I’m in Barcelona on World Mobile Congress 2013 and discussing how to mobiles enterprises. When looking on technology today everything seems possible but gap between management and today’s mobile knowledge workers grows faster the more technology evolve.
I work with helping companies develop mobile solutions for their customer or creating new solutions in order to make companies more productive. For me work is an activity not a place. I have an office and an own room but when I’m at the office my main activity is to collaborate with colleagues. When I work with companies that are new to the thoughts of work is an activity and not a place I often hear argument like “how do you know that employees are working when they are at home or working from a location other than the office when you can’t see them?” And that is an important question…
How do you know that employees are doing what they should and are maximally productive in the workplace? Just because you see them does not mean they know what they are doing and how productive they are!
Unfortunately only one answer and it is the same answer as when you’re at work, you yourself must simply be competent in the subject matter and really understand what employees are doing. There is no other way. So do you want more freedom in your job, greater job satisfaction and work when it suits you, you simply get yourself a competent manager. I use the work unfortunately because I don’t know how to tell managers this bitter truth, I often sounds like a “besserwisser” that tells them that they are incompetent.
Managers’ primarily focus show be the WHAT’s but need to understand HOW’s
In a world where work isn’t a place but an activity it requires a different approach. We to have a goal-oriented management style, where we sets goals together. This means that managers need to manage the WHAT things but not the HOW-issues. But at the same time they need to understand the HOW-issues in order to set competent goals.
Employees will leave managers, not companies
This means that people that will work in a world where work is an activity they will need a very competent manager that understands the HOW-issues in order to become successful and productive. In my work stimulating work tasks that’s feels fulfilling are more important than earning a couple of hundred $ more. I can recommend Alaister Lows blog post on this subject.
In a world where work is truly an activity rather than a place it will requires a culture of trust, goal-oriented leadership and competent managers. So next time you change jobs then check how skilled your boss is, it’s not only you should be competent for you to be successful in your work.
The technical conditions for a more mobile society is really starting to come into place. Since we got a telecom infrastructure in combination with more powerful phones and tablets in combination with cloud services have their mobile motto ”Anywhere, Anytime and Any Device” is created. This has made it possible for those who work in the service sector has many tasks that are no longer tied to a physical location. Work has gone from being a place to being an activity!
This will lead to so much more changes than in technology, we will need to:
We will get a completely new way of relating to work!
We need to reflect on the relations between time and value.
We need training, procedures, systems and practices to show our presence at a distance.
We need training, procedures, systems and practices to collaborate remotely.
We need to shift from a culture of control to a target-oriented leadership.
We will change our physical offices, as we come to the office for another reason.
We will often work harder in places other than the office. I myself often sit in cafe’s, libraries and hotel environments.
We will digitize all new processes and situations.
It’s important to acquire new “best-practices” for this change. Some call it a paradigm shift, but I think it is more about evolution than revolution. Personally, it fits very good to sit at home and work when I have a deadline to relate to. But worse if I just work at all, need to cooperate and coordinate different tasks with others. So the work life is changing, our digital work life will become much more mobile in the future.
When talking about agile projects many books seems to be written under the assumption that you work with the whole life cycle, from its initial conception to maintenance and support of the system. But quite often, parts of the project are done by another supplier. This other supplier may have a different underlying motivation and his business may not be the same. The most common price unit in knowledge-based work is probably price per hour, direct or indirect. The buyer’s income model is probably different; it may be based on cost savings, or on either revenue from or new opportunities emerging from the product (or transaction), or interval based, such as price per month. Therefore, a built-in conflict may exist between the revenue model for the buyer and that of the supplier.
Who should take the commercial risk?
The buyer can handle the project on their own and just hire or contract some consultants that will work on a per-hour basis, in which case the full risk remains with the buyer. Or the buyer can outsource a part of the project to a supplier, who also takes an agreed-upon portion of the risk as part of the deal.
This is often handled with a requirement phase that produces a requirement document that one or more suppliers use to develop a bid for winning the contract from the buyer. The contracts often include the total cost, some options (often add-ons) and a time when the delivery shall be done.
