El sector no sabe cómo afrontar la transformación digital

  • Desde eMarketer señalan que el sector TI no tiene claro qué implica dar el salto al entorno digital
  • Sólo un 6% de los encuestados cree que deben integrar la transformación digital en su cultura de empresa
22/05/2017 – 09:59
Redacción

Según el último estudio de eMarketer, la mayoría de los ejecutivos del sector de las tecnologías de la información en todo el mundo están de acuerdo con que la transformación digital es necesaria para seguir siendo competitivos y mantener el ritmo marcado por los consumidores. Sin embargo, la mayoría todavía no saben cómo empezar ese proceso y ni siquiera se ponen de acuerdo a la hora de definir qué implicaciones tiene para sus negocios.

La tecnología como cultura de empresa

eMarketer define la transformación digital como el proceso mediante el cual un negocio se muda al entorno digital para reinventar toda su cultura de empresa: desde el producto, o servicio, que ofrece, hasta los objetivos que se marca a futuro y la estrategia de marketing para conseguirlos.

Según este informe, la tecnología no es un fin en sí mismo, sino un proceso de transformación en el que debería basarse la estrategia de futuro de toda empresa del sector TI.

El entorno digital puede generar incertidumbre para la empresa

La mayoría de los encuestados cree que la transformación digital es necesaria para sus negocios, pero no se ponen de acuerdo a la hora de definir cómo llevarla a la práctica. “Si metes a 20 empresarios en una sala y les pides que definan qué es el entorno digital para su empresa, te aseguro que tendrás 20 respuestas diferentes”, asegura Anand Eswarand, vicepresidente de Microsoft Services y Microsoft Digital.

Y es que “la transformación digital ofrece tantas oportunidades y vías de trabajo que crea una enorme incertidumbre. Muchos profesionales del marketing se sienten sobrepasados por la tecnología y no saben por dónde empezar”, asegura Martha Mathers, Marketing Practice Leader en la consultora CEB.

Cómo llevarlo a la práctica

Desde PricewaterhouseCoopers han realizado otra encuesta con conclusiones igual de dispersas:

  • 3 de cada 10 negocios en el sector de la comunicación opinan que la transformación digital se refiere a las herramientas que permiten innovar en las actividades de su negocio.
  • Un 29% asegura que lo digital es sinónimo del trabajo relacionado con el sector de las tecnologías de la información
  • Un 14% cree que la transformación digital tiene que ver con las tecnologías que usan las empresas para relacionarse con el cliente
  • Otro 14% asegura que se refiere a todas las inversiones que una compañía haga para integrar la tecnología en su negocio.

La única conclusión clara de esta encuesta es que no hay consenso.

Sólo un 6% ve lo digital como una mentalidad de empresa

Cabe destacar también que sólo un 6% de los encuestados opina que lo digital tiene que ver con las tecnologías que ayudan a crear una mentalidad relacionada con la innovación constante y la integración del entorno digital en todos los niveles del negocio. Este pequeño porcentaje es precisamente el que se corresponde con la opinión de las 20 marcas y expertos más poderosos de la industria en relación con este asunto.

Fuente: El sector no sabe cómo afrontar la transformación digital

The 2017 CNBC Disruptor 50 list of companies

Meet the 2017 CNBC Disruptor 50 companies

1 Airbnb It’s a $31 billion trip
2 Lyft The car-ownership killer with a conscience
3 WeWork Reworking the office
4 Grab Uber-growth for an Asian ride-share rival
5 Uptake Technologies Capturing Warren Buffett’s billionaire energy
6 Houzz The homiest e-catalog
7 Ginkgo Bioworks Growing products in the lab
8 Palantir Technologies Tracking the world’s secrets
9 Cylance Making cyberthreats idle
10 Udacity Closing the skills gap
11 CrowdStrike Going into the breach
12 23andMe Bring your genome home
13 Progyny Rocking the cradle
14 SpaceX Humanity’s interstellar escape plan
15 SurveyMonkey Question everything
16 Ezetap India’s answer to Apple Pay
17 GreenSky A credit to the mobile race
18 Moderna Therapeutics Going viral
19 Uber The car controversy with a valuation bigger than Tesla, GM or Ford
20 SparkCognition Deciphering the data overload
21 IEX The traders Michael Lewis made famous in a flash
22 GitHub The biggest coding party in the world
23 Bloom Energy Helping companies like Apple get off the grid
24 Drawbridge An ad strategy Facebook and Google can’t ignore
25 Jaunt VR that both Disney and Paul McCartney have experience in
26 Coursera Go to a top school, without going
27 MongoDB The BIG idea in databases
28 Qualtrics Surveying the corporate landscape
29 Domo Complete cloud cover
30 Blippar You, augmented
31 Pinterest An image is worth $11 billion
32 Illumio A new segment in cybersecurity
33 Phononic Quietly cool
34 Veniam Constructing the global superhighway of data
35 Spotify Not even Apple Music has slowed it
36 Dropbox The file-sharing economy
37 Trulioo Tracks twice as many people as Facebook: 4 billion, exactly
38 Synack Who the IRS and DoD use against hackers
39 DocuSign Signed, sealed, electronically delivered
40 Payoneer Payments without borders
41 Skillz A sport to surpass the NFL, with less injury risk
42 Blue Apron What’s for dinner
43 Robinhood There is no brokerage fee low enough
44 Zocdoc Real patient-centered health care
45 SoFi $18 billion in loans and counting
46 Foursquare A success story turned inside out
47 Warby Parker Still seeing things in new ways
48 Persado A motivational speaker that’s not human
49 Stripe Visa is banking on this platform
50 Quid The ultimate trendspotter

 

Fuente: The 2017 CNBC Disruptor 50 list of companies

LA ECONOMÍA DE SERVICIOS EN EL FUTURO INMEDIATO DE LATINOAMÉRICA

El impacto de lo digital en la competitividad es tan importante que un retraso en su adopción puede ser fatal para empresas y economías enteras, en especial en los países en vías de desarrollo. La transformación digital acrecienta hasta el extremo las diferencias en productividad entre los más innovadores y todos los demás.

Por eso, las instituciones latinoamericanas se han puesto a trabajar. La Alianza del Pacífico, con el apoyo del BID, está elaborando su Agenda Digital, que deberá ser aprobada en la próxima Cumbre de Presidentes que se celebrará en Cali el 28 de junio. Por otra parte, la CEPAL y la CAF impulsan eLAC 2018, la Agenda Digital para Latinoamérica y el Caribe. Cabría preguntarse, por cierto, si existe la necesaria coordinación entre ambas iniciativas.

