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Fear, A Major Speed Bump on the Road to Quality

by Angela 3. February 2017 22:26

I warned you that I’d be blogging about the “messiness” of ALM and DevOps consulting. And this is a long one so grab a cup of coffee, tea, or cocktail of your choice (whatever I won’t judge). It’s actually based on something I wrote for the QAI Quest Magazine. If you haven’t checked out the CQAA (Chicago Quality Assurance Association) community or their upcoming QUEST conference in Chicago this April, I highly recommend it!

Anyway, here is the article:

A large part of my job as a scrum master and agile coach is focusing on quality. Quality of process, quality of teams, and quality of software. While all of these can be challenging to improve, one of the hardest to tackle is quality of the team. I’m not talking about individual’s skillsets, although that is important. I’m talking about the ability of the team to work together as a WHOLE. In my experience, teams that cannot accomplish this cannot produce a quality product. Missed requirements, sloppy handoffs, miscommunication of what is “done”, and a host of other issues arise when the team just can’t seem to come together in a truly open and collaborative environment. Causes for this failure are complex and will vary from team to team. But one that I run into time and time again is fear. Yes, fear!

I’m not a psychologist and I don’t purport to know all the answers, but I can speak from experience - both in terms of myself and what I see in others. I have seen fear manifest itself in the following situations:

· Underestimating feature delivery times to hide a lack of confidence, often leading to painful sprint reviews when committed features aren’t delivered on time, or not at all.

· Code being integrated too soon to avoid being late, resulting in bugs “leaking” into production.

· Misunderstood requirements being implemented without question, and promptly being rejected by QA or a frustrated product owner.

· Resentment when team members feel someone is not pulling their weight, when in reality that person is silently struggling.

· Failure by team members to ask for clarification because everyone else surely must “get it”.

The fear of being seen as not good enough or smart enough by our peers is real and pervasive in IT. Ironically, the end result of hiding our struggles is often working extra hours and even cutting corners to make the unrealistic deadlines that we set for ourselves. This inevitably leads to doing the very thing we are fearful of … letting people down.

Tying this back to quality:

· Imagine if the team was afraid to admit that a requirement was vague, that it would be extremely complex to develop, or almost impossible to adequately test.

· Imagine if they assumed they’d figure it out as they go and plowed ahead.

· Imagine if someone on the team rushed to complete a feature and skimped on testing to prevent blowing their estimates because of fear of retribution for being wrong.

You probably don’t have to imagine it. It’s likely happening on your team right now but no one is talking about it! So, what can you do once you’ve realized that fear is holding you or your team back? What I have learned on my own journey is that it’s not enough to recognize when I am acting from a place of fear; I also have to recognize it in others. And much like quality, it is EVERYONE’S responsibility to create a collaborative and supportive environment.

As a Scrum Master, here are some of the things that I ask myself in order to help address fear on my teams.

· Is someone new to the team, or to their role, and clearly feeling overwhelmed or struggling to fit in?

· Is someone is hesitating to speak up when they clearly have a strong opinion or idea?

· Are people afraid of being judged harshly or told their idea is “crazy” or “dumb” in a team setting?

 

Now, that’s a lot of stuff to keep an eye on. (Hey…no one ever said that being the Scrum Master was an easy job.) So, let’s say that you notice something. What do you do about it? How do you head-off fear and/or actually do something about it?

Well, if someone on the team shares a concern or asks for help, be sure to thank them for bringing it up and offer them support, or try to connect them with someone who can. If people are hesitant to speak up in a large group setting, approach them after the meeting, and discuss it in a more casual environment. If they need some encouragement or support, find a way to share their ideas with the team in a less intimidating way. Find ways to bring new team members on-board and make them feel connected quickly. Make sure no one is discouraging open and honest conversation by dominating conversations or by openly criticizing ideas or opinions, even jokingly. Joking, while good natured, can be misconstrued as criticism, and simply telling a teammate that they “just can’t take a joke” is a great way to alienate them and ensure their participation in future activities is limited. Besides, some of the biggest discoveries in history started with an original premise that was totally out there!

I’ve given talks on fear at a number of conferences, and every time people have approached me afterwards saying “I feel that way too. It’s so good to know I am not alone!” Research shows that around 70% of people struggle with these kinds of fears, and based on my experience, it is higher in IT! That means that in any given meeting you attend, MOST of the people in the room are afraid to share their thoughts for fear of negative consequences. Imagine all of the great ideas being squandered and land mines we are failing to avoid.

