Orchestrator vs. Leader

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I came across a leadership podcast a few weeks back wherein there was a description of leadership that seems to fit the type of leadership that a ScrumMaster or agile advcocate needs to exude. I lost my notes on which podcast it is for the necessary attribution but the notes that stuck with me contains the following (paraphrased) content:

During a performance show, an orchestrator (conductor) is somebody whom everybody in the group looks up to, following every flick of the wrist for the correct entry into the symphony. The choreographer on the other hand only teaches the vision of the dance, corrects any mistakes during the practice sessions, and then sits back in the audience to see the dance troupe interpret the visions, sometimes in ways that even exceeds what was practiced.

conductor-baton

Image courtesy of freerangestock.com

The choreographer aspect seems to fit what the agile advocate needs to do. This follows the mandate that in an agile team the scrum master is a servant-leader, a person who influences without any direct mandate. For those who finds that hard to comprehend, it is the same type of authority that friends form over their experiences, wherein a select few of the pack is looked upon for inputs on what to do next. That only comes with trust that the “choreographer” knows what they are saying and that they will not lead the pack into ruin.

The only resistance is the inherent inertia that most of the corporate organizations still pine for the command-and-control structure which gives the “feel good feeling” that everything can be boxed into a specific plan. This makes organizations make more open to the idea of putting seasoned managers as conductors of delivery in order to control every aspect and cadence of the team. They are not entirely wrong but the unpredictability of the human mind and real life means they are also not entirely right.

The conductor can still be a person of trust but normally the conductor’s authority is proportional to their perceived reputation. The reputation is a double edged sword as that can be the initial hump that the team needs to overcome to start being comfortable with having the “conductor” as part of the team.

Catch-22

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Classic policies that results to a head scratching moment.

  • Your network connection suddenly drops because the authentication software invalidate your session and prompting you for your credentials.
  • You enter you credentials but is unable to get a connection because your anti-virus software definition is not updated.
  • You cannot update the definition because you dont have a connection.

Bonus points: the AV definition should have been automatically updating but for some reason it stopped doing that.

Bravo.

Dearly Departed

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Kahit may kurot, may pait na di ko mawari
Aalis ako na mayroong mga aral na maiiwanan
Mga kaalamang naibahagi, mga karanasan na pinagsamahan.

Lilisan akong may pagmamayabang
Dahil ang pangkat na sinimulan ay di na pwedeng daan-daanan.

Matatag na sila, kaya ng tumayo
Kaya ng mag-isip, kaya ng gumawa ng sariling desisyon.
Di na mga bata na animoy laging nakanganga
Naghihintay ng utos mula sa kanilang mga ate at kuya.

Alam ko na malayo pa para maging perpekto
Madadapa ulit, minsan dahil sa mismong kagagawan mo
Ngunit alam ko na di kayo papasupil, hindi susuko
Babangon sa pagkakalugmok na may napulot na bagong talino.

Tatlong buwan ipapamalagi na naging limang taon.
Di ko inakala o inasaahan ang bilis ng panahon.
Dinatnan, iniwan, naghubog at nagpakawala.
Parang inang lawin sa kanyang mga inakay na alaga.

Pero hindi, di yata bagay na ako ay ihambing
Sa isang nilalang na mapagkalinga at malambing
Mas maganda siguro na ikumpara sa isang sarhento
Hinahanda ang mga kadete sa mga hamon ng trabaho.
Sa tagisan ng talino, tibay ng loob at galing.
Ngunit may nakabiting patlang na hindi pwedeng salingin.

Lilisan na ako dahil ito na ang tamang oras.
Bibitbitin ang aking mga gamit at sarili.
Panahon na para magsimula ulit maghanap ng mga bagong kasapi
Uulitin ang pagbuo ng isang grupong katangi-tangi.

Aalis na ako, pero hindi ako mamamaalam.
Dahill maliit lang ang mundong ating ginagalawan.
Nais ko na sa muling pagkurus ng ating mga daan.
Kwentuhan mo ako ng iyong mga natatanging karanasan.
Ipabatid mo sa akin na wala kang oras na sinayang
Gusto kong mamangha sa mga problemang nilampasan
Mga bagong kakayahan… O luma man pero iyong hininang….
Mga hindi pinalampas na oportunidad at pagkakataon
Na sana kung iisipin, dahil ako ay yumao.

Salamat UPEM.

“Once UPEM, always UPEM”
– Pansol battlecry

Definition of Done

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I came across this simple definition of done in my inbox:

A good working definition of “Done”: Someone’s need was met.
– Mike Burrows (@asplake) , January 29, 2016

Someone in this context should be taken as everyone that has a stake on the feature/user story:

  • The Product Owner’s Acceptance criteria are met.
  • The Business need will be fulfilled by the developed feature.
  • The Quality Champion’s criteria for well tested feature are met.
  • The (future) Maintenance team would be able to handle any required fixes or maintenance on this code without any difficulties.
  • The Build Integrator will not find any issues with the generated package.
  • (insert your other stakeholder group here together with their concern)

The definition of done (DoD) need not be a list. What is needed is for the team members to understand that Done means the feature is useful for everyone who is interested in it, may it be directly or indirectly. If that is not possible then the team needs to make sure they arrive to that point as part of the Inspect & Adapt mandate of agile methodologies.

Truthiness

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Holding a ball in one hand in front of you illustrates the common fact that two or more sides of the truth can exist without negating other truths. This boils down to perception; and managing the perception of the other viewers.

My co-lead in the project was getting some reputation flak for his leadership style. When we talked about it he raised a good question: “I used the same tone and method you used a few days ago when you addressed the team. What makes my delivery different (and unacceptable)?”

It was good question because I agree that our leadership styles have a lot of similarities. How come one can get away with using that style while other people have a negative reaction? Is it the context/personality of the person using the style and the preconceived notion of the audience about the person that makes a difference? This makes me think of the social experiment wherein random people were made to taste cakes. In one experiment there was a tag price in front of the cake where the slice came from and one is expensive while the other is affordable. In one variation there are no price tags but one of the cakes were placed in a plain platter while one was in an ornately gilded tray. A lot of the people said they preferred the more expensive cake (or the one in the more expensive looking tray) better stating that it is finer and has a more chocolaty taste. The catch is that all cakes used in the social experiment were IDENTICAL.

Presentation and context may be the critical piece.

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