The Expert Newbie

August 20, 2014

This has been a rather complicated post to write. I still feel there are some flaws and that may sound somehow clumsy.  Yet, here it is : I have a problem with expertise.

During the 25 years of my professional career, I have changed jobs, mission, specialties and professional activities on a regular basis, every two or three years, often while remaining in the same company and without getting any pay rise.

One reason is that I love discovering new work culture and environment while meeting new co-workers. But I think the most important one is I am afraid of looking like sitting in my comfort zone while patronizing from my expert position.

Experts are seen as the super-heroes of today’s organization and, for one, I don’t buy into that assertion. Quite the opposite, actually : I tend to see expertise culture as an obstacle to setting up a healthy one. Which makes me comfortable being a newbie and becoming expert at it …

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Lead With Respect is a terrific book that puts the elements of genuine motivation into a broader context and helps leaders translate those principles into action.” (Daniel Pink)

Freddy & Michael Ballé have just published a new book : Lead With Respect. This is a business novel, a format which has already brought 2 Shingo prizes to the writing team so far with their previous books The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager. This time round, the focus is on one question : how to lead 21st century workers with respect ? From this blog perspective, it is a fascinating one indeed.

As an IT manager and Agile and Lean practitioner I have been using #hypertextual as a support to study extensively 21st century management : Agile methodologies, Enterprise 2.0, Lean, Free Enterprise etc … and this genuine Leadership question has been underlying ever since. Read the rest of this entry »

I had a second article published today on InfoQ : Seven changes to remove waste from your software process.The first one being quite popular (a few weeks in the site top articles) Ben asked me to write another one, which I gratefully did.

It can be seen as another technical (and, I hope, actionable) article on my journey towards Lean while scaling agility to a full organization.

Thanks to Ben Linders for editing and Ana Maria Ciobatoru for her work in making it look great.

I have been in charge of implementing Lean Software Development in a software vendor house for about 2 years. During this time I have been coaching a large team throughout the development of two successive versions (let’s call them V2 and V3) of our enterprise solution.

We have gradually implemented seven major changes in our organization that have helped our R&D department to remove waste from our software development process with encouraging results. This essay is about implementing these seven changes, the results we obtained and what we have learned during the journey.

Read the article here.

Jim Womack has co-authored  two of the most important management books of the last thirty years : The Machine that changed the world (1990) and Lean Thinking 1995. In Gemba Walks, the Lean Expert has curated about 60 short essays he has written between 2001 and 2010. These were originally e-letters dedicated to the observations he made while visiting the shop floor (the Gemba) of companies on their way to become lean ones.

This is a very inspiring book and a strongly recommended read for anyone interested in the core mission of managament. Jim Womack defines it as fostering a creative tension between management two main axis : functional and vertical towards the CEO and horizontal and value stream driven towards the customer. Read on for enlightening thoughts …

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berkun

Scott Berkun was in Paris for a few days as he was invited to speak at USI 2014. That was a great opportunity to meet him and to discuss about his books, his time at Microsoft and WordPress, how and where he grew up and how it feels to be a writer in the 21st Century. Scott has been kind enough to allow us some of his time, the most important thing he can give as he wisely writes in Mindfire.

A great dinner at the terrace of La Mauvaise Réputation, in Montorgueil neighborhood. And a few drinks as well : champagne, Armagnac, beers and a bottle of St Estephe 2011 for good measure: a bit young, but we still managed to work it out. It was so inspiring, I’ve still managed to remember just about everything despite the drinks. Yet, if I remember well the ideas, the transcript may not gives good justice to Scott verbal skills and precision in the words he uses.

There are not so many opportunities to meet one of #hypertextual heroes and that evening has been a milestone in the history of this blog. This is how the conversation went …  Read the rest of this entry »

Ed Catmull is co-founder and president of Pixar. After having reached his life long goal (creating the first computer animated feature film) with Toy Story in 1996, Ed faced a terrible dilemma : what should be his next goal ? Looking at smart leaders and once successful companies stumbling and collapsing, Ed soon identified this new goal : overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration.

This is what this book is all about. Sure there are some delightful back stories of some of the most inspiring animated movies of all time. There also are the little secrets of working closely with Steve Jobs. But the most valuable takeaways of this book are elsewhere.

They are in the way Ed Catmull (with the helped of Amy Wallace) describes the path that a rather successful leader in a creative industry followed to protect Pixar and then Disney Animation from these unseen forces and to make both company strive. Interestingly enough, the core of his management and leadership practices lies in Deming principles and Japanese management : a book hypertextual could not miss … Read the rest of this entry »

Our decision making is better when we draw on the collective knowledge and unvarnished opinions of the group. Candor is the key to collaborating effectively. Lack of candor leads to dysfunctional environments. So how can a manager ensure that his or her working group, department, or company embraces candor? By putting mechanisms in place that explicitly say it is valuable. One of Pixar’s key mechanisms is the Braintrust, which we rely on to push us toward excellence and to root out mediocrity. It is our primary delivery system for straight talk. (…)

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sk8 2

I was doing an Enterprise 2.0 Masterclass to a group of technical national directors at INSEP (French national institute of sports) and one of the attendee asked me this question : “How can I quickly assess my organization culture ?”

It has just occurred to me that this can be carried out very easily, asking just one question, so I asked them :

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#hypertextual on InfoQ

April 7, 2014

bugs 1

One of the misconceptions I’ve made while working with software development teams using agile methodologies is that I initially confused bugs with problems and I tended to believe our agile process was Lean, as it made bugs visible. During the last few months, this idea has cleared up a bit and, in retrospect, I now believe that our agile team producing bugs was not a Lean system producing learning opportunities : it was a team having quality problems, which is something I have seen with many teams.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a huge honor for me to announce that I have an article published on InfoQ.

