Curious Cat Management Carnival: Select 2008 Highlights

Over the last couple of years the quality of management material available online has increased dramatically. And blogs have provided much of the best management material. The Curious Cat Management Improvement Carnival now provides highlights 3 times a month. Each carnival post highlights recent management related posts from several management blogs. And for the 2008 year in review 9 blogs have each taken a handful of management blogs and provided annual highlights.

In this post we will cover four blogs: Lean Software Engineering, Timeback Management, Know HR and Quality and Innovation. All I aim to do in the post is highlight a few excellent posts for the year. To capture the depth of these blogs add them to your RSS reader and read them throughout the year.

Lean Software Engineering by Corey Ladas (a management carnival host) and Bernie Thompson does an excellent job of discussion the application of lean manufacturing ideas in software development. Corey also published: Scrumban, Essays on
Kanban Systems for Lean Software Development
this year. The blog is a must read for anyone working in software development applying lean thinking.

  • Boehm’s Spiral Revisited by Bernie Thompson – “Twenty years ago this month, in response to the problems associated with waterfall-style approaches to software projects, Barry Boehm proposed his Spiral Model of Software Development. Which bore some resemblance to Deming’s “Plan, Do, Check, Act” cycle.
  • Queue utilization is a leading indicator by Corey Ladas – “there is a very pragmatic reason to adopt a Lean workflow strategy, regardless of what sort of product you are building: Lean scheduling provides crystal clear leading indicators of process health. I am speaking of kanban limits and andon lights.”
  • Two axioms of lean software development by Corey Ladas – “Axiom 1: It is possible to divide the work into small value-adding increments that can be independently scheduled. Axiom 2: It is possible to develop any value-adding increment in a continuous flow from requirement to deployment. “
  • Perpetual multivote for pull scheduling by Corey Ladas – “In our system, development capacity can free up at any time. When it does, the next candidate should have been previously selected so that the team can get right to work. That means we’ll have to make frequent updates to the selection process. If we’re going to do this frequently, it has to be inexpensive. Consensus building is expensive. My goal is to do this with no estimates and no meetings.”

The Timeback Management blog by Dan Markovitz focuses on applying lean principles to promote effective management. And as the name suggest he also posts on making effective user of your time.

  • The Danger of Easy Access – “When we don’t value our limited time and attention sufficiently, we open the floodgates to infinite requests from coworkers — to our detriment… Get lean: in the tradition of Toyota’s andon, put up a sign at your cube or office that says when you’ll be available to talk.” [I must admit I have challenges with the common lean view of open offices, for the same reasons Dan mentions here. I prefer the model Joel Spolsky uses for software development staff, where collaboration is encouraged but developers have private offices. I am sure I benefit from a distraction free environment. There is debate in the lean blogosphere about the proper lean model though. My belief is that partially the answers lies in examining what is right for the specific office in question (though perhaps I am just clinging to an outdated idea). I find Instant Messaging (IM) useful (for encouraging collaboration and providing less distraction – including allowing people to work from home). This disruption from IM seems less obtrusive and you can set a status as Dan mentions to indicate how hesitant people should be before sending an IM. – John Hunter]

  • Step away from the computer – “The more time I spend with clients, the more I see bright, talented, motivated people driven to despair by their inability to find time to solve problems. They’re so busy responding to the latest input that they can’t get to their jobs…. each day, step away from your computer, from the “river of data posing as information,” and ask some questions like this: Is there a better way to do my job?…What’s the most important thing I can accomplish this week?”
  • Congratulations. You’ve mapped out the future state. Now what? – “make a conscious choice about what you’re going to ditch than to have the lean transformation fizzle out. There’s nothing like the sight of abandoned future state maps lying about the company like bleached whale carcasses to foster cynical, demotivated employees.”

Frank Roche takes a fresh look at managing human resources with the KnowHR blog. It is also one of the few management blogs I follow that isn’t specifically mentioning, lean, Deming, agile management, six sigma, or quality tools fairly frequently (some others: Seth Godin, Joel Spolsky, Paul Graham…).

  • Sacrificing Sacred Cows in HR – “Why do you do performance reviews?… How’s using email to ‘communicate’ working out? Think a training class can infuse culture into your company? Do you ever listen to yourself when you say ’employee engagement’?”
  • Annual Performance Reviews Don’t Work – “Does anyone actually think that one uncomfortable hour once a year is any substitute for effective leadership? Seriously? Why waste the time? If you really want your performance management system to work it has to have two essentials:
    1. It has to be a system
    2. It needs to provide continuous feedback
    If you’re doing anything else, it’s just a game to make the lawyers and rule makers happy. Bad HR is about blindly going where everyone has gone before.”
  • 10 Things HR Needs to Do in this Economic Downturn – “1) Get up, walk out of HR, and talk to the people running operations. That’s where the money is. 2) Fix your friggin sales comp once and for all. Sales matter more than ever, and having a sales comp “system” that can get changed on a whim won’t work… 5) Fell the deadwood. Yep, it’s time to get out there and chop some wood. If you have people in your organization who needed to go when times were good, that goes double now. Learn to say “buh-bye.” And do it actively.” [I don’t agree about felling deadwood due to bad times. You should always work with employees to make more effective (really work, once you hire someone that is a serious commitment). And if that fails and you have employees that don’t fit they should be let go. It should not be related to the economy. – John Hunter]

Nicole Radziwill started the Quality and Innovation in 2008 to explore quality, productivity and innovation in socio-technical systems. She is also a management carnival host.

  • RIP Six Sigma: Management Fads and the Apocalypse – “Managers should always seek to establish solid, sustainable foundations – and continually improve upon them to achieve ever-increasing standards for excellence – regardless of whether they call it Six Sigma, or something else.”
  • Real or Not Real? Deadlines in Project Management – “Deadlines that are ‘not real’ may have consequences internal to your organization (e.g. loss of goodwill with your boss, delay in providing materials to other employees in your company) but typically can be shifted with less impact…. Cash flow requirements. If you or your company will run out of money unless you meet your deadline, then you are facing a very real deadline. Previously set external expectations. If you promised a customer that you would deliver their final project on December 5th, the deadline is real… “
  • The Google of Politics: Innovation in Democracy – “The mission of Google is to organize the world’s information – to transform the relationship between people and information in such a way that collaboration, innovation, and insight are electrically catalyzed. The mission of the Obama campaign was to organize and inspire the people of the United States – to transform people’s perceptions of relationships with one another and convince them that they could achieve a more hopeful future together”

Other post in the Annual 2008 Management Carnival:

For more excellent blogs see the Curious Cat Management Blog Directory.

Related: The Essential Lean Blogosphere of 2008Curious Cat Management Management Improvement Blog CarnivalCurious Cat Management Improvement Glossary

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7 Responses to Curious Cat Management Carnival: Select 2008 Highlights

  1. Pingback: Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Management Blog Carnival: 2008 Overview

  2. daniel says:

    1. It has to be a system

    2. It needs to provide continuous feedback

    If you’re doing anything else, it’s just a game to make the lawyers and rule makers happy. Bad HR is about blindly going where everyone has gone befor

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