Las agencias de innovación de los países que componen la Alianza del Pacífico tampoco están de brazos cruzados. Apenas hace un par de meses, se puso en marcha la Red de Agencias de Innovación InnovaAP, con el propósito de dialogar, coordinar e implementar políticas concretas para apoyar a los emprendedores e innovadores de los cuatro países.

En este contexto de transformación digital, de economías abiertas con cada vez mayor sesgo hacia los servicios, de transformación de los modelos productivos de países todavía muy apalancados en los recursos naturales, de capital humano y de capital social, tuve la oportunidad de participar en el programa E-Chile de CNN y la Fundación País Digital.

Conducido por Pelayo Covarrubias, el diálogo contó con la participación del Subsecretario de Hacienda del Gobierno de Chile, Alejandro Micco. Durante casi media hora pudimos conversar sobre los desafíos que afronta Chile en la economía de servicios y repasar algunos de los proyectos de cooperación público-privada que everis está desarrollando en diversas regiones del país.

Un placer poder formar parte de esta imprescindible discusión, que se puede contemplar íntegra en el siguiente vídeo.

Chile y las Industrias del Futuro | Arturo Herrera Sapunar | Pulse | LinkedIn

Chile y las Industrias del Futuro

Publicado el

La semana pasada quedamos asombrados con el hackeo masivo a una serie de grandes corporaciones alrededor del mundo. Este es sólo un ejemplo de cómo la tecnología está cambiando radicalmente aspectos de nuestra vida cotidiana. Como país debemos tomar acción y anticiparnos hacia donde se moverá el mundo en las próximas décadas con respecto al desarrollo, adopción y uso de tecnologías emergentes. En este sentido, nuestra visión de los últimos 20 años de desarrollo de clústeres, beneficiosa para el surgimiento y potenciamiento de nuevas industrias como por ejemplo la industria del salmón, ya no es suficiente. En esta nueva era digital, lo importante es el conocimiento y el talento emprendedor para aprovechar a nuestro favor tecnologías como la robótica, inteligencia artificial, big data, IoT, biotecnología y también de las energías limpias. Éstas cambiarán el mundo como hoy lo conocemos, muy pronto.

Hoy, gracias a la adopción a gran escala de este tipo de tecnologías, se puede observar como en Estados Unidos está ocurriendo un desacople entre dos variables que siempre estuvieron fuertemente correlacionadas: productividad y empleo. Desde el año 2000 la productividad crece a una tasa mayor que el número de personas empleadas, lo que indica que se está obteniendo una mayor productividad con menos gente empleada. Desde 1970 la productividad total en Estados Unidos ha aumentado más de un 130%. Sin embargo, los ingresos promedio por hora de trabajo han aumentado sólo un 15%. Es decir, este aumento en productividad no necesariamente se ha traducido en un mejor ingreso para las personas. ¿Quién está capturando estos beneficios? Por una parte las empresas que han mejorado sistemáticamente sus resultados, los proveedores de tecnologías que están siendo incorporadas a gran escala en diferentes industrias y, por supuesto, los países productores de este tipo de activos a través de impuestos. Sin ir más lejos en agosto del año pasado Adidas confirmó la apertura de una nueva planta en Estados Unidos 100% operada por robots (una planta similar ya está en operación en Alemania). Esto parece ser una tendencia sin vuelta atrás.

La gran paradoja detrás de esto es que las maquinas no consumen. Por lo tanto, cada puesto de trabajo reemplazado por una máquina, o un algoritmo, implica un consumidor menos, lo que en el largo plazo puede traer consecuencias insospechadas para una economía en vías de desarrollo como la nuestra, debido a que existen muchas dudas de que seamos capaces de crear nuevos puestos de trabajo con la misma velocidad con la que éstos desaparecen. Países como Noruega y Suecia ya están incorporando en sus políticas avanzar hacia una jornada laboral de 6 horas/día y en crear un salario mínimo universal que permita subsistir a las personas que quedarán fuera del mercado laboral. ¿Cómo van a financiar esto? Puede parecer simplista, pero lo más probable es que con los impuestos que paguen empresas de base tecnológica que van a ofrecer sus productos y servicios a todo el mundo.

Los países que no tengan “la suerte” de tener una industria tecnológica pujante y global no contarán con los recursos necesarios para dar sostenibilidad a su actual modelo económico.

Uno de los mejores ejemplos de la definición de dónde un país quiere estar en el futuro es Estonia. Este pequeño país de poco más de 1.4 millones de habitantes quedó, con el fin de la Unión Soviética, desprotegido pero independiente desde 1991 y con un PIB per cápita de poco más de 72 euros. 26 años después, ese indicador está por sobre los 15.900 euros. ¿Cómo? Hace 20 años Estonia se hizo el propósito de conectar al país con una de las industrias del futuro, en este caso Internet, con el fin de transformarse en la primera ‘e-society’ del planeta. Fue su estrategia de desarrollo. Desde los años 90 comenzaron con la política de instalar computadores y conectar a Internet a todos los colegios del país. Desde los primeros años de estudio se les enseña a los niños a programar, formación que es clave en el programa educativo de cada colegio. A principios del siglo XXI fueron el primer país del mundo en declarar el acceso a Internet como un derecho básico universal. Hoy no parece simple suerte o coincidencia que Estonia tenga el récord de ser el país con más startups por persona. Ahí nació Skype, una de las mayores disrupciones globales en comunicaciones. Todo el desarrollo técnico de la solución fue creado por 3 estonios: Priit Kasesalu, Ahti Heinla y Jaan Tallinn. Skype se vendió a Microsoft en 2011 por más de US$8.500 millones. Los 3 reinvirtieron lo ganado en esa venta en el ecosistema de emprendimiento de Estonia, generando una oleada de nuevas empresas de base tecnológica. Esto es sólo el comienzo, pues meses atrás el país lanzó el programa ‘e-resident’, invitando a emprendedores de todo el mundo a crear y gestionar sus empresas “desde Estonia”, por supuesto tributando ahí.

Este es solo un ejemplo de cómo una visión y estrategia de largo plazo puede redefinir el futuro de un país. Tal como hicieron los estonios, es estratégico definir en qué vamos a ser relevantes, dónde enfocaremos nuestros esfuerzos y nuestras políticas públicas en las próximas 2 décadas. La avalancha de tecnologías emergentes ha abierto un mundo de oportunidades que otros ya están tomando. ¿Qué haremos nosotros?

Columna originalmente publicada en El Mercurio // Lunes 22 de mayo de 2017

Forrester’s Top Emerging Technologies To Watch: 2017-2021

Think back just a few years — social, mobile, cloud, and big data ruled the emerging technology landscape. Business and technology management executives wondered what big data meant, when the cloud would disrupt their companies, and how to engage effectively on social channels. In 2016, Hadoop turned 10, the cloud has been around even longer, and social has become a way of business and life. So what’s next?

