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Neo4j: Detecting rogue spaces in CSV headers with LOAD CSV

Mark Needham - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 07:16

Last week I was helping someone load the data from a CSV file into Neo4j and we were having trouble filtering out rows which contained a null value in one of the columns.

This is what the data looked like:

load csv with headers from "file:///foo.csv" as row
│row                               │
│{key1: a,  key2: (null),  key3: c}│
│{key1: d,  key2: e,  key3: f}     │

We’d like to filter out any rows which have ‘key2’ as null, so let’s tweak our query to do that:

load csv with headers from "file:///foo.csv" as row
WITH row WHERE NOT row.key2 is null
(no rows)

Hmmm that’s odd, it’s got rid of both rows. We’d expect to see the 2nd row since that doesn’t have a null value.

At this point we might suspect that what we’re seeing on the screen isn’t actually what the data looks like. Let’s write the following query to check our header values:

load csv with headers from "file:///foo.csv" as row
UNWIND keys(row) AS key
RETURN key, SIZE(key)
│key  │SIZE(key)│
│key1 │4        │
│ key2│5        │
│ key3│5        │

The second column tells us that there are some extra characters in the columns for ‘key2’ and ‘key3’ or rather ‘ key2’ and ‘ key3’. In this case they are spaces, but it could easily be another character:

load csv with headers from "file:///foo.csv" as row
UNWIND keys(row) AS key
RETURN key, replace(key, " ", "_SPACE_") AS spaces
│key  │spaces     │
│key1 │key1       │
│ key2│_SPACE_key2│
│ key3│_SPACE_key3│

If we clean up our CSV file and try again everything works as expected:

load csv with headers from "file:///foo.csv" as row
UNWIND keys(row) AS key
RETURN key, SIZE(key)
│key │SIZE(key)│
│key1│4        │
│key2│4        │
│key3│4        │
load csv with headers from "file:///foo.csv" as row
WITH row WHERE NOT row.key2 is null
│row                        │
│{key1: d, key2: e, key3: f}│
Categories: Blogs

Bringing Your Internal Coaching to the Next Level

NetObjectives - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 00:48
Bringing Your Internal Coaching to the Next Level Steve Thomas and Jim Trott talk about internal coaching in Lean-Agile transformations: why coaches are needed, what is involved, the difference between internal and external coaches, who makes good coaches, can manager make good coaches, how to develop internal coaches, coaching as a career, and metrics to use. This topic had a lot of interest...

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Categories: Companies

How Lean Improvement Methods Enable Respect

An org is only as successful as its people, united under one purpose, driven by respect. At LeanKit, we have one purpose: to make work better for everyone.

The post How Lean Improvement Methods Enable Respect appeared first on Blog | LeanKit.

Categories: Companies

Import Microsoft Project Data into JIRA

Scrum Expert - Tue, 10/18/2016 - 15:53
Ricksoft has developed an add-on that allows users to import data from Microsoft Project, a project management tool of Microsoft into Atlassian JIRA. Ricksoft has developed MS Project importer for JIRA in response to requests from many customers who say they want to import data from Microsoft Project, a project management tool developed by Microsoft, into JIRA Server, the bug-tracking and project management tool developed by Atlassian. Data imported from Microsoft Project are displayed on the Gantt-Chart for JIRA produced by Ricksoft. MS Project importer for JIRA will be provided in Atlassian’s marketplace for free of charge.
Categories: Communities

The Myth of Multitasking: Why IT Operations Needs WIP Limits

Kanban seeks to minimize multitasking by employing work-in-process (WIP) limits. Here’s what IT Operations teams can learn about using WIP limits.

The post The Myth of Multitasking: Why IT Operations Needs WIP Limits appeared first on Blog | LeanKit.

