Agile nirvana – An iterative and incremental list

Everybody wants true peace (nirvana) and very few achieves it. In I.T, majority wants to go for agile, and they take a plunge, but very few reaps the real benefits of agile. They are quite satisfied with the benefits the ceremonies like daily stand ups, planning meeting etc, without really dwelling into the benefits of culturally challenging stuff like work volunteering, true retrospectives, velocity calculations, agile principles etc..If one can get up early, walk up to the place of worship, being part of the prayer group also provides a sense of well being, and many get satisfied with the tip of this iceberg of benefits. Following agile very often resembles being part of an elite group physically, without any mind share. Very often the ‘association’ tag alone helps to elevate the social status of the individual, even when they are not part of it in the true sense. Here are some of the reasons why people follow or want to follow agile …

1) Some plunge into it, because they are so fed up with the current state. They want to improve the way they do work, and the resulting product.

2) Some follow it, because the customer is insisting for it (contractual obligation).

3) Some follow it because anything is fine with them.

4) Some follow it because they want to learn it, and get ready for the next job.

5) Some others follow it, because they want to add the word Ágile’ to their resume.

6) Some follow it, to learn it.

7) Some follow it to use their learning.

8) Some follow it to prove that agile is a failure, and will not work for their team / organization.

9) Some follow it to discipline their bosses (chickens).

10) Some follow it to make the product owner  more accountable for the requirements.

11) Some use it to focus their guns on the opposition (organizational politics)

12) Some follow it because they want to get trained on agile, at the company’s expense.

13) Some follow it, because they do not know any sort of project management, and they want to start with agile.

14) Some follow it because it is someone’s KRA (Key responsibility area)

15) Some follow it, because of peer pressure.

16) Some follow it to become a scrum master

17) Some follow it to prove their capability, beyond their job title

18) Some follow it to become a PMI-ACP

19) Some follow it to understand it, so that they can audit a project better (violation)

20) Some follow it, hoping that it will resolve all their organizational problems

21) Some follow it, because they want to build great products

22) Some follow it because they want to improve their work culture

23) Some follow it to build an organizational culture

24) Some follow it, to reduce cost

25) Some use it to improve productivity

26) Some use it to escape from unpaid overtime (agile talks about 8 hour working days)

27) Some use it to please the management

28) Some use it to improve themselves as a professional

29) Some use it, because they see it very close to the natural way of doing things

30) Some use it, to master it, to become consultants and trainers

31) Some use it, because they already bought an overpriced certification, and want to use it somewhere

32) Some use it, to tell their customers that they are agile

33) Some follow to get everyone in office at sharp 9, they even have evening standups to ensure people leave not before 9

34) Some follow because they have been told to follow, just one more status report (not a replacement), since the people who told them to follow like things the way it is, they have just been told to follow themselves.

35) Some follow, but are still too immature to manage people. Its more a process/job to them then the “culture” agile demands.

36) Some follow a lot, and fall on their face, because they cant say no to their bosses.

Incomplete….feel free to add….

Anyway everyone is using it…..

The books I purchased and practised – Seven habits

7habitsThe seven habits of highly effective people’  by Stephen Covey is one book I purchased several times during the last 20 years and read several times, and benefited a lot by practicing the concepts. One of the exercises in the book under ‘Begin with the end in mind’ habit was to write down a personal mission statement, and I did one. The gist of it was to get into a job which will help me to travel a lot, meet lot of people, see new places…I wrote them in a writing pad, and as usual I lost track of it. After another ten years this writing pad surfaced again, and to my surprise I had accomplished everything that was written there as my personal mission. It sounds good. According to the book ‘The power of the sub-conscious mind’, which I just completed reading last week,  when I wrote my personal mission statement on a sheet of paper, it might got registered in my sub-conscious mind, and slowly the vision became a reality, because the subconscious mind, and in turn, the conscious mind started working toward it. Then the hunt for the next set of ‘vision starts’, and the cycle repeats.

