Do lines of code matter…

messy vs clean

Recently while having a discussion about how to keep code clean,  the person with whom I was talking stated “if we were to manage our code that way our lines of code would be huge…” or something to that effect  🙂

I agree that lines of code can make an impact on the overall health and sustainability of the code; however, here a few things that I would offer up that matter more than the number of lines of code:

  1. The code’s focus – how many problems is the code attempting to solve
  2. The code’s simplicity – how cleaver is the code, does is it do exactly what you think it will do if you were to only read the names of it’s various parts,
  3. The code’s testability – how easy is the code to verify when changes are necessary,
  4. The code’s coupling – how many other areas of code will need to be tested if I were to change the code, and
  5. The code’s resiliency – how impacted will this code be when other code changes

My suspicion is that the individual that I was talking with had encountered some crazy code that was hard to maintain, hard to triage, hard to test, brittle, and hard to understand over the course of their time working in code.

Generally, code like this is also huge; but, if an overall solution’s line count is huge and the individual pieces of code are focused, simple to read, highly testable, loosely coupled and resilient to change, the size of the overall solution will matter much less.

That’s my take, let me know what you think.


What’s the pulse of my enterprise transformation? – More on transformation scorecards

What's the pulse of my enterprise transformation

I think this is the last post in my series on using metrics to gauge the success of an enterprise transformation.  As an enterprise transformation consultant, one of the key challenges I face is ensuring that steps I recommend throughout the transformation will help the organization achieve their goal, or the business drivers that inspired the transformation.

In part 1 of this series I framed up my hypothesis that in order to answer the question we need a business metric dashboard that is oriented around the transformation’s goal.

I continued the conversation in part 2 by exploring a set of challenges that are fairly typical to help answer the question of  “why transform” and start thinking through a way to use a balanced scorecard as a business metric dashboard.  The business challenge that I identified was:

“Our competitors are startups and they will try anything to eat our lunch.  It takes us almost a year to release a new idea into the marketplace and by that time we are several months behind the next startup.”

In this post I’d like to frame that up just a little bit more to get to a set of clear business drivers.  Let’s continue that discussion by imagining that our enterprise leader says the following as their primary goal or drivers for the transformation:

“We need to create an organization that is able to deliver early returns on our investments, quickly understanding how the market is changing, while continuing to provide predictability and high quality so that we can make and meet both internal commitments and marketplace commitments for our established customers.

In essence, our business drivers would be Early ROI, Quality & Predictability

So what’s my take?  How would I go from this statement to a business metric dashboard that would help us to answer the question “Are we succeeding?”

It’s important to take the time upfront to really consider the desired end state, working with the leadership and enablement groups to identify the key strategic objectives that will deliver the goal.  These are sometimes referred to as the strategic pillars that will support and deliver the desired outcome.  For the goal identified above the strategic objectives may look something similar to those in the picture below.

Strategic Objectives for typical business drivers

Strategic Objectives for the identified goal

While considering the strategic objectives, it’s important to look for relationships, or correlations, between each of them.  These relationships help me to better understand how focusing on one objectives will impact the other objectives.  These correlations are key to understanding the best approach for an incremental and iterative transformation.  To help with this, I like to use a tool that Dennis Stevens first brought to my attention, the strategy map.

strategy map for this goal

strategy map for this goal

Using the above map I am able to understand how each objective has the ability to influence or be influenced by the other objectives. I am also able to see themes or groupings between the objectives. In essence, Early ROI will be driven by ensuring the market fit is achieved quickly while keeping customer’s happy with the overall product quality and timelines.  Each of these are driven by operational objectives that in turn are driven by organizational enablement objectives.  These four groupings provide a balanced set of perspectives that can be incorporated into a context card that will focus our transformation phases for eventual success.

balanced context card

Balanced Perspectives – Strategy Map

Recall the original goal for this post was to establish a business metric dashboard that would help us to answer the question “Are we succeeding?”