The problem with this is that it doesn’t facilitate changes and the flexibility to apply knowledge that you gain during the project very easily. When the project starts, keeping to the original plan becomes more important for both parties instead of maximizing the business value. This prevents either party from incurring cost or schedule overruns that could turn their side of the contract into a losing proposition.
This inflexibility negates the benefits of agile development projects, which are adaptive so as to maximize business value. But there are alternatives to fixed-scope/fix-price types of contracts. I will talk about different kinds of contracts soon but first I would like to explain maximal value focused.
Making business more mobile is about making your digital work life as mobile as your digital private life. Thanks to social media like facebook, twitter and cloud service like mobile me, dropbox, exchange, etc. our digital private life is totally mobile. Success within Enterprise Mobility is about enabling the same kinds of flexibility within a work context in a secure and flexible way. When we are traveling we like to be able to work with the same routines and processes that we can at the office. For business to be able to enable this to understand how mobility change the view on security, strategies for multiple channels, SOA, Integrations platforms and strategies for mobile phones and devices. But also understand softer values as change methodologies and tools for collaboration to succeed in a changing world. This and much more is my presentation from the Camp Digital conference 2012. Here is a film from the presentation.
On the mobile developer conference Devmobile in Gothenburg I talked about “What suites our users best in term of the mobile channel!”. It was real crowded and over 110 people (too bad the conference room only had 70 chairs!) attend my break out session about what pros and cons for different solutions regarding. I have got rather many questions and contacts after this speak which is real fun. Here are my slides if you interested!
Cooking is one activity that I have organized a couple of times with my development teams. It’s a good way to share common experiences and to get to know each other outside the office. When we were in a restaurant one evening, the chef in charge told us about yesterday’s session. They had a group from an organization that was very hierarchical. No one dared to show they were more knowledgeable than their boss and no one dared to be different from their boss. No one dared doing anything they haven’t done before, because they didn’t want to risk failure. When no one dares to risk anything or go outside their comfort zone, the food turned out to be very ordinary, and no one enjoyed the meal.
It’s the same with software development – if differences are accepted and group members take advantage of differences, the project tends to be better adapted to the needs of customers. If no one does something different or takes risks, the capacity of the team is minimal and is only based on what members know as accepted.
This week I was speaking on “Projektverktygsdagen 2012” to inspire the 250 project. My presentation focused on why enterprise mobility is important to keep an eye on as a project manager in a knowledge company. It was also about what enterprise mobility is and what opportunities it creates. Then I took with some examples of tools for managing knowledge workers in a creative situation by demonstrating a little google docs. Here is my speak if you like to watch it:
According to Wikipedia, an expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study. For me an expert is someone that intuitively knows the right answers and is able to draw conclusions about future events and to predict their outcome. Experts have gained intense experience through prolonged practice and education in a particular field. Let’s analyze how one becomes an expert.
In Japan, there is a concept that describes the stages of learning to gain mastery in a domain. It is called shuhari. Shuhari is roughly translated is to Learn, Detach, and Transcend. Shuhari describes how skill is acquired.
In the “Shu” stage you learn the fundamental techniques – the traditional wisdom.
In the “Ha” stage you start looking into similar areas and techniques, and collect new methodologies and tools.
And in the “Ri” stage (mastery) you mix techniques to do or make the best solution.
To develop personal competence and gain wisdom, you will need to learn many techniques. You will have to leave your comfort zone and take risks to gain new personal experience. At the same time, you need to ensure quality, which means not just getting things done but also getting it right, even if it is more painful. When you combine this with analytical reflection about what works in a situation and what might work better next time, you gain more insight.
Becoming an Expert
Follow and learn
Learn a technique
Collect related techniques
With the concept of Shuhari in mind, you can reflect on the best technology, process or methodology. How many times have people debated about which of these solutions is the best?
.Net, or Java?
iOS, or Android?
Windows, or Linux?
Scrum, or RUP?
People who just learned a tool and are trying to master that tool are often quite loyal; they try to solve everything with that tool. If you have only a hammer, your perception will be limited to everything being a nail. To become an expert, you need some time to leave the comfort zone and use a tool like you have not been used. Therefore expertise begins with curiosity, humility and willingness to learn something new.
