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Re: [scrumdevelopment] Organizational politics

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  • Dave Rooney
    ... Hi Joe! ... I m listening. ... Unless you re Tyson in his prime. ... Hmmm... throws up provokes an interesting mental image. I would also suggest that
    Message 1 of 17 , Apr 21, 2009
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      Joseph Little wrote:
      > I am a trainer and a coach.

      Hi Joe!

      > But I wanted to emphasize that organizational politics is not as hard
      > as we make it for ourselves (at least sometimes it is not).

      I'm listening.

      > Here are a few nuggets mined in the field of hard knocks.
      >
      > A few suggestions re ACTION (perhaps you find one useful):
      > * When boxing, do not expect to have the first punch be a knock out.
      > Set 'em up for the kill in the 4th round. Lots of combination punches.

      Unless you're Tyson in his prime.

      > * The truth is hard to resist. (Yes, I know people will deny the
      > truth and will often kill the bearer.) Keep finding ways for the
      > truth to be repeated and dealt with. Scrum throws up the truth.

      Hmmm... "throws up" provokes an interesting mental image. I would also
      suggest that Scrum doesn't do anything - people do. Sometimes, even
      when Scrum leads those people to good conclusions and truths that we on
      this list would consider correct, the people are afraid to speak the
      truth. The bodies of dead bearers of truth seems to influence that
      somewhat.

      > * If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much
      > harder for the manager to resist. (Make sure you have the truth on
      > your side, and that your idea makes sense.) Maybe even harder if the
      > manager comes to the Team room.

      Right... there would be witnesses when the manager kills the bearer.
      Safety in numbers...

      > * Justify your impediment removals. Do much better cost-benefit
      > analysis. Do them as small experiments (eg, show the actual results
      > later).
      > * Justifications include: higher NPV for the product, higher velocity
      > for the team, faster delivery, etc, etc. Make the link from your
      > improvement back to these key things.
      > * Make the case. Make it so obviously right that the only question
      > is: "How do I know your numbers are right?" Managers only like to
      > approve obviously right things.
      > * Ask to do an experiment. Make sure the test sample is big enough to
      > draw conclusions from.

      Smarta** remarks aside, these are very good suggestions. I would only
      caution that you still need to keep producing working software while
      you're building justification. Asking for a finite amount of time for
      an experiment is very helpful here. The cynic in me suggests asking for
      at least 1.5 times the amount of time you think you need, because the
      manager will ask you to reduce it anyway. ;)

      --

      Dave Rooney
      Mayford Technologies
      "Helping you become AGILE... to SURVIVE and THRIVE!"
      http://www.mayford.ca
      http://practicalagility.blogspot.com
      Twitter: daverooneyca
    • Joseph Little
      Pablo, Good comment. As you might guess, I was mainly dealing with the feeling of powerlessness that people on Teams often feel. What some can forget is that
      Message 2 of 17 , Apr 22, 2009
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        Pablo,

        Good comment.

        As you might guess, I was mainly dealing with the feeling of powerlessness that people on Teams often feel.

        What some can forget is that managers are people too. Middle managers often have a feeling of, well, being caught in the middle. And even senior managers are people.

        So, to state your point more generally, a team should come to the manager (or get together with the manager) in a way that does not immediately cause the manager put his/her defenses up.

        We might have another thread on the illusions of power. (Yes, I know it may not actually feel like an illusion at times.) One event that comes to mind is how the Iron Curtain came down. Seemed like a miracle at the time.

        Thanks, Joe



        --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Pablo Emanuel <pablo.emanuel@...> wrote:
        >
        > Joe,
        >
        > just a comment here:
        >
        > <<* If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much
        > harder for the manager to resist. >>
        >
        > As a manager myself, if I see a bunch of people heading together towards my
        > office, there's only one word that comes to my mind: mutiny. That's probably
        > one of the worst ways to get the manager to really listen to what you have
        > to say. The ideal approach, IMO, is to ask for a time with a strong teaser,
        > ideally related to a specific pain, i.e. "Do you know that problem XXX we're
        > having? We've been thinking about it, and we have some ideas to share with
        > you."
        >
        > Regards,
        > Pablo Emanuel
        >
        > 2009/4/21 Joseph Little <jhlittle@...>
        >
        > >
        > >
        > > Hi,
        > >
        > > I am a trainer and a coach. In the course of my work, I hear people talk
        > > about how hard is to get things done in organizations. (This happened again
        > > recently.)
        > >
        > > And I know from personal experience too, it is hard.
        > >
        > > But I wanted to emphasize that organizational politics is not as hard as we
        > > make it for ourselves (at least sometimes it is not).
        > >
        > > Here are a few nuggets mined in the field of hard knocks.
        > >
        > > A few suggestions re ACTION (perhaps you find one useful):
        > > * When boxing, do not expect to have the first punch be a knock out. Set
        > > 'em up for the kill in the 4th round. Lots of combination punches.
        > > * The truth is hard to resist. (Yes, I know people will deny the truth and
        > > will often kill the bearer.) Keep finding ways for the truth to be repeated
        > > and dealt with. Scrum throws up the truth.
        > > * If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much harder
        > > for the manager to resist. (Make sure you have the truth on your side, and
        > > that your idea makes sense.) Maybe even harder if the manager comes to the
        > > Team room.
        > > * Justify your impediment removals. Do much better cost-benefit analysis.
        > > Do them as small experiments (eg, show the actual results later).
        > > * Justifications include: higher NPV for the product, higher velocity for
        > > the team, faster delivery, etc, etc. Make the link from your improvement
        > > back to these key things.
        > > * Make the case. Make it so obviously right that the only question is:
        > > "How do I know your numbers are right?" Managers only like to approve
        > > obviously right things.
        > > * Ask to do an experiment. Make sure the test sample is big enough to draw
        > > conclusions from.
        > >
        > > Go get 'em.
        > > Nothing I said guarantees success. Accept that the other person is free and
        > > you can't make him change. Give him some respect.
        > >
        > > Regards, Joe
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > > Joseph Little
        > > Agile coach, MBA, CST
        > > Kitty Hawk Consulting, Inc.
        > > 704-376-8881 (Charlotte)
        > > 917-887-1669 (cell)
        > > http://www.kittyhawkconsulting.com/
        > > http://leanagiletraining.com/
        > > Blog: "Agile & Business"
        > >
        > >
        > >
        >
      • Joseph Little
        Good comments. Throws up is alluding to a (to me) famous quote by Ken Schwaber, to the effect that Scrum is hard and throws up in your face, day after day,
        Message 3 of 17 , Apr 22, 2009
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          Good comments.

          "Throws up" is alluding to a (to me) famous quote by Ken Schwaber, to the effect that Scrum is hard and throws up in your face, day after day, all the problems in your organization. It is unrelenting and never stops (we never get to perfection). That too is hard to take after a while.

          (I always think of holding a baby and getting upchuck all over me. A mess! Still love my baby, though. But they are teenagers now.)

          Quite right to say (and Ken does) that, seeing the truth (if they will), people must now decide what to do about it. Always a person or 5 must do the real work; Scrum just helps a bit. (Yikes! ...and a part of me still keeps wanting that special pill that will make all my problems go away.)

          Regards, Joe



          --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Dave Rooney <dave.rooney@...> wrote:
          >
          > Joseph Little wrote:
          > > I am a trainer and a coach.
          >
          > Hi Joe!
          >
          > > But I wanted to emphasize that organizational politics is not as hard
          > > as we make it for ourselves (at least sometimes it is not).
          >
          > I'm listening.
          >
          > > Here are a few nuggets mined in the field of hard knocks.
          > >
          > > A few suggestions re ACTION (perhaps you find one useful):
          > > * When boxing, do not expect to have the first punch be a knock out.
          > > Set 'em up for the kill in the 4th round. Lots of combination punches.
          >
          > Unless you're Tyson in his prime.
          >
          > > * The truth is hard to resist. (Yes, I know people will deny the
          > > truth and will often kill the bearer.) Keep finding ways for the
          > > truth to be repeated and dealt with. Scrum throws up the truth.
          >
          > Hmmm... "throws up" provokes an interesting mental image. I would also
          > suggest that Scrum doesn't do anything - people do. Sometimes, even
          > when Scrum leads those people to good conclusions and truths that we on
          > this list would consider correct, the people are afraid to speak the
          > truth. The bodies of dead bearers of truth seems to influence that
          > somewhat.
          >
          > > * If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much
          > > harder for the manager to resist. (Make sure you have the truth on
          > > your side, and that your idea makes sense.) Maybe even harder if the
          > > manager comes to the Team room.
          >
          > Right... there would be witnesses when the manager kills the bearer.
          > Safety in numbers...
          >
          > > * Justify your impediment removals. Do much better cost-benefit
          > > analysis. Do them as small experiments (eg, show the actual results
          > > later).
          > > * Justifications include: higher NPV for the product, higher velocity
          > > for the team, faster delivery, etc, etc. Make the link from your
          > > improvement back to these key things.
          > > * Make the case. Make it so obviously right that the only question
          > > is: "How do I know your numbers are right?" Managers only like to
          > > approve obviously right things.
          > > * Ask to do an experiment. Make sure the test sample is big enough to
          > > draw conclusions from.
          >
          > Smarta** remarks aside, these are very good suggestions. I would only
          > caution that you still need to keep producing working software while
          > you're building justification. Asking for a finite amount of time for
          > an experiment is very helpful here. The cynic in me suggests asking for
          > at least 1.5 times the amount of time you think you need, because the
          > manager will ask you to reduce it anyway. ;)
          >
          > --
          >
          > Dave Rooney
          > Mayford Technologies
          > "Helping you become AGILE... to SURVIVE and THRIVE!"
          > http://www.mayford.ca
          > http://practicalagility.blogspot.com
          > Twitter: daverooneyca
          >
        • Pablo Emanuel
          Joe, first of all, having been a senior manager of a small organization (~50 people) and a middle manager in a large organization (10,000+ people), I m glad
          Message 4 of 17 , Apr 22, 2009
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            Joe,
             