Hopefully you’re already thinking of ways to improve the quality of your team, and ultimately of the products you are delivering. Strive to be more vigilant, more supportive, more honest, and you will be well on your way to creating a high-quality and high-performing team!

 

If you’re attending quest, I also have a few sessions there that you may want to check out if this article spoke to you.

Getting Your Agile Team Unstuck! Tips and Tricks for Avoiding Common Agile Setbacks: http://qaiquest.org/2017/sessions/half-day-tutorial-getting-your-agile-team-unstuck-tips-and-tricks-for-avoiding-common-agile-setbacks/

Fear and (Self) Loathing in IT: A Healthy Discussion on Imposter Syndrome: http://qaiquest.org/2017/sessions/fear-and-self-loathing-in-it-a-healthy-discussion-on-imposter-syndrome/ 

And if you’re not attending Quest feel free to send me a message via this blog or on Twitter!

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Will I see you at St Louis Days of .NET this year?

by Angela 9. November 2015 14:19

St Louis Days of.NET is definitely a favorite of mine. This will be my third year both attending and speaking at the conference, Polaris Solutions is also sponsoring the conference again! Everyone involved is so passionate about the community and great to work with, I’m excited that my company can be a part of it. And for the money, it’s hard to beat these speakers and sessions! Speaking of, I hope you have your ticket because they are SOLD OUT!

Be sure to stop by the Polaris Solutions booth and chat with one of us about ALM, TFS, agile/scrum, and any number of other topics. You can also keep up with all of the STLDODN news and announcements on their website,on Facebook, and of course Twitter. Many of us at Polaris will also be speaking at the event, and posting regular updates on twitter as well. Hope to see you there and on Twitter! Smile

My Sessions:

Friday, 8am in Discovery C

I know it’s early but I’m super energetic so I’ll do my best to kick off the conference in an awesome way for you!

How TFS 2015 is Going to Rock Your Agile world!

If you’ve been using Team Foundation Server for a while, you know it can do everything short of making you a latte as you walk into your morning scrum. TFS has come a long way in the last 10 years, and with the release of TFS 2015 and all of the features being released to VSO at break-neck speed, it’s hard to know why you should consider upgrading or even adopting in the first place. With the release of TFS 2015, Microsoft has laid down some SERIOUS awesomeness with a reboot of Team Build, a ton of new agile based team planning features that will melt even the saltiest scrum master’s heart, and easy integration into collaboration tools like Slack, Hipchat, and Trello with service hooks. And lastly, there are some cool new testing capabilities, some which are open to people with no licensing, yeah, FREE STUFF. Join me for a tour of the best of TFS 2015, IMHO anyway.

 

Saturday, 12:30pm in Discovery D

Yikes, right after lunch! Again, I think my energy will come in handy, have to keep everyone awake, ha!

Deconstructing the Scaled Agile Framework

With so many process frameworks and methodologies out there, it’s hard to know where to begin. And just when everyone seems to be warming up to agile, here comes SCALED agile. But how is SAFe really different than agile? When is it appropriate? Does using the SAFe framework prevent a company from having scrum teams? How big or complex do you need to be for SAFe to make sense? Isn’t SAFe just a glorified version of waterfall that companies adopt when they can’t handle “real” agile? I found myself overwhelmed with choices, and confused by all of the conflicting articles out there on what SAFe was, and how and when to consider using it. I decided the best solution was to go through the training and spend some time practicing it in the field. Since becoming an SPC, I have coached a number of clients on improving their processes leveraging techniques from SAFe. In this session I plan to walk through the tenets of SAFe and help you to understand how SAFe can benefit your team!

 

Find the full detail with speakers and rooms here.

 

Follow us, we’re nice,and we’re on twitter!

Polaris twitter account: https://twitter.com/teampolaris

Angela’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/OakParkGirl

Alejandro’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/alejandrormz

Josh’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/jcgillespie

Chris’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/cbkadel

Clint’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/ClintEd

 

 

All Polaris Sessions

Alejandro Ramirez - Specflow for Agile Teams

Angela Dugan

  • Deconstructing the Scaled Agile Framework
  • How TFS 2015 is Going to Rock Your Agile World!

