Shit I say…and why
If I was to do a series of stickers (why stickers?) I think this is what they would say (and why)→
01. Minimal viable bureaucracy — I’m not one of those JFDI people. I believe that is the fastest way to get something done that will not stick. If we are in this to make real change then that isn’t good enough. I am someone though who both gets frustrated with bureaucracy while understanding the worth of good governance. The magic is finding the sweet spot — and it is different in different places — but you have to try and find the right balance.
02. This is a team sport / One team at a time — this is my version of ‘the team is the unit of delivery’ which I love the sentiment of but never really liked the actual words! For me it is all about the team(s) and this is where I am happiest. Building teams, leading teams, protecting teams and helping teams. The whole servant/leader thing is all well and good but try doing it without a great team. I also increasingly believe in the idea you can make real change just by getting one team right — right culture, right ways of working, doing the right thing. This can be viral — it infects organisations and breeds other teams.
03. agile not Agile — 10 years after my initial Scrum training my feelings about these ‘ways of working’ become increasingly anti-framework and uncomfortable with what I see as dogma that detracts from the real heart of agile working and the benefits it brings. Use what works. It isn’t AA — you don’t have to follow the steps religiously.
04. Think fast and try things — my version of ‘Move fast and break things’ — something I think does more harm than good. But I do completely believe in that IDEO saying → “If a picture is worth 1000 words, a prototype is worth 1000 meetings” and ideas are 10 a penny so you need to test your hypothesis early and often (with real users of course.)
05. Small teams, loosely joined — I’ve written plenty on this elsewhere but basically it comes down to my distrust of trying to ‘scale’ agile in some kind of controlled, formal way. It is related to the ‘minimal viable bureaucracy’ and ‘one team at a time’ ideas — empower teams and do just enough to ensure there enough pathways between them to keep those collective neurones firing!
06. Hacking hiring — this is something else I have blogged and spoken a lot about. I think improving the way we hire people (and retain people) is probably the most urgent thing facing this whole digital thing. There aren’t enough good people to go around so we have to do (much) better at attracting and keeping them. This isn’t the same old same old and it isn’t bullshit about millennial ‘snowflakes’ — we need to embrace new approaches and do the basics brilliantly.
07. Product is propaganda — so much of what I do is about getting the story right, making sure people understand what teams are actually doing and why. Changing peoples perceptions and bringing them along on the journey. Giles calls it all ‘agile comms’ — I call it product propaganda.
08. Be the shit umbrella — this doesn’t mean hide things from the team or don’t discuss things with the team…it just means keep as much of the petty political distractions away from them as possible and maintain a high signal to noise ratio.
09. Never assume incompetence where bureaucracy is a factor — my version of ‘Hanlon’s razor’. Empathy is vital in the world I work in and until you understand the circumstances that led to a decision keep your opinions to yourself.
10. Work in public service. Work in public — actually I’m just trying this one out as a variation on my usual ‘working open’ spiel — if you are reading this you know my views on that! I’m just playing with an idea of making it much more directly related to the ‘public service internet’ ideas.