I’m not quite there yet; but, this seems close!  Next I’d like to identify specific measurements for each of the identified objectives. The following pictures show two different ways of visualizing the specific measures. The first (on the left) shows the strategic metric map, or the balanced scorecard perspective.  The second (on the right) directly relates each metric to its key component of the identified business drivers.

Specific measurements for each strategic objective in support of the goal

Using the later perspective, I typically like to create a context card that will be used as the ongoing scorecard for the transformation. This context card also provides a clear line of sight into the near-term goals that have been identified by the enterprise or myself as we incrementally transform the organization.  Combined, the context card provides both a near term perspective on the original question “Are we succeeding” and the long term business metrics that need to accomplished for the entire transformation to be deemed successful according to the original business drivers.  An example of this type of business measurements dashboard is included here.

context card for transformation

Maintaining perspective on the near and long term goals – answering the question “Are we succeeding”

I’d love to hear your feedback.  Do you think this helps provide clarity around how to establish a set of business metrics that will enable an organization to answer the original question of “Are we succeeding with our enterprise transformation?”

Thanks for reading!!!

Hood to Coast 2015 – Running with Team World Vision

IMG_7212Its hard to describe the excitement that swells up when the day to meet up with my fellow hood to coast team captains finally arrives.  
This was the third year that Team World Vision (TWV) participated in Hood to Coast while pursuing the vision that was cast by Lopez Lomong in 2012 when he established 4SouthSudan–to change a generation by creating long term solutions at the local level by focusing on 4 critical needs: (1) Clean Water, (2) Education, (3) Health Care, and (4) Nutrition.  This vision has the potential to change the course of a small nation, the youngest nation in the world, South Sudan.  The thing about this vision is that once you hear it, it becomes impossible to ignore.  

This is what excites me about running HTC each year, it’s the one source of funding for World Vision’s water and hygiene projects in South Sudan, all of it.  There is no other source of funding.  

Wednesday: August 26, 2015

Wednesday afternoon and evening were primarily dedicated to finalizing the plans for Thursday’s pre-race events and getting to know each other better.

Thursday: August 27, 2015

Thursday was a working day, team members began arriving, groceries were purchased, vans were packed, and vans were decorated.


Our elite runners and Team World Vision leaders were amazing with their encouragement during our dinner.  One by one, Michael Chitwood, Lopez Lomong, Josh Cox, Alan Webb, Steve Spear and Anthony Halpin each took a moment to encourage our teams while they shared stories from their training or challenging moments in life.  Lopez’s story is unfathomable.  You can read about it in his book “Running for My Life, One Lost Boy’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games”

Friday: August 28, 2015 — RACE DAY!!


And the runners are off!  Friday morning started out as it always does for the TWV HTC teams.  We had a simple breakfast with bagels, toast, peanut butter and other toppings followed by a time of prayer before we climbed into the van for the 90 minute drive up Mt. Hood.  While driving up to the start line our van began discussing if we would keep track of kills (defined as the number of runners that you pass when you are running your 3 legs of the race minus the number of times that you were killed by other runners) during the race.

Kids not Kills!

IMG_7413It was sometime during this discussion that our favorite  phrase was announced through the van “I just go another donation! !! That’s 1 more kid who will have clean water that lasts”.  In rejoicing we resolved to track “Kids” instead of “Kills” as we ran the race… and it changed everything.  Each time that one of us would receive a donation we would add another tally mark to the outside window of our van.  We all became laser focused on getting to 100 “Kids” before losing cell phone coverage just outside of Portland.  By Friday night as we were having a pancake dinner on the edge of Portland our van had tallied up just over 90 Kids in donations.  We were stoked.  Each of us had run 2 of our 3 legs by that time and were ready for a few minutes of quite and rest while the other van ran it’s 2nd of 3 legs.

My first of three legs came for me around 2:15 PM on Friday afternoon, or almost 10 hours after getting pumped up to start the race during breakfast, and I was so very ready for it.  I was the 6th runner in my van and that meant that my legs would always end with a handoff to the second van.  “Don’t keep me waiting” was the phrase that I remembered while running that first leg.  Michael Forsberg, Runner 7 or the first runner in Van 2,  had jokingly poked me before we started the race at 10:30 AM that day and I didn’t want to disappoint him :).  Last year I ran hard during my first leg and then petered out due to mental defeat during my second leg.  I was really concerned with that happening again this year.