As a refresh to my 2014 blog and report, here are the next 15 emerging technologies Forrester thinks you need to follow closely. We organize this year’s list into three groups — systems of engagement technologies will help you become customer-led, systems of insight technologies will help you become insights-driven, and supporting technologies will help you become fast and connected.

Why these 15? You might have noticed a few glaring omissions. Certainly blockchain has garnered a lot of attention; and 3D printing is on most of our competitors’ lists. The answer goes back to being customer led, insights driven, fast, and connected. Those of you that follow our research will recognize these as the four principles of customer obsessed operations. The technologies we selected will have the biggest impact on your ability to win, serve and retain customers whose expectations of service through technology are only going up. Furthermore, our list focuses on those technologies that will have the biggest business impact in the next five years. We think blockchain’s big impact outside of financial services, for example, is further out so it didn’t make our list, even though it is important. Maybe by 2018, when I update our list next.

Since I don’t have room here for details about all of our technologies, I’ll focus on five that we think have the potential to change the world. That’s ⅓ of our list by the way – which means a lot of change is coming; it’s time to make your technology bets.

  • IoT software and solutions bring customer engagement potential within reach. Theses software platforms and solutions act as a bridge between highly specialized sensor, actuator, compute, and networking technology for real-world objects and related business software. This technology gives firms visibility into and control of customer and operational realities. By 2021, technology for specific use cases will be mature, but protocol diversity, immature standards and the need for organizational changes will still stymie or delay many firms. Want more info? Schedule an inquiry wtih my colleauge Frank E. Gillette.
  • Intelligent agents coupled with AI/cogntive technologies will automate engagement and solve tasks. Intelligent agents represent a set of AI-powered solutions that understand users’ behavior and are discerning enough to interpret needs and make decisions on their behalf. By 2021, we think that automation, supported by intelligent software agents drivng by an evolution in AI and cogntive technology will have eliminated an net 6% of US jobs. But the loss won’t be uniform. There will be an 11% loss of jobs that are vulnerable and a 5% creation of jobs in industries that stand to benefit. Want more info? Schedule an inquiry with Craig Le Clair on AI in the workforce or my colleague Jennifer Wise on intelligent agents.
  • Augmented reality overlays digital information and experiences on the physical world using combinations of cameras and displays. While we cover both VR and AR, we find that while a lot of attention has been placed on VR, AR has more play, for enteprises in the short term and eventually for consumers as well. By 2021, we will be fully into a transition period between separated and tightly blended physical and digital experiences in our work and lives. Want more info? Schedule an inquiry with my colleague J.P. Gownder.
  • Hybrid wireless technology will eventually ereate connected cverything. Hybrid wireless technologies are the interfaces and software that allow devices to simultaneously leverage and translate between two or more different wireless providers, protocols, and frequency bands, such as light, radio, Wi-Fi, cellular, and Sigfox. By 2021, a virtual network infrastructure will emerge to weave together wireless technologies that globally connect IoT and customer engagement platforms. Want more info? Schedule an inquiry with my colleague Andre Kindness.

To go deeper, listen to Forrester’s What It Means podcast episode: The New Tech Revolution, or if you are a client, please read the report. Lastly, I want say thank you and acknowledge all of the great analysts that helped with this report. Too many to name, but here are a few (check out their blogs!) – Frank Gillette, JP Gownder, Rusty Warner, Ted Schadler, Dave Bartoletti, Andre Kindness, Jeff Pollard, Fatemeh Khatibloo, John Rymer, Brendan Witcher, Dan Bieler, Michael Facemire, Rowan Curran, Noel Yuhanna, and Tina Moffett.

Los títulos universitarios están dejando de tener valor en Silicon Valley y este es el motivo | Foro Económico Mundial

The Apple Campus 2 is seen under construction in Cupertino, California in this aerial photo taken April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Noah Berger - RTSE2L7

Los gigantes de Silicon Valley están contratando a gente que no tiene estudios universitarios, cada día es más habitual. No es sorprendente, pensaréis. Todos hemos escuchado como Bill Gates dejó la Universidad de Harvard para fundar Microsoft o como Steve Jobs solo pasó seis meses en el Reed College. También Serguéi Brin y Larry Page dejaron Stanford para lanzarse a construir “el buscador universal”.

El mundo tecnológico lleva décadas cultivando la idea de que “la universidad y el genio creativo no se llevan bien”, pero si nos fijamos en los trabajadores de esas grandes compañías, nos daremos cuenta de que la inmensa mayoría salió de una universidad de élite. Eso es algo que ha empezado a cambiar.

El talento está ahí fuera

Cale Guthrie Weissman acaba de publicar un reportaje en Fast Company sobre este tema. Sobre como las empresas están empezando a dejar de mirar los expedientes y están empezando a fijarse, esta vez de verdad, en las habilidades. “Hemos tenido mucho éxito en los Bootcamps”, explicaba Sam Ladah de IBM. Llevan años haciéndolo.

Leyéndolo, uno no deja de preguntarse si la famosa escena de La Red Social en la que Zuckerberg contrataba a programadores usando una competición de código, alcohol y velocidad reflejaba en algo el mundo tecnológico o era parte de la mitología startupil. Al fin y al cabo, escoger a los desarrolladores más versátiles del MIT no es precisamente “pensar fuera de la caja“.

Es verdad que el mundo tecnológico tiene unas características particulares en las que las habilidades personales y los recursos que hay disponibles hacen que un título no marque la diferencia. Por eso no es raro que empresas como Github, Intel o, incluso, la Casa Blanca han iniciado programas para buscar esas ‘habilidades personales’.

Intel, por ejemplo, tiene dos programas para esto: un programa de becas para estudiantes de instituto o que cursan los primeros años de la Universidad; y un programa llamado CODE 2040especialmente enfocado en minorías subrepresentadas.

La tecnología frente al espejo

Esa quizá ha sido la lección más importante que ha aprendido la industria tecnológica en estos años: al mirarse al espejo se han dado cuenta que el relato que se contaban, la meritocracia disruptiva del talento y la creatividad, sencillamente no se corresponde con la realidad.

Sí, las grandes tecnológicas se han enfrentado a las políticas inmigratorias de Trump y han defendido a centenares de sus empleados internacionales. Pero aún así, aún con políticas explícitas hacia la diversidad, en IBM calculan que solo entre un 10 y un 15% de las nuevas contrataciones cumplen esos requisitos de diversidad.

¿Formar para el futuro…

Hace unos días, José Manuel Martínez, profesor de derecho en Harvard, explicaba su punto de vista sobre la educación universitaria. Más allá de frases manidas y clichés como “ninguna pregunta es estúpida”, Martínez decía que la formación universitaria está demasiado encasillada.