            first of all, having been a senior manager of a small organization (~50 people) and a middle manager in a large organization (10,000+ people), I'm glad that even I can still be considered a person ;-)
             
            IMO, the root cause of the problem is the lack of understanding of the manager's work from the workforce, and the managers not realizing that this lack of understanding exists. One of the tasks of middle management is protecting the team from issues that shouldn't concern them, to make them focus on doing their jobs. However, if (s)he's doing his job right, some people, specially the younger ones, would simply assume that those issues do not exist or, at best, that they're not important. Since the immediate manager is the most recognizable face the organization shows to the workforce, he will incarnate all the sins that the workers detect on the organization (that are probably the 10% that he couldn't filter).
             
            As a manager, I've been lucky enough to be respected by most of my team members, mainly for the wrong reasons. They do respect me because I'm a guy from the trenches like them (I still can help them figure out that tricky SQL optimization they've been struggling with for hours), but not for my work as a manager, that they mostly don't understand or value enough to appreciate.
             
            I'm not presumptuous enough to say that I know how to bridge that gap, because I don't, but one thing I recommend is that management and team should
             
            1) reinforce every day the fact that they are working together with the same goal in mind;
            2) understand that is healthy to have different points of view about the same point, and both sides can profit from listening to the other. Most of the times the most experienced side (usually management) will be right, but even then, listening to some fresh perspective can be valuable. Many times, the less experienced side has valid arguments but cannot present and defend them properly; it's the most experienced side's responsibility to strip the point from the presentation and exercise how he would defend the other's point himself;
            3) put himself in the other's shoes.
             
            PS: Regarding the philosophical questions about power (or illusions thereof), I don't think we can add much on what's been said by Nietzsche on the subject.
             
            Regards,
            Pablo Emanuel
             


             
            2009/4/22 Joseph Little <jhlittle@...>


            Pablo,

            Good comment.

            As you might guess, I was mainly dealing with the feeling of powerlessness that people on Teams often feel.

            What some can forget is that managers are people too. Middle managers often have a feeling of, well, being caught in the middle. And even senior managers are people.

            So, to state your point more generally, a team should come to the manager (or get together with the manager) in a way that does not immediately cause the manager put his/her defenses up.

            We might have another thread on the illusions of power. (Yes, I know it may not actually feel like an illusion at times.) One event that comes to mind is how the Iron Curtain came down. Seemed like a miracle at the time.

            Thanks, Joe



            --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Pablo Emanuel <pablo.emanuel@...> wrote:
            >
            > Joe,
            >
            > just a comment here:
            >
            > <<* If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much
            > harder for the manager to resist. >>
            >
            > As a manager myself, if I see a bunch of people heading together towards my
            > office, there's only one word that comes to my mind: mutiny. That's probably
            > one of the worst ways to get the manager to really listen to what you have
            > to say. The ideal approach, IMO, is to ask for a time with a strong teaser,
            > ideally related to a specific pain, i.e. "Do you know that problem XXX we're
            > having? We've been thinking about it, and we have some ideas to share with
            > you."
            >
            > Regards,
            > Pablo Emanuel
            >
            > 2009/4/21 Joseph Little <jhlittle@...>

            >
            > >
            > >
            > > Hi,
            > >
            > > I am a trainer and a coach. In the course of my work, I hear people talk
            > > about how hard is to get things done in organizations. (This happened again
            > > recently.)
            > >
            > > And I know from personal experience too, it is hard.
            > >
            > > But I wanted to emphasize that organizational politics is not as hard as we
            > > make it for ourselves (at least sometimes it is not).
            > >
            > > Here are a few nuggets mined in the field of hard knocks.
            > >
            > > A few suggestions re ACTION (perhaps you find one useful):
            > > * When boxing, do not expect to have the first punch be a knock out. Set
            > > 'em up for the kill in the 4th round. Lots of combination punches.
            > > * The truth is hard to resist. (Yes, I know people will deny the truth and
            > > will often kill the bearer.) Keep finding ways for the truth to be repeated
            > > and dealt with. Scrum throws up the truth.
            > > * If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much harder
            > > for the manager to resist. (Make sure you have the truth on your side, and
            > > that your idea makes sense.) Maybe even harder if the manager comes to the
            > > Team room.
            > > * Justify your impediment removals. Do much better cost-benefit analysis.
            > > Do them as small experiments (eg, show the actual results later).
            > > * Justifications include: higher NPV for the product, higher velocity for
            > > the team, faster delivery, etc, etc. Make the link from your improvement
            > > back to these key things.
            > > * Make the case. Make it so obviously right that the only question is:
            > > "How do I know your numbers are right?" Managers only like to approve
            > > obviously right things.
            > > * Ask to do an experiment. Make sure the test sample is big enough to draw
            > > conclusions from.
            > >
            > > Go get 'em.
            > > Nothing I said guarantees success. Accept that the other person is free and
            > > you can't make him change. Give him some respect.
            > >
            > > Regards, Joe
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > > Joseph Little
            > > Agile coach, MBA, CST
            > > Kitty Hawk Consulting, Inc.
            > > 704-376-8881 (Charlotte)
            > > 917-887-1669 (cell)
            > > http://www.kittyhawkconsulting.com/
            > > http://leanagiletraining.com/
            > > Blog: "Agile & Business"
            > >
            > >
            > >
            >


          • Doug McQuilken
            Pablo, my experience parallels yours. What I have done in order to bridge the gap between management and workforce is to participate in daily standup,
            Message 5 of 17 , Apr 22, 2009
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              Pablo,

              my experience parallels yours.

              What I have done in order to bridge the gap between "management" and "workforce" is to participate in daily standup, examples:
              1) negotiating sw licensing T&Cs
              2) arguing for training funds
              3) compiling sprint recap report
              4) drafting slides for next product steering committee
              5) position grading with HR

              As you can infer from the above, I select items that are relevant to the team.
              Sometimes I even offer to trade assignments...but usually no takers :-)

              Regards,
              Doug


              --- On Wed, 4/22/09, Pablo Emanuel <pablo.emanuel@...> wrote:

              From: Pablo Emanuel <pablo.emanuel@...>
              Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] Re: Organizational politics
              To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 12:21 PM

              Joe,
               
              first of all, having been a senior manager of a small organization (~50 people) and a middle manager in a large organization (10,000+ people), I'm glad that even I can still be considered a person ;-)
               
              IMO, the root cause of the problem is the lack of understanding of the manager's work from the workforce, and the managers not realizing that this lack of understanding exists. One of the tasks of middle management is protecting the team from issues that shouldn't concern them, to make them focus on doing their jobs. However, if (s)he's doing his job right, some people, specially the younger ones, would simply assume that those issues do not exist or, at best, that they're not important. Since the immediate manager is the most recognizable face the organization shows to the workforce, he will incarnate all the sins that the workers detect on the organization (that are probably the 10% that he couldn't filter).
               
              As a manager, I've been lucky enough to be respected by most of my team members, mainly for the wrong reasons. They do respect me because I'm a guy from the trenches like them (I still can help them figure out that tricky SQL optimization they've been struggling with for hours), but not for my work as a manager, that they mostly don't understand or value enough to appreciate.
               
              I'm not presumptuous enough to say that I know how to bridge that gap, because I don't, but one thing I recommend is that management and team should
               
              1) reinforce every day the fact that they are working together with the same goal in mind;
              2) understand that is healthy to have different points of view about the same point, and both sides can profit from listening to the other. Most of the times the most experienced side (usually management) will be right, but even then, listening to some fresh perspective can be valuable. Many times, the less experienced side has valid arguments but cannot present and defend them properly; it's the most experienced side's responsibility to strip the point from the presentation and exercise how he would defend the other's point himself;
              3) put himself in the other's shoes.
               
