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A leap of faith and how to convince people to jump...

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  • David H.
    Dear practitioners. I am in a somewhat awkward position. While the company I am working for is very successful and recently has one a rather awesome new
    Message 1 of 7 , Jun 1, 2008
      Dear practitioners.

      I am in a somewhat awkward position. While the company I am working
      for is very successful and recently has one a rather awesome new
      customer, capable of literally transforming the future of said
      company, I am still left with an environment which seems to be unsure
      of itself. Without going into to much detail I will explain the
      situation in its utter simplicity.

      a) New customer, trusts us, very happy to work with us, but an utterly
      tight deadline end of August. Customer has an existing (very simple)
      web-site which needs to be "cloned" on our platform.
      b) Customer is willing to negotiate on what can be done, they much
      rather have "a business" at the end of August than not having any
      business at all.
      c) The middle ware platform we would ideally like to port this to is
      not fully there yet, however many think it is achievable.

      There have been many discussions around risk reduction, a plan B is in
      effect and there is no reason to believe whatsoever that the people
      needing to deliver this were not involved. The teams have been
      repeatedly asked about scope, they esitimated, they raised concerned
      etc etc.

      I strongly believe that everything has been done to consult the people
      that need to commit to the work and I believe that the business side
      of things has always said "tell us what is doable and we will
      negotiate with them".

      However to me this is a matter of belief now. This is more about
      conviction that we can achieve this and it is something that is not
      quantifiable. When General Meng Tian was tasked to build a wall "8
      foot high and 3000 miles long" around China he must have somehow
      developed that faith and made some of his helpers see, when President
      Kennedy asked to put a man on the moon within 7 years, some NASA
      engineers must have developed that faith.

      While I know a lot about human psychology and the motivational tools
      we can utilise to make those around us feel at ease with a task at
      hand, I know little about faith. I do not believe in a God, I do not
      have ea religion, most of the things I believe in are driven by cold
      hard facts. However, in this very case, to rise above and beyond
      themselves I believe the people on the floor need to have "faith". My
      question is a simple one. How can I help foster an environment which
      allows room for believing and taking the risk to believe.

      Thank you

      -d


      --
      Sent from gmail so do not trust this communication.
      Do not send me sensitive information here, ask for my none-gmail accounts.

      "Therefore the considerations of the intelligent always include both
      benefit and harm." - Sun Tzu
    • Neil
      Unless there is an extremely compelling reason to adopt the new middle ware platform, such as you haven t got a viable alternative, I would go for the tried
      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 1, 2008
        Unless there is an extremely compelling reason to adopt the new middle ware platform, such as you haven't got a viable alternative, I would go for the tried and tested approach every time, especially as the new customer is "rather awesome".
         
        Sounds like the customer is betting his business on you delivering, would you be willing to, say, bet your house on the new technology delivering by August? Perhaps there is a very good reason why the "people on the floor" haven't got faith.
         
        You should foster an environment where the team is empowered to make the most appropriate decision in their eyes. If this is adopting older, more stable technology - then so be it.
         
        hth
        neil


        From: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com [mailto:scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of David H.
        Sent: 01 June 2008 16:39
        To: scrumdev
        Subject: [scrumdevelopment] A leap of faith and how to convince people to jump...

        Dear practitioners.

        I am in a somewhat awkward position. While the company I am working
        for is very successful and recently has one a rather awesome new
        customer, capable of literally transforming the future of said
        company, I am still left with an environment which seems to be unsure
        of itself. Without going into to much detail I will explain the
        situation in its utter simplicity.

        a) New customer, trusts us, very happy to work with us, but an utterly
        tight deadline end of August. Customer has an existing (very simple)
        web-site which needs to be "cloned" on our platform.
        b) Customer is willing to negotiate on what can be done, they much
        rather have "a business" at the end of August than not having any
        business at all.
        c) The middle ware platform we would ideally like to port this to is
        not fully there yet, however many think it is achievable.

        There have been many discussions around risk reduction, a plan B is in
        effect and there is no reason to believe whatsoever that the people
        needing to deliver this were not involved. The teams have been
        repeatedly asked about scope, they esitimated, they raised concerned
        etc etc.

        I strongly believe that everything has been done to consult the people
        that need to commit to the work and I believe that the business side
        of things has always said "tell us what is doable and we will
        negotiate with them".

