Category Archives: management

Advantage Agile

If you have to highlight one best advantage of agile to the development team member, what is that?. That was a wonderful question that made me think for a while before answering. It is the freedom of the engineer to choose the work he/she wants to do.

In self organizing teams, there is nobody to allocate work, the team members have to choose it by themselves. That is a great opportunity for the engineer to liberate herself from the clutches of the positive or negative halos, perceptions formed in teams where work allocation exists based on the manager’s judgment of the potential of team members.  Even for good managers, it takes a great deal of professionalism to give everyone equal opportunity to restart their career without any biases after the performance appraisals. People get perceived as performers and non performers, and this reflects in the work allocation and has a cascading effect.

Many traditional managers believe that excellence is linked to experience. They think that experienced people must handle complex work.  Excellence is never linked to experience. In a fast changing world, sometimes experience is a burden. In a society which thrives on Matha (Mother), Pitha (Father), Guru (Teacher), Boss Daivam (God); it takes a paradigm shift to thrash the myth that excellence is linked to experience. Agile provides the opportunity for people with potential to demonstrate their mettle to the rest of the world by grabbing these complex work and completing them successfully. In the agile world, stars are born in no time. It does not take years for a star to surface. Even a sprint/iteration can create champions. At least every sprint adds to the reputation of the contributor based on sheer performance.

What are the advantages of agile to engineers?

In teams where work is allocated by the boss, based on the perceived capabilities of the team members, the tendency to cast the members to specific types of work is higher. ‘I know who can do this’ is something we hear everyday in the corporate world. That is okay, if one does not reach the extent of  believing  that others in the team cannot do it. Take it from me, perceptions are very often very wrong. On day 1 of my agile workshops, I tend to form opinions about each participant based on their interaction, dressing etc. At the fag end of the training, I am terribly wrong. Participants surprises me, and that is the best positive kick I get out of my work as a coach. In fact I am waiting for these moments, and the agile way of working have amble opportunities for these kind of surprises, that keeps me moving forward professionally. Agile is the opportunity for people with potential. Since it is highly empirical, the room for error in judgment based on  perceptions is minimal. Grab it, dear engineer, else till you retire others will be telling you what to do and how to do it. Liberate yourself. Agile is the opportunity.

Have a nice weekend.




Filed under agile, management

10 points for those who are transitioning from project to product environments

Here are 10 key points to help those who are transitioning from projects to products

1) In projects, we deliver to one client, where as products get delivered to a market segment.

2) Inorder to build great products, we need people of the highest technical capabilities, where as in projects, the technical capabilities of people may not be the highest. This difference is very clear when we compare product companies to project delivery organizations.

3) Product teams, very often have to deal with millions of lines of legacy code, if they are working in very large established products. In startups, the challenges are different.

4)  In project based organizations, very often the teams may be following waterfall model for software development, where as most of the product companies have either transitioned or transitioning to agile.

5) In waterfall models, the predominant managerial style is command and control, and at the same time the desired managerial style in product based organizations is that of a servant leader. Some product companies promote ‘manager as a host’ styles, where everyone else is trated as a guest, and the manager ensures that they are comfortable. A variant of servant leadership.

6) Since the quality of engineering talent is the best in product companies, it is absurd to tell tell them how to do things. Explain the scope of work, and give them the freedom to choose the best approach to accomplish it. It is a kind of leading from behind, whereas in project based organizations, the predominant style is leading from the front.

7) In product companies, the requirements evolve over a peiod of time. Requirements are allowed to grow. In project based organizations, the focus is on freezing the requirements.

8) In majority of the product based organizations, test automation is in a higly matured state. Without test automation it is very difficult to achieve the desired quality levels, especially with voluminous code base.

9) In project based organizations, it is very difficult to justify the investment on test automation, becuase projects are unique and very often sigle time assignments. The predominant testing style is manual testing.

10) In product teams, the manager is only as good as his team. In project based organizations, the managers tend to position them as better than the rest.

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Filed under management