              PS: Regarding the philosophical questions about power (or illusions thereof), I don't think we can add much on what's been said by Nietzsche on the subject.
               
              Regards,
              Pablo Emanuel
               


               
              2009/4/22 Joseph Little <jhlittle@mindspring .com>


              Pablo,

              Good comment.

              As you might guess, I was mainly dealing with the feeling of powerlessness that people on Teams often feel.

              What some can forget is that managers are people too. Middle managers often have a feeling of, well, being caught in the middle. And even senior managers are people.

              So, to state your point more generally, a team should come to the manager (or get together with the manager) in a way that does not immediately cause the manager put his/her defenses up.

              We might have another thread on the illusions of power. (Yes, I know it may not actually feel like an illusion at times.) One event that comes to mind is how the Iron Curtain came down. Seemed like a miracle at the time.

              Thanks, Joe



              --- In scrumdevelopment@ yahoogroups. com, Pablo Emanuel <pablo.emanuel@ ...> wrote:
              >
              > Joe,
              >
              > just a comment here:
              >
              > <<* If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much
              > harder for the manager to resist. >>
              >
              > As a manager myself, if I see a bunch of people heading together towards my
              > office, there's only one word that comes to my mind: mutiny. That's probably
              > one of the worst ways to get the manager to really listen to what you have
              > to say. The ideal approach, IMO, is to ask for a time with a strong teaser,
              > ideally related to a specific pain, i.e. "Do you know that problem XXX we're
              > having? We've been thinking about it, and we have some ideas to share with
              > you."
              >
              > Regards,
              > Pablo Emanuel
              >
              > 2009/4/21 Joseph Little <jhlittle@...>

              >
              > >
              > >
              > > Hi,
              > >
              > > I am a trainer and a coach. In the course of my work, I hear people talk
              > > about how hard is to get things done in organizations. (This happened again
              > > recently.)
              > >
              > > And I know from personal experience too, it is hard.
              > >
              > > But I wanted to emphasize that organizational politics is not as hard as we
              > > make it for ourselves (at least sometimes it is not).
              > >
              > > Here are a few nuggets mined in the field of hard knocks.
              > >
              > > A few suggestions re ACTION (perhaps you find one useful):
              > > * When boxing, do not expect to have the first punch be a knock out. Set
              > > 'em up for the kill in the 4th round. Lots of combination punches.
              > > * The truth is hard to resist. (Yes, I know people will deny the truth and
              > > will often kill the bearer.) Keep finding ways for the truth to be repeated
              > > and dealt with. Scrum throws up the truth.
              > > * If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much harder
              > > for the manager to resist. (Make sure you have the truth on your side, and
              > > that your idea makes sense.) Maybe even harder if the manager comes to the
              > > Team room.
              > > * Justify your impediment removals. Do much better cost-benefit analysis.
              > > Do them as small experiments (eg, show the actual results later).
              > > * Justifications include: higher NPV for the product, higher velocity for
              > > the team, faster delivery, etc, etc. Make the link from your improvement
              > > back to these key things.
              > > * Make the case. Make it so obviously right that the only question is:
              > > "How do I know your numbers are right?" Managers only like to approve
              > > obviously right things.
              > > * Ask to do an experiment. Make sure the test sample is big enough to draw
              > > conclusions from.
              > >
              > > Go get 'em.
              > > Nothing I said guarantees success. Accept that the other person is free and
              > > you can't make him change. Give him some respect.
              > >
              > > Regards, Joe
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > Joseph Little
              > > Agile coach, MBA, CST
              > > Kitty Hawk Consulting, Inc.
              > > 704-376-8881 (Charlotte)
              > > 917-887-1669 (cell)
              > > http://www.kittyhaw kconsulting. com/
              > > http://leanagiletra ining.com/
              > > Blog: "Agile & Business"
              > >
              > >
              > >
              >


            • Jayanthan Bhattathiripad
              Hi Joe, My experience has been the opposite. I think the most difficult hurdle that one faces in an organization is the politics. It is perhaps natural that
              Message 6 of 17 , Apr 23, 2009
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                Hi Joe,

                My experience has been the opposite. I think the most difficult hurdle
                that one faces in an organization is the politics. It is perhaps natural
                that when people get together their personal prejudices and selfishness
                impedes the greater good. Many times common sense just doesnt make sense
                to even the smartest individual. Which is why, as an organization grows
                larger, the politics gets worse. More people, and more "at stake".

                It is, IMHO, usually the system that causes people to behave in ways
                that are locally optimized. If you you incentivize a manager with a
                bonus that is doled out based on staying within budget, the manager is
                bound to question the need for many items on a "must-have" list.
                Hierarchy in an organization implies peers are fighting each other for
                that one spot above. Functional silos means that the greater good of the
                project is undermined by the need to prop up the function.

                Your points make absolute sense. My thoughts are more around why we
                structure our organizations in such a way that we dont get the best out
                of it. And how do we do that?

                Regards,
                Jayanthan

                Joseph Little wrote:
                >
                >
                > Hi,
                >
                > I am a trainer and a coach. In the course of my work, I hear people
                > talk about how hard is to get things done in organizations. (This
                > happened again recently.)
                >
                > And I know from personal experience too, it is hard.
                >
                > But I wanted to emphasize that organizational politics is not as hard
                > as we make it for ourselves (at least sometimes it is not).
                >
                > Here are a few nuggets mined in the field of hard knocks.
                >
                > A few suggestions re ACTION (perhaps you find one useful):
                > * When boxing, do not expect to have the first punch be a knock out.
                > Set 'em up for the kill in the 4th round. Lots of combination punches.
                > * The truth is hard to resist. (Yes, I know people will deny the
                > truth and will often kill the bearer.) Keep finding ways for the
                > truth to be repeated and dealt with. Scrum throws up the truth.
                > * If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much
                > harder for the manager to resist. (Make sure you have the truth on
                > your side, and that your idea makes sense.) Maybe even harder if the
                > manager comes to the Team room.
                > * Justify your impediment removals. Do much better cost-benefit
                > analysis. Do them as small experiments (eg, show the actual results
                > later).
                > * Justifications include: higher NPV for the product, higher velocity
                > for the team, faster delivery, etc, etc. Make the link from your
                > improvement back to these key things.
                > * Make the case. Make it so obviously right that the only question
                > is: "How do I know your numbers are right?" Managers only like to
                > approve obviously right things.
                > * Ask to do an experiment. Make sure the test sample is big enough to
                > draw conclusions from.
                >
                > Go get 'em.
                > Nothing I said guarantees success. Accept that the other person is
                > free and you can't make him change. Give him some respect.
                >
                > Regards, Joe
                >
                >
                >
                > Joseph Little
                > Agile coach, MBA, CST
                > Kitty Hawk Consulting, Inc.
                > 704-376-8881 (Charlotte)
                > 917-887-1669 (cell)
                > http://www.kittyhawkconsulting.com/
                > <http://www.kittyhawkconsulting.com/> http://leanagiletraining.com/
                > <http://leanagiletraining.com/>Blog: "Agile & Business"
                >
                >
              • Doug McQuilken
                Jayanthan, very insightful - there is an entire field termed organizational development that deals with these issues. One luminary in this area with a
                Message 7 of 17 , Apr 23, 2009
                • 0 Attachment
                  Jayanthan,

                  very insightful - there is an entire field termed "organizational development" that deals with these issues. One luminary in this area with a technology focus can be found here: http://business.uccs.edu/html/robert_zawacki.html

                  Your basic premise is absolutely correct - that is, functional organizations tend be insular. They are most effective when one wants to preserve the status quo.

                  Agile addresses this, to a degree, by bringing in the PO. Unfortunately, in larger organizations it no longer is the SWN (Single Wring-able Neck) but becomes a liaison, of sorts, to the decision-makers external to the team

                  Regards,
                  Doug McQuilken

                  --- On Thu, 4/23/09, Jayanthan Bhattathiripad <jynthn@...> wrote:

                  From: Jayanthan Bhattathiripad <jynthn@...>
                  Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] Organizational politics
                  To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                  Date: Thursday, April 23, 2009, 11:03 AM

                  Hi Joe,

                  My experience has been the opposite. I think the most difficult hurdle
                  that one faces in an organization is the politics. It is perhaps natural
                  that when people get together their personal prejudices and selfishness
                  impedes the greater good. Many times common sense just doesnt make sense
                  to even the smartest individual. Which is why, as an organization grows
                  larger, the politics gets worse. More people, and more "at stake".

                  It is, IMHO, usually the system that causes people to behave in ways
                  that are locally optimized. If you you incentivize a manager with a
                  bonus that is doled out based on staying within budget, the manager is
                  bound to question the need for many items on a "must-have" list.
                  Hierarchy in an organization implies peers are fighting each other for
                  that one spot above. Functional silos means that the greater good of the
                  project is undermined by the need to prop up the function.