Categories: Companies

Measuring DevOps Performance Using a Value-Based Approach

Agile Management Blog - VersionOne - Tue, 10/18/2016 - 14:30

Are you measuring the value, risk, and quality flowing through your DevOps pipelines? Here is a value-based approach to measuring DevOps performance that will help your organization better evaluate the effectiveness of its DevOps initiatives. As organizations become increasingly value-stream … Continue reading →

The post Measuring DevOps Performance Using a Value-Based Approach appeared first on The Agile Management Blog.

Categories: Companies

Sponsor update – October 2016

Agile Ottawa - Tue, 10/18/2016 - 12:23
We are growing our conference from 300 to 500 attendees! Thanks to these organizations for helping make this a reality. Agile Pain Relief as Title Pyxis-technology and Scrum Alliance as Premier MXI technologies as Platinum CIRA, and as Gold … Continue reading →
Categories: Communities

Real-Time Retrospectives & Agile Improvement

Scrum Expert - Mon, 10/17/2016 - 15:09
If the retrospectives are one of the main improvement tools for Agile teams, they can also be the subjects of improvement. In this article, Tom Monico explains how his team has adopted the starfish model to create a better retrospectives process where feedback is produced in real-time and not only at the end of a Scrum sprint. Author: Tom Monico, Many have embraced the retrospective while others, possibly most, have a more casual attitude towards the value of the retrospective. Personally, I was somewhere in the middle until my teammates and I developed a better way to learn from the past. We were performing very well. We routinely met our commitments and the business was happy. We held a retrospective at the end of each sprint going around the room asking each team member to share something that worked or didn’t work well. It was a very uncomfortable process for everyone. Since we were doing so well, we questioned the value of the retrospective and considered having the retrospective every other sprint, maybe even less often. Luckily, our desire to have the retro less frequently was short lived. We realized that even though we were doing well, we still needed to challenge ourselves to improve every sprint. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t grow as a team and we’d eventually become complacent about improvement. We needed something better. We needed a better retrospective. We wanted to make the retrospective as objective as possible so we adopted the starfish model using [...]
Categories: Communities

XP Days Germany, Hamburg, Germany, November 20-22 2016

Scrum Expert - Mon, 10/17/2016 - 08:30
XP Days Germany is a three-day conference focused on Agile software development. With its eXtreme programming background, it contains interesting technical best practices material for Scrum practitioners and Agile software developers. All the talks are in German. In the agenda of the XP Days Germany conference you can find topics like “Welcome to Dockerland: Best Practices for Kickstarters and Tools by Example”, “Lean Principles and the Management of Technical Debt”, “Test Driven DevOps”, “The 10 Golden Rules fur Bad Tests”, “Pair Programming – Developers Friend, Managers Enemy?”, “How Scrum Keeps Managers Happy – But Not Developers”, “Train your brain – Google Style”, “Continuous Database Integration with Flyway”, “Refactoring Legacy Code”, “Introducing Decombination”, “Design Sprints and Paper Prototyping”, “Lean Coffee”, “Test-Driven Layout – Implementation with Galen”, “The Journey towards Software Craftsmanship”, “Continuous Delivery. Lessons (Not) Learned”. Web site: Location for the XP Days Germany conference: Handwerkskammer Hamburg, Holstenwall 12, 20355 Hamburg, Germany
Categories: Communities

Agile Tour Paris, Paris, France, November 17 2016

Scrum Expert - Mon, 10/17/2016 - 08:00
Agile Tour Paris is a one-day conference focused on agile software development and Scrum that takes place in the capital of France. All the presentations and workshops of the Agile Tour Paris conference are in French. In the agenda the Agile Tour Paris conference, you can find presentations and workshops like “Agile Innovation with JTBD”, “The Art of Being Wrong”, “Coaching Agility in a complex world or what’s the difference between “pure” coaches and Agile coaches?”, “Building Trust inside a Team”, “User research game : learn how to validate your hypothesis!”, “Meeting Game”, “Scrum Clinic”, “Negotiating in Agile Projects”, “How to Achieve a Successful Intrapreneurship Experience in a Big Company”, “DevOps Killed Me”, ” LeanUX for Honest Product Owners”, “Agile Leadership”. Web site: Location for the Agile Tour Paris conference: Microsoft France, 41 Quai Président Roosevelt, 92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux, France
Categories: Communities

How we used to Scrum and XP to keep the conference on schedule

Scrum Breakfast - Sun, 10/16/2016 - 10:42
Last week, I attended and facilitated Scrum Day Portugal. This was one of the best conferences I have ever attended: Great talks, new information, great discussions off-line both with participants and speakers! And despite starting 15 minutes late, we finished on time. Everything just flowed! How did we do that?