“Si uno se va al Nasdaq -el mercado de valores norteamericano- comprueba que el 75% de las empresas no existían hace 10 años. Los empleos del futuro no están claros y por eso la especialización por sí sola ya no sirve. Hacen falta perfiles muy transversales”, decía con (aparente) convencimiento.

Y es un nudo central: según una reciente estimación del Departamento de Trabajo de Estados Unidos dice que habrá al menos un millón de puestos de trabajo de programación y desarrollo sin cubrir en 2020.

…o señalizar para el presente?

Yo, en cambio, no creo que sea un problema de contenidos. Si nos fijamos con detalle en los grandes mitos tecnológicos, la idea de que “la universidad (o la formación) es una pérdida de tiempo” solo se puede sostener con muchos problemas. Gates estudió en algunas de las mejores escuelas de Estados Unidos, Jobs fue miembro del Hewlett-Packard Explorer Club desde los 12 años; tanto los fundadores de Google como los de Facebook tenían un talento natural que, bueno, fue pulido en algunas de las mejores universidades del mundo.

No es un problema de contenidos (que también) sino, sobre todo, es un problema de señalización. Tradicionalmente, las universidades han sido un sistema para señalizar gente, a la “gente adecuada”. “Adecuada” para el tiempo, la sociedad y el equilibrio político de cada momento. Un concepto de lo adecuado que, muchas veces, choca frontalmente con nuestro sentido de lo adecuado.

Es decir, nunca fue capaz de señalizar a todos, pero ahora que vemos que el mundo es mucho más plural, diverso y dinámico que antes; ahora se hace mucho más evidente. Más aún cuando los problemas del sistema universitario norteamericano parecen una bomba a punto de explotar.

Pero por muy evidente que sea el problema, cambiar no es sencillo. Weissman lo explica en Fast Company, la industria de la tecnología está combatiendo duramente para atajar sus problemas de homogeneidad cultural y de género. El problema es que es parte de un bucle que, por su mismo funcionamiento, deja fuera un talento que solo ahora han comenzado a ver.

¿Se puede salir del mundo que uno mismo ha construido?

Parece cierto que Silicon Valley está contratando fuera de los círculos habituales, están buscando a gente que no cumple los estándares tradicionales de formación de alto nivel, está intentando salir de la burbuja que ellos mismos han creado.

Pero lo que se lee entre líneas, es algo más interesante y, quizá, perturbador. Que, entre tanta retórica y tanta actitud positiva, no hay certezas, solo una duda. Una duda que se recorre los departamentos de recursos humanos del “centro del mundo tecnológico”: si ese cambio será posible.

Chatbots for customer service will help businesses save $8 billion per year – IBM Watson

Posted in: Cognitive Enterprise, Customer Engagement, News, Trends

Chatbots for customer service will help businesses save $8 billion per year

businesses-save-$8-billion-per-year

A new study releases this week by UK-based Juniper Research supports our prediction that chatbots will redefine the customer service industry, with healthcare and banking industries expected to benefit the most.

The new report titled “Chatbots: Retail, eCommerce, Banking & Healthcare 2017-2022,” estimates that chatbots will help businesses save more than $8 billion per year by 2022, which is a huge increase from the $20 million estimated for this year.

Call centers and customer service departments should already be investing in these new conversational technologies if they want to stay competitive and cost-effective as companies across industries grow their investment in building chatbots to help service customers faster, across any channel, device or platform, 24×7.

Advancements in technology continue to transform customer service interactions. From improvements in loyalty and brand reputation to new revenue streams, the pathway to real-time self-service in customer service brings huge opportunities to forward-thinking businesses.

Juniper also forecasts that the success rate of bot interactions in healthcare sector, completed without the assistance of a human agent, will increase from the current 12% to over 75% in 2022. In banking, Juniper expects this to climb to 90% in 2022.

Banks & Healthcare Providers to Profit

Juniper Research’s report estimates significant savings in the healthcare and banking as customer service resolution times are reduced at a much lower cost than before.

The report predicts that healthcare and banking providers using bots can see time savings of about 4 minutes per customer query, which can help save an average of $0.50-$0.70 per interaction.

Juniper found that chat bots are especially great for healthcare diagnosis questions where bots assess health issues and recommend a course of action to users. As these new technologies continue to evolve they are expected to help with more sophisticated diagnostics like mental health analysis.

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 2.27.49 PM

[Infographic source: Juniper Research “Chatbots Infographic – Key Statistics 2017”]

Rise of new types of bots

The report also touches upon the less popular SMS chatbots, which don’t generate as much in revenues as app-based bots, but offer an efficient tool for mass messaging at a low-cost. One example in the report is of how governments, for example, could use chatbots in times of emergency.

You can purchase the full report here.

Juniper Research specializes in identifying and appraising new high growth market sectors within the digital ecosystem. The firm is also offering a free whitepaper, “Chatbots – Critical To Businesses: Here’s Why,” that examines how companies can benefit from using chatbots to help with “traditional human-to-human operations.”

Build your own bot in minutes

Read our “How to build a chatbot” post to get started with your own bot in minutes.

 

Fuente: Chatbots for customer service will help businesses save $8 billion per year – IBM Watson

How to apply a design thinking, HCD, UX or any creative process from scratch

How to apply a design thinking, HCD, UX or any creative process from scratch

This how-to article aims at providing designers, creative thinkers or even project managers with a tool to set up, frame, organise, structure, run or manage design challenges, and projects: The Double Diamond revamped.

The Double Diamond revamped

In order to do so, I have come up with an own and a revamped version of the Double Diamond process. In case, you are familiar with the British Design Council’s Double Diamond, IDEO’s human centred design ideology or @d.school’s Design Thinking process you might be familiar with the majority of approaches, steps and tools in the following paragraphs of this article.

Design Council’s Double Diamond, img source: http://static1.squarespace.com/static/55fa0341e4b06660c65bd4f0/t/5642c682e4b0b633d4fcc1fd/1447216776499/
IDEO HCD process, img source: https://cdn.evbuc.com/eventlogos/160332149/designthinkingphases.png
Stanford d.school Design Thinking process, img source: http://dschool.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/steps-730×345.png

Understanding people

According to Don Norman, the human centred design process starts with a good understanding of people and the needs that the design is intended to meet. Various companies, organisations and educational institutions have taken on this challenge and have therefore come up with models in order to provide structure to the process of human centred design or design thinking.