                  Your points make absolute sense. My thoughts are more around why we
                  structure our organizations in such a way that we dont get the best out
                  of it. And how do we do that?

                  Regards,
                  Jayanthan

                  Joseph Little wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  > Hi,
                  >
                  > I am a trainer and a coach. In the course of my work, I hear people
                  > talk about how hard is to get things done in organizations. (This
                  > happened again recently.)
                  >
                  > And I know from personal experience too, it is hard.
                  >
                  > But I wanted to emphasize that organizational politics is not as hard
                  > as we make it for ourselves (at least sometimes it is not).
                  >
                  > Here are a few nuggets mined in the field of hard knocks.
                  >
                  > A few suggestions re ACTION (perhaps you find one useful):
                  > * When boxing, do not expect to have the first punch be a knock out.
                  > Set 'em up for the kill in the 4th round. Lots of combination punches.
                  > * The truth is hard to resist. (Yes, I know people will deny the
                  > truth and will often kill the bearer.) Keep finding ways for the
                  > truth to be repeated and dealt with. Scrum throws up the truth.
                  > * If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much
                  > harder for the manager to resist. (Make sure you have the truth on
                  > your side, and that your idea makes sense.) Maybe even harder if the
                  > manager comes to the Team room.
                  > * Justify your impediment removals. Do much better cost-benefit
                  > analysis. Do them as small experiments (eg, show the actual results
                  > later).
                  > * Justifications include: higher NPV for the product, higher velocity
                  > for the team, faster delivery, etc, etc. Make the link from your
                  > improvement back to these key things.
                  > * Make the case. Make it so obviously right that the only question
                  > is: "How do I know your numbers are right?" Managers only like to
                  > approve obviously right things.
                  > * Ask to do an experiment. Make sure the test sample is big enough to
                  > draw conclusions from.
                  >
                  > Go get 'em.
                  > Nothing I said guarantees success. Accept that the other person is
                  > free and you can't make him change. Give him some respect.
                  >
                  > Regards, Joe
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Joseph Little
                  > Agile coach, MBA, CST
                  > Kitty Hawk Consulting, Inc.
                  > 704-376-8881 (Charlotte)
                  > 917-887-1669 (cell)
                  > http://www.kittyhaw kconsulting. com/
                  > <http://www.kittyhaw kconsulting. com/> http://leanagiletra ining.com/
                  > <http://leanagiletra ining.com/>Blog: "Agile & Business"
                  >
                  >

                • Joseph Little
                  Hi Jayanthan, I agreed with what you said. I think by opposite I guess you meant that I seem to be saying politics is easy and you find it is not. But I
                  Message 8 of 17 , Apr 23, 2009
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                    Hi Jayanthan,

                    I agreed with what you said.

                    I think by "opposite" I guess you meant that I seem to be saying "politics is easy" and you find it is not.

                    But I agree with you that the politics is important and hard. Just not as impossible as we sometimes feel it is.

                    As a way-too-simple answer to your last question:
                    * organize almost always around small teams
                    * help the management see that their job is to enable customer satisfaction (ie, for the customers!)...mainly by supporting the teams.

                    "Supporting" particularly is much too simple. But perhaps you get my drift, as we say in the States.

                    Happy hunting.

                    Regards, Joe



                    --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Jayanthan Bhattathiripad <jynthn@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Hi Joe,
                    >
                    > My experience has been the opposite. I think the most difficult hurdle
                    > that one faces in an organization is the politics. It is perhaps natural
                    > that when people get together their personal prejudices and selfishness
                    > impedes the greater good. Many times common sense just doesnt make sense
                    > to even the smartest individual. Which is why, as an organization grows
                    > larger, the politics gets worse. More people, and more "at stake".
                    >
                    > It is, IMHO, usually the system that causes people to behave in ways
                    > that are locally optimized. If you you incentivize a manager with a
                    > bonus that is doled out based on staying within budget, the manager is
                    > bound to question the need for many items on a "must-have" list.
                    > Hierarchy in an organization implies peers are fighting each other for
                    > that one spot above. Functional silos means that the greater good of the
                    > project is undermined by the need to prop up the function.
                    >
                    > Your points make absolute sense. My thoughts are more around why we
                    > structure our organizations in such a way that we dont get the best out
                    > of it. And how do we do that?
                    >
                    > Regards,
                    > Jayanthan
                    >
                    > Joseph Little wrote:
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > Hi,
                    > >
                    > > I am a trainer and a coach. In the course of my work, I hear people
                    > > talk about how hard is to get things done in organizations. (This
                    > > happened again recently.)
                    > >
                    > > And I know from personal experience too, it is hard.
                    > >
                    > > But I wanted to emphasize that organizational politics is not as hard
                    > > as we make it for ourselves (at least sometimes it is not).
                    > >
                    > > Here are a few nuggets mined in the field of hard knocks.
                    > >
                    > > A few suggestions re ACTION (perhaps you find one useful):
                    > > * When boxing, do not expect to have the first punch be a knock out.
                    > > Set 'em up for the kill in the 4th round. Lots of combination punches.
                    > > * The truth is hard to resist. (Yes, I know people will deny the
                    > > truth and will often kill the bearer.) Keep finding ways for the
                    > > truth to be repeated and dealt with. Scrum throws up the truth.
                    > > * If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much
                    > > harder for the manager to resist. (Make sure you have the truth on
                    > > your side, and that your idea makes sense.) Maybe even harder if the
                    > > manager comes to the Team room.
                    > > * Justify your impediment removals. Do much better cost-benefit
                    > > analysis. Do them as small experiments (eg, show the actual results
                    > > later).
                    > > * Justifications include: higher NPV for the product, higher velocity
                    > > for the team, faster delivery, etc, etc. Make the link from your
                    > > improvement back to these key things.
                    > > * Make the case. Make it so obviously right that the only question
                    > > is: "How do I know your numbers are right?" Managers only like to
                    > > approve obviously right things.
                    > > * Ask to do an experiment. Make sure the test sample is big enough to
                    > > draw conclusions from.
                    > >
                    > > Go get 'em.
                    > > Nothing I said guarantees success. Accept that the other person is
                    > > free and you can't make him change. Give him some respect.
                    > >
                    > > Regards, Joe
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > Joseph Little
                    > > Agile coach, MBA, CST
                    > > Kitty Hawk Consulting, Inc.
                    > > 704-376-8881 (Charlotte)
                    > > 917-887-1669 (cell)
                    > > http://www.kittyhawkconsulting.com/
                    > > <http://www.kittyhawkconsulting.com/> http://leanagiletraining.com/
                    > > <http://leanagiletraining.com/>Blog: "Agile & Business"
                    > >
                    > >
                    >
                  • Joseph Little
                    Well said. Of course! you are a person. But just as some seem to forget that the workers are real people, others forget (or so I see) that managers
                    Message 9 of 17 , Apr 23, 2009
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Well said.

                      Of course! you are a person. <smile> But just as some seem to forget that the workers are real people, others forget (or so I see) that managers are real people. Several root causes.

                      About every day I have to repeat to myself: 'People are not "resources".'

                      I haven't read Nietzsche in a while. Can you suggest a short, relevant reading?

                      I am concerned that I will be thinking of a young corporal too much when I read it. The "application-in-life" of some of these ideas has much not to recommend it. Quite arguably none of Nietzsche's fault (long since dead).