It didn't start out that way. Scrum Day Portugal is a two day event. I arrived Tuesday afternoon, half way into the first day. The speakers were interesting, the talks were great, but we were running late. It felt like a death march project, even though the conference had barely begun.

My job was to facilitate the second day. We had a really tight schedule! Seven igniter talks followed by 2 Pecha Kuchas and 3 ½ hours of Open Space. I realized that staying on schedule would be both challenging and really important. If people are exhausted at the Open Space, they can employ the law of two feet (leave), and all the air goes out of the event. This would be a disaster. How to fix the problem?

Tuesday night, the speakers went out for dinner together. We talked about the problem. A big challenge was that most participants arrived late on Tuesday, and would probably do so again on Wednesday, so we could not just ignore our customers and start on time. Another challenge was that one speaker needed more time than originally planned. Not knowing how late we would have to start, we couldn't decide how to address the scheduling problem. We agreed to make the decision Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday, I invited all the speakers to a daily scrum, shortly before the opening was scheduled. While I tried to make a plan for the start times of each speaker, Chet Hendrickson started writing cards on the table. He made a card for each speaker, the coffee break and lunch.
Visualizing the program à la XP
At this point, I gave up on my “spreadsheet”! Using Chet's cards and the original schedule, we calculated the duration of each session. We agreed to start 15 minutes late, but keep the original timings. So we calculated the new start times for each speaker. What about the speaker, who needs more time? “I can shorten my talk, no problem!” said Manny Gonzales, CEO of the Scrum Alliance (when was the last time you heard a CEO volunteer to shorten their talk?).

What about transition times? There are no transition times, this is the time each of us starts. “Oh, so I have to shorten my talk a bit.” We all understood the problem and the goal. We had implicitly agreed to do our best to make it happen.

“The key word is responsibility,” explained Chet, “Everyone in the team has an obligation to do the right thing. The cards are a tool he uses in Extreme Programming to visualize system architecture, and thanks to the visualization, everyone knew what they had to do.

How did we stay on time? During the each session, I just needed to know who the next speaker was, when their session was scheduled to start. The speakers asked for a friendly wave at five minutes before the end of their session, so they could remain aware of when the had to finish.

In the worst case, a session ended in 1 whole minute late. Some of the speakers over-compensated (shortened), so by lunchtime, we were back on the original schedule!

So the conference ran smoothly and everybody left the conference with a smile. What does this have to do with Scrum and XP?
  • Someone was responsible for the process, and raised the questions. In Scrum, that person is called the Scrum Master.
  • The team got together to figure out how to achieve the day's goal. In Scrum that's called a Daily Scrum.  We left the meeting with a plan and a common goal.
  • The Scrum Master remained focused on the process, giving friendly reminders when it was helpful. 
  • The time-boxing gave us orientation and helped us deliver a great conference. 
  • Visualizing the problem and giving it to the whole team made solving the problem much easier. (I don't know what Chet calls his board, but it's a great approach.)

Categories: Blogs

The Simple Leader: Define Principles and Values

Evolving Excellence - Sun, 10/16/2016 - 10:04

This is an excerpt from The Simple Leader: Personal and Professional Leadership at the Nexus of Lean and Zen

Clarity of purpose, Clarity of understanding.
– Zen saying

Many organizations jump to trying to write down their vision or mission statement before taking the time to really think about and define their core principles. Principles are the foundation upon which the company is built and (hopefully) operates. They are so important that you should be willing to sacrifice significant business, or even the company itself, to preserve the principle.

