Story Points Are About Complexity, Not Time

An important distinction between Agile and Waterfall methodologies is how far out you plan. In Waterfall, you need to plan out the entirety of the project. This approach works beautifully for known products of understood scope. But when a deliverable is complex or has many unanswerable questions, Waterfall tends to fall apart, because there’s no way to do a sufficient amount of planning.

On the other hand, Agile thrives when products are complex and filled with unanswerable questions. With an Agile approach, you plan for only the next iteration—usually just 2 weeks. Agile works not because it avoids planning (Sprint Planning is one of the critical ceremonies, after all), but because it constrains the amount of work that you try to plan.

The idea is to reduce the total scope of work to a well-defined set of user stories. Each user story gets an estimate; the estimation metric is called a Story Point.

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A + B = X Factor: The Formula for Improving IT Performance

How is it that high-performing teams work so well? Is it something innate? Is it luck? Or is there a repeatable formula that results in outstanding team performance? The spoiler is in the title of this post! Leaders can produce superior results by consciously managing team dynamics to create ideal environmental factors for a team’s unique demands.

It’s all about giving teams what they need to thrive. Here is the model we use to determine what a given team needs to succeed. 

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Girl Scout Advice for Supplementing Age-Old Management Practices with Digital Principles

When I was a Girl Scout, I learned how to succeed in organization-wide digital transformations. (Everyone got that IT leadership badge, right?!)

We were taught to:

Make new friends but keep the old.
One is silver and the other’s gold.

This universal advice applies now as we “scout” in the digital age. It’s important to value the old strategies for success—the fundamentals that kept your organization alive before its digital transformation—while seeking out new ones to apply in the current industry climate. 

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Stop Talking Past Each Other! Improve Communication by Tuning Into Your Dominant “Language”

Do you ever have those moments in a conversation when you can tell that you just aren’t on the same page as the other person? You’re saying similar words, but your wires are getting crossed. For some reason, you just don’t understand things the same way. It is a frustrating, confusing, and time-consuming phenomenon. Miscommunication also wreaks havoc on team productivity. The good news is you can put a stop to these issues once you understand power of communication styles and how they influence what people say, hear, and think. 

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So What? The Big Takeaways After Reading the Digital Transformation Report

For the CIOs’ Perspectives on Digital Transformation study, IT leaders from a wide range of industries and organization sizes were asked about the nature of their ongoing digital transformations, progress along their journeys, challenges, and more. Based on their responses and our experience with clients, we have drawn the following conclusions about the state of digital transformations in 2018.

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Now You’re Agile: Stop Sucking at Sponsorship

Agile is about empowering teams and individuals. The roles defined by Agile are: Product Owner, Scrum Master, and team member. Not listed? Project sponsor.

That said, organizations often have established practices around designating a sponsor or two when a project or program is initiated. How do these two worlds meet? Should Agile teams have sponsors or not? Can a sponsor provide value to an Agile project?

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Hitting the Brakes on a Failing Project: How to Implement a Project Pause

Many organizations try to fight against project failure by adding budget, resources, or time to the baseline. However, throwing money at the situation often leads to wasted efforts and more frustration, if the root problem isn’t addressed. Failure itself isn’t necessarily something to resist (see our thoughts on failing fast). However, pulling the plug on a major project can be easier said than done. Internal politics or other factors may limit the team’s ability to admit failure and cancel an initiative.

When your project is destined to fail, but abandoning ship is not an option, a brief pause and shift can allow you to turn things around before you completely blow the budget.

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5 Risks CIOs Must Assume in the Digital Age

For too many people, the concepts of “acting as a responsible CIO” and “taking risks” are mutually exclusive. A Traditional CIO is accustomed to a world where if nothing breaks, their job is safe. If they don’t touch anything, they can’t break anything. In this paradigm, taking risks is unwise.

In my opinion, rampant risk avoidance is the reason CIOs now lose their jobs at the second highest rate among the C-suite. Inaction—or maintaining the status quo—carries a much greater threat to the CIO (and the organization) than does taking an active stance and assuming the associated risks. In the digital age, where IT is the business, being CIO is like playing quarterback: if you stay in the pocket long enough, you will get sacked. You have to make a move.

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