A couple of things helped me fight off mental defeat.  First, I ridiculed my mind and reminded it that it didn’t know what it was talking about 🙂  Yes, I did.  It went something like this, “Mind, you keep telling me that I need a little break, that I should walk for a moment.  Here is my answer… No, my body can go 20 times more than you think.”  Second, I prayed.  I prayed for the children who didn’t have access to clean water, I prayed for Michael Chitwood, the director for national events with World Vision, and I prayed for World Vision.  My prayer was that God would move on the hearts of people to provide clean water for the child without it, that he would make Michael the man that I believed him to be, and that he would protect the hearts of World Vision’s leaders that they would not lose their way and that it would continue to be the organization that I believe it to be.

My first run resulted in a 7:30 pace and I was absolutely thrilled to hand off the baton to Mike well ahead of schedule 🙂 we, and specifically I,  had not kept Mike waiting!

After finishing our first 6 legs the van headed to the next major van exchange in the heart of Portland were we had a fun lunch and ran into one of the other Team World Vision teams in a small restaurant.  By 8:00 PM the second van was finishing its 6 legs and Mike’s son, Michael Forsberg, was ready to hand the baton back off to our van so that we could each run our second leg.  I felt super anxious coming into this leg as it’s the leg last year where I wound up walking a couple of times.  By 11:50 PM I was back on the road, running my 2nd leg and it was wild!  The streets were dark and the run was almost entirely uphill, only gradually; so, it didn’t feel as bad as it sounds.  I prayed from the start of that run to the finish.  The ultimate gift occurred as I ran past one of the race volunteers and they told me that I was only an eighth of a mile away from the exchange… I thought that I had another mile; but, nope, I was done with leg 2 and I felt great!  Our team was still 30 minutes ahead of schedule and we were now half way through the race.

Saturday: August 29, 2015

After handing off the baton to Van 2 so that each of them could run their second of three legs, we (van 1) grabbed a quick pancake dinner and then headed to the next major exchange (exchange 24).  This exchange is very large as it is setup for van members to setup tents and rest while they wait overnight for the second van to finish its 6 segments.  We reached the exchange around 2:45 AM and found a place to park the van for a couple of hours so that we could rest.

Each year there is a story, one that becomes the story for team members to share each time they talk about hood to coast in the years to come.   At 4:45 AM my alarm went off so that we could start preparing for our next set of runs.  We were scheduled to receive the baton back from Van 2 around 5:20 AM and I knew that our first runner would need a few minutes to prepare before jumping out of the van to run.  The summer soaker was back in full effect and it was raining outside.  By 5:00 AM we had started driving the van so that we could get our runner closer to the exchange point without walking through the rain.  And then came the question…

A Family Crisis

“Where could she be?”  That is the question that overtook our van as we realized that one of our runners had unexplainably disappeared rom our van sometime in the middle of the night.  After we started driving the rest of the van began to wake up.  As people woke up they started to take note of who was and who wasn’t around and we suddenly realized that one of our runners was no longer in the van!!!  As the realization of this set in we stopped the van, we stopped and looked and talked and tried to figure out when and where we lost the runner.  Stopping a van in the middle of Exchange 24’s parking lot would be similar to stopping your car in the middle of traffic on a Monday afternoon.  The race volunteers walked towards the van as the gap between us and the van in front of us grew larger and larger.  Our driver, Colette, rolled down the window and aptly answered the race volunteers question of “Is everything alright, you need to keep moving” with “We are having a bit of a family crisis!”

We found our lost runner shortly afterwards, she had slipped out of the van just before everyone woke up so that she could quietly go to the restrooms.  We found her near the exchange point; we were thrilled and amazed at the luck of quickly locating our runner and were back on the course in no time.

Not obligated to finish

This last run was amazing!  It was almost like a roller coaster as I had no idea what I would encounter.  I jumped out of the van about a half mile before we reached Exchange 29, where I would grab the baton from Jansen Hein–our 5th runner–and take off on the 30th leg of the race.