Chilli Con Carne and the Double Diamond

When you cook a chilli con carne for the first time, you might start off with a recipe that appeals to you. Once you have burned your tongue a couple of times, you either go easy on the spices, or you even spice it up as you can’t get enough of the burning. Generally speaking, you tweak the original recipe to your own needs and taste.

Leer más…

Characteristics of a Great Scrum Team

According to the Scrum Guide, Scrum is a framework within which people can address complex problems, and productively and creatively develop products of the highest possible value. It’s a tool organizations can use to increase their agility.

Within Scrum self-organizing, cross-functional, and highly productive teams do the work: creating valuable releasable product increments. Scrum offers a framework that catalyzes the teams learning through discovery, collaboration and experimentation.

A great Scrum Team consists of a Product Owner who maximizes value, a Scrum Master who enables continuous improvement and a Development Team who focus on delivering high quality product increments.

For sure this sounds great!

But what are the characteristics of such a great Scrum team? This white paper will answer that question. It offers a detailed description of the characteristics and skills of a great Product Owner, Scrum Master and Development Team.

The Product Owner

The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product and the work of the Development Team. It’s a one-person role that brings the customer perspective of the product to a Scrum Team.

The Product Owner is responsible for:

  • Developing and maintaining a product vision and market strategy;
  • Product management;
  • Ordering and managing the Product Backlog;
  • Involving stakeholders and end-users in Product Backlog refinement and backlog management;
  • Alignment with other Product Owners when needed from an overall product, company or customer perspective.

A Great Product Owner…

  • Embraces, shares and socializes the product vision. A great Product Owner represents the customers voice and creates a product vision together with the stakeholders. Every decision is taken with the product vision in mind. This ensures sustainable product development, provides clarity for the development team and increases the chances of product success drastically.
  • Exceeds the customer’s expectation. A great Product Owner truly understands the customer’s intentions and goals with the product and is able to outstrip its expectations. Customer delight is the ultimate goal!
  • Is empowered. A great Product Owner is empowered to take decisions related to the product. Sure, creating support for his decisions might take some time, but swiftly taking important decisions is a primary condition for a sustainable pace of the development team.
  • Orders the product backlog. A great Product Owner understands that the product backlog should be ordered. Priority, risk, value, learning opportunities and dependencies are all taken into account and balanced with each other. For example, when building a house the roof might have the highest priority considering possible rain. But still it’s necessary to realize the foundation and walls earlier and therefore order them above the construction of the roof.
  • Prefers face-to-face communication. A great Product Owner understands that the best way to convey information is face-to-face communication. User stories are explained in a personal conversation. If a tool is used for backlog management, its function is to support the dialogue. It never replaces the good old-fashioned conversation.
  • Knows modeling techniques. A great Product Owner has a backpack full of valuable modeling techniques. He knows when to apply a specific model. Examples are Business Model Generation, Lean Startup or Impact Mapping. Based on these models he knows how to drive product success.
  • Shares experiences. A great Product Owner shares experiences with peers. This might be within the organization, and outside it: seminars and conferences are a great way to share experiences and gather knowledge. In addition, writing down your lessons learned can be valuable for other Product Owners.
  • Owns user story mapping. A great Product Owner should master the concept of user story mapping. It’s a technique that allows you to add a second dimension to your backlog. The visualization enables you to see the big picture of the product backlog. Jeff Patton wrote some excellent material about the concept of story mapping.
  • Has a focus on functionality. A great Product Owner has a focus on functionality and the non-functional aspects of the product. Hours or even story points are less important. The goal of the Product Owner is to maximize value for the customer. It’s the functionality that has value; therefore this is the main focus for the Product Owner.
  • Is knowledgeable. A great Product Owner has in depth (non-)functional product knowledge and understands the technical composition. For large products it might be difficult to understand all the details, and scaling the Product Owner role might be an option. However the Product Owner should always know the larger pieces of the puzzle and hereby make conscious, solid decisions.
  • Understands the business domain. A great Product Owner understands the domain and environment he’s part of. A product should always be build with its context taken into account. This includes understanding the organization paying for the development but also being aware of the latest the market conditions. Shipping an awesome product after the window of opportunity closes is quite useless.
  • Acts on different levels. A great Product Owner knows how to act on different levels. The most common way to define these levels is strategic, tactical and operational. A Product Owner should know how to explain the product strategy at board level, create support at middle management and motivate the development team with their daily challenges.
  • Knows the 5 levels of Agile planning. Within Agile, planning is done continuously. Every product needs a vision (level 1) which will provide input to the product roadmap (level 2). The roadmap is a long range strategic plan of how the business would like to see the product evolve. Based on the roadmap, market conditions and status of the product the Product Owner can plan releases (level 3). During the Sprint Planning (level 4) the team plan and agree on Product Backlog Items they are confident they can complete during the Sprint and help them achieve the Sprint Goal. The Daily Scrum (level 5) is used to inspect and adapt the team’s progress towards realizing the Sprint Goal.
  • Is available. A great Product Owner is available to the stakeholders, the customers, the development team and the Scrum Master. Important questions are answered quickly and valuable information is provided on time. The Product Owner ensures his availability never blocks the progress of the development team.
  • Is able to say ‘no’. A great Product Owner knows how and when to say no. This is probably the most obvious but most difficult characteristic to master. Saying yes to a new idea or feature is easy, it’s just another item for the product backlog. However, good backlog management encompasses creating a manageable product backlog with items that probably will get realized. Adding items to the backlog knowing nothing will happen with them only creates ‘waste’ and false expectations.
  • Acts as a “Mini-CEO”. A great Product Owner basically is a mini-CEO for his product. He has a keen eye for opportunities, focuses on business value and the Return On Investment and acts proactive on possible risks and threats. Everything with the growth (size, quality, market share) of his product taken into account.
  • Knows the different types of valid Product Backlog items. A great Product Owner can clarify the fact that the Product Backlog consists of more than only new features. Fore example: technical innovation, bugs, defects, non-functional requirements and experiments, should also be taken into account.
  • Takes Backlog Refinement seriously. A great Product Owner spends enough time refining the Product Backlog. Backlog Refinement is the act of adding detail, estimates and order to items in the Product Backlog. The outcome should be a Product Backlog that is granular enough and well understood by the whole team. On average the Development Team spends no more than 10% of the capacity of the Development Team on refinement activities. The way it is done isn’t prescribed and is up to the team. The Product Owner can involve stakeholders and the Development Team in backlog refinement. The stakeholders because it gives them the opportunity to explain their wishes and desires. The Development Team because they can clarify functional and technical questions or implications. This will ensure common understanding and increases the quality of the Product Backlog considerably. As a consequence, the opportunity to build the right product with the desired quality will also increase.