                      Cheers, Joe


                      --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Pablo Emanuel <pablo.emanuel@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Joe,
                      >
                      > first of all, having been a senior manager of a small organization (~50
                      > people) and a middle manager in a large organization (10,000+ people), I'm
                      > glad that even I can still be considered a person ;-)
                      >
                      > IMO, the root cause of the problem is the lack of understanding of the
                      > manager's work from the workforce, and the managers not realizing that this
                      > lack of understanding exists. One of the tasks of middle management is
                      > protecting the team from issues that shouldn't concern them, to make them
                      > focus on doing their jobs. However, if (s)he's doing his job right, some
                      > people, specially the younger ones, would simply assume that those issues do
                      > not exist or, at best, that they're not important. Since the immediate
                      > manager is the most recognizable face the organization shows to the
                      > workforce, he will incarnate all the sins that the workers detect on the
                      > organization (that are probably the 10% that he couldn't filter).
                      >
                      > As a manager, I've been lucky enough to be respected by most of my team
                      > members, mainly for the wrong reasons. They do respect me because I'm a guy
                      > from the trenches like them (I still can help them figure out that tricky
                      > SQL optimization they've been struggling with for hours), but not for my
                      > work as a manager, that they mostly don't understand or value enough to
                      > appreciate.
                      >
                      > I'm not presumptuous enough to say that I know how to bridge that gap,
                      > because I don't, but one thing I recommend is that management and team
                      > should
                      >
                      > 1) reinforce every day the fact that they are working together with the same
                      > goal in mind;
                      > 2) understand that is healthy to have different points of view about the
                      > same point, and both sides can profit from listening to the other. Most of
                      > the times the most experienced side (usually management) will be right, but
                      > even then, listening to some fresh perspective can be valuable. Many times,
                      > the less experienced side has valid arguments but cannot present and defend
                      > them properly; it's the most experienced side's responsibility to strip the
                      > point from the presentation and exercise how he would defend the other's
                      > point himself;
                      > 3) put himself in the other's shoes.
                      >
                      > PS: Regarding the philosophical questions about power (or illusions
                      > thereof), I don't think we can add much on what's been said by Nietzsche on
                      > the subject.
                      >
                      > Regards,
                      > Pablo Emanuel
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > 2009/4/22 Joseph Little <jhlittle@...>
                      >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > Pablo,
                      > >
                      > > Good comment.
                      > >
                      > > As you might guess, I was mainly dealing with the feeling of powerlessness
                      > > that people on Teams often feel.
                      > >
                      > > What some can forget is that managers are people too. Middle managers often
                      > > have a feeling of, well, being caught in the middle. And even senior
                      > > managers are people.
                      > >
                      > > So, to state your point more generally, a team should come to the manager
                      > > (or get together with the manager) in a way that does not immediately cause
                      > > the manager put his/her defenses up.
                      > >
                      > > We might have another thread on the illusions of power. (Yes, I know it may
                      > > not actually feel like an illusion at times.) One event that comes to mind
                      > > is how the Iron Curtain came down. Seemed like a miracle at the time.
                      > >
                      > > Thanks, Joe
                      > >
                      > > --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com<scrumdevelopment%40yahoogroups.com>,
                      > > Pablo Emanuel <pablo.emanuel@> wrote:
                      > > >
                      > > > Joe,
                      > > >
                      > > > just a comment here:
                      > > >
                      > > > <<* If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much
                      > > > harder for the manager to resist. >>
                      > > >
                      > > > As a manager myself, if I see a bunch of people heading together towards
                      > > my
                      > > > office, there's only one word that comes to my mind: mutiny. That's
                      > > probably
                      > > > one of the worst ways to get the manager to really listen to what you
                      > > have
                      > > > to say. The ideal approach, IMO, is to ask for a time with a strong
                      > > teaser,
                      > > > ideally related to a specific pain, i.e. "Do you know that problem XXX
                      > > we're
                      > > > having? We've been thinking about it, and we have some ideas to share
                      > > with
                      > > > you."
                      > > >
                      > > > Regards,
                      > > > Pablo Emanuel
                      > > >
                      > > > 2009/4/21 Joseph Little <jhlittle@>
                      > >
                      > > >
                      > > > >
                      > > > >
                      > > > > Hi,
                      > > > >
                      > > > > I am a trainer and a coach. In the course of my work, I hear people
                      > > talk
                      > > > > about how hard is to get things done in organizations. (This happened
                      > > again
                      > > > > recently.)
                      > > > >
                      > > > > And I know from personal experience too, it is hard.
                      > > > >
                      > > > > But I wanted to emphasize that organizational politics is not as hard
                      > > as we
                      > > > > make it for ourselves (at least sometimes it is not).
                      > > > >
                      > > > > Here are a few nuggets mined in the field of hard knocks.
                      > > > >
                      > > > > A few suggestions re ACTION (perhaps you find one useful):
                      > > > > * When boxing, do not expect to have the first punch be a knock out.
                      > > Set
                      > > > > 'em up for the kill in the 4th round. Lots of combination punches.
                      > > > > * The truth is hard to resist. (Yes, I know people will deny the truth
                      > > and
                      > > > > will often kill the bearer.) Keep finding ways for the truth to be
                      > > repeated
                      > > > > and dealt with. Scrum throws up the truth.
                      > > > > * If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much
                      > > harder
                      > > > > for the manager to resist. (Make sure you have the truth on your side,
                      > > and
                      > > > > that your idea makes sense.) Maybe even harder if the manager comes to
                      > > the
                      > > > > Team room.
                      > > > > * Justify your impediment removals. Do much better cost-benefit
                      > > analysis.
                      > > > > Do them as small experiments (eg, show the actual results later).
                      > > > > * Justifications include: higher NPV for the product, higher velocity
                      > > for
                      > > > > the team, faster delivery, etc, etc. Make the link from your
                      > > improvement
                      > > > > back to these key things.
                      > > > > * Make the case. Make it so obviously right that the only question is:
                      > > > > "How do I know your numbers are right?" Managers only like to approve
                      > > > > obviously right things.
                      > > > > * Ask to do an experiment. Make sure the test sample is big enough to
                      > > draw
                      > > > > conclusions from.
                      > > > >
                      > > > > Go get 'em.
                      > > > > Nothing I said guarantees success. Accept that the other person is free
                      > > and
                      > > > > you can't make him change. Give him some respect.
                      > > > >
                      > > > > Regards, Joe
                      > > > >
                      > > > >
                      > > > >
                      > > > > Joseph Little
                      > > > > Agile coach, MBA, CST
                      > > > > Kitty Hawk Consulting, Inc.
                      > > > > 704-376-8881 (Charlotte)
                      > > > > 917-887-1669 (cell)
                      > > > > http://www.kittyhawkconsulting.com/
                      > > > > http://leanagiletraining.com/
                      > > > > Blog: "Agile & Business"
                      > > > >
                      > > > >
                      > > > >
                      > > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      >
                    • Pablo Emanuel
                      Joe, if you re talking about whom I think you are, that s a clear case of
                      Message 10 of 17 , Apr 23, 2009
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Joe,
                         
                        <<The "application-in-life" of some of these ideas has much not to recommend it>>
                         
                        if you're talking about whom I think you are, that's a clear case of Nietzsche-but ;-)
                         
                        <<Can you suggest a short, relevant reading? >>
                         
                        I wouldn't start from the Zarathustra (although I actually did) - too metaphorical - or Ecce Homo or Nietzsche Contra Wagner - too personal. Other than that, you could go for any of his books. Two words that really describe his works, if there's any, are short and relevant.
                         
                        Regards,
                        Pablo Emanuel

                        2009/4/23 Joseph Little <jhlittle@...>


                        Well said.

                        Of course! you are a person. <smile> But just as some seem to forget that the workers are real people, others forget (or so I see) that managers are real people. Several root causes.

                        About every day I have to repeat to myself: 'People are not "resources".'

                        I haven't read Nietzsche in a while. Can you suggest a short, relevant reading?

                        I am concerned that I will be thinking of a young corporal too much when I read it. The "application-in-life" of some of these ideas has much not to recommend it. Quite arguably none of Nietzsche's fault (long since dead).

                        Cheers, Joe



                        --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Pablo Emanuel <pablo.emanuel@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Joe,
                        >
                        > first of all, having been a senior manager of a small organization (~50
                        > people) and a middle manager in a large organization (10,000+ people), I'm
                        > glad that even I can still be considered a person ;-)
                        >
                        > IMO, the root cause of the problem is the lack of understanding of the
                        > manager's work from the workforce, and the managers not realizing that this
                        > lack of understanding exists. One of the tasks of middle management is
                        > protecting the team from issues that shouldn't concern them, to make them
                        > focus on doing their jobs. However, if (s)he's doing his job right, some
                        > people, specially the younger ones, would simply assume that those issues do
                        > not exist or, at best, that they're not important. Since the immediate
                        > manager is the most recognizable face the organization shows to the
                        > workforce, he will incarnate all the sins that the workers detect on the
                        > organization (that are probably the 10% that he couldn't filter).
                        >
                        > As a manager, I've been lucky enough to be respected by most of my team
                        > members, mainly for the wrong reasons. They do respect me because I'm a guy
                        > from the trenches like them (I still can help them figure out that tricky
                        > SQL optimization they've been struggling with for hours), but not for my
                        > work as a manager, that they mostly don't understand or value enough to
                        > appreciate.
                        >
                        > I'm not presumptuous enough to say that I know how to bridge that gap,
                        > because I don't, but one thing I recommend is that management and team
                        > should
                        >
                        > 1) reinforce every day the fact that they are working together with the same
                        > goal in mind;
                        > 2) understand that is healthy to have different points of view about the
                        > same point, and both sides can profit from listening to the other. Most of
                        > the times the most experienced side (usually management) will be right, but
                        > even then, listening to some fresh perspective can be valuable. Many times,
                        > the less experienced side has valid arguments but cannot present and defend
                        > them properly; it's the most experienced side's responsibility to strip the
                        > point from the presentation and exercise how he would defend the other's
                        > point himself;
                        > 3) put himself in the other's shoes.
                        >
                        > PS: Regarding the philosophical questions about power (or illusions
                        > thereof), I don't think we can add much on what's been said by Nietzsche on
                        > the subject.
                        >
                        > Regards,
                        > Pablo Emanuel
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > 2009/4/22 Joseph Little <jhlittle@...>