Brian Yuan - How to Climb the AngularJS Learning Curve

Chris Kadel

  • Introduction to Dev-Ops: 2+2=5
  • Team Foundation Server Building Extravaganza 2015

Clint Edmonson

  • Agile Metrics that Matter
  • Application Architecture Jumpstart

Josh Gillespie - Discover PowerShell DSC

Nathan Gomez - Entity Framework for Non-Sadists

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Remote Desktop Connection Manager – Making this TFS Admin Smile Every Day

by Angela 3. August 2015 12:49

So I regularly have a handful of RDC sessions open to administer the various servers that make up TFS on-premises instances including the application tier, data tier, build server, test controller, agents, etc. Doing this with the build in Remote Desktop Manager can be a bit cumbersome when you need to have quick and easy access to multiple servers at once. Sure there are lots of little tricks you can do with saved profiles and desktop shortcuts, but I needed something better. A coworker of mine turned me onto a free Microsoft tool called Remote Desktop Connection Manager. Maybe you already knew about it, if so keep reading anyway because I’ve discovered a few configuration settings that were totally necessary for making the tool really useful, particularly with multiple monitors where you can run into wacky issues with resolution.

First thing I did was create a profile, only this profile can save all of the settings for all of the servers you need to connect to for a given client. Need to switch clients, no problem, just choose a new profile and suddenly the view refreshes and the tree view has a whole new set of servers at your fingertips. Below is an example of my current client environment, complete with AT/DT, build, test controllers, and both automated and manual lab environment machines.

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Each server has its own settings including things like logon credentials, display settings, encryption, etc. Your best bet is to set most of these things at the root level, which then applies those same settings to all servers beneath it. HUGE for things like AD credentials where *generally* you are always logging in as you. Nice thing is, there’s a checkbox on every settings tab where you can turn inheritance on or off, in the cases where you may want to save a server profile with alternate credentials.

This does happen to me when I am troubleshooting controllers and agents, and need to login with a different level of permissions. In that case, I may have the same server in the tree multiple times, but each one uses different credentials to connect. And my alternate login profile will NOT inherit Login Credentials from the root. Super convenient, just double-click and you’re in!

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A few other handy things that I recently learned are how to get it to ACTUALLY full screen. Again I set this at the root and inherit because I want all of my servers to act the same. Because I have a second monitor that is unfortunately not capable of the same resolution as my laptop, with the default settings I can’t really ever full screen mode the remote server, AND if I drag the remote viewer from one monitor to the other it freaks out. To prevent this, and keep the server window docked at full screen in whatever monitor it is in, setup your Display Settings like the following (the first two settings need to be checked):

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The other thing I was constantly struggling with was navigating Servers running Win 8.0clients + or Server 2012. I use a track pad, and getting those charms to pop up and switching between the desktop and the tiles when you can’t just use the native keyboard windows key or charms menu could be really frustrating. If you want to make your life easier, make sure keystrokes are always sent to the remote computer. So in this case go to Local Resources, and make sure that Windows Key combos is set to “on the remote computer”.

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I need to bring some donuts to my friendly local sysadmin for that nugget. I’m sure it’s well documented somewhere, but I had missed this one and it made a big difference for me!

 

That’s it. Hope that makes your life easier, whether you are a TFS admin or not Smile

Tags:

Application Lifecycle Management | ALM | TFS | TFS 2008 | TFS 2010 | TFS 2012 | TFS 2013 | TFS 2015 | TFS Administration | Team Foundation Server | Productivity

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Join Me at LCNUG in July–How TFS 2015 is Gonna Rock Your Agile World

by Angela 30. June 2015 19:33

This is the summer of Visual Studio 2015 (which releases on July 20th BTW) and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the number of great features they have managed to get out the door around managing and tracking agile activities in TFS/VSO. If you don’t want to wait until July to play with them, you can download the RC now, or setup your free account on VSO.

I am speaking at the Lake County .NET Users Group next week, specifically on all of the new TFS goodness around agile/scrum/lean etc. And while yes the user group is practically located in Narnia, it should be a lot of fun so I hope you can make the trek up to Lake County to join us.

When: Thursday, July 9, 2015 from 6:45 PM to 8:30 PM (CDT)

Where: College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois
19351 W Washington St Grayslake, IL 60030

What: What’s Going to ROCK your Agile Team’s World in TFS 2015?