The Scrum Master

According to the Scrum Guide the Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring Scrum is understood and enacted. Scrum Masters do this by ensuring that the Scrum Team adheres to Scrum theory, practices, and rules. The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team. The Scrum Master helps those outside the Scrum Team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which aren’t. The Scrum Master helps everyone change these interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team.

The role of a Scrum Master is one of many stances and diversity. A great Scrum Master is aware of them and knows when and how to apply them, depending on situation and context. Everything with the purpose of helping people understand and apply the Scrum framework better.

The Scrum Master acts as a:

  • Servant Leader whose focus is on the needs of the team members and those they serve (the customer), with the goal of achieving results in line with the organization’s values, principles, and business objectives;
  • Facilitator by setting the stage and providing clear boundaries in which the team can collaborate;
  • Coach coaching the individual with a focus on mindset and behaviour, the team in continuous improvement and the organization in truly collaborating with the Scrum team;
  • Conflict navigator to address unproductive attitudes and dysfunctional behaviors;
  • Manager responsible for managing impediments, eliminate waste, managing the process, managing the team’s health, managing the boundaries of self-organization, and managing the culture;
  • Mentor that transfers agile knowledge and experience to the team;
  • Teacher to ensure Scrum and other relevant methods are understood and enacted.

A Great Scrum Master…

  • Involves the team with setting up the process. A great Scrum Master ensures the entire team supports the chosen Scrum process and understands the value of every event. The daily Scrum for example is planned at a time that suits all team members. A common concern about Scrum is the amount of ‘meetings’, involving the team with planning the events and discussing the desired outcome will increase engagement for sure.
  • Understands team development. A great Scrum Master is aware of the different phases a team will go through when working as a team. He understands Tuckman’s different stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. The importance of a stable team composition is therefore also clear.
  • Understands principles are more important than practices. Without a solid, supported understanding of the agile principles, every implemented practice is basically useless. It’s an empty shell. An in-depth understanding of the agile principles by everyone involved will increase the chances of successful usage of practices drastically.
  • Recognizes and acts on team conflict. A great Scrum Master recognizes team conflict in an early stage and can apply different activities to resolve it. A great Scrum Master understands conflict isn’t necessarily wrong. Healthy conflict and constructive disagreement can be used to build an even stronger team.
  • Dares to be disruptive. A great Scrum Master understands some changes will only occur by being disruptive. He knows when it’s necessary and is prepared to be disruptive enough to enforce a change within the organization.
  • Is aware of the smell of the place. A great Scrum Master can have an impact on the culture of the organization so that the Scrum teams can really flourish. He understands that changing people’s behavior isn’t about changing people, but changing the context which they are in: the smell of the place.
  • Is both dispensable and wanted. A great Scrum Master has supported the growth of teams in such a manner they don’t need him anymore on daily basis. But due to his proven contribution he will get asked for advice frequently. His role has changed from a daily coach and teacher to a periodical mentor and advisor.
  • Let his team fail (occasionally). A great Scrum Master knows when to prevent the team from failing but also understands when he shouldn’t prevent it. The lessons learned after a mistake might be more valuable than some good advice beforehand.
  • Encourages ownership. A great Scrum Master encourages and coaches the team to take ownership of their process, task wall and environment.
  • Has faith in self-organization. A great Scrum Master understands the power of a self-organizing team. “Bring it to the team” is his daily motto. Attributes of self-organizing teams are that employees reduce their dependency on management and increase ownership of the work. Some examples are: they make their own decisions about their work, estimate their own work, have a strong willingness to cooperate and team members feel they are coming together to achieve a common purpose through release goals, sprint goals and team goals.
  • Values rhythm. A great Scrum Master understands the value of a steady sprint rhythm and does everything to create and maintain it. The sprint rhythm should become the team’s heartbeat, which doesn’t cost any energy. Everyone knows the date, time and purpose of every Scrum event. They know what is expected and how to prepare. Therefore a complete focus on the content is possible.
  • Knows the power of silence. A great Scrum Master knows how to truly listen and is comfortable with silence. Not talking, but listening. He is aware of the three levels of listening – level 1 internal listening, level 2 focused listening, level 3 global listening, and knows how to use them. He listens carefully to what is said, but also to what isn’t said.
  • Observes. A great Scrum Master observes his team with their daily activities. He doesn’t have an active role within every session. The daily Scrum, for example, is held by the team for the team. He observes the session and hereby has a more clear view to what is being discussed (and what isn’t) and what everyone’s role is during the standup.
  • Shares experiences. Great Scrum Masters shares experiences with peers. This might be within the organization, but also seminars and conferences are a great way to share experiences and gather knowledge. Of course writing down and sharing your lessons learned is also highly appreciated. And yes, for the attentive readers, this is exactly the same as for the Product Owner and the Development Team.
  • Has a backpack full of different retrospective formats. A great Scrum Master can apply lots of different retrospective format. This ensures the retrospective will be a fun and useful event for the team. He knows what format is most suitable given the team’s situation. Even better: he supports the team by hosting their own retrospective. To improve involvement this is an absolute winner!
  • Can coach professionally. A great Scrum Master understands the power of professional coaching and has mastered this area of study. Books like Coaching Agile Teams and Co-Active Coaching don’t have any secrets for him. He knows how to guide without prescribing. He can close the gap between thinking about doing and actually doing; he can help the team members understand themselves better so they can find news ways to make the most of their potential. Yes, these last few sentences are actually an aggregation of several coaching definitions, but it sounds quite cool!
  • Has influence at organizational level. A great Scrum Master knows how to motivate and influence at tactic and strategic level. Some of the most difficult impediments a team will face occur at these levels; therefore it’s important a Scrum Master knows how to act at the different levels within an organization.
  • Prevent impediments. A great Scrum Master not only resolves impediments, he prevents them. Due to his experiences he is able to ‘read’ situations and hereby act on them proactively.
  • Isn’t noticed. A great Scrum Master isn’t always actively present. He doesn’t disturb the team unnecessary and supports the team in getting into the desired ‘flow’. But when the team needs him, he’s always available.
  • Forms a great duo with the Product Owner. A great Scrum Master has an outstanding partnership with the Product Owner. Although their interests are somewhat different, the Product Owner ‘pushes’ the team, the Scrum Master protects the team. A solid partnership is extremely valuable for the Development Team. Together they can build the foundation for astonishing results.
  • Allows leadership to thrive. A great Scrum Master allows leadership within the team to thrive and sees this as a successful outcome of their coaching style. They believe in the motto “leadership isn’t just a title, it’s an attitude”. And it’s an attitude everyone in the team can apply.
  • Is familiar with gamification. A great Scrum Master is able to use the concepts of game thinking and game mechanics to engage users in solving problems and increase users’ contribution.
  • Understands there’s more than just Scrum. A great Scrum Master is also competent with XP, Kanban and Lean. He knows the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks of every method/framework/principle and how & when to use them. He tries to understand what a team wants to achieve and helps them become more effective in an agile context.
  • Leads by example. A great Scrum Master is someone that team members want to follow. He does this by inspiring them to unleash their inner potential and showing them the desired behavior. At difficult times, he shows them how to act on it; he doesn’t panic, stays calm and helps the team find the solution. Therefore a great Scrum Master should have some resemblance to Gandalf. The beard might be a good starting point 🙂
  • Is a born facilitator. A great Scrum Master has facilitation as his second nature. All the Scrum events are a joy to attend, and every other meeting is well prepared, useful and fun, and has a clear outcome and purpose.