        However to me this is a matter of belief now. This is more about
        conviction that we can achieve this and it is something that is not
        quantifiable. When General Meng Tian was tasked to build a wall "8
        foot high and 3000 miles long" around China he must have somehow
        developed that faith and made some of his helpers see, when President
        Kennedy asked to put a man on the moon within 7 years, some NASA
        engineers must have developed that faith.

        While I know a lot about human psychology and the motivational tools
        we can utilise to make those around us feel at ease with a task at
        hand, I know little about faith. I do not believe in a God, I do not
        have ea religion, most of the things I believe in are driven by cold
        hard facts. However, in this very case, to rise above and beyond
        themselves I believe the people on the floor need to have "faith". My
        question is a simple one. How can I help foster an environment which
        allows room for believing and taking the risk to believe.

        Thank you

        -d

        --
        Sent from gmail so do not trust this communication.
        Do not send me sensitive information here, ask for my none-gmail accounts.

        "Therefore the considerations of the intelligent always include both
        benefit and harm." - Sun Tzu

      • David H.
        Hello ... There are numerous compelling reasons which are extremely important. The people delivering the solution _want_ to adopt the new solution but it seems
        Message 3 of 7 , Jun 1, 2008
          Hello
          > Unless there is an extremely compelling reason to adopt the new middle ware
          > platform, such as you haven't got a viable alternative, I would go for the
          > tried and tested approach every time, especially as the new customer is
          > "rather awesome".
          >
          There are numerous compelling reasons which are extremely important.
          The people delivering the solution _want_ to adopt the new solution
          but it seems they are not quite 100% sure and there is no willingness
          at all to take a leap of faith and take a little buit of risk.

          > Sounds like the customer is betting his business on you delivering, would
          > you be willing to, say, bet your house on the new technology delivering by
          > August?
          Yes, of course I would. I have long past taken that leap of faith and
          I am more than comfortable betting my job and my life, staking it on
          this delivery. Simply _because_ it has been carefully locked at, no
          one asks the impossible and it seems to be reflected by the teams
          delivering the work and yet still they are scared.

          > Perhaps there is a very good reason why the "people on the floor"
          > haven't got faith.

          Very good, what would you suggest to do to find out. Because every
          conversation I am having seems to revolve around the fact that people
          say "yepp I think we could do it" but no one stand sup and says "let's
          do it".
          >
          > You should foster an environment where the team is empowered to make the
          > most appropriate decision in their eyes. If this is adopting older, more
          > stable technology - then so be it.
          >
          I am sorry but that does not work all the time. There are business
          decisions on a strategic level which need to be taken into account as
          well. I feel it is my job to faciltate this understanding so that the
          people commiting can make the right decision. Once I have facilitated
          that knoweldge and they still choose to use the old, slightly broken
          but proven technology, then so be it.

          -d

          --
          Sent from gmail so do not trust this communication.
          Do not send me sensitive information here, ask for my none-gmail accounts.

          "Therefore the considerations of the intelligent always include both
          benefit and harm." - Sun Tzu
        • Neil
          David, It sounds like the size of the customer will significantly affect the business over and above any technological strategic decisions you may have to
          Message 4 of 7 , Jun 1, 2008
            David,
            It sounds like the size of the customer will significantly affect the business over and above any technological strategic decisions you may have to contend with. I don't know, just assuming.
            In the light of this, and given the unwillingness of the team to commit to the new technology, I would take the safety first approach. I take it the customer isn't insisting on the new middleware? Focus on delivering value to the customer 1st and foremost.
             
            Introduce the new technology at a later date once you have satisfied this customer.
            Or have a team working in parallel trialling the new stuff to imrpove understanding of its capabilities/drawbacks.
             
            rgds
            neil
             
             


            From: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com [mailto:scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of David H.
            Sent: 01 June 2008 19:02
            To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] A leap of faith and how to convince people to jump...

            Hello
            > Unless there is an extremely compelling reason to adopt the new middle ware
            > platform, such as you haven't got a viable alternative, I would go for the
            > tried and tested approach every time, especially as the new customer is
            > "rather awesome".
            >
            There are numerous compelling reasons which are extremely important.
            The people delivering the solution _want_ to adopt the new solution
            but it seems they are not quite 100% sure and there is no willingness
            at all to take a leap of faith and take a little buit of risk.