“What is your personal mission statement?”. Yes, I am asking a difficult question. This year, I started by asking several people about their ‘definition of success of life’ and the majority did not know about it, yet they were chasing it. Here is a great opportunity. Take a sheet of paper, and write down your personal mission statement. Once the mission is clear, then we will be able to clarify our ‘to do list’ and ‘not to do list’. The ‘not to do list’ is as important as the ‘to do list’, because the ‘not to do list’ releases time for the ‘to do list’. Stephen covey explains the time quadrants of;

  • Urgent and not important
  • Urgent and important
  • Not urgent and not important  (eliminate)
  • Not urgent and important (give priority) 

‘Not urgent –  important’ activities are the ones which will give maximum benefits in the long run. One must eliminate the ‘not urgent – not important’ stuff, and make time for the ‘not urgent and important’. My post graduate degree happened like that. Some of my certifications which gave me maximum dividends in the longer run happened like that. Once we have our personal mission statement defined, then prioritization of our activities become easier. After all, it is just one life, that comprises of just 36,500 days, if we live for 100 years. Time is constant, and we must prioritize.

Once we know what is our true mission, then…

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist



Open your eyes before you open your mouth

Before the camera – 10 points to professionalize your corporate video presentations

Whatever is repeated is a potential candidate for automation. Repeated or to-be repeated corporate presentations, learning / training programs are no exception. While adding professionalism to our otherwise amateurish video presentations can be exciting, there are many hurdles one has to cross, which are successfully overcome by everyone else,  who have traversed the same path before. Speaking to the camera is a different ballgame when compared to talking to live audience. The time has come for professional managers to develop great video presentation skills. Here are the lessons I learnt from my journey and by observing others behind and before the camera within the corporate world.

  1. Everything needs planning to get perfect results. Professional video making is no exception.
  2. Practice is the key. Do not expect perfection without practice.
  3. No one in this world captures perfect video presentations without retake.This awareness will help you to remain cool and confident in the middle of multiple retakes.
  4. Script / story boards are essential. That is a perfect confidence booster. Will help to avoid repetition.
  5. Good and comfortable dressing and makeup are essential.
  6. Body language is important. Do it during the time of the day when you are most energetic.
  7. Do it incrementally than attempting long single take. If possible do it sentence by sentence. While this increases editing work, this reduces stress on the presenter. Patience and energy to do several takes is important. Do not try to finish it off quickly. Take breaks when required.
  8. Setting the right environment is important. Everyone must set their mobiles to silent mode. There is nothing more frustrating than a ringing mobile during a video recording. Prevent others from moving behind the scenes, unless it is planned so. Do not compromise on perfect lighting and audio as it enhances the viewing experience.
  9. Begin with the end in mind. At the end, you are going to get great product / output. Treat your video shoot as a project. Manage all potential risks pro-actively.
  10. Observing professional corporate video shoots with an intent to learn and improve and then implementing the lessons learnt is the smartest way to master this art. In fact, the points in this blog post are my notes to self which I scribbled down on my mobile phone while observing how professionals perform a professional corporate video shoot at WRENCH.

Why traditional project success criteria are still relevant today?

During one of my training programs, a project manager said ‘I am not getting acceptance for my project. What should I do get the acceptance?’. That was a difficult question to answer, considering the fact that I did not know much about his project. Still I wanted to give it a try, and I asked more questions about the probable causes that are acting in favor of project acceptance and the ones acting against project acceptance, just to understand the context better, before trying to help him out, if possible.
The key factors favoring his project’s acceptance

  • The project leadership team, especially the CEO is committed to the project
  • The product quality is excellent.
  • Capability of the team is good.

The key factors opposing his project’s acceptance

  • Organizational politics
  • Fear of loss of job
  • Trade union involvement …

Luckily I asked him about the ‘acceptance criteria’ of the project, which he, his team and all the key stakeholders were trying to achieve, and unfortunately it was not available. Further research reveals that, this is a major problem in many projects. The perception of success varies from project to project, and from stakeholder to stakeholder. There is no agreed upon success criteria for most of the projects, and it is a global project management problem or opportunity!.

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Courtesy :

Forget Nostradamus – Here’s Tony O’Dowd’s IT Predictions for 2019

A quick update on the emerging trends.

Quality of education

I found this discussion on quality of education at XIME very useful, hence sharing it.

Developing (Cultural) Empathy | mathias sager – School & Advisory