                        >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > > Pablo,
                        > >
                        > > Good comment.
                        > >
                        > > As you might guess, I was mainly dealing with the feeling of powerlessness
                        > > that people on Teams often feel.
                        > >
                        > > What some can forget is that managers are people too. Middle managers often
                        > > have a feeling of, well, being caught in the middle. And even senior
                        > > managers are people.
                        > >
                        > > So, to state your point more generally, a team should come to the manager
                        > > (or get together with the manager) in a way that does not immediately cause
                        > > the manager put his/her defenses up.
                        > >
                        > > We might have another thread on the illusions of power. (Yes, I know it may
                        > > not actually feel like an illusion at times.) One event that comes to mind
                        > > is how the Iron Curtain came down. Seemed like a miracle at the time.
                        > >
                        > > Thanks, Joe
                        > >
                        > > --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com<scrumdevelopment%40yahoogroups.com>,

                        > > Pablo Emanuel <pablo.emanuel@> wrote:
                        > > >
                        > > > Joe,
                        > > >
                        > > > just a comment here:
                        > > >
                        > > > <<* If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much
                        > > > harder for the manager to resist. >>
                        > > >
                        > > > As a manager myself, if I see a bunch of people heading together towards
                        > > my
                        > > > office, there's only one word that comes to my mind: mutiny. That's
                        > > probably
                        > > > one of the worst ways to get the manager to really listen to what you
                        > > have
                        > > > to say. The ideal approach, IMO, is to ask for a time with a strong
                        > > teaser,
                        > > > ideally related to a specific pain, i.e. "Do you know that problem XXX
                        > > we're
                        > > > having? We've been thinking about it, and we have some ideas to share
                        > > with
                        > > > you."
                        > > >
                        > > > Regards,
                        > > > Pablo Emanuel
                        > > >
                        > > > 2009/4/21 Joseph Little <jhlittle@>
                        > >
                        > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Hi,
                        > > > >
                        > > > > I am a trainer and a coach. In the course of my work, I hear people
                        > > talk
                        > > > > about how hard is to get things done in organizations. (This happened
                        > > again
                        > > > > recently.)
                        > > > >
                        > > > > And I know from personal experience too, it is hard.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > But I wanted to emphasize that organizational politics is not as hard
                        > > as we
                        > > > > make it for ourselves (at least sometimes it is not).
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Here are a few nuggets mined in the field of hard knocks.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > A few suggestions re ACTION (perhaps you find one useful):
                        > > > > * When boxing, do not expect to have the first punch be a knock out.
                        > > Set
                        > > > > 'em up for the kill in the 4th round. Lots of combination punches.
                        > > > > * The truth is hard to resist. (Yes, I know people will deny the truth
                        > > and
                        > > > > will often kill the bearer.) Keep finding ways for the truth to be
                        > > repeated
                        > > > > and dealt with. Scrum throws up the truth.
                        > > > > * If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much
                        > > harder
                        > > > > for the manager to resist. (Make sure you have the truth on your side,
                        > > and
                        > > > > that your idea makes sense.) Maybe even harder if the manager comes to
                        > > the
                        > > > > Team room.
                        > > > > * Justify your impediment removals. Do much better cost-benefit
                        > > analysis.
                        > > > > Do them as small experiments (eg, show the actual results later).
                        > > > > * Justifications include: higher NPV for the product, higher velocity
                        > > for
                        > > > > the team, faster delivery, etc, etc. Make the link from your
                        > > improvement
                        > > > > back to these key things.
                        > > > > * Make the case. Make it so obviously right that the only question is:
                        > > > > "How do I know your numbers are right?" Managers only like to approve
                        > > > > obviously right things.
                        > > > > * Ask to do an experiment. Make sure the test sample is big enough to
                        > > draw
                        > > > > conclusions from.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Go get 'em.
                        > > > > Nothing I said guarantees success. Accept that the other person is free
                        > > and
                        > > > > you can't make him change. Give him some respect.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Regards, Joe
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Joseph Little
                        > > > > Agile coach, MBA, CST
                        > > > > Kitty Hawk Consulting, Inc.
                        > > > > 704-376-8881 (Charlotte)
                        > > > > 917-887-1669 (cell)
                        > > > > http://www.kittyhawkconsulting.com/
                        > > > > http://leanagiletraining.com/
                        > > > > Blog: "Agile & Business"
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        >


                      • Jayanthan Bhattathiripad
                        Very good points. Thanks, Joe.
                        Message 11 of 17 , Apr 23, 2009
                        • 0 Attachment
                          Very good points. Thanks, Joe.

                          Joseph Little wrote:
                          >
                          >
                          > Hi Jayanthan,
                          >
                          > I agreed with what you said.
                          >
                          > I think by "opposite" I guess you meant that I seem to be saying
                          > "politics is easy" and you find it is not.
                          >
                          > But I agree with you that the politics is important and hard. Just not
                          > as impossible as we sometimes feel it is.
                          >
                          > As a way-too-simple answer to your last question:
                          > * organize almost always around small teams
                          > * help the management see that their job is to enable customer
                          > satisfaction (ie, for the customers!)...mainly by supporting the teams.
                          >
                          > "Supporting" particularly is much too simple. But perhaps you get my
                          > drift, as we say in the States.
                          >
                          > Happy hunting.
                          >
                          > Regards, Joe
                          >
                          > --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                          > <mailto:scrumdevelopment%40yahoogroups.com>, Jayanthan Bhattathiripad
                          > <jynthn@...> wrote:
                          > >
                          > > Hi Joe,
                          > >
                          > > My experience has been the opposite. I think the most difficult hurdle
                          > > that one faces in an organization is the politics. It is perhaps
                          > natural
                          > > that when people get together their personal prejudices and selfishness
                          > > impedes the greater good. Many times common sense just doesnt make
                          > sense
                          > > to even the smartest individual. Which is why, as an organization grows
                          > > larger, the politics gets worse. More people, and more "at stake".
                          > >
                          > > It is, IMHO, usually the system that causes people to behave in ways
                          > > that are locally optimized. If you you incentivize a manager with a
                          > > bonus that is doled out based on staying within budget, the manager is
                          > > bound to question the need for many items on a "must-have" list.
                          > > Hierarchy in an organization implies peers are fighting each other for
                          > > that one spot above. Functional silos means that the greater good of
                          > the
                          > > project is undermined by the need to prop up the function.
                          > >
                          > > Your points make absolute sense. My thoughts are more around why we
                          > > structure our organizations in such a way that we dont get the best out
                          > > of it. And how do we do that?
                          > >
                          > > Regards,
                          > > Jayanthan
                          > >
                          > > Joseph Little wrote:
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > > Hi,
                          > > >
                          > > > I am a trainer and a coach. In the course of my work, I hear people
                          > > > talk about how hard is to get things done in organizations. (This
                          > > > happened again recently.)
                          > > >
                          > > > And I know from personal experience too, it is hard.
                          > > >
                          > > > But I wanted to emphasize that organizational politics is not as hard
                          > > > as we make it for ourselves (at least sometimes it is not).
                          > > >
                          > > > Here are a few nuggets mined in the field of hard knocks.
                          > > >
                          > > > A few suggestions re ACTION (perhaps you find one useful):
                          > > > * When boxing, do not expect to have the first punch be a knock out.
                          > > > Set 'em up for the kill in the 4th round. Lots of combination punches.
                          > > > * The truth is hard to resist. (Yes, I know people will deny the
                          > > > truth and will often kill the bearer.) Keep finding ways for the
                          > > > truth to be repeated and dealt with. Scrum throws up the truth.
                          > > > * If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much
                          > > > harder for the manager to resist. (Make sure you have the truth on
                          > > > your side, and that your idea makes sense.) Maybe even harder if the
                          > > > manager comes to the Team room.
                          > > > * Justify your impediment removals. Do much better cost-benefit
                          > > > analysis. Do them as small experiments (eg, show the actual results
                          > > > later).
                          > > > * Justifications include: higher NPV for the product, higher velocity
                          > > > for the team, faster delivery, etc, etc. Make the link from your
                          > > > improvement back to these key things.
                          > > > * Make the case. Make it so obviously right that the only question
                          > > > is: "How do I know your numbers are right?" Managers only like to
                          > > > approve obviously right things.
                          > > > * Ask to do an experiment. Make sure the test sample is big enough to
                          > > > draw conclusions from.
                          > > >
                          > > > Go get 'em.
                          > > > Nothing I said guarantees success. Accept that the other person is
                          > > > free and you can't make him change. Give him some respect.
                          > > >
                          > > > Regards, Joe
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > > Joseph Little
                          > > > Agile coach, MBA, CST
                          > > > Kitty Hawk Consulting, Inc.
                          > > > 704-376-8881 (Charlotte)
                          > > > 917-887-1669 (cell)
                          > > > http://www.kittyhawkconsulting.com/
                          > <http://www.kittyhawkconsulting.com/>
                          > > > <http://www.kittyhawkconsulting.com/
                          > <http://www.kittyhawkconsulting.com/>> http://leanagiletraining.com/
                          > <http://leanagiletraining.com/>
                          > > > <http://leanagiletraining.com/
                          > <http://leanagiletraining.com/>>Blog: "Agile & Business"
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > >
                          >
                          >
                        • Eric Deslauriers
                          Joe, Great topic, high value thread. I do agree some front line employees think that managers have a pretty cushy job (and some do, I ll admit). When I first
                          Message 12 of 17 , Apr 23, 2009
                          • 0 Attachment
                            Joe,

                            Great topic, high value thread. I do agree some front line employees think that managers have a pretty cushy job (and some do, I'll admit).