Abstract: TFS has come a long way in the last 10 years. With the upcoming release of TFS 2015, and all of the new features being released to VSO at break-neck speed, it’s hard to know why you should consider upgrading. Spend an hour or so with Angela walking through the new Kanban boards, service hooks into great collaboration tools like Slack, and when your appetite with an overview of the new capabilities coming in Build vNext and RM 2015.

Bio: Angela Dugan is the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) Practice Manager for Polaris Solutions, a small .NET development and ALM consulting firm based out of Chicago and St. Louis. Angela has been in software development filling various roles since 1999, including 5 years as an ALM evangelist with Microsoft. In late 2011, she left Microsoft to follow her passion back into the consulting world where she could be far more hands-on with her customers. Angela also runs the Chicago Visual Studio ALM user group, is an active organizer and speaker at several local conferences, is a Microsoft ALM MVP, a Certified Scrum master, and a certified SAFe Program Consultant.

Outside of wrangling TFS, Angela is an avid board gamer, a chicken farmer (seriously, they have chickens!), an aspiring runner, and a Twitter addict. She lives in a 105 year old house in Oak Park that she is constantly working on/cursing at with her husband David.

Seriously, NARNIA!

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Registration: http://www.eventbrite.com/o/lake-county-net-users-group-2353411364

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Agile | MSDN | Process Methodology | Productivity | Scrum | TFS | TFS 2015 | Team Foundation Server | VS 2015 | VSOnline | Visual Studio | Visual Studio 2015 | Visual Studio Online | VS Online

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Some highlights from Doc Norton’s talk at the ALM user group in December

by Angela 29. December 2014 17:10

From the very first time I saw Michael (Doc) Norton present “Let’s Start an Epidemic” at ThatConference, I knew I wanted to get him to come to Chicago to speak at my group. His overall messaging about community, teamwork, and influence was one that needed to be shared with my local community. Timing was on my side, and in December Doc Norton spoke at the Chicago ALM user group, and it was phenomenal! It was the week before Christmas and I had some SERIOUS piles of Microsoft and TFS swag at home to share as well. Including some great, re-sable Visual Studio shopping bags. Check it out, I was a busy elf!

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Now, on to the main event.  Doc’s talk was on agile metrics, and it was a FULL house. Even snapped a little selfie to prove it :)

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You might be thinking “Wait, AGILE metrics??” Did you just shudder in fear, because most agile metrics evoke feelings of big brother and bring back bad memories associated with “earned value management”, and pitting teams against each other. That was NOT what this talk was about. As a matter of fact, the title of his talk was “Velocity is NOT the goal” and I swear I heard a giant sigh of relief when that title went up!

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This also may have been one of the first meetings where I saw not a single person on email or YouTube the whole time. The only apps running were OneNote and notepad because people were taking down all kinds of tips and tricks on how to do agile metrics the right way. And this was no small mom and pop shop where you’d think to yourself “of COURSE it was easy for them!” You see, Doc works for Groupon, you may have heard of them. They have gone through exponential growth over their short lifespan, and Doc has been largely in charge of making sure they do not implode culturally along their journey. Some of my favorite ideas from this talk were the Hawthorn Effect/Goodwin’s Law connection,360 reviews, joy meters, and too much work in progress. 

The Hawthorn effect is pretty brilliant and absolutely true in my experience.  The idea is simple, once people know they are being measured based on a specific behavior, or on their improvement on a specific metric, they will do everything they can (for a time anyway) to continue performing in whatever way they need to in order to hit those measurements. Goodwin’s Law “when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to become a good measure”. Some might call this the “I’m going to code myself a minivan” effect.  In other words, metrics can often be gamed, so again, be careful what you wish for when it comes to metrics and reporting.

360 reviews is something we sort of did when I was at Microsoft.  Part of your end-of-year review process allowed you to request anonymous feedback from up to 10 people that you worked with throughout the past year, looking for overall ratings as well as personalized feedback. I honestly found it far more valuable to my professional and personal growth than all of the canned metrics we were graded on. 360s allow people to get feedback from a variety of angles, not ONLY from your boss. I also found that it made me feel more personally accountable for being a good team member, knowing that every year I’d be hearing back from my team as to whether or not I had a positive impact on them.

Joy meters provide even more interesting data, though that data can be tricky to collect.  essentially, you are asking people to give fairly regular feedback on the joy they receive from doing their job, whether it be team meetings, checking in code, running tests, whatever. Docs example was a bit easier to collect and “enforce”, because a joy rating was required with every code check-in. As a TFS user I can already picture ways of handling that for code check-ins, but collecting it for other types of activities is not as straightforward. As a start, I want to look at adding a joy meter check-in policy to our own internal TFS instance and start crunching numbers!

