In-the-SPIN: Newsletter of the Boston@SPIN
 Issue 61 January 2010
Editor: Abby Fichtner 
In-the-SPIN brings tips from our presenters and facilitators to help us apply the great things they've shared with us at our Boston SPIN meetings.

In This Issue:

  Developing Career-Enhancing Persuasion Skills by Naomi Karten
  A Taste of Scrum by Mario Moreira
  Context Alignment: Closing the Strategy-Execution Gap by Ross Seider

Be sure to join us in February & March when we'll have Tim Lister, Ed Yourdon, and more lively discussions for you in our roundtables. Want to get more involved? We'd love to have you facilitate a roundtable or blog about our meetings - both are great ways to get your name out there. Have ideas on how we can improve? Drop us a line and let us know what you'd like from your SPIN.

Signed, The Boston Spin Volunteers
Developing Career-Enhancing Persuasion Skills (Presentation)
Developing Career-Enhancing Persuasion Skills by Naomi Karten
 Naomi Karten   Many people approach persuasion in a way that undermines their chance of success. To make a persuasive case, consider these suggestions:

Choose your cases wisely. If you repeatedly try to gain buy-in for things that are blatantly unrealistic, those you’re trying to persuade will stop listening.

Be specific. Do you want two more developers or twelve? An extra week or two months? If you can't say for sure, go back to the drawing board.

Do for others before asking them to do for you. If you provide genuine value to others as a consistent practice, they'll be more inclined to support your case.

Focus on how those you want to persuade will benefit. What's in it for them? The more your case meshes with their priorities and concerns, the better your chances of success.
February Roundtables
Agile, QA, and The
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Bill Tsen

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Persuade professionally. If you'll be making your case in spoken form, rehearse what you're going to say. If it'll be in written form, make it articulate and professional-looking.

Pay attention to timing. Your manager may need quiet time after a budget battle or a project review with a difficult customer. So don't show up on a whim and assume you'll get undivided (or even fractional) attention.

Don't expect an instantaneous yes. Getting buy-in for a major change takes patience and persistence. Let the idea seep in. Suggest ways to start small. Build your case slowly and steadily.

If the answer is no, accept the decision gracefully. Don't yes-but. Arguing will peg you as a nuisance. Instead, request an explanation and then reflect on what you can do so that you succeed next time around.

» View Naomi's Presentation
» Read more of Naomi's articles on her Perceptions & Realities newsletter

An Iteration in the Life of an Agile Scrum Team (Roundtable)
A Taste of Scrum
by Mario Moreira

Scrum has a taste that can leave you satisfied from sprint to sprint. Through effective teamwork, self-empowerment and a shared understanding of value, a welcoming meal is available for customers at the end of each sprint. How does Scrum do this? It's all in the ingredients...

Ingredient #1: Roles and Responsibilities
To create a tasty Scrum, you need a Product Owner who represents the customer's interests, a ScrumMaster who facilitates and leads the team through the Scrum process while removing roadblocks, and an effective Scrum Team who commits to the work and delivers value.

Ingredient #2: Iteration Planning
The Product Owner creates the product backlog and continuously grooms it for clarity and prioritizes it based on needs. She brings the ScrumMaster and Team together with the sprint's goals and answers the Team's questions for details on the sprint's stories. She determines acceptance criteria for backlog items with the team, who then take the sprint stories and break them down into tasks. The Team uses Planning Poker to estimate these tasks and then each member volunteers for and commits to the tasks they will deliver.

Ingredient #3: Sprint Execution
Design, development, and testing occur continuously. The ScrumMaster facilities daily meetings where the Team answers: what they did yesterday, what they will do today, and if anything is preventing them from performing their work effectively. The ScrumMaster updates Burn-Down Charts based on these answers and the team helps each other out and fills in gaps that may prevent progress.

At the end, you have a tasty meal of potentially shippable product, served to the customer in the sprint review.

» Read more of Mario's articles in his column on CM Crossroads

Analytic Tools That Drive Strategic Alignment and Project Portfolio Excellence (Presentation)
Context Alignment: Closing the Strategy-Execution Gap
by Ross Seider

Valuable software engineers are not only good designers but they also fully understand the needs of the customer, the company's business strategy and the company's place in the business ecosystem. If these skills truly define a valuable employee, how are such business-oriented contexts obtained?

Unfortunately, very few of our management processes communicate detailed business context. Mission statements, strategy documents, all hands meetings - they all fail to convey adequate context. Nor are there context metrics to help executives detect pockets of misalignment or determine where additional communications would be helpful. The result is strategy - execution gaps that erode business performance.

Context Alignment is a new management science that improves organizational alignment through the power of narrative and coherence metrics that direct executives to the root causes of misalignment. The breakthrough distinctions between Context Alignment and our previous methods to drive alignment are:
  1. A focus on powerful narrative as the primary alignment methodology
  2. An ability to identify misalignment through organizational (not personal) metrics

The Power of Narrative
Narrative (or storytelling) is the most powerful cultural mechanism for aligning people. Corporate narratives are a company's strategy in human terms. Effective storytelling is a skill that can convey richly nuanced context -- a prerequisite for achieving alignment. Analyzing company narratives provides a powerful diagnostic for uncovering systemic strategy-execution gaps.

Alignment Metrics
To be manageable, Context Alignment must be measurable and actionable. To be effective it must be authoritative and repeatable. If strategic resistance is hindering agility, metrics can identify where and why it's occurring.

Strategy-Execution gaps correlate highly with context misalignment. Context Alignment provides the best way to drive alignment and the only way to measure it.

» View Ross's Presentation
» Learn More About Context Alignment

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