In private companies and smaller organizations, the principles often come from the values of the owners or founders. For example, a company I used to work for was owned by a couple of devout Catholics. Because of this, the entire organization knew there were some products that we would not make for any price because they conflicted with Catholic beliefs. The employees fully supported that principle, even though it cost the company business.

I’m very proud that the company I co-founded, Gemba Academy, values ethics, integrity, and respect for people above all else. We know our success is built on the efforts and creativity of our people. We respect our people by having an unlimited vacation policy, being transparent with our business operations, and, for a very small company, having a strong benefits package that includes health care, 401(k), and profit sharing. This respect extends to our customers too. We’ve had situations where customers wanted to purchase a product, but we knew it wasn’t the right fit for them. We openly told them, demonstrating respect for the customers and our values.

Think about your personal principles and values. What do you truly care about? Your principles should be so important that you’d be willing to give up business—such as not taking a job, even if your livelihood depended on it—to not cross them. Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic and currently a professor at Harvard, calls this the True North, or inner compass. Principles are important because they create the perspective, boundaries, and culture for the organization. Without them, there is a good chance that the culture will evolve on its own, based on the values of the stronger- willed employees.

What are the core principles and values of your organization and yourself ?

Categories: Blogs

Are You Getting What You Need From Conferences?

Learn more about transforming people, process and culture with the Real Agility Program

(Originally posted in June 2015 – Updated October 2016)

Photo Credit: BERTEIG’s Valerie Senyk facilitated a group session on “What Do We Mean by Transformation?” in Orlando 2016.

Professional Development opportunities are everywhere and they are easy to find at any price-point on any topic at any location. The hard part is deciding how to spend your time.

It is important to think about why you attend conferences. Most importantly, why do you choose some conferences over others? Do you want to learn from peers in your field? Do you want exposure to the latest industry trends? Are you looking for a new job? Or do you just want to be blown away by great people?

I attended the Agile Coach Camp Canada last weekend in Cornwall, Ontario, and that incredible experience has caused me to reflect on the variety of conferences I have enjoyed in recent years…and why I choose some over others.

Like any great product, successful conferences have clear and focused goals which create specific opportunities for their participants. Conference organizers choose location, venue, date, duration, registration cost, format, theme, etc. The best conference organizers are courageous and willing to make difficult decisions in order to compose their events with utmost respect to the collective vision and goals of the attendees, sponsors, and founders. The organizers of Agile Coach Camp Canada, for example, are dedicated to creating an event in which the agile coaching community can “share in an energizing and supportive environment”. That’s it! A clear and compelling vision. This clarity of vision guides decisions like whether to host the event in a metropolis (which may result in larger numbers and more sponsorship opportunities) or away from large cities (think overnight “camp”) — this is one formative decision of many that make Agile Coach Camp Canada so intense and unique year after year.

Some background: This was the 6th annual Agile Coach Camp Canada and the 2nd time that I have attended; the event generally starts on Friday evening and includes supper followed by lightning talks, Saturday uses Open Space Technology to produce an agenda followed by supper and socializing (late into the night!), then Sunday morning wraps-up with retrospection then everybody leaves in early afternoon; the cost per person is between $300-$500 for the entire weekend including meals, travel, hotel room; the event is often held in small-ish towns like Guelph or Cornwall which are a few hours from a major airport. Having been there twice — both times just blown away by the community, their expertise, their emotional intelligence, their openness — I understand very clearly the responsibility of conference organizers and I have gained new respect for the difficult decisions they must make.

Upon reflection, I know that I attend the Agile Coach Camp Canada because (a) I learn a lot and (b) I have bonded deeply with my colleagues. Those are the two reasons that I will return next year and the next. I do not attend that event with an expectation to develop new business, or attract new leads, or stay on top of industry trends — instead, I will look to other conferences for those opportunities.

What/where/when is your next professional excursion? Do you know what you want to get out of it? Here’s a tip: choose one objective from the list below and find a conference that delivers exactly that!