                            When I first started out, I dug ditches with a shovel. The higher I moved, the cushier the work (backhoe operator, auto mechanic, semi truck driver, SW Engineer, Sr. QA Engineer...) Then I became a manager, and before I knew it, I felt like I had gone back to digging ditches <grin>. The only difference was, at the end of the day, it was real hard to look back and see how far I'd dug.

                            It's all about context right? Seek to understand why someone is giving you the answer they're giving you (and hope they're shooting you straight or that you're smart enough to read between the lines).

                            One thing I frequently see teams do is live with things within their power to change.

                            Some time ago, I had a team which complained very strongly about some of the manual processes and what was I going to do to fix it?

                            My choices were
                            1. Assign someone from the team to solve it
                            2. Challenge the team to self-solve the problem they perceived (and which I was clear to state I agreed was was suboptimal).

                            I went with 2. Man, was that ever a disaster <grin>.

                            Another is that folks frequently fail to satisfactorily justify their request. A common outcome is complaining that they're not being listened to, unfortunately. 

                            Many years ago, I had a manager who was pretty tight with our funds. Working at a public company, I completely respect that (and totally resemble that myself, though I do give people guidance on how they can decide if their recommendations are justifiable before bringing them back to me). He refused to get me a new PC, asserting that mine was "fine", regardless of whatever explanation I used on how it would make me more productive. I could not sell it, and I tried pretty hard. Another manager would have probably gotten sick of it. <grin>

                            I ended up making the mental leap that his goal was to save the company $$, and that he may have thought I was coming at this from equipment jealousy and using productivity as the justification for new hardware.

                            Being the tenacious person that I am, when one of my coworkers was going on vacation for a week, I asked if I could use his new Pentium while he was gone. I tracked all my tasks and timed them the week before he left, then used his machine and tracked how much time I was saving. I then used the time savings to calculate how much the company was wasting having me sit around waiting for things to happen (compiles, etc.). I got my new PC a few weeks later.

                            I frequently use this example whenever team members may be getting frustrated that upper mgmt is denying one of our requests. We just haven't put it in terms that they get and/or we don't understand why it is not important to the org (or why they don't realize it's important).

                            At the end of the day, it's about shared vision. Management sets the direction. If we don't like it, we should constructively voice our opinion in the right setting, to the right people. If that doesn't work, as employees, we need to get on board and do our best to make it succeed. Or the alternative. :)


                            Regards,
                            Eric

                            On Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 12:05 PM, Joseph Little <jhlittle@...> wrote:


                            Hi,

                            I am a trainer and a coach.  In the course of my work, I hear people talk about how hard is to get things done in organizations. (This happened again recently.)

                            And I know from personal experience too, it is hard.

                            But I wanted to emphasize that organizational politics is not as hard as we make it for ourselves (at least sometimes it is not).

                            Here are a few nuggets mined in the field of hard knocks. 

                            A few suggestions re ACTION (perhaps you find one useful):
                            * When boxing, do not expect to have the first punch be a knock out.  Set 'em up for the kill in the 4th round.  Lots of combination punches.
                            * The truth is hard to resist.  (Yes, I know people will deny the truth and will often kill the bearer.)  Keep finding ways for the truth to be repeated and dealt with.  Scrum throws up the truth.
                            * If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much harder for the manager to resist.  (Make sure you have the truth on your side, and that your idea makes sense.)   Maybe even harder if the manager comes to the Team room.
                            * Justify your impediment removals.  Do much better cost-benefit analysis.  Do them as small experiments (eg, show the actual results later). 
                            * Justifications include: higher NPV for the product, higher velocity for the team, faster delivery, etc, etc.  Make the link from your improvement back to these key things.
                            * Make the case.  Make it so obviously right that the only question is: "How do I know your numbers are right?"  Managers only like to approve obviously right things.
                            * Ask to do an experiment.  Make sure the test sample is big enough to draw conclusions from.

                            Go get 'em.
                            Nothing I said guarantees success. Accept that the other person is free and you can't make him change.  Give him some respect.

                            Regards, Joe 



                            Joseph Little
                            Agile coach, MBA, CST
                            Kitty Hawk Consulting, Inc.
                            704-376-8881 (Charlotte)
                            917-887-1669 (cell)
                            http://www.kittyhawkconsulting.com/
                            http://leanagiletraining.com/
                            Blog: "Agile & Business"




                            --
                            Eric D
                            08 K1200S Tricolor (phreowww)
                            06 Husqvarna TE610
                            Sandy Eggo, CA (Ramona)
                          • Roy Morien
                            ... An interesting associated matter was the fact that that organisation was an IBM shop . They always cried poor about upgrading their mainframe, because
                            Message 13 of 17 , Apr 23, 2009
                            • 0 Attachment
                              :) I did some of my best article reading while I was waiting for the mainframe computer to respond. Coincidentally, and somewhat amusingly, I was reading an article from the IBM System Journal entitled (something like) 'The Impact on developer productivity of slow systems response time'. I could only agree with their discussion and findings (but at least it gave me time to catch up on my reading).

                              An interesting associated matter was the fact that that organisation was 'an IBM shop'. They always cried poor about upgrading their mainframe, because they didn't have the funds. When they purchased a pile of new IBM 3278 terminal, at almost double the cost of an equivalent 'clone' terminal from Raytheon, they were unimpressed by my suggestion that the money they could have saved by going with Raytheon and their response was 'We are an IBM shop'.

                              Another example of slightly peculiar management thinking. Of course, this was in the era of 'Nobody ever got sacked for choosing IBM', so their judgement was entirely clouded by that thinking.

                              Regards,
                              Roy Morien


                              To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                              From: eric.deslauriers@...
                              Date: Thu, 23 Apr 2009 21:36:52 -0700
                              Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] Organizational politics



                              Joe,

                              Great topic, high value thread. I do agree some front line employees think that managers have a pretty cushy job (and some do, I'll admit).

                              When I first started out, I dug ditches with a shovel. The higher I moved, the cushier the work (backhoe operator, auto mechanic, semi truck driver, SW Engineer, Sr. QA Engineer...) Then I became a manager, and before I knew it, I felt like I had gone back to digging ditches <grin>. The only difference was, at the end of the day, it was real hard to look back and see how far I'd dug.

                              It's all about context right? Seek to understand why someone is giving you the answer they're giving you (and hope they're shooting you straight or that you're smart enough to read between the lines).

                              One thing I frequently see teams do is live with things within their power to change.

                              Some time ago, I had a team which complained very strongly about some of the manual processes and what was I going to do to fix it?

                              My choices were
                              1. Assign someone from the team to solve it
                              2. Challenge the team to self-solve the problem they perceived (and which I was clear to state I agreed was was suboptimal).

                              I went with 2. Man, was that ever a disaster <grin>.

                              Another is that folks frequently fail to satisfactorily justify their request. A common outcome is complaining that they're not being listened to, unfortunately. 

                              Many years ago, I had a manager who was pretty tight with our funds. Working at a public company, I completely respect that (and totally resemble that myself, though I do give people guidance on how they can decide if their recommendations are justifiable before bringing them back to me). He refused to get me a new PC, asserting that mine was "fine", regardless of whatever explanation I used on how it would make me more productive. I could not sell it, and I tried pretty hard. Another manager would have probably gotten sick of it. <grin>

                              I ended up making the mental leap that his goal was to save the company $$, and that he may have thought I was coming at this from equipment jealousy and using productivity as the justification for new hardware.

                              Being the tenacious person that I am, when one of my coworkers was going on vacation for a week, I asked if I could use his new Pentium while he was gone. I tracked all my tasks and timed them the week before he left, then used his machine and tracked how much time I was saving. I then used the time savings to calculate how much the company was wasting having me sit around waiting for things to happen (compiles, etc.). I got my new PC a few weeks later.

