Wednesday, October 30, 2013

We're All in Sales

Daniel Pink was the keynote speaker at this year's PMI Global Congress. I have blogged about him in the past (here and here). His presentation this time was based on his latest book, To Sell is Human.

As the title implies, a main theme of the book is that we're all doing sales of some sort, even if it isn't in our job title. I thought about the times I've been working with a new customer and trying to "sell" them on agile and why they should start using it to run their projects. He had six pointers to help us as sales people
  1. Extroverts aren't better than introverts at selling. It's really the people that are in the middle that are the best sellers. They balance talking and listening the best.
  2. Interrogative self-talk is the best way to prepare for something like an important meeting or presentation. Don't think "I can do this" ask yourself "Can I do this" and answer in a way to convince yourself.
  3. When we're trying to sell, compare it to something else. So compare agile to waterfall and explain why agile is better.
  4. Related to that, less options are better than more options. Pink told a story of an experiment selling jam. When there were over 20 types to sample, people sampled a lot but bought less than when there were only 6 types because is was easier to decide which ones they liked best.
  5. A minor negative attribute can help sell. So if you have these great shoes with a lot of desirable features, but they only come in 2 colors, this small negative will actually help you sell. You come across more open.
  6. Have more conversations about why than about how. 
I had a chance to chat with him briefly during a book signing. When I mentioned agile project management, he said he thought agile would become the only way to run projects. I haven't finished his book yet, but I still recommend it. I even used the technique in #2 to prepare for a big client presentation yesterday and the presentation went very well. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tailoring Agile

I came across a Software Advice article based on an interview with Ryan Singer, Product Manager at 37Signals. I used their Basecamp tool on a project not to long ago and found it to be a pretty good tool.

In the article, Singer talks about how they organize work on a project. Instead of assigning all the tasks by roles, they organize the work around what Singer refers to as projects...but I would call them features. Using their example, one of the projects (features) of a conference registration application would be a receipt page. They prioritize the work by each of the features or what they refer to as areas of concern.

To me is sounds like they are taking more of a Kanban approach, prioritizing the features and working on them one at a time rather than planning work around iterations. I also didn't see an reference to User Stories.

I took my PMI-ACP certification exam earlier this year, and in my studies came across a discussion of process tailoring in Mike Griffith's exam prep book and the concept of Shu-Ha-Ri, which I blogged about a while ago myself. It seems like the folks at 37Signals have done some tailoring that has worked for them, but is their approach right for everyone? Probably not.

In the spirit of Shu-Ha-Ri, you should start by following the rules. For most people, this probably means Scrum. From here, you need to figure out which rules to break for your organization. Researching what other organizations like 37Signals has done is good for ideas, but ultimately you need to figure out what works in your organization. As Singer points out, there are many creative ways to use Basecamp, just like there are many creative ways to tailor your agile processes to meet your organization's needs.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Getting Unstuck

I have an app on my iPad that I turned to today to help me get past a little writers block. I haven't been posting to this blog much because I haven't had any good ideas. The tool is called Unstuck, you can find out more about it here.

So I went through a set of exercises that helped me define why I was stuck, and then helped me think through why I was stuck and come up with a plan to get past it.

One of the exercises it suggested was writing about the future. The idea is to think 5 years ahead. You are on the cover of Time magazine. What would the article be about? Now think 10 and 15 years ahead. After you've envisioned some future state, think about the smaller steps that would get you there, and that is the basis for getting unstuck.

The app has a lot of different tools for different situations. Mirror Mirror helps you set goals when you're drifting. Get Your Game On helps plan and prioritize. Now or Never helps you get motivated, and there are others. So if you're having a stuck moment, I recommend looking at Unstuck.