You are a leader. Yes, you!

A couple of years ago I was attending the course “Secrets of Agile Teamwork – Beyond Technical Skills” by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen. It was a brilliant course, and so far, I have had more use of it than any other course I have attended or book I have read. In the special Esther-and-Diana-style (you must try it if you get the chance), we learned about communication, conflict, feedback, change and leadership. We also learned a lot about ourselves from reflecting over how we behaved in different situations. Highly recommended!

One section in the course was “Team Leadership Activities” and that would prove a real eye-opener to me. It is a great tool to view a team through, to understand what makes a team move forward towards their goal and how you can contribute.

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Are you proud of what you do? Do you let others be?

Sometimes I get very proud of what I accomplish, at work or otherwise. This is a very rewarding feeling that last for years when looking back.

So I asked myself when am I proud of what I’ve done? What are the circumstances?

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“Manual processes are risks”

The other day I heard a person on my project say “Manual processes are risks”. Generally, if you do something that has a risk, you want to have a chance to gain something from taking the risk.

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Energized work

One of the members on my team is having his son acclimatizing at daycare, and he was amazed with how the kids were playing around together, climbing and crawling, and how they we’re constantly experiencing, thinking and learning. He said “They seem to have so much fun and learn so much, why don’t we do that as adults?”.

Yeah, why don’t we?

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Agile is relative and dynamic

Some people say things like “I wonder what will be the next hype after Agile?”.

I my opinion this illustrates a misconception about agile, that agile is static and absolute. This is simply not the case.

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Bug-, feature- and technical debt

I our project we’ve been fixing a lot of old bugs lately, and one would think that some of our debt should decrease.

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How much is a team-minute?

As opposed to the light-year, which is a very long distance, there is also the notion of the beard-second, which is a very short distance. As the name implies, it is how long a straw of beard grows in one second. When you calculate the length of the beard-second (5 nm) it is amazing that anybody has beard (or hair) at all! Still, you see it every day. How is that possible!?

The not so surprising answer is: It accumulates over time.

When in a software project (or any project for that matter) the team always spend time on doing the same tasks over and over again, every day. I have always felt that it is good to cut down on build times, having fast computers etc, but I never calculated the gain from it.

The other day I asked myself “how much would we gain if everyone on the team gained one minute per day?”

There are approximately 200 working days in a year, and on my team we are approximately 10 people. If we gain one minute each per day, that is

200*10*1/60=33h20min (for one person)

Wow! That means that I can spend 33h on making a one team-minute improvement, and it will pay back in about a year!

If we gain half an hour that is

200*10*1/2 = 1000h

Whew!

Then I started to measure in money. If the approximate hourly cost for one person is €100, every team-minute costs €3300. That is a lot of money. For a minute! Half a team-hour a day costs €100.000 per year.

If the machine park is aged, or the network is slow, add up all your team-minutes and present them with hard numbers to your boss. I’m not saying he or she will listen, but it will be much harder to reject such a proposition!

The plan could backfire and your coffee- and lunch breaks be revoked, but it might be worth the risk! 😉

Good luck!