Assessing and Tracking Team Performance – Part 3: System Dynamics and Causal Loop Diagrams 101

In the previous post, I introduced the work loop1. Anyone familiar with systems dynamics will recognize the stocks and flows in this diagram. A stock is something that can increase or decrease over time. Work to Do, for example, is a stock that will decrease as work gets done and will increase as new or …

Root Causes

The sage business guru Willie Sutton might answer the question “Why must we work so hard at digging to finding the causes to our problems?” by observing “Because that’s where the roots are.” Digging to find root causes is hard work. They’re are rarely obvious and there’s never just one. Occasionally, you might get lucky …

Assessing and Tracking Team Performance – Part 8: Taming the Wild Horses

Remember the phrases from earlier in the article series? Here they are again. “We’re not moving the delivery date.” “We’ll just have to work harder.” “The team will have to put in more time until we’re caught up.” “We’ll need more people on the project.” “The team will have to work faster.” “We’re to the …

Assessing and Tracking Team Performance – Part 7: “Abandon All Hope,…”

“…ye who enter here.” So reads the inscription to the Gates of Hell in Dante Alighieri’s epic poem, “Divine Comedy.” Who among us hasn’t felt on occasion that stepping across the threshold to our place of employment is like passing through the gates of Dante’s Inferno? But as the poets have told us, the way …

Assessing and Tracking Team Performance – Part 6: It Lives! But it’s Out of Control!

In the previous article for this series, I described three options managers could consider if moving the project deadline was out of the question. Increase employee work intensity Call for overtime Hire people On the face of it, they each appeared to offer a path toward returning a drifting schedule to be on time. Now …

Assessing and Tracking Team Performance – Part 5: Welcome to the Labyrinth

The capable product owners I know have at least an intuitive understanding that the challenge of guiding a project through to completion is more than a bit like Theseus on his way to defeat the Minotaur. The great product owners have a much more present awareness of the labyrinth before them. Depending on the project, …

Assessing and Tracking Team Performance – Part 4: Let the Interactions Begin!

In the previous article we learned how to read an important feature of system diagrams. Namely, the interactions – the direction and whether or not the effect of the interaction was direct or indirect. With that understanding in hand, we can begin to look at real-life interactions. Well, real in the sense they are reflections …

Assessing and Tracking Team Performance – Part 2: Work, Work, Work…

…work, work, work. It’s what we do. “I have to go to work.” “What do you do for work?” “OK, team. Let’s get to work.” “Where do you work? “Is that working for you?” “That’ll never work.” “Let’s work together.” “Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.” The notion of work is …

Assessing and Tracking Team Performance – Part 1: The Revenge of Frankenagile

The ubiquitous employee handbook is filled with rules, regulations, and descriptions of how employees are expected to behave. The larger the organization, the thicker the handbook. Handbooks and associated policies like this have been described as “corporate scar tissue.” Someone somewhere at sometime made a serious mistake, whether intentional or not, and so a policy …