  • Business development: Find new or reconnect with existing business contacts.
  • Professional development: Find or explore opportunities for career enhancement.
  • Learning: Listen/watch/share with others who practice in your areas of interest.
  • Community building: Connect and communicate with people with interests or qualities that you appreciate.
  • Market exposure: Evangelize a product or service for a captive audience.
  • Other?

Life is short…make it amazing!

Learn more about our Scrum and Agile training sessions on WorldMindware.comPlease share!

The post Are You Getting What You Need From Conferences? appeared first on Agile Advice.

Categories: Blogs

ISO/IEC 27001:2013 and Scrum 5 Ways to Make it Less Painful

Xebia Blog - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 13:48
At some point, you get a nose for things that don’t feel right. Things that sound reasonable when explained, yet you get that gnawing feeling it sort of goes against nature. Working with Scrum and compliance to ISO is one of those things. Here are 5 ways to merge a rigid security standard, without violating
Categories: Companies

Organisational Interstices

Agile Thinks and Things - Oana Juncu - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 11:47
From Catherine Chang BlogEven if reinventing management voices say other way, it is still believed that dividing the work is more valuable than integrating it. management may treasure specialized departments,meventually externalized or centrally mutualized.
Nowadays though,  divide et impera is more and more recognised as a highly unadapted approach for the complex world of business. Agile thinking trend heavily agree with this. Nevertheless, we Agile supporters  may have a hard time to provide a clear explanation why is this so. A metaphor  (oh, thank you, Clean Language!)inspired by Karlene Roberts on HRO organisations  help to build some - hopefully helpful - arguments to describe the negative effect of siloted organisations.  Specialized silos, when they interact, create a "space in-between" that behave like "interstices" or "holes". Like in a raw material or fabric, these interstices are the main source of fragility. Organisational interstices behavior effectsLoss of knowledge when dividing the work by specialisationThe specialized, eventually externalized, organization has very sharp expertise, but ignores the synergy and the integrated knowledge of the whole operational chain.Conflicting interests The high cost of interstices One of the more or less recognised reasons  of creating specialized organisms is cost reduction. Usually the cost of this set-up is considerably higher because of interstices costs. When an interstices between two organizations happens, the need of "transve" communication and coordination rises quickly.  Therefore groups of coordinators, teams in charge of transversal communication and facilitators are created. The cost of the coordination can blow-up ceilings.
Enhanced fragility.  What does creating a transverse management and coordination group mean? More interstices, with all the related dysfunctions.! An infernal loop is created: interstices tend to self-multiply to fix their dysfunctions, therefore creating extra dysfunctions. Breaking the loop and and shift the associated mental model is the next challengeHow to close an interstices  The no punishment policy Inspired by the HRO ( High Reliable Organisatins) model. The practice  of  "immunity" in case of error is phased on the principle that learning and knowledge is acquired when there is no fear to tell all the facts that create the big picture of a post-incident. Silence is no value for learning, improving and avoiding further incidents....And punishment is the mother of silence.
Dear reader, does this seem an idealistic Disney world framework to you tight now? Then let me give you examples of organisations that apply the "non-punishment policies of HRO : flight companies, Air Force, and more and more hospitals and emergency units. So to say, very unexpected references of La-La  Wonderlands.
The non punishment policy leads to high reliability because big accidents can be avoided by open learning from minor incidents (near miss).
Categories: Blogs

Links for 2016-10-14 []

Zachariah Young - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 09:00
Categories: Blogs

Designing a Lean Home

Evolving Excellence - Fri, 10/14/2016 - 18:52

lean-houseI’ve received several comments on The Simple Leader, with some of the most unexpected having to do with the section where I discuss my desire to design and build a home with Lean principles in mind. If I hadn’t studied chemical engineering I probably would have gone to architecture school – it’s been a passion of mine for decades.