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And this last one is not only a great point, a really GREAT point, but it references one of my favorite “I love Lucy” episodes! But seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a standup near the end of the sprint, where every task is active and very few things are done. But everyone was productive and busy! And yet, the team rarely made it’s sprint goals and their velocity was all over the map.

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So, don’t want to steal any more thunder, and Doc said it so much better than I could. If you’re completely kicking yourself for missing the talk, lucky for you it is posted on Vimeo and Doc was more than happy to share it with us.  Check it out, it’s well worth your time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags:

Agile | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Productivity | Metrics | ThatConference

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St Louis Day of .NET – Links to Blogs and Decks for all Polaris Speakers

by Angela 24. November 2014 15:22

This year was the second year that Polaris Solutions sponsored St. Louis Day of .NET.  In case you’re wondering why were sponsor a conference in St Louis, a) it’s a really great conference, and b) we have an office down there, a quickly growing one too! So if you missed it this year, stay tuned for STLDODN 2015! Outside of ThatConference, it is one of the most affordable, local conference that I have even been a part of. It was focused on Microsoft and .NET technologies, but also included a lot of talks around test automation, deployment and release management, and agile and scrum.

If you did attend, I wanted to make sure to point you at my slide decks, as well as the blogs and slide decks of some of our other presenters. If you missed them, I spoke on both TFS deployment and management as well as agile adoption, Josh did presentations on machine learning with Azure and ASP.NET identify framework, Clint did a really great presentation on Application Architecture and another on Advanced OOP, and Jeff talked about a topic near and dear to my hear as well – TFS Consolidation and migrations.  If you attended the pre-compiler sessions you may have even run across our newest Polarian – Alejandro Ramirez. Great stuff, all of them! Here is a roundup of how to find more information on those speakers, and to get their slides:

  • Angela Dugan: You’re already on my blog :) slides are here
  • Clint Edmonson: Blog and slides
  • Josh Gillespie: Blog and slides
  • Jeff Przylucki: Blog and slides to be posted soon, check back in a few days!
  • Alejandro Ramirez:Blog and slides

 

A couple of us even made it into the podcast line-up while there as well! I’ll be appearing on an upcoming edition of Technology and Friends, and both myself and Alejandro got a chance to sit down with the great team behind St Louis Tech Talks

Lastly, be sure to check out the STLDODN twitter feed (and search on #STLDODN) for some great tweets, links to the other great podcast episodes recorded live during the conference, as well as links to some of the other presentations.

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Something a little Different for the Chicago ALM User Group in October

by Angela 17. September 2014 15:54

So you may have noticed that the Chicago ALM User Group has been a little quiet this summer. Summer is always a tad slow and everyone would rather be out enjoying some time with the family, or maybe by heading up to the Wisconsin Dells for ThatConference like I did :)  Well, summer break is over and the Chicago ALM user group is back! We’ll be meeting in early October for something a little different.

I recently started working with a local firm who has come a long way in their quest for agility and a healthy corporate culture. They've accomplished some amazing positive changes in their use of ALM tooling, in their software delivery process, and most importantly in their corporate culture. Join us in October to hear their story, and maybe pick up some tips on how to make similar changes within your own teams.

Story-telling and panel discussion: Ever wonder how agile is supposed to work in real life, like how it’s described in the books? We did too and tried it out. We want tell our story, “There and Back Again”, a development team’s tale of how we are becoming agile including the thrills of victory and agonies of defeat, then open it up for a panel discussion.

Speaker Bios:

Daniel Porrey has 24 years’ experience in the IT industry with a range of skills from networking and hardware to software development. He has worked for several international based organizations striving to achieve high efficiency while driving the greatest levels of business value. Having been "classically" trained in IT as an Engineer, he has successfully completed numerous large scale projects under the waterfall methodology. With the need to gain even higher performance from his teams, the desire to hire and retain high performance talent, and the ability to deliver more automation, he converted his group to agile over the past several years with great success. In all endeavors, his primary focus has been on the quality of the delivered product.