Up until the nineteenth century, most people were engaged in agriculture; others learned a craft like carpentry. They were organized in small communities and worked together from sowing seeds to harvesting, milling, and baking. To be successful they needed to learn and master a specific craft that was passed from person to person, often within the same family. The real master of the community then decided to leave the comfort zone to explore things that no one dared to explore. Most of the time, these exploratory ventures ended in failure. But sometimes, the adventurer would stumble upon something that opened new doors for them and eventually for future generations as well.
As late as 1870, 80% of Europe’s population worked in agriculture. In 2010, less than 0.8% of Europeans worked in farming. This demonstrates an enormous productivity gain for farming. And then in the 18th and 19th centuries, a major change happened: manufacturing shifted from manual labor toward machine-based manufacturing. It started with the mechanization of the textile industries and the introduction of steam power. This also changed the organization of work, where people specialized in a particular phase of the work instead of getting involved in the whole process. By specializing in a specific time/phase-based work, Henry Ford was the first to increase productivity in car manufacturing by using assembly lines for mass production.
To make manufacturing as efficient as possible, managers were needed to oversee the whole process. It was during this era that the first management theories and business schools began teaching what Mary Parker Follett (1868-1993) termed the“art of getting things done through people”.
Lesson Learned from Craftmanship & Industrialization
Craftsmanship is building on experience and can lead us in the right direction, but experience will only take us so far into uncharted territory. In these instances, we must take what we started with and rely on controlled methodologies and engineering tools. Engineering is the application of tools and methodologies to handle the unexplored.
Craftsmanship is critical to knowledge based work in terms of providing quality, whereas in industrialization, quantity was the primary measurement. Allan Cooper, author of “Running with the Inmates” and inventor of Visual Basic, said the following about craftsmanship:
“Craftsmanship is all about quality – it’s all about getting it right, not to get it fast. It’s measured by quality, not speed. It’s a pure measurement, and a delightful one.”
“Craftsmen do it over and over again until they get it right. In their training, they build things over and over so they get the experience they need to get it right.”, more info see.
I do not fully agree with Allan Cooper because good craftsmanship must strike a balance between quality and time/cost. This demonstrates the concept of personal competence but this also has a disadvantage. I’d like to quote one of my favorite bloggers – Joel Spolsky – on his view on craftsmanship. “Craftsmanship is, of course, incredibly expensive. The only way you can afford it is when you are developing software for a mass audience. Sorry, but internal HR applications developed at insurance companies are never going to reach this level of craftsmanship because there simply aren’t enough users to spread the extra cost out.”
A craftsman takes pride in his profession, his experience, and his tools. Because his performance is based on his personal competence, he prioritizes the mastery of his tools, upgrading them and improving his work methods in an evolutionary way. Craftsmen prioritize their continuous improvement and appreciate quality because they know that their product becomes more valuable when done the right way. They know that quick-fixes will rarely be successful in the long run, because that can require more work (and less profit to them) to remedy.
The most important lesson learned from industrialization was that deterministic goals and processes are better achieved by investing in structure capital (developing process / routines and establishing them). This especially applies to a process that is 10% design/analysis and 90% production. A changed requirement after the production phase has begun can be very expensive. Software developments of product and unique system aren’t like this design isn’t just a one thing you do before production is started.
For example, when building a bridge, you can’t consider adding a few new highway lanes when the bridge construction has started. Complex software development isn’t a deterministic process and is therefore more of 50% design (where you figure out what to do and where to go) and 50% production. Following a plan is therefore not the ultimate solution it’s to be prepared and know you domain and tools so that new knowledge present itself you can take the opportunity.
Throughout history, success factors for work have changed and gone from individually mastered methods of efficiency and quality to a world where craftsmanship was learned and handed down from generation to generation. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the industrial revolution changed the key success factors into pre-defined processes that were mechanized, automated and as efficient as possible.