I was about a mile into my last 5 miles when the 45 – 65 mph wind gusts and rain started hammering the course.  It was wild!  The wind gusts were amazing and forceful, hitting me head-on and from the left.  Periodically I had to jump over large branches that had been ripped by the wind from the forest that I was running through and tossed into the road.

running in the rain

As I made my way down the list hill and into Exchange 30 I was surprised to learn that the race officials had announced that none of the teams were obligated to finish.  Weather conditions were so fierce that the race officials had invited all teams to simply drive to to the finish line… a modified finish line.  The race’s official finish had to be moved from the beach to the streets of Seaside due to dangerous conditions with the wind as it blew the finish stage and structures down.  As a team we determined that we would finish the race we started.  It was our race to run, and so we ran, and we finished well.  Our team was relentless.

finishing the race

Sunday: August 30, 2015

Runmotion starts to set it.  While all of the other runners with HTC reach the finish line on Saturday on the Seaside beach, I didn’t reach it until I sat down at airport gate where my plane would take me back to Atlanta.  It came on out of nowhere.

Sitting at the gate and waiting for my flight on Sunday I became suddenly overwhelmed with emotion.  I was deeply aware of the finish line that was crossed when I walked out of the hotel and into the airport, deeply aware of the impact that your donations are making and will continue to make for the women and children in South Sudan.  Providing a stable and sustainable foundation for communities in South Sudan.  Teaching children, teaching women, providing for their most basic needs and helping them to grow a community that will thrive.

I was overwhelmed by the race, the  race that began three years earlier and has resulted in $1.5 million of funds to be gathered for the water and hygiene projects in South Sudan.  $1.5 million! And I was overwhelmed by all of those who supported me this year.  Your donations and prayers enabled me to raise over $13,000–enough to provide sustainable,life giving, clean water to 267 women and children in South Sudan.   And the race continues.  

Please consider supporting our race again in 2016 as we seek to raise another $1,000,000 for the people of South Sudan.

Roadmapping with Enterprise Agile – Balancing Capacity Against Demand


Frequently I’m asked

There is a seemingly endless set of good ideas that are demanding capacity in our organization, how do we make our demand and capacity visible so that we can create a roadmap that will best balance demand against capacity?

This is the key question that most organizations are struggling to answer while trying to create an actionable roadmap.  I have a couple of basic rules that I use to help keep the answer simple.

  1. Identify a common unit of measure for quantifying demand and capacity, and
  2.  Identify a unit of time that best represents the period of time that will be used for planning

Rule 1: Identify a common unit of measure for quantifying demand and capacity

As you may recall, my favorite unit of measure is always currency.  That said, I find that when roadmapping its frequently helpful to use a more abstract measure that will similarly represent both capacity and demand.  Currency provides too many variations as an answer to the question “How much of this do you want to invest or how much capacity will you spend to bring idea x to fruition?”  To address this, I typically recommend that an organization either use a program team or a delivery team as the unit of measure.

With the common unit of measure set to either program or delivery teams, we can now answer the following question to help with balancing demand and capacity:

We have 20 delivery team’s worth of capacity available, how many of them are we either willing to dedicate towards bringing this idea to market or how many do you think you will need to bring the idea to market?

Rule 2: Identify a unit of time that best represents the period of time that will be used for planning

This is a great start; but, we haven’t yet applied time to the process.  To really map demand against capacity we will also need to be able to answer the question of how long are we willing to apply the team to this idea.  If a planning team needs to release items into the market within months then I tend to encourage them to plan against team weeks.  If their release plans are more oriented around quarters, half-year or year durations I will usually steer them to think in terms of team quarters.  With both the unit of measure and unit of time selected we can now map both capacity and demand for a period of time.  As an example, I may answer the above question as follows:

I am willing to allocate 5 delivery teams for a quarter to bringing this idea into the market.  That will leave 15 teams worth of capacity open for other ideas or features that I want to create as well this quarter.