The Development Team

According to the Scrum Guide the Development Team consists of professionals who do the work of delivering a potentially releasable Increment of “Done” product at the end of each Sprint. Only members of the Development Team create the Increment. Development Teams are structured and empowered by the organization to organize and manage their own work. The resulting synergy optimizes the Development Team’s overall efficiency and effectiveness.

Development Teams have the following characteristics:

  • Self-organizing. They decide how to turn Product Backlog Items into working solutions.
  • Cross-functional. As a whole, they’ve got all the skills necessary to create the product Increment.
  • No titles. Everyone is a Developer, no one has a special title.
  • No sub-teams in the Development team.
  • Committed to achieving the Sprint Goal and delivering a high quality increment

A Great Development Team

  • Pursues technical excellence. Great Development Teams use Extreme Programming as a source of inspiration. XP provides practices and rules that revolve around planning, designing, coding and testing. Examples are refactoring (continuously streamlining the code), pair programming, continuous integration (programmers merge their code into a code baseline whenever they have a clean build that has passed the unit tests), unit testing (testing code at development level) and acceptance testing (establishing specific acceptance tests).
  • Applies team swarming. Great Development Teams master the concept of ‘team swarming’. This is a method of working where a team works on just a few items at a time, preferably even one item at a time. Each item is finished as quickly as possible by having many people work on it together, rather than having a series of handoffs.
  • Uses spike solutions. A spike is a concise, timeboxed activity used to discover work needed to accomplish a large ambiguous task. Great Development Teams uses spike experiments to solve challenging technical, architectural or design problems.
  • Refines the product backlog as a team. Great Development Teams consider backlog refinement a team effort. They understand that the quality of the Product Backlog is the foundation for a sustainable development pace and building great products. Although the Product Owner is responsible for the product backlog, it’s up to the entire team to refine it.
  • Respects the Boy Scout Rule. Great Development Teams use the Boy Scout Rule: always leave the campground cleaner than you found it. Translated to software development: always leave the code base in a better state than you’ve found it. If you find messy code, clean it up, regardless of who might have made the mess.
  • Criticizes ideas, not people. Great Development Teams criticize ideas, not people. Period.
  • Share experiences. Great Development Teams share experiences with peers. This might be within the organization, but also seminars and conferences are a great way to share experiences and gather knowledge. Of course writing down and sharing your lessons learned is also highly appreciated. And yes, for the attentive readers, this is exactly the same as for the Product Owner.
  • Understands the importance of having some slack. Great Development Teams have some slack within their sprint. Human beings can’t be productive all day long. They need time to relax, have a chat at the coffee machine or play table football. They need some slack to be innovative and creative. They need time to have some fun. By doing so, they ensure high motivation and maximum productivity. But slack is also necessary to handle emergencies that might arise; you don’t want your entire sprint to get into trouble when you need to create a hot-fix. Therefore: build in some slack! And when the sprint doesn’t contain any emergencies: great! This gives the team the opportunity for some refactoring and emergent design. It’s a win-win!
  • Has fun with each other. Great Development Teams ensure a healthy dose of fun is present every day. Fostering fun, energy, interaction and collaboration creates an atmosphere in which the team will flourish!
  • Don’t have any Scrum ‘meetings’. Great Development Teams consider the Scrum events as opportunities for conversations. Tobias Mayer describes this perfectly in his book ‘The Peoples Scrum’: “Scrum is centered on people, and people have conversations. There are conversations to plan, align, and to reflect. We have these conversations at the appropriate times, and for the appropriate durations in order to inform our work. If we don’t have these conversations, we won’t know what we are doing (planning), we won’t know where we are going (alignment), and we’ll keep repeating the same mistakes (reflection).”
  • Knows their customer. Great Development Teams know their real customer. They are in direct contact with them. They truly understand what they desire and are therefore able to make the right (technical) decisions.
  • Can explain the (business) value of non-functional requirements. Great Development Teams understand the importance for non-functional requirements like e.g. performance, security and scalability. They can explain the (business) value to their Product Owner and customer and hereby ensure its part of the product backlog.
  • Trust each other. Great Development Teams trust each other. Yes, this is obvious. But without trust it’s impossible for a team to achieve greatness.
  • Keep the retrospective fun. Great Development Teams think of retrospective formats themselves. They support the Scrum Master with creative, fun and useful formats and offer to facilitate the sessions themselves.
  • Deliver features during the sprint. Great Development Teams deliver features continuously. Basically they don’t need sprints anymore. Feedback is gathered and processed whenever an item is ‘done’; this creates a flow of continuous delivery.
  • Don’t need a sprint 0. Great Development Teams don’t need a sprint 0 before the ‘real’ sprints start. They are able to deliver business value in the first sprint.
  • Acts truly cross-functional. Great Development Teams not only have a cross-functional composition and act truly cross-functionally. They don’t talk about different roles within the team but are focused on delivering a releasable product each sprint as a team. Everyone is doing the stuff that’s necessary to achieve the sprint goal.
  • Updates the Scrum board themselves. Great Development Teams ensure the Scrum/team board is always up-to-date. It’s an accurate reflection of the reality. They don’t need a Scrum Master to encourage them; instead they collaborate with the Scrum Master to update the board.
  • Spends time on innovation. Great Development Teams understand the importance of technical/architectural innovation. They know it’s necessary to keep up with the rapidly changing environment and technology. They ensure they have time for innovation during regular working hours, and that it’s fun and exciting!
  • Don’t need a Definition of Done. Great Development Teams deeply understand what ‘done’ means for them. For the team members, writing down the Definition of Done isn’t necessary anymore. They know. The only reason to use it is to make the ‘done state’ transparent for their stakeholders.
  • Knows how to give feedback. Great Development Teams have learned how to give each other feedback in an honest and respectful manner. They grasp the concept of the ‘Situation – Behavior – Impact Feedback Tool’ and hereby provide clear, actionable feedback. They give feedback whenever it’s necessary, and don’t postpone feedback until the retrospective.
  • Manages their team composition. Great Development Teams manage their own team composition. Whenever specific skills are necessary, they collaborate with other teams to discuss the opportunities of ‘hiring’ specific skills.
  • Practice collective ownership. Great Development Teams understand the importance of collective ownership. Therefore they rotate developers across different modules of the applications and systems to encourage collective ownership.
  • Fix dependencies with other teams. Great Development Teams are aware of possible dependencies with other teams and manage these by themselves. Thereby ensuring a sustainable development pace for the product.
  • Don’t need story points. Great Development Teams don’t focus on story points anymore. They’ve refined the product backlog so that the size for the top items don’t vary much. They know how many items they can realize each sprint. Counting the number of stories is enough for them.