Anthony Perkins has been part of developing software almost two decades. He has experienced being developer, software architect, and now manages a .Net application team. After working in the waterfall environment most of his career, Anthony is in the midst of transitioning to agile methodologies. Driving for continuous improvement, he looks for ways to improve the delivery of high quality software and overall development process.

Raja Tirumala Rao Guna  has over 9 years of software development experience in Microsoft.Net technologies.   He worked in different roles starting as developer and moving up the path as Dev lead, Tech Lead and Architect, though always a developer at heart.  For the past 2 years he been working on agile projects and using TFS to help on board his teams with Agile engineering practices.

Chris Steele has more than 14 years of professional software experience, and has been working with agile for over 9 years, with a heavy focus on Scrum. Working independently, with consulting agencies, or internally, in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia has provided him with a wide range of experiences and a keen insight into the common problems and solutions that companies find when embracing agile, as well as how to present and sell it to clients ranging from the smallest to global enterprises. Having worked as a development team member, a ScrumMaster, a Product Owner, a resource manager, and an agile coach, in a variety of settings, Chris has had the opportunity to directly experience the day-to-day pulls and stresses inherent in each role, and in almost every organization type imaginable. Passionate about organizational change, and the benefits of agility, Chris also has experience as a speaker both locally and internationally.

 

Register now to secure a seat! http://chicagoalmug.org/

Tags:

Agile | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Collaboration | Microsoft | Process Methodology | Productivity | SDLC | Scrum | Team Foundation Server | TFS 2013 | TFS | Visual Studio 2013 | VS 2013 | development

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Strengthening Your Team Through Vulnerability

by Angela 10. July 2014 11:56

This is actually a cross-post from my company’s blog… but likely you don’t go to that one very often and I didn’t want this post to be overlooked.

I go through phases where I devour books, usually when I am attending industry conferences where speakers are recommending books that have elicited “AHA!” moment for them. In many cases, it’s the same handful of books being quoted repeatedly. These 3 books in particular have been coming up a lot, and they inspired me to rethink how I work, and live:

1) Drive (which I am actually reading right now for a second time)

2) Five Dysfunctions of a Team

3) Getting Naked.

The first is a psychological study into what motivates people (hint:it’s NOT actually money in most cases). The last 2 are actually “business fables”, a genre that I hadn’t realized existed before now, and that I really enjoy. I am noticing a few themes common to all 3 of these books, that can have a tremendous positive impact on organizations. Yet in my experience, these themes rarely come up when management is discussing strategy for change, whether it be organization-wide or focused on a particular group. No matter how well thought out your processes and procedures are, or how “best of breed” your new expensive tooling is, one thing will always lay waste to even the best laid plans, is culture. Now, addressing corporate culture is nothing I can sum up in a single blog post, but one aspect of it in particular calls out to me as needing urgent attention. FEAR.

I am not suggesting the use of fear to control your team, quite the contrary. I am suggesting that to strengthen your team, you need to expose your fears, more specifically you need to show each other vulnerability. Does that sound a little odd to you? Are you thinking “how can I be a strong leader or teammate if I am showing fear, or appearing vulnerable to my team?” It seems a bit counterintuitive.

Many of the issues that prevent people from breaking old habits, from really making a difference, from moving forward, is guardedness. I see this not only on teams I have worked with professionally, but in myself in my daily life. I suspect many of us keep our guard up by default. We protect our calendars, our intellectual property, our reputations. But this often means we are effectively operating as a team of 1, and there is no real sense of understanding or trust between team members or between the team and its leadership. Adding to that, if there is an implied stigma (or explicit punishment) for saying “I don’t know” or “I made a mistake”, more focus and energy will be spent by people on protecting themselves, rather than on learning from their mistakes and improving.

For the team, it means admitting when they need to do some research before taking on a new project, admitting they need more time when their forecasts were off because they did not understand the full scope of a problem, or admitting when they have hit a wall and need some help to make progress. For management it means admitting your own mistakes to your own managers as well as to your team, trusting your team to do the right thing, and accepting mistakes as an opportunity for growth. If all of that seems overwhelming, start by sharing your stories with one another - a few basic facts like your least and most favorite subjects in school, your hobbies, the last movie you saw.  The simple act of sharing a few bits of personal back story with one another can really open people up, inspire a base level of trust, and even uncover common threads that bring a team closer together. It might seem trite, or overly simplistic, but you’d be surprised how differently you view your teammates when you find out they coach little league 3 nights a week where your kids play, or that someone else has also dreamed of being a concert pianist all of their life. Give it a try…

