Do you know a leader that brougth out the best in you ?

“[…] Since 1970, I and my colleagues have been doing these studies where we try to
differentiate outstanding and effective managers from average and poor. And we can.

And we’ve done this in managers and leaders in public sector, private sector, non-profit, large, small in over 94 countries of the world, but if we look at the data sideways we come to a very
alarming observation. That about 50% of the people in management leadership position aren’t
adding value in anyone’s point of view.

Another 20 to 30% maybe adding value in one person’s point of view. That means that you could take 70 to 80% of the people in management jobs in your organization, out of their management
role, and the organization would function more smoothly. That’s a very sobering statistic.

And one of the things it means that the people that we’re exposed to most of the time, day to day, Aren’t very good at it, and yet, who do we try to emulate to fit in or do a good job? ”

– by Richard Boyatzis in “Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence” at Coursera.org

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Please don’t call it Agile

Please don’t call it “Agile”! Really!

I can’t stand anymore listening to the word “Agile” and seeing the main principles neither understood nor respected.
I can’t stand anymore seeing agile transformations where the only goal is the transformation itself as a new process to put in place.
I can’t stand anymore arguing with people who think to have understood “Agile” because they use some sticky notes and do some daily meetings.

For many people who do agile or want to do agile, the agile manifesto is often a piece of paper without real meaning.

I don’t have the agile manifesto attached in my room and the point here it’s not to be a “purist” of all agile principles. I don’t care. I do care about people: respecting people, giving people autonomy, motivating people, trusting people, collaborating and improving with people. I care about the human side of business: business done by people who wants to satisfy and delight customers, business done by people as it is their own private business. I always considered Agile as an enabler for all of this, as opposite of other ways to developing software where people are like “cogs in the machinery“.  Agile is “people oriented”. This is the most important thing to understand.

Agile for me is tightly linked to new Management principles and practices (ex: Management 3.0) and to the organisational structure and values. I believe that you cannot have Agile without changing or adapting the others points, unless they are already “people oriented”. I believe in “Guiding Structure“: the structure of your environment is the largest determinant of your behaviour. So if you want to have Agile ensure that all your guiding structures are “people oriented” too (management, organizational structure, values, rewards, etc.).

Personality Test, Leadership and Management

“The most accurate personality type test you can find”.

It’s the phrase written today on a friend’s wall in facebook with the link to a personality test on Quistic.  Curious to see if it’s true I’ve decided to try it… the answer I received is this:

I’m an ENTJ.

It seems that each letter has a general meaning:
“Types that like making decisions (J’s) and types that keep their options open (P’s).
Types that like details (S’s) and types that look at the forest instead of the trees (N’s).
Types that choose based on emotion (F’s) and types choose based on logic (T’s)
Types that talk a lot because they think out loud (E’s) and types that talk less often because they think before they speak (I’s).”

The profile says that ENTJs are natural leaders. It’s not because I find cool to have received such answer (there are many other profiles and all have their strengths and weaknesses) but I find the answer quite accurate taking many points of my personality… Then I don’t think one person is exactly only one profile type and that all people can be resumed to the 16 profile types found on the site, but I’m not a psychologist…

From this result I started to think about leadership and management and how the first is different from the second. What are really leadership and management ? Not all managers are leaders, but a manager who is not a leader can be a good manager ?

For me it depends… it depends in which environment we are managing what and who. Today in the creative economy we speak about knowledge workers and I think being a good manager in such environment requires to be also a leader.


With the rise of the knowledge worker, “one does not ‘manage’ people,” Mr. Drucker wrote. “The task is to lead people. And the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of every individual.”

– from “what-is-the-difference-between-management-and-leadership

One thought before sleep… why is management changing so slowly ?

Midnight is passed… I’m reading some pages of the book “How to Change the World” of Jurgen Appelo… and I’ve found just in some lines the sum up of my feelings…  I share it with you, to be your thought for today, your thought for tonight:

W.  Edwards  Deming  wrote  decades  ago  that  bonuses  are  bad  for  business
[Deming  1986].  But  most  managers  around  the  world  are  still  using  them.
Peter F. Drucker    said    ages    ago    that knowledge    workers    cannot    be
subordinates of managers [Drucker 1974], but managers still act as if they are
other   people’s   superiors.   And   research   tells   us   again   and   again   that
performance appraisals don’t work [Bobinski 2010]. But many managers keep
relying on them as their primary evaluation technique.

Why?

Why is management changing so slowly (or not at all)?

Agile misconception – fixed scope and fixed deadline

agileMisconception

Drive: What Motivates Us

The philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach said “man is what he eats”. I would say that a man is also the books he reads and Drive, the book of Daniel H.Pink about motivation is one of those books that can influence you and change the way you think, inspiring you to act. An amazing book.

Drive of Daniel H. Pink

Drive of Daniel H. Pink

Drive teaches us that, when it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what the science knows and what business does. “The current system of motivation put in place in organizations often doesn’t work and often does harm. If we want to build better organizations, elevate our lives and improve the world a new approach is needed”.

In the introduction Pink explains that human beings behaviour is driven by what is known as the biological drive that comes from within and includes hunger, thirst and sex (Motivation 1.0). Then a second drive that comes from without is to respond to rewards and punishments in our environment (Motivation 2.0). In the middle of the last century however few scientists began to discover that there was a third drive that they called intrinsic motivation, our innate need to direct our own lives, to learn and to create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world (Motivation 3.0). Read more of this post

Software engineers shouldn’t be like “cogs in the machinery”

Even with the agile “revolution” taking place in these few last years in the software development industry it’s still common to find companies developing software where the importance is more focused on the processes than on people working every day to develop the software. Even when companies declare that people are important they don’t really perceive the situation in which many software engineers work today. This situation is however well described in the literature and used also as motivation for a transition to agile.

Unfortunately I find the metaphor of software engineers like “cogs in the machinery” of Mike Cohn in “Agile Estimating and Planning” well describing the reality here:

“Agile teams value individuals and interactions over processes and tools because they know that a well-functioning team of great individuals with mediocre tools will always outperform a dysfunctional team of mediocre individuals with great tools and processes. Great software is made by great individuals, and as an industry we have tried too long with too little success to define a development process that relegates individuals to replaceable cogs in the machinery. Agile processes acknowledge the unique strengths (and weaknesses) of individuals and capitalize on these rather than attempting to make everyone homogeneous.”

I agree also when David J.Anderson in “Kanban. Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business” tells that like Ford assembly-line workers in the second decade of the twentieth century no one cared about the monotony of the work or the well-being of the workers. Again “It’s hard to imagine the emergence of organized labor in knowledge-work fields like software development, mainly because it’s hard to imagine anyone addressing the root causes of the physical and psychological ills developers routinely experience”

A further step in considering individuals and interactions over processes and tools is to have people acting as a team. This is a completely different thing than having a group of people together for administrative convenience.  As Douglas McGregor told:  Most teams aren’t teams at all but merely collection of individual relationships with the boss.  Each individual vying with the others for power, prestige and position”.

For a software engineer the feeling to be part of a real team is exactly the opposite as feeling to be a “cog in the machinery”, this is what software engineers should search to feel more motivation and appeasement in their daily work. Managers should consider the problem.

Hope this can help reflection