Resistance and Perception

From George Dinwiddie (interesting blog, BTW) on the ScrumDevelopment list comes this great article: Resistance as a Resource by Dale H. Emery.

From the article:

You gather your courage, call people together, and make your proposal. From your right, Charlie says, “But we tried that before, and it didn’t work.” To your left, Pam says, “But we’ve never done that before.” Right in front of you, Lee says, “But that’s no different form what we’re doing now.” From the back of the room, you hear a rising chorus of, “But we don’t have time!”

You don’t really have to imagine this scene, do you? You’ve lived it. Perhaps you’re living it right now. You’re getting resistance. Now what do you do?

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Factual Errors – And an Interesting Scrum Criticism

An interesting article called Credibility Crisis is worth while reading. I would like to point out two factual errors. Despite the errors, the author’s concerns are well-taken. Here are the errors:

1) The average price per CSM is much less than US$1500. Your “conservative estimate” is not conservative at all. For quite some time, the average was less than $1000 in fact. As a scrum trainer, I know that the people that I have certified have averaged about US$750. I suspect this is true for most of the trainers, and it accounts for volume discounts when doing training in a corporate setting, doing pro-bono training, doing training in countries with lower costs and training that is done by CSTs that are employees of large companies such as Microsoft and British Telecom where the “industry” sees no revenue.

2) “Well planned marketing” Ha!!! That’s a good one! There has been exactly one advertisement issued by the ScrumAlliance (in Dr. Dobbs Journal), and all other advertising and promotion is done hodge-podge by the individual CSTs or the companies they work for. The only coordination point is the web site where all the CSTs are required to list their public courses. Ken Schwaber and Mike Cohn, as the most well-read authors in the Scrum community get a large bulk of the _interest_ in the training (I’m not sure what their actual numbers are for # of CSMs).

Those two errors undermine the author’s argument in the article, but don’t completely invalidate it.

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Pay and Performance

Jeffrey Pfeffer Testifies to Congress About Evidence-Based Practices. Here’s a good couple excerpts (thanks Esther!):

“The idea that financial incentives are the way to solve organizational
performance and service problems is one of the most dangerous “half-truths”
of management. The evidence for widespread dissatisfaction with such pay
plans is pervasive. Both employee and company survey data suggest that the
likelihood of success is low and the odds of problems and dissatisfaction
are high.”

“Although the list of high commitment or high performance work practices
differs slightly among authors and studies, most such lists include: a)
sustained investment in training and development, including job rotation,
both formal and on-the-job training, and a tendency to promote from within
as a consequence of the successful internal development of skill and people;
b) an egalitarian culture in which formal status distinctions are
downplayed, salary differences across levels are less than in the general
economy, and in which people feel as if their contributions are important
and valued; c) delegation of decision making responsibility so that skilled
and developed people can actually use their gifts and skills to make real
decisions; d) high pay to reduce turnover and attract the best people,
coupled with rewards that share organizational success with its members; and
e) employment security and a policy of mutual commitment, so that the
workforce does not fear for the outcomes of events over which it has no
control and instead, feels reciprocally committed to the employer.”

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Agile Blog Started

A new blog has been started called “Agile & Business” by agile coach Joe Little. I have worked with Joe and I believe that he has excellent insight into human nature and the application of agile methods. The first few articles he has written are an excellent starting point including a look at metaphors we use in Scrum (chickens, pigs and dogs), and a look at the idea of business value.

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A Better Iteration Structure

In my coaching work, I have often been asked a question about the planning process for iterations, that until just a few days ago, I would actually brush off!!! I didn’t even realize I was doing this, it is only in retrospect that I see this. This question is simple: “how does a team plan for the improvement efforts that come out of the retrospective when they are supposed to be working at maximum velocity when implementing tasks directly related to the items in the work queue?” Or, more simply, “we don’t have time for process improvements.”

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Travel and Trust

I don’t usually talk too much about personal stories here – I try focus on agile methods pretty directly. However, the last two days have been interesting enough that I want to share them, and a lesson from the experience.

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