Until we all learn to be open, honest, and vulnerable with the people we work with, it will be extremely difficult to ever build up the level of trust necessary to truly improve and grow, both as individuals and as a team. And seriously, go to Amazon and pick up those 3 books right now.  It may just be the best $40 you’ve spent in a while.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Collaboration | personal growth | Productivity | SDLC

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What Conference? Yeah ThatConference

by Angela 15. May 2014 08:49

With so many conferences, it’s easy for one to get lost in the noise. But don’t let that happen with ThatConference. I know, “but Angela you’re on the conference committee, of course you think I should go”. It’s true, for several years now I’ve been working with the ThatConference gang to keep this thing growing and thriving, but it’s because I believe in it. We don’t get paid, we get nothing out of being on the committee other than knowing we got to help provide this awesome event to the community we are so proud to be a part of. OK, now I’m getting all sappy so let’s move on. The point is, this conference is literally organized by a bunch of us techies and geeks like you, not huge corporations or software vendors with an agenda or licenses to sell.  We strive to make the conference fun, educational, and family-friendly. So I mean it when I say this conference is FOR YOU.

Tickets went on sale today, and you may have noticed a slight uptick in prices. Yeah, things get more expensive every year, that’s life, but is STILL an incredible value at $399. That includes 3 full days of amazing sessions (125+ to choose from!) AND lots of networking opportunities AND a pig roast AND a private water park party just for ThatConference attendees AND a Bacon bar AND multiple social events AND a game night (I might be biased as I am running this one, but seriously, BOARD GAMES!!). That was a lot of ANDs for your money. And if you buy soon you can get an Early Bird discount of $25 making the conference just $374.99. You also get a discounted nightly rate at the water park resort if you’re not a local, which gets you some nice additional perks (last year we got free passes to the Ducks and Tommy Bartlett show with our room). That’s an incredibly inexpensive conference that you can combine with a great family summer vacation in the Wisconsin Dells! The topics being covered this year are incredibly diverse, I’d need a few paragraphs more just to cover them all and no one wants to read that much so check out the full conference schedule here. And don’t be afraid to ask your boss to sponsor your ticket, and maybe send a few of your coworkers too!  If they have any budget set aside for training, I can’t think of a better way to use it.  You’ll get exposed to a far wider range of topics and our food is WAY better too ;)

As you might know if you are a returning camper, we also have a great program for the families, so bring the significant others and kids if you have them. It’s a last hurrah before school at a water park and indoor amusement park. You’ll be a HERO and you still get to go geek out at a tech conference! If you purchase family tickets along with your conference ticket, family members are just $39.99 per person, or $29.99 if purchased before 5/22. That means the entire family can join us at ThatConference social events, the pig roast, game night, a craft night that I organize just for the kids, and of course an entire track devoted to family friendly geekery. And trust me when I say the family sessions will blow their minds! Last year my 10 year old nephew was introduced to programming for the first time (he even used Visual Studio for one session!), and ended up stealing my laptop so he could play around with it some more. How cool is that?!  This year we even have a couple of session being run by kid campers from last year! There’s even a session on writing Minecraft Mods. I know right? The family schedule is here, and it’s REALLY good so look it over, show it to your kids, then sign them up!

Hope to see you In August! Now go sign up, seriously right now, go do it.

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I’m Talking TFS ALM at the Chicago SharePoint Developer Group May 15th

by Angela 13. May 2014 07:51

So often people hear that I focus on TFS for ALM and think I can’t possibly help them because they’re not doing traditional .NET WinForms or WebForms development. Not true! TFS ALM is cross platform and technology agnostic.  Well, within reason, if you’re using a tool with embedded and proprietary SCM you might not be able to use TFS VC, but the rest of TFS’ capabilities certainly still apply.

This month I’m talking to the local SharePoint developer meetup group to talk about TFS for SharePoint ALM, how TFS 2013 can help them reach a higher level of agility, and where it can streamline their processes with build, test, and deployment automation.  During this meeting I’ll be doing a lap around TFS, pointing out what’s new and cool for SharePoint, and doing some demos of my favorite tools. If you’re a SharePoint developer, come join us this Thursday and learn more! I’m nice, and usually pretty entertaining :)

Learn more and sign up here: http://www.meetup.com/Chicago-SharePoint-Developers-User-Group/

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