About the Author

Barry Overeem is an Agile Coach at Prowareness and Professional Scrum Trainer at Scrum.org. He is an active member of the Agile community and shares his insights and knowledge by speaking at conferences and writing articles. Since 2000 he fulfilled several roles with a software development environment, these vary from application consultant, project manager and team lead. Since 2010 his primary focus is applying the Agile mindset and the Scrum Framework. Barry is specialized in the role of the Scrum Master and helping people understand the spirit of Scrum and hereby using the Scrum framework better. Due his own practical experience as a Scrum Master, Barry gained a lot of experience with starting new teams, coaching teams through the different stages of team development and applying different types of leadership. Sharing these experiences and hereby contributing to other persons growth is his true passion!

 

Fuente: Characteristics of a Great Scrum Team

Of Gods and Procrastination: Agile Management

Of Gods and Procrastination: Agile Management

Common errors in Agile management, and how to get the best quality code from your developers without tying them to their keyboards.

Quickly embraced by some, completely ignored by others, Agile management spent the last decade and a half gaining popularity. Today it has become one of the most trendy phenomena, and most companies claim to have adapted and applied its principles. And indeed, that is true, yet almost always in a modified, and even sometimes in a corrupted, way.

Most of us in software development have been in different teams and projects, as developers in some, and as team leads & managers in others. We coped with clients in kick-off meetings, decoding acceptance criteria and wireframes, defining the MVP, accepting changes in the requirements, and modifying the scope in the middle of the sprint. We made mistakes and learned the hard way. Mistakes that we should not commit again. Yet sometimes, we see them happening again in our own team, when visiting clients, or meeting teams with whom we will collaborate, etc. Today, I want to focus on the troubles I see the most among managers with software developer teams.

Agile Management Common Errors

Meeting a Tight Deadline by Adding Additional Resources to the Team

You check the estimation for the running sprint and find out that the team is currently 16 hours behind the schedule. It seems like no problem at all; you have a developer that just finished his project, he will join the struggling team for two days, and you guys will be back on track.

By doing this, the team probably won’t meet the deadline. Why? The mistake here is to think that a developer performs easy, automatable work. Well, he doesn’t. Even if he is familiar with the technologies used in the project, he still needs an introduction to what the project is about, what has already been done, where all the documentation is, what wireframes are still being reviewed, and a very long list of other things. Besides the fact that the productivity of this developer will be low (at least in the beginning), he will also need to be assisted by the rest of the team to be taught everything described above. A task that is usually assigned to one particular person. Well, that person’s productivity will also drop as he will be distracted and will have to spend hours helping and training the new member of the team.

Parkinson’s Law

In the beginning, Parkinson’s Law had a different meaning. Today it states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Let’s say we are having a performance issue with a particular project. So we assign one of our best developers to investigate what the problem is and to fix the bottleneck. To do that, we decide to spare a week of time.

Parkinson’s Law is not always present in a developer; sometimes it’s stronger, sometimes it’s weaker. Yet freedom of time in a task, especially if it doesn’t have a clear where-to-end point, will lead to its expansion, occupying all the time available for it. Sometimes it can even be worse, where the resulting solution suffers from over-engineering that adds unnecessary complexity to the project. To avoid this situation, the task must have strict goals and acceptance criteria, or otherwise, a frequent polling in order to see the results achieved so far.

Multiple Projects and Distributed Teams

Although out there you can find an enormous amount of articles on how to succeed with distributed teams applying Agile, keeping in mind an even distribution of tasks, understanding time and cultural differences, etc, not all projects are good to do such a thing. Especially when each developer forms a part of several different teams at the same time. In the attempt to make each one of the developers an ‘all-terrain’ developer, they end up working on multiple projects at the same time; for instance, Monday and Tuesday on project A, and from Wednesday to Friday on project B.

You have probably heard about the developer’s focus. This is when the developer is in their most productive state of mind. Once they lose that focus, however, it takes some time to get it back. Well, the same thing happens when switching between projects and checking what was missed while being away. Although some tools help to mitigate this effect, Dailies, Jira or Trello, for example, it still drags down one’s productivity.

It’s easy to disagree about this topic, but by default, I do defend the 6th principle of the Agile Manifesto, for both ‘co-location’ and ‘co-time’:

“The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”

Time Pressure Increases Productivity

It’s surprising how common it is to discover among your co-workers and professional colleagues that they had the same dark experience. Often in a startup or in a small company, with a very talented manager that made them ‘believe in themselves and in the product,’ which ended up in countless extra hours, tons of stress, and impossible-to-meet deadlines. As developers accept such working conditions, it allows their manager to presume that the team is quite productive, as the ratio of delivered functionalities and time is unbelievably high.

In fact, the productivity of the team might be considered high, as long as you don’t take into account the quality of the work done and the extra (and unpaid) hours. Those kinds of conditions inevitably lead to two results:

  • First, the quality of the code goes down hill. This means more bugs passing through (no need to explain that a bug in production is hundreds of times more expensive for the company than the time needed to get it done right in first place), the test coverage fails, functionality is implemented partially, etc. Under time pressure, developers won’t work more, developers will work faster. Basically quantity over quality.
  • Second, at a certain point, the developer ends up quitting. Once he realizes that things won’t change and that his workaholic attitude and commitment to the company isn’t really good for him, he will definitely find another place to try his luck. Usually, the one that leaves is the one that had the most pressure, i.e. the one that can actually leave because he knows he has another option. And guess what? That’s the developer that you can’t let go.

To finish with this paper, I would like to point out the link between the code of a developer and his motivation. Usually, Software Development is not just something that ‘pays the bills,’ it’s someone’s passion. For a developer, to have the chance to write quality code means a burst of motivation. Take that chance away, and the motivation is gone.

And when a manager’s focus for the team is to keep up the productivity, the quality rarely increases in a significant way. When the focus is on quality, however, productivity tends to soar.

Fuente: Of Gods and Procrastination: Agile Management – DZone Agile