Back in the days when I was an airline mainframe developer whose career had been violently hit by Spetember 11, I was desperate to switch to Java professional world and was an avid reader of theserverside.comFloyd Marinescu was its creator. He also later became the author of EJB Design Patterns – one of the first book where I read something linking the way we work with the quality of life (even if one may argue that it might be challenging with EJB, anyway …).

In 2006 he went on to create InfoQ with a strong focus on agile methodologies : it soon became my main source of information of all things agile. Having an article published on this site is probably as great an honor for me as it would be to jam with Johnny Marr.

The article, a rather technical one, is about the path I followed while slowly moving from Agile to Lean as I was getting to understand the key role of problems in continuous improvement. It also somehow is a more detailed follow-up of a previous article on Agile and Lean.

Many thanks to Regis Medina for introducing me to Ben Linders, to the latter for his great editing work and to Ana-Maria Ciobotaru for making it look neat and professional.

In the fall of 2009, at the time I started digging deeper into Enterprise 2.0 and the management principles this organization approach implied, I set up a list of 10 management principles and how it differentiates with management as we know it.

About 12 months later in November 2010, Jim Womack, co-author of The Machine that Changed the World or System Lean, wrote a piece called Lean Management Vs Modern Management where the author applies a similar approach and compare 10 key Lean Management principles with the corresponding approach in Modern Management. Read the rest of this entry »

This is an excerpt from Time article about “How an unlikely group of high-tech wizards revived Obama’s troubles HealthCare.gov website”.

This excerpt focus on the three rules theses wizards apply when rescuing the project a set of IT services companies has lead to disaster. All Agile principles : stand-up meetings, developers get the call, get managers out of the way, solving problems completely, reduce work in progress etc …). An awesome story.

Rule 1: “The war room and the meetings are for solving problems. There are plenty of other venues where people devote their creative energies to shifting blame.”
Rule 2: “The ones who should be doing the talking are the people who know the most about an issue, not the ones with the highest rank. If anyone finds themselves sitting passively while managers and executives talk over them with less accurate information, we have gone off the rails, and I would like to know about it.” (Explained Dickerson later: “If you can get the managers out of the way, the engineers will want to solve things.”)
Rule 3: “We need to stay focused on the most urgent issues, like things that will hurt us in the next 24–48 hours.”

cube

This is a conversation I had together with #e20 super-connector Luis Suarez on Twitter whilst at the E20 Summit.

During the engagement panel, he stated that employee engagement was a problem, an idea you can find in many management books (Year without pants by Berkun or Flat Army by Pontefract are recent examples) articles or talks. Even this blog elaborated on that subject a while back, a post which, in restrospect, might seem a bit shallow.

Most of these resources draw on Gallup study who claims that this costs about $US400 Billion per year to the US economy, which, I agree, is a terrible human and financial  waste.

But I wonder : is this employee engagement a problem or a symptom ? Luis insisted that Social Business will help in fixing this. This is where I come to have a rhetoric issue … Read the rest of this entry »

kongress media

Having gained some momentum on the topic of video interview with the last Lean IT Summit, I have been delighted to help Kongress Media mogul and #e20 organizer Bjoern Negelmann in doing some others within the scope of this year edition of the Enterprise 20 Summit. Thanks to Jan Grüb for shooting and editing those.

I was lucky enough to engage in video recorded conversations with #e20 rising star Céline Schillinger, Wirearchy father Jon Husband and IT strategy über-expert and visionary Dion Hinchcliffe.

A huge honor to have access to their expertise and a great opportunity to discuss issues such as the alleged death of Social Business the struggle to implement #e20 successfully and their main takeaways from the conference.

Last but not least, a great opportunity to notch up some more trophies to #hypertextual interviewees record.

Sorry people, I did not have the chance to edit myself out just like I did for the Lean IT Summit ones so I’m afraid you’ll have to cope with my fast talking and body language hyper-activity … Read the rest of this entry »

williquet e20s

(Illustration by Frédéric Williquet)

The E20 Summit was celebrating its fifth edition in Paris in the stimulating premises of ESCP, and just like Jon Husband said on Facebook : “I have been having a blast”. Notice that it’s rather challenging to be somehow unbiased since I am an ambassador of the event and I always am longing for the opportunity to exchange ideas, stories and drinks with the E20 mob.

Unfortunately, I could only attend the first day of this year edition. Despite my absence I have still been able to follow the conversations of the second day thanks to the “#E20 peeps Tweeting like maniacs” as Lee Bryant noticed.

Some may have expressed their regrets that their were not so many new ideas but I don’t really share this perspective. The main impression I have brought back home is this : we are reaching some kind of maturity on the topic as some patterns of successful implementations emerge. It is great to have thought leaders discussing ideas, principles and concepts but the main value out of these conferences from my perspective are the returns of experiences : those were very inspiring indeed.

Inspiring to such an extent that I after 5 years into the topic, I eventually found my one tweet definition of Social Business … Read the rest of this entry »

Robert Sutton is one of the business writers this blog discusses the most. A professor at Stanford Management School he made himself famous in the business literature with his best seller No Asshole Rule. Though an excellent book and provocative read, #Hypertextual still prefers The Knowing Doing Gap he wrote together with Jeffrey Pfeiffer which, in my view, really nails down what management success is all about.

Another key question for leaders is being dealt with in Scaling Up Excellence (“spreading constructive beliefs and behavior from the few to the many”) an essay he wrote with Huggy Rao. A very interesting read with a spectacular amount of examples from all different types of industries and professional activities (hospital, education) you may think of, and many inspirational thoughts from psychologist and behavior researchers …  Read the rest of this entry »

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