                              I frequently use this example whenever team members may be getting frustrated that upper mgmt is denying one of our requests. We just haven't put it in terms that they get and/or we don't understand why it is not important to the org (or why they don't realize it's important).

                              At the end of the day, it's about shared vision. Management sets the direction. If we don't like it, we should constructively voice our opinion in the right setting, to the right people. If that doesn't work, as employees, we need to get on board and do our best to make it succeed. Or the alternative. :)


                              Regards,
                              Eric

                              On Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 12:05 PM, Joseph Little <jhlittle@mindspring .com> wrote:


                              Hi,

                              I am a trainer and a coach.  In the course of my work, I hear people talk about how hard is to get things done in organizations. (This happened again recently.)

                              And I know from personal experience too, it is hard.

                              But I wanted to emphasize that organizational politics is not as hard as we make it for ourselves (at least sometimes it is not).

                              Here are a few nuggets mined in the field of hard knocks. 

                              A few suggestions re ACTION (perhaps you find one useful):
                              * When boxing, do not expect to have the first punch be a knock out.  Set 'em up for the kill in the 4th round.  Lots of combination punches.
                              * The truth is hard to resist.  (Yes, I know people will deny the truth and will often kill the bearer.)  Keep finding ways for the truth to be repeated and dealt with.  Scrum throws up the truth.
                              * If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is much harder for the manager to resist.  (Make sure you have the truth on your side, and that your idea makes sense.)   Maybe even harder if the manager comes to the Team room.
                              * Justify your impediment removals.  Do much better cost-benefit analysis.  Do them as small experiments (eg, show the actual results later). 
                              * Justifications include: higher NPV for the product, higher velocity for the team, faster delivery, etc, etc.  Make the link from your improvement back to these key things.
                              * Make the case.  Make it so obviously right that the only question is: "How do I know your numbers are right?"  Managers only like to approve obviously right things.
                              * Ask to do an experiment.  Make sure the test sample is big enough to draw conclusions from.

                              Go get 'em.
                              Nothing I said guarantees success. Accept that the other person is free and you can't make him change.  Give him some respect.

                              Regards, Joe 




                              Joseph Little
                              Agile coach, MBA, CST
                              Kitty Hawk Consulting, Inc.
                              704-376-8881 (Charlotte)
                              917-887-1669 (cell)
                              http://www.kittyhaw kconsulting. com/
                              http://leanagiletra ining.com/
                              Blog: "Agile & Business"




                              --
                              Eric D
                              08 K1200S Tricolor (phreowww)
                              06 Husqvarna TE610
                              Sandy Eggo, CA (Ramona)



                              Download it here. The new Windows Live Messenger has landed.
                            • Brad Appleton
                              One of the real eye-openers for me on the subject was from Joe Marasco in 2001 entitled On Politics in Technical Organizations . I found a reprint of it in
                              Message 14 of 17 , Apr 24, 2009
                              • 0 Attachment
                                One of the real "eye-openers" for me on the subject was from Joe Marasco
                                in 2001 entitled "On Politics in Technical Organizations".

                                I found a reprint of it in a 2004 issue of The Rational Edge at
                                http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/rational/library/4690.html

                                --
                                Brad Appleton <brad {AT} bradapp.net>
                                Agile CM Environments (http://blog.bradapp.net/)
                                & Software CM Patterns (www.scmpatterns.com)
                                "And miles to go before I sleep" -- Robert Frost
                              • Jayanthan Bhattathiripad
                                Thank you for the link, Doug. You might enjoy Margaret Wheatley s Leadership and the New Science: http://www.margaretwheatley.com/books.html
                                Message 15 of 17 , Apr 28, 2009
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  Thank you for the link, Doug. You might enjoy Margaret Wheatley's
                                  Leadership and the New Science: http://www.margaretwheatley.com/books.html

                                  Doug McQuilken wrote:
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > Jayanthan,
                                  >
                                  > very insightful - there is an entire field termed "organizational
                                  > development" that deals with these issues. One luminary in this area
                                  > with a technology focus can be found here:
                                  > http://business.uccs.edu/html/robert_zawacki.html
                                  >
                                  > Your basic premise is absolutely correct - that is, functional
                                  > organizations tend be insular. They are most effective when one wants
                                  > to preserve the status quo.
                                  >
                                  > Agile addresses this, to a degree, by bringing in the PO.
                                  > Unfortunately, in larger organizations it no longer is the SWN (Single
                                  > Wring-able Neck) but becomes a liaison, of sorts, to the
                                  > decision-makers external to the team
                                  >
                                  > Regards,
                                  > Doug McQuilken
                                  >
                                  > --- On *Thu, 4/23/09, Jayanthan Bhattathiripad /<jynthn@...>/*
                                  > wrote:
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > From: Jayanthan Bhattathiripad <jynthn@...>
                                  > Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] Organizational politics
                                  > To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                                  > Date: Thursday, April 23, 2009, 11:03 AM
                                  >
                                  > Hi Joe,
                                  >
                                  > My experience has been the opposite. I think the most difficult
                                  > hurdle
                                  > that one faces in an organization is the politics. It is perhaps
                                  > natural
                                  > that when people get together their personal prejudices and
                                  > selfishness
                                  > impedes the greater good. Many times common sense just doesnt make
                                  > sense
                                  > to even the smartest individual. Which is why, as an organization
                                  > grows
                                  > larger, the politics gets worse. More people, and more "at stake".
                                  >
                                  > It is, IMHO, usually the system that causes people to behave in ways
                                  > that are locally optimized. If you you incentivize a manager with a
                                  > bonus that is doled out based on staying within budget, the
                                  > manager is
                                  > bound to question the need for many items on a "must-have" list.
                                  > Hierarchy in an organization implies peers are fighting each other
                                  > for
                                  > that one spot above. Functional silos means that the greater good
                                  > of the
                                  > project is undermined by the need to prop up the function.
                                  >
                                  > Your points make absolute sense. My thoughts are more around why we
                                  > structure our organizations in such a way that we dont get the
                                  > best out
                                  > of it. And how do we do that?
                                  >
                                  > Regards,
                                  > Jayanthan
                                  >
                                  > Joseph Little wrote:
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > > Hi,
                                  > >
                                  > > I am a trainer and a coach. In the course of my work, I hear people
                                  > > talk about how hard is to get things done in organizations. (This
                                  > > happened again recently.)
                                  > >
                                  > > And I know from personal experience too, it is hard.
                                  > >
                                  > > But I wanted to emphasize that organizational politics is not as
                                  > hard
                                  > > as we make it for ourselves (at least sometimes it is not).
                                  > >
                                  > > Here are a few nuggets mined in the field of hard knocks.
                                  > >
                                  > > A few suggestions re ACTION (perhaps you find one useful):
                                  > > * When boxing, do not expect to have the first punch be a knock
                                  > out.
                                  > > Set 'em up for the kill in the 4th round. Lots of combination
                                  > punches.
                                  > > * The truth is hard to resist. (Yes, I know people will deny the
                                  > > truth and will often kill the bearer.) Keep finding ways for the
                                  > > truth to be repeated and dealt with. Scrum throws up the truth.
                                  > > * If a bunch of people go together to a manager's office, it is
                                  > much
                                  > > harder for the manager to resist. (Make sure you have the truth on
                                  > > your side, and that your idea makes sense.) Maybe even harder if
                                  > the
                                  > > manager comes to the Team room.
                                  > > * Justify your impediment removals. Do much better cost-benefit
                                  > > analysis. Do them as small experiments (eg, show the actual results
                                  > > later).
                                  > > * Justifications include: higher NPV for the product, higher
                                  > velocity
                                  > > for the team, faster delivery, etc, etc. Make the link from your
                                  > > improvement back to these key things.
                                  > > * Make the case. Make it so obviously right that the only question
                                  > > is: "How do I know your numbers are right?" Managers only like to
                                  > > approve obviously right things.
                                  > > * Ask to do an experiment. Make sure the test sample is big
                                  > enough to
                                  > > draw conclusions from.
                                  > >
                                  > > Go get 'em.
                                  > > Nothing I said guarantees success. Accept that the other person is
                                  > > free and you can't make him change. Give him some respect.
                                  > >
                                  > > Regards, Joe
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > > Joseph Little
                                  > > Agile coach, MBA, CST
                                  > > Kitty Hawk Consulting, Inc.
                                  > > 704-376-8881 (Charlotte)
                                  > > 917-887-1669 (cell)
                                  > > http://www.kittyhaw kconsulting. com/
                                  > <http://www.kittyhawkconsulting.com/>
                                  > > <http://www.kittyhaw kconsulting. com/
                                  > <http://www.kittyhawkconsulting.com/>> http://leanagiletra
                                  > ining.com/ <http://leanagiletraining.com/>
                                  > > <http://leanagiletra ining.com/
                                  > <http://leanagiletraining.com/>>Blog: "Agile & Business"
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  >
                                  >
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