Why All The PowerPoint?

After a big software project goes haywire, the CEO often gets involved. Usually somewhere around the 18-month mark.

Most good CEOs start their involvement with an apology: “I’m so sorry I haven’t been more involved up until now. I haven’t supported you.”

Less introspective CEOs start by firing people.

If you’re lucky enough to work for a good CEO, there will be a mixed reaction to the mea culpa nonetheless. There’s a new sheriff in town, but painful change is surely nigh. The appeal of finally having the CEO’s ear wears off in about a day–right after he or she asks for a PowerPoint deck that recaps the goals and leadership structure of the project.

That deck should be somewhere on the wiki, but isn’t. If it’s out there at all, it’s out of date.

Great Product Owners Aren’t Visionaries

This week I’ve been thinking about the projects I’ve worked on that were successful--as well as those that weren’t--hoping to focus the coming year on the former. Not surprisingly, the past winners weren’t led by committees.

The Cut Line

Dec 20, 2015 by Barc Category: Agile, Development, Scrum 0 comments

How much should the team commit to?

I don’t come to you with my problems, do I?

Introducing himself to Bob Dylan at a party, Peter Grant extended his hand and said, “Hi. I’m Peter Grant, manager of Led Zeppelin.”

Dylan looked at him and said, “I don’t come to you with my problems, do I?” then turned and walked away.

This famous anecdote says a lot about Dylan’s dyspeptic personality (Dylan was our Kanye, but with a sense of humor), but it indicates more, and better, I think, about why Peter Grant was a great manager.

Peter Grant

Grant was a former South London wrestler who became one of the most powerful men in the music industry. The formidable 6 foot, 5 inch, ‘Genghis Khan of Rock’ struck fear into the hearts of anyone foolish enough to try to rip off one of his bands.

Across a long career, Grant managed the Yardbirds, Bad Company, Bo Diddley, The Everly Brothers, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, and the Animals, but his reputation was cemented in rock history with Led Zeppelin.

There were many rough edges to this ex-wrestler (who once beat up a security guard who mistakenly cuffed his son), including years of drug abuse and depression when John Bonham (Led Zeppelin’s drummer) died of alcohol abuse.

But, for now, let’s focus on Grant’s positive attributes, the ones we’d like to see in all our managers.

Crossing the Potomac

Sep 15, 2015 by Barc Category: Agile, Agile Executive, Blog 0 comments Tags: agile, scrum, teams

The Agile Alliance attracts over 2,300 project managers, consultants, and what are called ‘Agile Coaches’ from all over the world, who present over 200 presentations on how to fix troubled projects just like mine.

When Do You Know It’s Time to Let an Employee Go?

I’d like to give you a 100 point checklist that will absolutely assure you that you are doing the right thing when you let someone go, but it doesn’t exist.

Take the Blow

Jun 08, 2015 by Barc Category: Blog, Change Managment 0 comments Tags: conflict, mistakes, scrum

The Scene I turned, and wrote the number on the whiteboard. $1.5M In front of me in the small room was the SVP of a large Japanese auto company, his head of the PMO Jason, and all of Jason’s project managers. “Wait,” said the SVP. “$1.5m is the price for the entire project, correct?” I […]

Wherefore Art Thou Multimedia?

May 18, 2015 by Barc Category: Agile UX, Blog, Change Managment, Management 0 comments

It probably sounds passé now, but there once was a technology we thought would be a new way for telling stories, and maybe even creating art.

The Problem with Team-Based Development

Good small product teams become pros in their area of expertise, as they should. But they can also start to think they are the experts in the whole solution, from end to end, not just the one part they are focused on.

Grooming Sessions

May 03, 2015 by Barc Category: Agile, Agile Executive, Blog, Scrum 0 comments

Grooming sessions are a whole lot more effective when the Product Owner kicks the meeting off with a short presentation that shows what the results are of the last release, what the team needs to accomplish in the upcoming quarter, and what are the 3-4 priorities that need to be accomplished in the next sprint.