TankWars is a nice little game that is have been used to teach AWS Lambda / Serverless computing in some classes given by Gojko Adzic The game is quite simple; you create a little program that GET called with some information about the world you are in. From that information you then POST a simple command about what to do next (left, right, up, down, pass or fire). To objective is simply...
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The best product owner I ever met

One of the things that many agile approaches, that I’ve been involved in or nearby, get stuck on is the role of the Product Owner. The role simply doesn’t sit right in bigger organisations. I think there are many reasons for that and I will share a few in this post. I also wanted to share an unlikely but great example of a great product owner that I met at my current client. Finally I will share some ideas on how to remedy the problems often found around the product owner role in big organisations (where I mostly worked). But first let’s meet a great product owner. (When I’m writing product below please substitute service as needed.) The great product owner in the diner My current client is a food retailer in Sweden. Quite naturally the quality in the diner is great - but I realised that the diner is...
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A decade of blogging...

Ten years ago today I started this blog. I really can’t believe that sentence just looking at it. But during that time I’ve learned so much by putting my understanding into words and out on the internet that I really cannot value the experience of having a blog enough. In this post I wanted to share a few highlights from the 1066 posts (including this) I’ve written and all the stories and relations it has created. (Full disclosure; much of this has been written in a previous blog post, celebrating my 1000th post. It’s worth repeating (and updating) since it covers basically the same things.) History I wrote the first post on the 24 of October 2006 and in that very trembling first steps I actually wrote somethings that still holds: This is my first ever publication on the Internet. I am not sure yet what to put down here...
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Who is this important for?

From time to time we might end up with policies and ways of working that just seems like it’s “the way we do things here”. It can be tooling, procedures and even contractual policies but also many of the practices that we take for granted in agile and lean software development; stand ups, boards or user stories. I’ve found that thinking outside of the context that we have created for ourselves is often very hard, and I am the first one to default to things that worked for me before. In this post I wanted to introduce you to two questions and thoughts that helped me pushed me out of my comfort zone and let me ponder; Is this really important? For who? Customers A couple of months ago I had an opportunity to speak at the inaugural Agile Islands. Among the other speakers was Leif Östling, long time CEO...
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Big room planning - a workaround that can be useful

I’ve just completed my first ever big room planning meeting (a type of exercise made famous by SAFe in their PI Planning). That was quite an excerises and I’m totally worn out. But also immensely impressed by the team and the amount of learning that took place in the room today. It was quite noisy at times but after 8 hours we went home with our sights aligned and a much better feel for what we will do the upcoming period (5 weeks in our case). Still I could not get one thought out of my head. It stuck there a few days back and won’t get unjammed: This big room planning stuff is really an anti-pattern and should be eliminated In this post I want to explain why and also tell you why I still think it was great. Investments In order to prepare for the meeting we have...
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Move the information to the authority considered harmful

I’m a big fan of David Marquet and his Turn the Ship around book that shows on excellent form of leadership but also challenge the way organisations are viewed and managed. My favourite quote is a simple one: Move the authority to the information I like it so much that I’ve already 2 years ago wrote a blog post about that idea, outlining why this is a good thing and how we can save a lot of effort and time in moving the information back and forth. The other week I realised that there’s other, more subtle and viscous wastes in continuing to move the information to the authority (as we do now). In this post I will describe what that is and how to avoid it. I’ve often been working in quite big organisations and something that often happens there is that you need help from higher levels above...
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Principles over (best) practices

This is another post in the impromptu series “Marcus explains his tweets in more detail”. In this post I wanted to talk a little realisation that I’ve grown into the last couple of years There are no best practices is knowledge work.Only good practices and context when they apply. Learn principles-adjust and develop practices— Marcus Hammarberg (@marcusoftnet) September 23, 2016 It might sound obvious at first (or not) - but I see many signs of that we, especially in the agile community, do the opposite. Let’s see if I can explain my thinking or if I make a fool out of myself - that alone might be worth reading this. Lets go! Principles over practices I often get thrown into meeting about “help us to become agile” or “teach us how to do scrum” or “should we do scrum or kanban?” Before I started in that end and often ended...
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No heroics and awesome people

I’ve from time to time said things like: No heroes - is a great starting point to make process improvements— Marcus Hammarberg (@marcusoftnet) September 20, 2016 but at the same time I think that it’s a good thing to: Stand back and let people be awesome In this post I wanted to try to sort these two separate statements out and see where the common ground for them are. No heroics What I meant with the first statement (tweet above) is a reaction to a phenomena that I have observed in many, primarily large organisations; the only way to get things done is through efforts above and beyond what is normal. For example; someone needs to pull a lot of strings and flex their personal network to get a computer installed with the correct administrative rights. Or instead of putting a ticket in the ticket system someone calls someone else...
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Toyota Kata and the 'We can't do that here'-fallacy

I’m re-reading the Toyota Kata book right now I had forgotten how much it influenced my thinking. If you haven’t read it - go and do that now. Don’t read this post - read the book. I won’t mind. Toyota Kata is what the author, Mike Rother, calls the mindset and practices that Toyota employs to get continuous improvement to work. Note that Toyota themselves might not recognise the term Toyota Kata, because it’s just how they do. The book is filled with wonderful stories that shows clearly about how the Toyota mindset influence every aspect about the continuous improvement work there. In this post I wanted to relate one such story that I meet so often in my daily work and reason a little bit why Toyota (and other lean organisations of course) navigates out of those problems with ease. Whereas I get stuck again and again. The story...
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It's all perspective - why haven't I seen that before?

The other week I attended a course that introduced a lean and agile mindset to a group of leaders in a company. My role was to sit back and observe (and to shoot in some of my experience during the training) - here’s one thing I observed. At one point in time, after we’ve been through the agile manifesto and the principles, and finally the principles of Lean Software development a high ranking manager next to me raised his voice and said: This all sounds very good. I buy all of it. Its common sense. But the one thing that I don’t get is why we realise this now. We are doing something very different than this now - have we been stupid before? The discussion that followed was very fruitful and the people in the room learned a lot. But I wanted to go beyond the question. Because he’s...
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