For the past several years I’ve been looking for the ideal piece of property to build on, but nothing has been the “right” one.  In the meantime I’ve remodeled every room of our current house, but although we have a nice ocean view and the fixtures and amenities are perfect, it still has issues.  1940s house, many rooms, many halls, many doors.  Barriers to simple, minimalist, meaningful living.  Not to mention lots of maintenance.

Still, I couldn’t resist designing the ideal residence, so I worked with an architect friend of mine on several ideas.   Then, just a week ago, an existing home came on the market all of two blocks from us that has nearly ideal bones, and we’re now in escrow.  Incredible unblocked views of nearly twenty miles of California coastline and our small fishing village of Morro Bay, privacy from nearby homes, and a simple layout that can be changed into what we want.  So the plan has changed from a ground-up build to an extensive remodel of a current home with the right fundamental characteristics.

So what are we doing to convert it into a “lean house” – and what are those characteristics anyway?  Here are a few (my full list is a couple pages long!):

Optimized Floorspace

As I describe in my book, we almost bought a much larger home several years ago near the peak of the housing bubble.  Thankfully it didn’t happen when the bidding went above our price, which helped us think about our true needs – one of which was less space.  This flies in the face of traditional thought where as you improve your financial situation you generally go larger – whether you need it or not.  In our case we began to embrace a minimalist lifestyle, requiring less and less space.  Remember that minimalism doesn’t mean doing without – it means ensuring that everything has true value and getting rid of the rest.

We’ve gotten rid of possessions that add little value, requiring less space.  Our new home is almost 20% smaller than our current home, and that is still more than enough.  Extra space is a waste that then requires additional cost in cleaning and heating, extra time to walk, and creates separation between you and your family.  Though perhaps that’s a benefit to some folks…

Less Storage Space

minimalist bedroomNine years ago I wrote a post on how my desire for less storage space created a conflict with my mother in-law, and eventually some puzzled looks on the faces of real estate agents.  I now believe in this idea more than ever.  Storage space, like extra space in a factory or home, has a tendency to get filled – whether needed or not.  Back in the days when companies regularly moved me from place to place I had several boxes that hadn’t been opened over two or even three moves.  Value?  I ended up simply tossing them, sometimes without even opening.

So as part of the remodel of our new home, we are removing many extra and unnecessary cabinets, especially including a monster entertainment center.  The kitchen, closets, and bathrooms are being remodeled with minimal cabinet space.  Yes, this could affect the resale value since most people believe storage space to have value, but I’m hoping we’re in this home for a long time – perhaps forever.

Remove Barriers to Flow

One of the problems with our current home is that there are several rooms on two levels, plus a detached garage.  We’re on a corner lot, on a hill to boot, so the easiest path from the kitchen to the trash bin is out the front door, around the corner and down the street, and into the garage.  Really.  To get anywhere in the house there are usually two or three doors and a flight of stairs involved.

screen-shot-2016-01-11-at-3-59-31-pmSingle level living simplifies flow right off the bat, and that’s one welcome characteristic of the new house.  One challenge my architect friend and I often worked on was to see how few doors, walls, and corners a house could have.  Bathrooms obviously need privacy, but for other spaces there are ways to create segregation without significantly disrupting flow.  For example, removing line-of-sight but without disruption of walls or the feng shui poison of sharp angles can be accomplished with curved walls.

No, I’m not designing a factory, but I’m using some lessons from when I did help design a large manufacturing facility several years ago.  Spaghetti diagrams help locate processes and functions to minimize walking and transportation.  Our garbage cans will now be just a few steps from the kitchen, with just one (necessary, due to fire regulations) door in the way.

barndoorDoors themselves are interesting.  A traditional swing door creates considerable non-usable space.  Because of this I’ve become a fan of pocket doors, although they can be a nightmare if maintenance is ever necessary.  There’s a recent trend toward the similar barn door concept, which is something we’ll be using in the new house.

Barriers to flow are also barriers to communication – visual and otherwise.

