Monday, November 18, 2013

Project Manager Role in Agile Development

Agile project management often puts the traditional project manager in a difficult position. He or she is told, for example, to make scope/schedule tradeoff decisions knowing that a product manager or customer might second-guess those decisions if the project goes poorly.

Agile acknowledges this difficult position, and distributes the traditional project manager's responsibilities. What is agile about this new paradigm is that many of these duties, such as task assignment and day-to-day project decisions, revert back to the team, where they rightfully belong.

Responsibility for scope and schedule tradeoff goes to the product owner. Quality management becomes a responsibility shared among the team, a product owner and ScrumMaster. Other traditional tasks are distributed as well among a team’s agile project management roles.

In a very large agile project with 200 to 500 – even 1,000 people, we must introduce more points of coordination and agile project management than small-scale implementation.

To coordinate the work of many teams, larger projects sometimes include the role of a traditional "project manager." While involving someone on the project with this title or background can be very helpful, we need to be careful of the baggage associated with the project manager title.

Even on a very large agile project, the team will still do much of the project management. For example, teams decide how to allocate tasks, not a project manager; so the project manager role becomes more of a project coordinator.

Duties would include allocating and tracking the budget; communicating with outside stakeholders, contractors and others; maintaining the risk census with guidance from the teams, ScrumMasters and product owners; and so on. This is a true agile project management role.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Aik Alif by Bulleh Shah

Parh parh ilm te faazil hoya
Te kaday apnay aap nu parhya ee na
(You read to become all knowledgeable
But you never read yourself)
You read so many books to know it all,
yet fail to ever read your heart at all.
Bhaj bhaj warna ay mandir maseeti
Te kaday mann apnay wich warya ee na
(You run to enter temples and mosques
But you never entered your own heart)
You rush to holy shrines to play a part,
Would you dare enter the shrine of your heart
Larna ay roz shaitaan de naal
Te kadi nafs apnay naal larya ee na
(Everyday you fight Satan
But you never fight your own Ego)
You are quick to attack the evil one,
yet pride is a battle you have not won.
Bulleh Shah asmaani ud-deya pharonda ay
Te jera ghar betha unoon pharya ee na
(Bulleh Shah you try grabbing that which is in the sky
But you never get hold of What sits inside you)
You grab for a star you can control,
yet fail to grasp the light in your soul.
Bas kareen o yaar
(Stop it all my friend)
Let the race end, my friend

Via FAiz

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Power of Intuition

I totally agree with what Steve Jobs had to say about his 7 month stay in India and the profound effect it had on him.

“Coming back to America was, for me, much more of a cultural shock than going to India. The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead, and their intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world. Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.

Western rational thought is not an innate human characteristic; it is learned and is the great achievement of Western civilization. In the villages of India, they never learned it. They learned something else, which is in some ways just as valuable but in other ways is not. That’s the power of intuition and experiential wisdom.

Coming back after seven months in Indian villages, I saw the craziness of the Western world as well as its capacity for rational thought. If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things—that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.”

Excerpt From: Isaacson, Walter. “Steve Jobs.” Simon & Schuster, 2011.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Reality Distortion Field

recently discovered that Dilbert has already taken a gibe on Steve Jobs' "reality distortion field." For the unaware, reality distortion field is a term used to describe Steve Jobs' charisma and his ability to convince himself and others to believe almost anything.

Reality Distortion Field

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How to Use Music for Better Productivity

1. Select a music genre that you don't usually listen to, as music genres you like and listen to for general entertainment use are often distracting when used for focus enhancement. If you generally say love jazz, then try using the Classical or Ambient genres when using the system.

2. Remember to skip any piece of music that you find distracting while you are focusing on a task. This is how you teach the system what works for you.

3. Use quality headphones or external speakers that have a richer bass response. Using the internal speakers in a laptop for instance is too thin a sound and does not provide the full frequency stereo response that works best.

4. Take a break every 100 minutes or so. This can be as simple as getting up, stretching and taking a few deep breaths.

5. Don't share the system over speakers in an office for several people. This is because we have found that effectiveness of music for productivity is highly individual. What works well for one person will not work at all for another. The perfect genre channel that has been specifically "tuned" over time by skipping tracks will work extremely well for that person, but can be equally distracting for anyone else.

Via focus@will

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Project Manager's Worth

Here's a classic joke that points out the real worth of a project manager:
A tourist walked into a pet shop and was looking at the animals on display. While he was there, another customer walked in and said to the shopkeeper, "I'll have a C monkey please." The shopkeeper nodded, went over to a cage at the side of the shop and took out a monkey. He fitted a collar and leash, handed it to the customer, saying, "That'll be $5,000."
The customer paid and walked out with his monkey. Startled, the tourist went over to the shopkeeper and said, "That was a very expensive monkey. Most of them are only a few hundred pounds. Why did it cost so much?" The shopkeeper answered, "Ah, that monkey can program in C - very fast, tight code, no bugs, well worth the money."
The tourist looked at a monkey in another cage. "Hey, that one's even more expensive! $10,000! What does it do?"
"Oh, that one's a C++ monkey; it can manage object-oriented programming, Visual C++, even some Java. All the really useful stuff," said the shopkeeper.
The tourist looked around for a little longer and saw a third monkey in a cage of its own. The price tag around its neck read $50,000. The tourist gasped to the shopkeeper, "That one costs more than all the others put together! What on earth does it do?"
The shopkeeper replied, "Well, I haven't actually seen it do anything, but it says it's a project manager".

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Practical Intelligence

The intelligence that we often talk about, or General Intelligence, is apparently not sufficient for you to get ahead in this world. You also need other types of intelligences, one of which is Practical Intelligence, to be really successful. Psychologist Robert J. Sternberg proposes three intelligences in human cognition:
  • Analytical intelligence is the ability to analyze and evaluate ideas, solve problems and make decisions.
  • Creative intelligence involves going beyond what is given to generate novel and interesting ideas.
  • Practical intelligence is the ability that individuals use to find the best fit between themselves and the demands of the environment.
All of these intelligences together comprise what Sternberg calls Successful Intelligence and this is what will put you ahead of the rest of the world. I see Practical Intelligence as very important as this is what enables you to use your other intelligences to get the best advantage. Malcolm Gladwell also talks about practical intelligence in his famous book, Outliers. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to find an answer to the perennial question, "what makes high-achievers different?"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

WorkFlowy - Everything can be a list!

I have experimented with hundreds of note-taking and list-making apps on the web and on my iPhone but never stayed with any one for long. Simplenote was probably the best for simple text based notes and Evernote was the most versatile. But nothing was perfect and all of them lacked one feature or the other. 
Things may change though with the introduction of a new app called WorkFlowy. WorkFlowy is a simple note-taking app that makes lists based on bullets and sub-bullets. All your text in WorkFlowy is contained within one giant list that can have multiple nested sub-lists. This may seem counterproductive but real power of WorkFlowy lies in its simplicity.
Check this article on for more praise and details.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Don't Be Afraid to Change Your Own Ideas

Here is a great piece of advice from Jeff Bezos:

"People who were right a lot of the time were people who often changed their minds. Consistency of thought is not always a positive trait. It's perfectly healthy to have an idea tomorrow that contradicted your idea today.

The smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they'd already solved. They're open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't have a well formed point of view, but it means you should consider your point of view as temporary."