Why so sad? Can we point to improvements without making people feel bad?

"Fry complaining" by Umberto Salvagnin,
under Creatives Common

- As agile and lean practitioners, why do we always focus on the negative? “It’s managements fault”, “This needs to go faster”, “The quality is substandard”, “You don’t use TDD” … tell me when to stop…

  • Because that where we have “unrealised improvement opportunities”, dummy!

  • But it’s not very attractive and makes our “sell” much harder.
  • Yeah, but it sucks! So it needs to be improved

  • Is there maybe another way to say that so that the receivers doesn’t feel that they suck?
  • Maybe… but it’s very...

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If you build it - things will improve; turning visualizations to knowledge

My good friend and cowrite Joakim Sundén has taught a great deal about agile and lean… and a whole bunch of other things too. One thing that he said, early in my journey, that I didn’t fully believe was:

It’s always interesting to see the spontaneous discussions that appear around a kanban board (or other visualisation)… after the meeting

(Not the exact quote, because that would be much more well put and eloquent but still…).

So Joakim says that just by having a visualisation in place discussions arises. For example, after the daily standup around the board, people linger and discuss about the state of the board, about improvements or other work related things.

Have you experienced that? I have. Often. Very often in fact. But not always. In this post I’ll outline a few things that in my experience makes these conversations happen more frequently and...

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Ask a simpler question - real data speaks louder

David J Andersson (the father of kanban in the software community) has taught me a lot, and that's probably an understatement too. Because I've learned immensely from him. One of the best hands-on tricks that he taught me was really just one sentence. And I'm not sure he meant to say it at that point, but it's proven invaluable for me: > "Ask a simpler question!" The longer version is something like: "If you find that you don't get the answers you want try to ask a simpler question". I think this is a general great tip that can be applied in all kinds of situations and contexts, but in this post I wanted to tell you about how I just did that in order to get an...
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Accountability, authority, trust, and all those things

How’s that for a little topic to clear out in a blog post? I promise this will be just a short thought… even though the title promise more of a book.

Well, after the last couple of weeks at my work I just wanted to write down a thought that I keep coming back too. I’m very proud to be part of the Salvation Army and right now we have a world wide leader (aka The General) that I think talks about a lot of good things. Here’s video with his latests message:

I like this message for a number of reasons, but the part that stands out for me is "We know we are not perfect. We **want** to become better. We start Now!" I like that kind of transparency and humbleness. The keyword in the message is Accountability. I have...
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Luck has nothing to do with it

Have you noticed that people and organisations that are great have a lot of luck? And the opposite is also true: a poorly managed companies are unluckier. In my experience.

Now, I don’t think luck has anything to do with it (no - this is not a post about my Christian faith, please contact me for that :)). Which is good news; because that means that we can control it, do something about it.

I’ll share a few stories and then some thoughts in this post.

Example 1 - Clarinet players

I had the good fortune to do my military service in the Royal Swedish Army Band (1992 version) and playing there had a great influence on my musical life. I also got to meet some amazing musicians and some of them went on to great heights.

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What I've should done - my Jerk-store moment

Have you ever had a conversation and then a couple of hours later you come up with a much better way of stating your matter or a better phrasing?

This feeling is shown to great effect in “The comeback” episode of Seinfeld.

I almost always have those kinds of revolutions after coaching gigs. Sometimes during the gig which is helpful because I then can change into something better. Sadly sometimes after the gig which just frustrates me since there's not much to do at that point. The story I'm about to tell you is of such an episode. It's from my, by far, biggest agile (brrrr...) roll-out task. To me it all ended in a big meeeh, but I know that some people there was happier when i left and I supposed that meant something. #### DISCLAIMER Below when I write "I" we actually...
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Some thoughts I got after talking with Woody Zuil

Yesterday I had the good fortune to have a chat with Woody Zuill over Skype. I was a really nice hour that just flew by, where we exchanged stories, ideas and had a few laughs.

Let me, as a side note, just say that I love that; just exchanging stories with people. I always learn new stuff and quite often stories from my own experience pop back into my memory. This is the best part of conferences - meeting, interacting with others. That’s what I miss the most, being a little sidestepped here in Indonesia. Praise the Lord for Skype and Twitter… ah well for the Internet too (although I’m not entirely sure He had any hands-on action on either of those inventions).

I just thought I summarize some of the things that I took away with me from our conversation.

It was never about the estimates,...

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Coaching exercise - building Lego

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I’ve just concluded a vacation during which I had time to build a lot of Lego (tm) with my sons. That’s really a lot of fun and very developing for the kids I notice. With my oldest, Albert, we have much fun following description and building the house to the left. My other sons more like to build something that just comes up with the pieces they have in hand.

After sitting with Albert a couple of hours I started to recognise the personality the Lego building brought forth in me; this was coaching-Marcus talking.

I think this is a really good exercise and in this short post I’ll show you a couple things that I noticed and that was very eye-opening for...

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KoaJs Making the make file test, push and all that

The last couple of days I have enjoyed the speed and easy-going-flow that Node, KoaJs and Herkou gives me. It’s truly blows me away and I have been tweeting stuff like:

Once @heroku tool belt is set up the first time deployment is SILLY simple. I’m talking 20 seconds, including #mongodb provisioning #amazed — Marcus Hammarberg (@marcusoftnet) June 18, 2014


Again: From idea (we should put this into prod now) to complete: 25 min. #koaJs #heroku #nodejs Like last time: http://t.co/GSvpuV4xsA — Marcus Hammarberg (@marcusoftnet) June 18, 2014

But… In one regard I have lied. I told Woody Zuill (friend and role model) that I could push to production with a single command. While that was true the command (git push heroku master)...

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Simple = Good. Complex = Bad. But what does it mean?

I’m a programmer. But I, for some strange reason, often find myself doing management consulting on different levels. Since my basic schooling is in programming I sometimes often find myself using principles that works well for programming in management.

One such principle was something I picked up about 10 years ago and I’m still reaching for that everyday. Here’s my current desktop background, showing that principle to me everyday:


This is a so called truism that nobody says again, but I fail to reach just about all the time. I find it very useful as a guiding north star both in organizations and programming. But what does it really mean?

I have the good fortune to coach some managers in my...

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