In a world that changes every day, differentiation and uniqueness come from transforming information into a product through creativity and knowledge. The most important considerations for knowledge-based companies are how good they are in getting the best information and then transforming that information into products or services, through their creativity and knowledge. But in a complex world where goals are uncertain and there is more of a need to explore possibilities, success is increasingly dependent on collaboration, creativity, and knowledge.
In my new role as Enterprise Mobility Manager for Sigma I have work with marketing of Enterprise Mobility solutions. In this role I do a lot of public speaking which is a new thing for me, both terrifying and fun. I have done 5 public speaks on different conferences so far this year and I will do some more this spring. It’s about Sigma’s products and solutions, and the demand of a strategy for companies in times of change. Mobility affects everyone and companies has a lot to gain from mobility, business change and so do behavior and the need of a different kind of leadership. If you like to hear me speak this spring you can hear me on some of the following conferences:
Understanding what to do, where to go and what the end result will become like is important for planning, understanding and motivation of all teams. This is sometimes called establishing a vision, but the word vision is too grand for me; it sounds like a prophet, Martin Luther King or Gandhi mixed together. Especially when undertaking greater challenges where the destination is beyond the horizon it’s important to discuss the direction. It’s about start giving people an idea of the end result. If people do not know where they are going or how they are going to get there, they are soon going to become very frustrated.
In order to set a destination you need to look beyond the horizon that promote change and improvement but at the same time says something of what we can do to reach it. The destination can consist of many goals but often not focusing on the measurement of the goals. For example “Our new product shall help knowledge based workers to collaborate over long distance. It focuses on collaboration and simplicity and enables high-quality teams to brainstorm, prioritize and reflect. It is not a project management tool or a tracking tool; it’s more of a sandbox that can help knowledge based workers to reach their goals.”
What is so great about a common, accepted and understood direction is that different stakeholders and team members can start working and at the same time has some idea what it will result in so that the can take micro-decisions that is based on that direction.
Don’t forget to document the “destination” with what success is, why it’s important and how you know you’ve achieved it. Post it prominently and involve you visionary destinations in you planning and demos. But remember you will not reach the destination because it’s just an imaginary goal, when you traveled beyond the horizon the world will not be as you imagined it; it will be less colorful but more real. Then you need to adapt to reality make the best of it. The best and most valuable ideas will probably present them on the journey. If you plan everything from a total imaginary map your journey will become lined with failures! So setting a visionary imaginary destination isn’t about defining goals and planning the trip, it’s about setting a direction so you can look on the compass when you wandering in the dark.
For me enterprise mobility is about enabling companies to get their strategic information at point of action and point of decision. People have become used with specialized context application in their personal life from there smart handheld devices. Now almost every knowledge based worker has a device that enables them to have internet wherever they are. People will expect to have the same important information about their work life as accessible as personal life information. This is of course a big challenge, there is many aspects like; Security, Integration, Infrastructure, Governance, Deployment, Maintainability and so on. Over the next years we will see allot of change within the enterprise mobility area. Now the infrastructure and the devices have developed so that this is possible to do for the ordinary company. This will result in many intreresting solutions.
In a TV episode of the show Mythbuster, Adam and Jamie are investigating what can be done with duct tape. They build a rope bridge that is over 10 meters (30 feet) with duct tape, then they both walk over the bridge. They show that it’s possible to build a 10 meter (30 feet) rope bridge with just duct tape, thanks to its elasticity – it stretches when it’s weighed down.
But there is a difference between Adam and Jamie. Jamie is about 10 pounds heavier than Adam. When the duct tape reaches its maximum elasticity, vibrations start to interfere with the construction. It takes Jamie 5 times longer to climb the bridge than Adam because of the vibrations.
You’re wondering, how does this relate to software development?
When increasing pressure (and expectations) on a group to stretch to their maximum ability, the group needs to focus more on fending off all vibrations than on getting over the bridge. This slows down people. Plan-driven processes are harder to stretch because it isn’t as flexible.
But when working under high pressure, plan-driven processes can be a good thing. It’s when you don’t have clear lines or possibilities that generate much discussion. How far are we prepared to go this time? Can’t we make an exception this time? Can we squeeze that in? This elasticity creates vibrations and the focus on the project isn’t as good. Negative vibrations become noise as we talked about earlier. A more bureaucratic organization doesn’t stretch and therefore there is less noise under pressure.