Using team weeks or quarters as a unit of measure and planning duration for your roadmap enabling a planning team to simplify the capacity that is available by planning period down to a ratio of planned capacity/available capacity. (Eg.  5/20 or 25% of the available capacity for the quarter, with the above example).

Finally, when the time is right, its possible to translate the cost of a roadmap item by establishing an average cost per team (say $250,000 per quarter) and then multiplying that cost by the number of teams allocated for the period.

What are your thoughts? Have you used anything similar or different?


Saying goodbye… Reflections of my Grandfather’s life

California Sept 2002 017

September 2001

Francis (Frank) Drake Bauder, my maternal grandfather, passed away on Monday, June 1, 2015 and I’m incredibly grateful for his life.  Born 8 years before the depression hit the United States, he had over 94 years under his belt and he made a real dent in the world.  Over the years he shared several fun, interesting and amazing stories with me and I’d like to share just a few of those stories here, along with their lessons.

Be bold: His adult life started abruptly when his father unexpectedly passed away from complications during a routine gall bladder surgery.  In that moment, he became the primary provider for his family and during the depression, work was not easy to find.  His lucky break came while working as a part-time filing clerk with the state unemployment office.  As he overheard it, the director of personnel with Spenser Lenses was looking for a full-time glass cutter.  With this information, Frank rushed over to the factory and walked past a line of men that was over a block long, all of them there to apply for the job.  Walking past the line and into the small waiting room he notified the clerk behind the window that he was there for his appointment with the personnel director.  The director was so impressed with Frank’s bold attitude that he immediately gave the job of cutting glass and making lenses to Frank.

Be brave: In 1942, following the bombing of Perl Harbor, Frank enlisted in the US Army Air Corps along with other men and women from the Greatest Generation.  Shortly after enlisting, Frank was selected for air cadet school and then reassigned to bombardier school.  This assignment brought his life with lenses back into focus… (he would have enjoyed that joke).

Frank's crew picture

Copyright © 2000 – 2013, Mark Worthington & the 450th Bomb Group Memorial Association

On April 28, 1944 while flying a mission over Orbetello, Italy, Frank’s plane was struck by flak and the crew was forced to bailout.  After crawling out of the mortally wounded plane at 17,000 ft he began what at first was a rapid fall towards occupied Italy.  His ripcord failed to deploy his parachute and he was forced to unpack it by hand while speeding towards the enemy soldiers who were waiting on the ground with dogs.  This was day 1 of his 51 days behind enemy lines evading capture by the Nazis.  Throughout these 51 days he was forced to remain brave, evading capture, helping and being helped by local villagers, and refusing to give up.  He finally succeeded in rejoining the allied forces on June 17, 1944 when he walked past the enemy and across the British lines.

Serve others: In the months and years that followed Frank married Joanne (Jody).  Over the course of time, they both went on to become civil servants; but, that was just the start of how they served others.  On several occasions Frank and Jody had to put their interests on hold for the betterment of their country and neighbors.  Examples included serving as an Ombudsman for free, taking a significant pay cut to serve in senior roles within US Customs, leaving a newly built home within a week of their scheduled move in, and Frank putting his life in harms way such as the time he stopped a wanted mobster’s car by standing directly in front of it as it crossed the peace bridge from Canada to the United States.

Frank’s service also included taking a vested interest in the lives of young children within their communities.  Prior to becoming a US Customs agent, Frank served as the head of the mathematics department for the Cleveland Hill school district.  Later on he served in numerous roles with the Boy Scouts of America, investing in the character and lives of the young men in his community.

Have a sense of humor:Harvey_1950_poster

“If I (Frank) ever lost [my] sense of humor, it was because [I’m] dead.”

When riding an elevator and the elevator would stop on a floor and the doors would open but no one would get on or off, Frank was known for saying out loud “Well hello Harvey” in reference to the invisible bunny named Harvey in the James Stewart movie “Harvey”.  This stopped abruptly when he offended a fellow rider on the elevator whose name happened to be… Harvey.

