23 April 14

Three questions every program manager must ask

Suppose you are the new program manager assigned to a program. How would you go about finding your way inside the complex maze of a program, its stakeholders, sponsors, component teams and various vendors?

Hard work is killing people. Literally!
18 April 14

Hard work is killing people. Literally!

Burnout is a serious issue for several countries, industries and people, even if we don’t acknowledge in as many words. In our industry, where heroism, cowboy programming and all-nighters are considered cool and an integral part of the software subculture, there has been a (really) small effort to address work-life balance.

Let’s free up agile teams…
2 February 14

Let’s free up agile teams…

Why are we so parochial in software industry about not recognizing the bigger economic sense rather than limiting ourselves to a singular idea that collocated teams are the best option?

How do you design agile feedback?
16 January 14

How do you design agile feedback?

Feedback is perhaps the most important aspect of the overall agile lifecycle – without a proper, honest and timely feedback, there is no ‘adapt’ step in the inspect-adapt cycle. However designing a proper feedback instrument for a human-human interaction, like a training program, is a totally different thing because it entails imprecise measurements that are often influenced by people’s mental models, skills and experiences, and not to mention – their calendars! Needless to say, these feedbacks could mean anything to different people on different days.

Design Vs. Innovation?
8 January 14

Design Vs. Innovation?

Even the ideas need to procreate in order to produce better ideas! Innovation tells which ideas should procreate, and Design tells how they should procreate! They both must be present in a ‘cooptetive’ manner – competing and yet collaborating at the same time.

Dude, where’s my customer?
11 November 13

Dude, where’s my customer?

Startups that operate under a stealth mode achieve over 90% failure rates. While they might have bright ideas, access to top talent, adequate funding, etc., they typically fail to accomplish their original objectives. A key reason behind such spectacular failure rates is premature scaling at each stage of the startup. In this talk, we will examine the mistakes that startups make, and what we can learn from the Customer Development model proposed by Steve Blank to improve better chances of survival and growth.

Why is your agile still a lot like dogma on steroids?
18 August 13

Why is your agile still a lot like dogma on steroids?

I still continue to be amazed (thought ‘shocked’ and ‘dumbfounded’ will be a more appropriate words here) by the amount of dogma in agile circles. Do this! Don’t do this! Wasn’t agile meant to liberate us from the tyrannies of the so-called big monolithic non-agile white elephant processes, and create a more nimble mindset, flexible culture and adaptive process framework where ‘inspect and adapt’ was valued more than ‘dogma and prescription’?

Does the internet know you?
29 July 13

Does the internet know you?

This blog post is about those brave 5% who decide to take matters in their hands and leave the comforts of corporate job and social prestige to walk alone into an uncertain but perhaps more exciting future. I salute their fortitude. Unfortunately, in many of those cases, they are extremely ill-prepared for the uncertain future that lies ahead…the internet doesn’t know them!

Is your plan just a placebo?
14 July 13

Is your plan just a placebo?

Plans have a huge credibility problem. For large part of recorded history, they have always had this problem. With all the advancements we have made in estimations, forecasting, scheduling, risk management and planning, our execution still continues to challenge us, at times even confound us.

Why user stories make sense?
30 June 13

Why user stories make sense?

User stories are meant to be a placeholder to initiate an early conversation between the product owner and the team on key hypotheses so that a quick validation of them could be done to refine/confirm/reject our understanding of what the customer really wants.

How do design and build an organization for success?
24 June 13

How do design and build an organization for success?

In my experience, there are three critical elements that need to be present in ‘interlocking proportions’ for any organization to truly achieve a sustainable long-term success. When I say ‘interlocking proportions’ I am implying two key things – one that there must be a natural and mutually complementary fit among all the components, and secondly these components are in such measure that they complement, ideally amplify, each other, rather than canceling out one component at the cost of other component.

What Emerging Markets Customers Really Want from the Internet: An Indian Perspective
18 April 13

What Emerging Markets Customers Really Want from the Internet: An Indian Perspective

India is a new gold rush market. Home to some 1.2 Billion people, half of whom under the age 25, and buoyed by the recent economic growth, the country is poised to be a major economic powerhouse for the next few decades before becoming the second largest economy by 2050. In this short article, let’s review some of the data and trends that I discussed earlier in my presentation at the PDMA conference in Orlando, Florida.

The Joys of Designing Agile Solutions for New-Age Problems
3 April 13

The Joys of Designing Agile Solutions for New-Age Problems

Pune is hosting India’s first Scrum Gathering this year in July with the theme of “Scrum – Kal, Aaj aur Kal”, meaning the past, present and future of Scrum. I appreciate all efforts by Madhur Khaturia and his team in making it happen. I hope and believe it will be yet another milestone in India’s journey towards agility, and will stimulate a whole lot of new ideas and conversations thus ultimately leading to increased awareness, higher adoption and more breakthrough products from India.

Does your process help you preserve status quo, or deliver some kick-ass skunk works?
9 March 13

Does your process help you preserve status quo, or deliver some kick-ass skunk works?

Problem-solving in the past has been dominated by methods involving rigorous and meticulous planning and flawless execution – something that has been questioned, largely by results (or rather the absence of it) in the recent years, if that is (still) the best approach when there are so many moving parts and the external world changes in a blink. We frequently ‘blame’ old practices of assembly plant-style waterfall days where it took years to get a project team to jump multiple hoops and just get a project done – in most cases, hopelessly delayed, unacceptable quality and overbudget.

So, does agile really kill innovation?
5 March 13

So, does agile really kill innovation?

In continuation of my earlier blog post on ‘Does Agile Kill Innovation?’, I had a great time moderating the panel discussion at Agile India 2013 with Henrik Kniberg, Owen Rogers, Sujatha Balakrishnan, Udayan Banerjee, Praful Pillay and Sudipta Lahiri. The panel discussion was literally the last program at the end of two long days of management conference – but despite that, we had 60-70 folks throughout the session.

How do you manage intercultural issues in your teams?
25 February 13

How do you manage intercultural issues in your teams?

Distributed and virtual teams are a reality of today’s world. It is not just limited to well-heeled MNCs – we see countless everyday examples of such teams with NGOs, startups, voluntary efforts, college project and so on. There is more to working with people from different time zones and cultural contexts than we realize. Problem is, most of us haven’t been exposed to, or adequately trained to handle such diverse teams – not just as a manager but even as a team member.

Does Agile Kill Innovation?
20 February 13

Does Agile Kill Innovation?

I will be moderating a panel discussion on this topic at the Agile India 2013. Given the incessant pace of technology evolution, ever-growing competition where product functionality is hardly the differentiator anymore (if it ever was!), shrinking time-to-market expectations where ‘continuous deployment‘ seems to have been relegated to a hygiene …more

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