Hard facts

Developers being asked to fill a time sheet every half an hour. How does that sound? It happens!!


Random Thought: A sprint planning game


Take cubes of 3-5 different sizes.

Take two boxes of some size. Name them A and B.

For each task in the backlog ask the developer to pick a cube of size proportional to the size of the task.

Start with a task that is obviously complex and big. Provide a short justification for why the task is complex and big. This will help members compare other tasks to it and choose appropriate cubes.

Keep adding the cubes to the box A.

Stop adding tasks to the sprint once either the A is full or none of the member is prepared to take up further tasks, whichever happens first.

There will be some place left where you can fit small cubes. Pick up some small task and add to the sprint.

Keep the boxes near your work area.

Ask developers to take out cubes from A as and when they finish the tasks and put them in B.

As the productivity of the team improves, as the members become more aware of the system and get used to it, they may start choosing smaller cubes for tasks for which they would have chosen bigger cubes before.

The cubes and the boxes have their volumes printed.

P = Total volume of cubes in B / Volume of B is the Productivity Factor.

E = Total Volume of cubes in A / volume of A is the Error Factor.

D = Volume per developer.

Goal is to keep improving P and D. E may not always be a concern (depends on your company/project).

Any ideas/suggestions?


Accountability without accounting

Accountability is important for a project’s success. It is one attribute that every manager desires that his people possess. However, when it comes to the problem of lack of accountability most practices used to make people  accountable tend to be based on negative notions and appear ruthless. As with most management problems it takes courage, patience and clear conscience to find a humane solution. Most solutions end up asking the team members fill
up more and more reports. It only results in loss of productivity and in most cases loss in quality.

If making people accountable is your purpose the following practices don’t serve it:

  1. Filling time sheets
  2. Asking people to account for at least 9 hours a day
  3. Estimating in hours
  4. Highlighting someone’s lapses in front of the team (with the hope that it won’t be repeated again). How sweetly you put it doesn’t matter.

Rather, the following practices work:

  1. Getting people subscribe to a common vision
  2. Instilling a sense of ownership in the team members
  3. Freedom of thought and initiative
  4. Incorporating tools to automate laborious work
  5. Timely encouragement
  6. Tolerance towards lapses
  7. Humane employee policies
  8. Intelligent negotiations with clients
  9. Making clients realize how your management choices are affecting product quality
  10. Sensible one-on-one communication with your team members

The first set of practices doesn’t deliver because it ignores the following facts:

  1. We are human.
  2. We think.
  3. We like to create.
  4. We are free.
  5. We need inspiration
  6. We are all equal in potential but different in strengths.
  7. We are bound to make mistakes.
  8. We need rest and change in activity.
  9. Most often your client wants quality, maximized value for money (you should know how to market your service)

The second set of practices works because it respects the above facts, it is humane and it is based on trust.

I like the daily standup meetings with simple and clear-cut status that every member communicates to the rest of the team. I cannot remain un-accountable for long unless there is no one who is accountable.

What are your ways of bringing about accountability without accounting?