processes regularly get over-complicated or misapplied. People are often loaded down with devastating amounts of information that can cripple an individual's ability to think clearly. We can easily become burdened by frameworks, esoteric language, principles, or practices that clutter our minds and focus our attention on the wrong things.
What you focus on matters. All too often process, principles, and practices become a crippling focus. What we hope to achieve in this paper is to help people consider process and enablers in a different light: when processes and enablers are applied appropriately they can result in a group of people working very cohesively together (i.e., a WFT). Our goal becomes creating WFTs that are deployed to business' needs. WFTs are how businesses can realize opportunities to thrive.
Explaining WFTs: "3 + 2"
We have found some common language that helps teams think collectively. We call these critical thinking skills "attractors for effective thinking." Our goal with these attractors is to help WFTs behave more instinctively as they make decisions. The name of the game is to avoid and eliminate confusion. Our goal is to bring a team's unified collective intellect to bear on business problems.
We have broken things down into "3+2" as an easy way to remind ourselves of these attractors and help the teams with whom we work.
- Let the product lead - This reminds us to pay attention to the needs of the product. As we consider adopting a new practice or idea from our process we constantly ask ourselves if this serves the needs of the product. Or, said empirically, the product is your best source of reality to give you feedback if you are making the right decisions and having the right conversations.
- One bite at a time - Each item of work should be broken up into small enough pieces to eat. Most teams and individuals will bite off far more than they can chew. We are constantly working with teams to break the work down into manageable pieces that can get done in short time-boxed cycles. Short cycles that roll-up into hourly, daily and weekly rhythms begin to emerge as a good pattern for managing the work.
- Keep it visible - This is one of the most obvious things to do yet it is rarely done well. Without visible pieces of work or a map to that work we cannot see where effort is being applied. When we cannot see where to apply effort we flounder and do not work together. When the work is a physical thing like digging a ditch it is easy to see where to jump in with a shovel and help out. However, in the land of ideas or software work much of the work is not easily visible and therefore self-organization is inhibited. When we make our work visible, we reduce the risk of disappearing for long periods of time and not producing anything. With, visible work efforts we improve the chances that our next conversation will be the right one and reporting on team progress is a breeze. Great teams work together by keeping an appropriate amount of visibility.
Conversation and Structure - These are used by the team to learn and achieve balance within the three attractors for effective thinking. The conversation requires enough structure from an established protocol so that we can communicate effectively. [v] This communication protocol can be setup by formal or informal process (e.g. an agile process) language agreements, team location and more. The conversation is necessary for humans to establish rapport so that we can create, contribute