            > Sounds like the customer is betting his business on you delivering, would
            > you be willing to, say, bet your house on the new technology delivering by
            > August?
            Yes, of course I would. I have long past taken that leap of faith and
            I am more than comfortable betting my job and my life, staking it on
            this delivery. Simply _because_ it has been carefully locked at, no
            one asks the impossible and it seems to be reflected by the teams
            delivering the work and yet still they are scared.

            > Perhaps there is a very good reason why the "people on the floor"
            > haven't got faith.

            Very good, what would you suggest to do to find out. Because every
            conversation I am having seems to revolve around the fact that people
            say "yepp I think we could do it" but no one stand sup and says "let's
            do it".
            >
            > You should foster an environment where the team is empowered to make the
            > most appropriate decision in their eyes. If this is adopting older, more
            > stable technology - then so be it.
            >
            I am sorry but that does not work all the time. There are business
            decisions on a strategic level which need to be taken into account as
            well. I feel it is my job to faciltate this understanding so that the
            people commiting can make the right decision. Once I have facilitated
            that knoweldge and they still choose to use the old, slightly broken
            but proven technology, then so be it.

            -d

            --
            Sent from gmail so do not trust this communication.
            Do not send me sensitive information here, ask for my none-gmail accounts.

            "Therefore the considerations of the intelligent always include both
            benefit and harm." - Sun Tzu

          • Ilja Preuss
            ... Can you give an example of such a conversation? Have you asked them what they d need to be excited about doing this? Have you asked them what they d really
            Message 5 of 7 , Jun 1, 2008
              David H. wrote:
              >> Perhaps there is a very good reason why the "people on the floor"
              >> haven't got faith.
              >
              > Very good, what would you suggest to do to find out. Because every
              > conversation I am having seems to revolve around the fact that people
              > say "yepp I think we could do it" but no one stand sup and says "let's
              > do it".

              Can you give an example of such a conversation?

              Have you asked them what they'd need to be excited about doing this?

              Have you asked them what they'd really like to do?

              What (do they believe) happens if they fail?

              > I am sorry but that does not work all the time. There are business
              > decisions on a strategic level which need to be taken into account as
              > well. I feel it is my job to faciltate this understanding so that the
              > people commiting can make the right decision. Once I have facilitated
              > that knoweldge and they still choose to use the old, slightly broken
              > but proven technology, then so be it.

              Could it be that they feel pressed to use the new technology - however
              subtly?

              Have you ever told them that you will support any decision they come up
              with on this?

              Curious, Ilja

              PS: You might want to look into "Powerful Questions"...
            • Petri Heiramo
              Hi David, I believe that in order to have this leap of faith , you need to change the perspective from how you can instill the belief to what do the
              Message 6 of 7 , Jun 2, 2008
                Hi David,


                I believe that in order to have this "leap of faith", you need to
                change the perspective from "how you can instill the belief" to "what
                do the developers need for the commitment". I believe "faith" is
                merely "belief in the ability to meet the goal." Commitment and faith
                are interchangeable in this case. You can help in that realization,
                though.

                I believe that the only way to create commitment is to create an
                environment where people can self-motivate themselves. One training I
                was involved in trained it something like this:

                Motivation is an internal state for a desire to achieve something. The
                key elements of potentially becoming committed are -
                - Perception of the goal and its importance to something the person
                values (in this case, the company).
                - Perception of the meaning of this goal to oneself (what's in it for
                the developers, internal motives).
                - A feasible, observed path to the goal
                - Belief in one's ability to achieve the goal

                Based on your comments, I believe the first point should be about
                clear for all involved people. It may be that the rest are still up in
                the air.

                So what can you do to address the last three?

                It could be that the project would mean loads of overtime (or at least
                people could be afraid of that) or it would mean changes to summer
                plans. Does it? If it does, what are the personal gains to balance the
                "cost"? Can the project run late and the people will then be working
                two extra months really hard "because it should've been ready already"?

                Does the project advance the interests of the developers in some other
                way?