Going back to Adam in Mythbuster, the conclusion is that he might use duct tape to build a bridge, but Jamie, who is 10 pounds heavier would gain if he builds it with rope that doesn’t stretch as much. Using the same argument, high pressure projects probably would gain if they were more bureaucratic, to help project members focus more. Being bureaucratic helps increase focus on a project and keep the speed up. Too much pressure under uncertain circumstances, on the other hand, lowers the speed because you have to adapt to all vibrations.
A Small Anecdote from my Carrier
My team had plans for a big release in a couple of months. Two days before the release, some business managers were nervous about us closing down the system for too many hours. They had pressured another partner and convinced him about the need of the system’s availability and uptime. So it didn’t look good that we were closing the system for 8 hours on primetime.
They started putting pressure on our development team by asking them to start earlier and finish deployment more quickly. We thought of a way to satisfy this demand.
We worked on a new plan, beginning with doing a full backup starting at 10 pm the day before and closing down the system at 6:00 am instead of 9:00 am. This lowered the planned downtime by 3 hours.
When the vice president started calling specific developers and maintenance personnel, they felt the pressure and focused more on the pressure than on the actual plan. When people felt pressured, quality suffered and the downtime became much longer then planned.
What did this all cost? Coming with an alternative plan took one day and five more people – longer time than if the original plan was executed. Hope it was worth the value of the relationship with our partner.
If you’re always flexible and preach the value of flexibility you could some day be pressured to go a little too far. Everyone probably would have gained if I only dared to stick to the original plan and not allowed a late change. Changing plans the night before actual battle is seldom a good idea.
Organizing work is a combination of doing the right thing, in the right way in an optimal way. This is hard and what makes it even harder is that the right thing and the right way are constantly changing. Over the years I work with software development; first the traditional project management schools with their view that if you only know what you did, success would come from making good plans and them focusing on executing that plan as effective as possible. Then the agile and lean view became the dominated methodologies that was convinced that if people was just empower, self-organized, became more business oriented and changed to adaptive planning great things would happen.
What was the Problem with the Traditional Project Management School?
The traditional view of project management was focusing on administrating passive resources that needed to be managed are not a view that was optimal for knowledge based work. The problem with the traditional view of organizing software development was foremost the underlying view that we were doing something repeatable, if we only was experienced enough we would be as effective as any manufacturing industry. A factory has a deterministic process, where you can expect a certain outcome based on the input, this works when the variation within the process is quite small. But the problem with our craft is that we develop products based on knowledge and collaboration, and then the variations within that process comparing to factories or building buildings are much higher. Software development is therefore a non-deterministic process that actually has more to do with developing new products than building houses or producing something in a factory.
The Agile Problem!
The biggest trend in organization of software development the last years are probably transcend to more agile methodologies. My view of the agile manifest is that many people foremost reacted against bad leadership and management style that wasn’t adapted to the knowledge based work people performed. The underlying idea of just empower everyone and give them give them the right to self-organize, isn’t optimal in all situations. I believe that when people realized that the plan-driven view wasn’t working they all started to look on those who shouted most and earliest, (and with all respect to the old gentlemen’s that wrote the agile manifest) they were a little to overrepresented by the anarchists. Don’t miss understand me, I’m a pro agile methodology. I just felt that leadership somewhere was lost in the focus on new process and tools. The problem with scrum trainers is that they value the scrum process and tools over individuals and interactions.
The traditional view of project management and the agile view both have its pros and cons. In the future both worlds will need to connect better in order to get the best from both. I believe that software developments sometimes are a deterministic process where you only install an out of box system and just tweak some things, and sometime it’s more of an exploratory journey into the world complexity.
I know all Scrum trainers are in London this week, on the Scrum Gathering 2011. Goto Jurgen Appelos sessions he seams to be the only one besides D Snowden that understand the basis of our work, complexity. I’m in London this week as well but unfortunately without attending the Scrum Gathering.