Be a friend: Throughout all of this time, Frank came to highly value his friendships.  The most important of these was his friendship with Jody, his wife, and my sweet grandmother.  While spending time with him, he would often remind me that throughout life you will call many people friend; but, while you come into your twilight years you will realize that most of those you called friend at one point are no longer a part of your life.  With this conversation, he would encourage me to seek true, life-long friends and remind me that the best of these should be in your family.

Frank was many things throughout his life: a son, a soldier, a husband, a teacher, a father, a servant, an avid learner, a writer, a story teller, a collector, and a patient in later years; but, most of all he was a friend to those he loved.


90th Birthday (2011)

The next most important thing…

do this next

Finding your next most important thing is critical and requires clarity.  As teams begin thinking about how to address their meetings, the topic of a previous post, its critical that they first identify where the team needs to focus its energy over the next 1-3 months, or the “Next most important thing” the team needs to do in order to succeed.

So, how would a team go about identifying their “next most important thing”… It’s a fairly straightforward process.

For the sake of a tangible example, I’d like to use a set of three types of teams that I work with on a regular basis, teams that operate within a three tier enterprise product development structure.  These teams and their purpose would be defined as follows:

  • Product development team: Produce the next most important working increment of product within a couple of weeks.
  • Program team: Establish and provide clarity for and to product development teams about the next most important increments of product that are needed within the next few months.
  • Enterprise portfolio team: Establish and provide clarity for and to program teams about their next most important thing for the portfolio to succeed.  This usually requires creating or maintaining a multi-quarter capacity-aligned roadmap for the products and services that are owned by the portfolio

With these perspectives in mind here is the process that I would recommend for identifying the next most important thing within each team:

  1. Review the team’s primary purpose,
  2. Ask each team member to write down the one thing within its control that is keeping the team from fulfilling its primary purpose,
  3. Review the team’s suggestions and filter the list down to the one thing that the team agrees is the most important goal for the next period.

its important to recall that the next most important thing for a portfolio team may look very different from the next most important thing for a product development team.

So, how would a portfolio team member identify the portfolio’s next most important thing? I’d recommend that they answer this question:

What is keeping our portfolio from delivering the next most important increments of product into the markets within the next 3-9 months?

Likewise for a program team member I would recommend the following question:

What is keeping our program from providing clarity to the product development teams about the next most important increment of product?

And finally for a product development team I would recommend the following question be answered:

What is keeping our team from delivering a working increment of product within a couple of weeks?

In each of these cases, the next most important thing would be directly tied back to the primary purpose for the team and would be expected to be resolved within a short period.  Once we know what the next most important thing for the team is, we can start to identify which types of meetings we will need and how frequently we will need them to ensure that we are accomplishing our next most important thing.

What do you think, are there other examples that you would like to hear more about or perhaps where you have seen this fail?

And as always, thanks for reading and sharing your feedback!

Hold on… what do you mean when you say business capability?

capabilities enable an organization to understand the options available for moving their boat in the desired direction

This term is one that I spend a lot of time defining and discussing with the teams that I coach.  Its interesting how it can become overloaded to represent various “things”.  Why is it that I spend a lot of time discussing this term?  As you may have seen in previous posts, most businesses engage with me as an enterprise agile coach because they find their current structure and processes make it hard for them to “turn the ship” quickly so that they can take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace.

A key part of making this happen comes down to understanding what are the underlying pieces and parts of the business that it can leverage when trying to quickly turn the ship.  These are what I broadly refer to as the business’ underlying capabilities.   To better define my intended definition of the term, I’d like to leverage the definition below as expressed by Ulrich Kalex in his paper on Business Capability Management:

A business capability defines the organization’s capacity to successfully perform a unique business activity. Capabilities:
– are the building blocks of the business
– represent stable business functions
– are unique and independent from each other
– are abstracted from the organizational model
– capture the business’ interests

Identifying a Transformation Scorecard

Shedding light on a transformation’s success

In a previous post, I asked the question of how can we tell if we are succeeding with an enterprise transformation.  In the post, I closed with the notion of using a balanced scorecard for signaling progress towards the transformation’s core business drivers.