                Do the developers perceive that the goal is achievable? Is it? Really,
                I mean. Or is it "I think we can do it". If it is impossible to feel
                confident about that now, what can we do in short term to increase our
                perception of the solution and its feasibility? You said that the
                competence should be there, but you have to help the team see it in
                relation to the way to the target.

                Your description of the project sounds like a risky business. There
                are big unknowns. Can you eliminate them? What can you do to reduce
                the uncertainty or impact? I don't think it's a wonder your developers
                (who, in the end, will have to build it or face the consequences) feel
                hesitant.

                One thing I see possible to try is to discuss and set a mid-term goal
                to which the team _can_ commit to. For example, "can we have this and
                that figured out in two weeks?" If "this and that" is one of the core
                risks, solving it in two weeks will help them see how they can achieve
                the ultimate goal. This will allow the people to postpone the final
                commitment and give them something to reach that does meet the
                criteria I suggested above. I think this is one of the things that
                make Scrum so powerful in general - perceptible, achievable goals.

                As to monetary incentives, they tend to make people work harder, not
                smarter. Try to find ones that instill desire to do smart things. I
                believe they will yield much better end result. This is not McDonalds
                where only the quantity really counts.

                Hope this helps, and good luck for the whole team!


                Yours, Petri


                Petri Heiramo
                Senior Process Improvement Manager, CSP
                Digia Plc., Finland

                --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "David H." <dmalloc@...> wrote:
                >
                > Dear practitioners.
                >
                > I am in a somewhat awkward position. While the company I am working
                > for is very successful and recently has one a rather awesome new
                > customer, capable of literally transforming the future of said
                > company, I am still left with an environment which seems to be unsure
                > of itself. Without going into to much detail I will explain the
                > situation in its utter simplicity.
                >
                > a) New customer, trusts us, very happy to work with us, but an utterly
                > tight deadline end of August. Customer has an existing (very simple)
                > web-site which needs to be "cloned" on our platform.
                > b) Customer is willing to negotiate on what can be done, they much
                > rather have "a business" at the end of August than not having any
                > business at all.
                > c) The middle ware platform we would ideally like to port this to is
                > not fully there yet, however many think it is achievable.
                >
                > There have been many discussions around risk reduction, a plan B is in
                > effect and there is no reason to believe whatsoever that the people
                > needing to deliver this were not involved. The teams have been
                > repeatedly asked about scope, they esitimated, they raised concerned
                > etc etc.
                >
                > I strongly believe that everything has been done to consult the people
                > that need to commit to the work and I believe that the business side
                > of things has always said "tell us what is doable and we will
                > negotiate with them".
                >
                > However to me this is a matter of belief now. This is more about
                > conviction that we can achieve this and it is something that is not
                > quantifiable. When General Meng Tian was tasked to build a wall "8
                > foot high and 3000 miles long" around China he must have somehow
                > developed that faith and made some of his helpers see, when President
                > Kennedy asked to put a man on the moon within 7 years, some NASA
                > engineers must have developed that faith.
                >
                > While I know a lot about human psychology and the motivational tools
                > we can utilise to make those around us feel at ease with a task at
                > hand, I know little about faith. I do not believe in a God, I do not
                > have ea religion, most of the things I believe in are driven by cold
                > hard facts. However, in this very case, to rise above and beyond
                > themselves I believe the people on the floor need to have "faith". My
                > question is a simple one. How can I help foster an environment which
                > allows room for believing and taking the risk to believe.
                >
                > Thank you
                >
                > -d
                >
                >
                > --
                > Sent from gmail so do not trust this communication.
                > Do not send me sensitive information here, ask for my none-gmail
                accounts.
                >
                > "Therefore the considerations of the intelligent always include both
                > benefit and harm." - Sun Tzu
                >
              • Mike Sutton
                Hey David, this is a really excellent and well constructed question. If I understand correctly this is about motivating the team into BELIEVING they can
                Message 7 of 7 , Jun 3, 2008
                  Hey David,

                  this is a really excellent and well constructed question. If I
                  understand correctly this is about motivating the team into BELIEVING
                  they can deliver rather than any choice of middleware etc.


                  My approach to this would be...

                  I would NEED to have belief myself that this project (as defined by
                  your scope) can be delivered by August. To do this I would....

