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Archivos de Autor: Antonio Martel

Listen and note everything down

Throughout my career I have had some successful projects and products (along others that were a mess, I hope I learnt enough from them). When I took stock of what was wrong or working OK, what most people valued was:

  1. I don’t forget anything. I “remember” what everyone said or asked for.
  2. I am able to reach agreements even with the most “stubborn” people.

I am afraid I don’t have an astonishing recalling ability. It is rather a plain simple trick. I just note everything down, then I read it again the next day, move it to my online notes, date it and set frequent reminders in my calendar: Did we get the new password? Did we send the long-pledged information? If someone asks me about anything, I just look into my notes. If that was ever mentioned to me, it should be in my notes, my calendar, Confluence pages or whatever tool I am using at that time.

Although taking into account the considerations from “difficult” people also provided me with great satisfaction. Most are not obstinate or bull-headed, they are just having issues with their request, budget or even their boss. They are worried and want to know you understand them, you are going to do what is in your hand to ease their problems. If you need to get something out from that meeting, do you have something to give in return to the other side of the table?

People just don’t recall if I am using Scrum, a User Story Mapping technique or sending a report with the information on the cycle time or Jira Control chart. They just want to feel heard and know I am not going to forget the preparations for a deadline or fail to solve a dependency for another team. Just listen and note everything down.

Learn Lean, learn Agile

As per James Clear, in Atomic Habits, referring an article published in the New Yorker:

“Japanese firms emphasized what came to be known as ‘lean production’, relentlessly looking to remove waste of all kinds from the production process, down to redesigning workspaces, so workers didn’t have to waste time twisting and turning to reach their tools. The result was that Japanese factories were more efficient and Japanese products were more liable than American ones. In 1974, service calls for American-made color televisions were five times as common as for Japanese televisions. By 1979, it took American workers three times as long to assemble their sets.”

Americans had to learn Lean in order to compete. Shouldn’t we learn Lean?

Negotiation skills

Owning a product, leading a team, hiring a professional, designing an architecture with colleagues, and almost everything in life is a negotiation. Serial trade-offs, intercessions, conciliations or dialogues.

A great way of learning how to negotiate is through the George Siedel course in Coursera: Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills. Have a look and try it out. I learnt a lot!

Is Scrum dead?

You can see everywhere that more and more companies are not including a Scrum Master in their teams. Others renamed the Product Owner role as Product Managers or Product Marketing Managers, and these don’t play the same rules as the PO. Many are even dropping Scrum and moving to a plain Kanban.

Software industry got fed up with Agile Coaches, stiff ceremonies, games and multitude of meetings. I don’t blame them for doing so. I personally reckon you’ll do it OK if you pick the best of each framework and remove any practice that is not working for you or it is not as productive as it should be (Law of Diminishing Returns).

Keep stuck with the basics: deliver software frequently, welcome changes, work close to Business people, and more important than anything, keep it neat and simple. You’ll be OK.

The false sense of security that documents, minutes and signatures give us

We tend to believe that creating comprehensive Gantt diagrams, precise roadmap documents, and making the customer sign the meeting minutes will make us and our projects more trustworthy.
We need to plan, and try to foresee what is coming, but you can only be sure of a few things: estimations are going to be wrong, customers are going to change their minds, and you’ll need to adjust the Gantt.
Suggest, propose, execute, test and iterate again. As Naval Ravikant says, do 10,000 iterations not 10,000 hours.

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