Fewer Horizontal Surfaces

Although I’m not a big TV watcher, I’m a big fan of flat screen TVs.  Perhaps some of you still remember its predecessor, the monster tube TV… with the big flat surface on top.  Inevitably stuff would get stacked on top.  Clothes on the bedroom TV, magazines on the living room set, and so forth.  Flat screen TVs changed all that, hence why I’m a fan.  I’ve never liked the impact that horizontal surfaces can have on clutter when, ahem, everyone in the household isn’t as steeped in the power of 5S as I am.

Because of this I’ve tried to remove as many horizontal surfaces as possible from my ideal home, and will in the remodel as well.  No flat surface in bay windows, only the necessary counter space in the kitchen, and no extra chairs in the bedroom.  If I was the boss even the counters would have an angle on them – flat enough so work could be done, but vertical enough that nothing could be stored on top.  The real boss is probably right, though, that there would soon be sliced fruit and wine on the floor.  But you get the idea.

Smaller Capacity Appliances

We’ve seen many homes that have the largest washers and dryers, multiple ovens in “chef’s kitchens,” and so forth.  Why?  Are they really necessary?  I can see a large lawnmower if you have a large yard, or large washers if you have a large family.  But for two of us?  If we entertain, it’s probably just another couple.  So we need a small washer and dryer, just one oven, and I have come to like the dish drawer concept.

fisher_paykel_dd90Instead of waiting to fill a standard size dishwasher over the course of a week, generally creating some odor in the meantime, a day or two’s worth can be washed almost on demand.  As an aside, I’m personally a fan of washing dishes by hand anyway.  It’s a classic mindfulness exercise, being aware of each dish and each activity to clean the dish, and provides some time for reflection.  I’m sure it’s similar for fans of gardening and other activities.

In our current house I replaced the old huge hot tub with a small wooden soaking tub built for two – max.  I’ve loved it.  From a maintenance standpoint I used a UV unit so I wouldn’t have to worry about the regular chemical treatment nightmare of traditional tubs.

Perhaps some appliances aren’t necessary at all.  Do you really use the bathtub in the master bath?  We don’t, so out it goes so we can have a larger walk-in shower – which is more valuable to us.  We’ll keep the tub/shower combo in the guest bath.

How many of you in factories have taken a similar lean approach, replacing a single large press with multiple smaller (and flexibly redundant) presses, and so forth.  Same concept.  Minimize the monuments.

So there are some concepts for starters.  How much space and support equipment capacity do you really need?  How can you configure that space to remove barriers and waste? Can you reduce waste and clutter by minimizing the opportunities to create it in the first place?  There is value in living simply, but living simply does not necessarily mean removing luxuries if they truly add value.

I’ll now get back to the fun of planning a big remodel.  Besides the kitchen, closets, and bathrooms, we’re replacing all the windows on the ocean side with floor-to-ceiling glass, refinished deck, new garage door, and possibly a new EPDM roof.  Whew!

Categories: Blogs

4A’s Leadership Model – How to Grow Yourself

Agilitrix - Michael Sahota - Fri, 10/14/2016 - 15:57

Want to grow and develop quickly? The 4A’s Leadership Model is a simple and effective process for personal growth. In this post, you will learn how to use it. Stand in the Truth – A Leadership Model Summary One can see “Stand in the Truth” as a summary of the 4A’s leadership model. When we stand […]

The post 4A’s Leadership Model – How to Grow Yourself appeared first on - Michael Sahota.

Categories: Blogs

How we (un)plan the future

TargetProcess - Edge of Chaos Blog - Fri, 10/14/2016 - 10:58

We have made some huge changes in our prioritization and planning process this year. In a nutshell, we have switched to open allocation. Here is the story.