                  Consider the task at hand - deliver as much value to your customer by
                  the August deadline - you're lucky, you have a customer that has
                  gotten beyond the ridiculous 'I want it all by August!'- as an
                  outcome, a goal.

                  Apply some reasonable tests to this outcome - here are some I might pick:
                  Is it focused enough?(I want only logged in users to access page a,b,c
                  versus the site must be secure)

                  Does achieving the outcome depend mostly on me and my team or are
                  there external actors who we have no influence over?

                  Do I/we/the team (US!) have the skills, technology, resources to
                  achieve the outcome?

                  Finally, some kind of ecology test - would achieving this outcome -
                  delivering value for this great customer - be GOOD. Would it make you
                  personally happy and satisfied, what would it do for the team, your
                  company etc.

                  Once I was convinced that the outcome passed all my tests, I would get
                  me and the team to do this iteratively until the outcome passed ALL
                  the tests.

                  In doing this, use as much vivid positive descriptions of what you
                  would feel like, see, hear when you delivered this outcome (it might
                  be imagine on 25th August when the last CI build shows success , all
                  the tests have run and the screen is pure green).

                  Walk your team through this, help them to VISUALISE success. Encourage
                  your customer to be vocal about how great their business will be by
                  your team helping them.

                  In the end, people are truely motivated by belief. But sometimes
                  belief can lead the unpragmatic into over estimating their abilities
                  in the face of real constraints (August!). As a coach/Scrum
                  master/guide, its part of your duty to help shape the belief around
                  reasonable achievable goals.

                  I suspect the General who built the great wall didn't have to sell it
                  to his team as much as threaten them sufficiently but he still needed
                  to believe he could deliver (otherwise, he might be on the receiving
                  end of the threats!).

                  As always, I would be happy to help you offlist.

                  mike
                  csm.csp.cspo.certified.certifiable.



                  --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "David H." <dmalloc@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Dear practitioners.
                  >
                  > I am in a somewhat awkward position. While the company I am working
                  > for is very successful and recently has one a rather awesome new
                  > customer, capable of literally transforming the future of said
                  > company, I am still left with an environment which seems to be unsure
                  > of itself. Without going into to much detail I will explain the
                  > situation in its utter simplicity.
                  >
                  > a) New customer, trusts us, very happy to work with us, but an utterly
                  > tight deadline end of August. Customer has an existing (very simple)
                  > web-site which needs to be "cloned" on our platform.
                  > b) Customer is willing to negotiate on what can be done, they much
                  > rather have "a business" at the end of August than not having any
                  > business at all.
                  > c) The middle ware platform we would ideally like to port this to is
                  > not fully there yet, however many think it is achievable.
                  >
                  > There have been many discussions around risk reduction, a plan B is in
                  > effect and there is no reason to believe whatsoever that the people
                  > needing to deliver this were not involved. The teams have been
                  > repeatedly asked about scope, they esitimated, they raised concerned
                  > etc etc.
                  >
                  > I strongly believe that everything has been done to consult the people
                  > that need to commit to the work and I believe that the business side
                  > of things has always said "tell us what is doable and we will
                  > negotiate with them".
                  >
                  > However to me this is a matter of belief now. This is more about
                  > conviction that we can achieve this and it is something that is not
                  > quantifiable. When General Meng Tian was tasked to build a wall "8
                  > foot high and 3000 miles long" around China he must have somehow
                  > developed that faith and made some of his helpers see, when President
                  > Kennedy asked to put a man on the moon within 7 years, some NASA
                  > engineers must have developed that faith.
                  >
                  > While I know a lot about human psychology and the motivational tools
                  > we can utilise to make those around us feel at ease with a task at
                  > hand, I know little about faith. I do not believe in a God, I do not
                  > have ea religion, most of the things I believe in are driven by cold
                  > hard facts. However, in this very case, to rise above and beyond
                  > themselves I believe the people on the floor need to have "faith". My
                  > question is a simple one. How can I help foster an environment which
                  > allows room for believing and taking the risk to believe.
                  >
                  > Thank you
                  >
                  > -d
                  >
                  >
                  > --
                  > Sent from gmail so do not trust this communication.
                  > Do not send me sensitive information here, ask for my none-gmail
                  accounts.
                  >
                  > "Therefore the considerations of the intelligent always include both
                  > benefit and harm." - Sun Tzu
                  >
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