A couple of comments were shared after its publishing that cautioned on the dangers of creating a scorecard that would not drive the “right” behaviors or that was too broad and couldn’t be connected with the transformation’s success.  This was great feedback.

In keeping with my desire to resolve this question, I’ll explore a bit more of the notion behind why many organizations are seeking a transformation.  I think answering this question will help to frame up a sample balanced scorecard in another post.  Thanks for continuing to share your thoughts and feedback along the way!

Why transform?  I think its fair to say that the number of reasons why an organization would seek an enterprise transformation could be as varied as the people of the world.  That said, I most often hear about the following handful of reasons for an enterprise to transform: (1) new competitive forces in the marketplace, (2) an inability to pivot or focus, and/or (3) quality issues.  Frequently the statement goes something like this:

“Our competitors are startups and they will try anything to eat our lunch.  It takes us almost a year to release a new idea into the marketplace and by that time we are several months behind the next startup.”

In this case I would probably orient around both (1) time to market and (2) innovation as key business drivers; but, it would be important to remember that innovation and time to market are usually not enough.  We would need to keep our eye on the ball of business, cash or (3) return on investment.  So, using traditional balanced scorecard perspectives, I would orient Financial around ROI, Customer around Quality, Ops and Processes around Time to Market, and Innovation around continuous improvement.

What are your thoughts, would you identify different themes for the scorecard or change the placement of the themes into different perspectives?


Read more here! What’s the pulse of my enterprise transformation?

Meetings meetings and more meetings

BureauWhy on earth do I need to spend so much of my time in a meeting?  This is an absolutely sane question that most of the team members wind up asking at some point in time while I am coaching an organization towards more adaptive management techniques.

Regardless of the role, there are other things beyond meetings that we have traditionally declared to be productive use of time.  If you are a developer, then we declare productivity to be associated with time spent writing software.  If you are a product manager, then we declare productivity to be associated with time spent defining the next version of a product or understanding the market’s demands.  Whatever the role, its rare for an organization or a profession to associate meeting time with high productivity.

From this perspective, it makes a ton of sense when people beg the question,

“Why on earth do I need to spend so much of my time in a meeting?”.

Here’s my usual answer:

“What defines a productive minute, is it one that is spent focusing on your craft or is it a minute that is spent delivering value to the organization as quickly as possible?”

I tend to think that a productive minute is one that is spent delivering value to the organization as quickly as possible.  So, while the time spent practicing a craft is absolutely a critical part of getting value to the organization it is a waste if the individual is not hyper focused on the actual needs of the organization.  And this is where meetings come into the picture.

Effective meetings will have a specific theme and will enable a team to establish high clarity  around the needs of the organization and teach accountability.  For most of the teams that I coach this involves a few specific themes:

(1) Daily Standup – This is a quick touchpoint that is oriented around maintaining accountability within a team as each member takes a minute to update the other team members about the progress she has made over the past 24 hours, progress that she expects to make over the next 24 hours, and any issues or concerns that she needs help addressing.

(2) Tactical Meeting – This is an hour or more and has a very specific purpose, dealing with short term tactics such as creating clarity around near term market needs or ensuring that the team is successful in meeting its commitments.

(3) Strategic Meeting – This is usually a half day or more and is focused creating clarity about how to move the organization forward with a focus on the longer term vision and strategies.

What’s your take, are meetings useful in your organization?  Do your meetings have specific themes or are they a mix-mash of agenda topics?

Team World Vision’s Virtual 6k for Water, will you join?


Join me on World Water Day (March 22, 2015) as I run/walk Team WorldVision’s virtual 6K for Water in North Atlanta.

6K is the average distance that people in Africa have to walk for water. On World Water Day, thousands of people across neighborhoods, city streets, and country roads will be walking and running 6 Kilometers (3.72 miles) for children in Africa.

When you sign up, Team WorldVision will send you a t-shirt and a race bib with a photo of a child that will get clean water from your registration. This is your chance to invite your whole family to make a difference regardless of age.  If you are in Atlanta and want to join myself and others look for the “North Atlanta – Big Creek Greenway” team when you register at