Old way: boards, feature ranking, top-down approach

During the last several years we used to have a Product Board. This was a committee that focused on annual product plans. It consisted of up to a dozen people with various roles from sales to developers. We discussed our product strategy and set high-level goals (like "increase the market share at the enterprise market"). We created a ranking model that we used to prioritize features and create roadmaps:

Features ranking model

It kinda worked, but at some point I understood that somehow we pushed more and more features into Targetprocess, making it even more complex and heavy. Many people inside the company were not happy with this direction and they did not believe in it. Large customers demanded complex features like more flexible teams management, people allocation, an advanced QA area, etc. These are all good features, but we, as a company, somehow lost the feeling of end-user experience. Some simple things like search, navigation, performance, and simplicity were buried under fancy new features. This year, we put an end to that approach.

We want to create a tool that is pleasant to use. A tool that boosts your productivity and is almost invisible. A tool that saves your time. To achieve this goal, we have to go back to the basics. We should fix and polish what we have in Targetprocess already (and we have a lot) and then move forward with care to create new modules and explore new possibilities.

We have disbanded the Product Board, removed feature prioritization, done away with the top-down approach to people/team allocation, and replaced it with a few quite simple rules.

New way: Product Owner, Initiatives, and Sources

The Product Owner sets a very high level strategic theme for the next 1-2 years. Our current theme is very simple to grasp:

Focus on pains and misfits

Basically, we want to do anything that reduces complexity, simplifies basic scenarios like finding information, improves performance and fixes your pains in a product.

It does not mean that we will not add new features. For example, the current email notification mechanism is really outdated, so we are going to replace it and implement in-app notifications. But, most likely, we will not add new major modules into Targetprocess in the near future. Again, we are focusing on existing users and their complaints.


Our people have virtually full freedom to start an Initiative that relates to the strategic theme. An Initiative is a project that has start/end dates, a defined scope and a defined team. It can be as short as 2 weeks with a single person in the team or as large as 3 months with 6-8 people in a team.

There are just three simple rules:

  1. Any person can start an Initiative. The Initiative should be approved by the Product Owner and the Technical Owner (we plan to use this approval mechanism for some time in order to check how the new approach goes). The Initiative should have a deadline defined by the Team.
  2. Any person can join any Initiative.
  3. Any person can leave an Initiative at any time.
Sources and Helpers

A Source is the person who started the Initiative. He or she assembles the team, defines the main problem the Initiatives aims to solve, and is fully responsible for the Initiative's success. The Source can make all final functional decisions, technical decisions, etc. (Remember, Helpers are free to leave the Initiative at any time, so there is a mechanism to control poor leadership).

A Helper is a person who joins an Initiative and is committed to help complete it by the agreed deadline. He or she should focus on the Initiative and make it happen.

The Initiative deadline day is pretty significant. Two things should happen on the deadline day:

  • The Source makes a company-wide demo. They show the results to the whole company and explain what the team has accomplished.
  • The Initiative should be live on production.

As you see, freedom meets responsibility here. People are free to start Initiatives and work on almost anything, but they have to meet their deadlines and deliver the defined scope. This creates significant peer pressure, since you don't want to show bad results during the demo.

This process was started in July. We still have a few teams finalizing old features, but the majority of developers are working in the Initiatives mode now. Here's a screenshot of the Initiatives currently in progress:

Initiatives timeline

The Initiatives in the Backlog are just markers; some of them will not go into development, and there is no priority here. Next is the Initiatives Kanban Board:

Initiatives Kanban Board

You may ask, how do we define what is most important? The answer is: it does not matter. If we have a real pain from customers, and we have a few people that really want to solve this problem — it will be solved. Nobody can dictate a roadmap, nobody can set priorities, even the Product Owner. The Product Owner can start their own Initiatives (if they can get enough Helpers) or decline some Initiatives (if it takes tooooo long or doesn't fit the strategic theme).

As a result, we don't have roadmaps at all. We don't discuss priorities. And we can't provide answers to your questions like "when will you have a better Git integration". We can only make promises about things already started (you can see some of them above). All the people inside our company care about making our customers happy with the product, and now they have been enabled with real power to react faster and help you.

We can also promise that Targetprocess will become easier, faster, and more useful with every new release.

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SpiraTeam is a agile application lifecycle management (ALM) system designed specifically for methodologies such as scrum, XP and Kanban.