David Pratten is passionate about leading IT-related change projects for social good.
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Review The Professional Agile Leader

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The professional agile leader – The leader’s journey toward growing mature agile teams and organizations by Ron Eringa, Kurt Bittner and Laurens Bonnema provides a detailed understanding of the leader’s role in an agile transformation.

When talking about reasons why so many agile transformations fail, I often show a picture of two rhinos colliding, and saying that this is the reason why. Next, I add two text boxes over the rhinos with company culture and agile culture. I can now refer to this book if you want an in-depth explanation of this clash.

The book is divided in eight chapters. the first chapter zooms in on the situation where you see yourself as an organization being overtaken by competitors. You may be very efficient but too unwieldy to respond quickly to the many changes that come your way. One solution is to take over another company that is already much more agile. This is also the case in the book where Reliable Energy takes over Energy Bridge and we follow the CEO who wants to make her organization more agile.

The second chapter shows what it means to form empowering cross-functional teams who discovered their purpose and the role of the leader. Key is that the teams must form themselves and that this takes time.

In the third chapter the emphasis is on the impact. Forget output but focus on the impact by framing goals in terms of customer outcomes instead of things that are produces. From plan-driven goals to goal-driven planning (tactical – intermediate – strategic goals).

Chapter four shows how teams and their leaders are changing by becoming more feedback driven. This is all about decision latency, levels of delegation, decentralized decision-making, and intrinsic motivation.

In chapter five we see the issues leaders are facing when they are halfway their agile transformation. This refers back to the clash between the rhinos at the start of this review. The original way of working with checks and balances versus the agile mind mindset and what that means to the people involved. Self-managing teams require leaders with a catalytic leadership style (collective focus: sharing, enabling, diversity, acceptance and supportive).

Chapter six shows that in an agile organization less and less hierarchical leaders are needed but all the more agile leaders. Where leadership should be seen as an activity and not a role. How to grow new leaders, how to grow mature teams and to escape the silos by breaking them down.

In chapter seven the authors explain that Kotter’s dual operating system cannot be used for ever. At a certain point you must decide to fully go for the agile way otherwise you will fall back to the old ways of working. I am not sure if this is what Kotter has in mind with his dual operating system.

The final chapter puts the agile culture in the spotlights. The social behavior and norms that people in the organization exhibit, including their beliefs and habits. Without this agile culture your agile transformation will fail and be aware this transformation will never end.

Conclusion

a compact and easy to read book that explains the role of a leader in an agile transformation in a clear, straightforward, and practical way. the case used of a merger of two companies as a common thread makes very clear the issues and friction a leader faces in an agile transformation.

I missed the agile leader’s role in sharing knowledge and lessons learnt by setting up communities of practice (CoPs), chapters, guilds et cetera. The issues and what to do about them when multiple teams are necessary to work on a single product are presented very simplistically but this is probably beyond the scope of this book.

In my opinion an absolute must read if you are in the middle of or want to start an agile transformation.

To order: The Professional Agile Leader: managementboek.nlbol.com



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drpratten
2 days ago
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Sydney, Australia
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Introducing sqlite-html: query, parse, and generate HTML in SQLite

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Introducing sqlite-html: query, parse, and generate HTML in SQLite

Another brilliant SQLite extension module from Alex Garcia, this time written in Go. sqlite-html adds a whole family of functions to SQLite for parsing and constructing HTML strings, built on the Go goquery and cascadia libraries. Once again, Alex uses an Observable notebook to describe the new features, with embedded interactive examples that are backed by a Datasette instance running in Fly.

Via My TIL on Trying out SQLite extensions on macOS

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drpratten
8 days ago
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Sydney, Australia
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100 Million Monte Carlo Trials in 88 Bytes!

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ProbabilityManagement.org Announces the Metalog Interface

by Sam L. Savage

Wait a Minute!

Claude Shannon’s information theory says you can’t store 100 million numbers in 88 bytes.

True, but Tom Keelin’s Metalog distribution, driven by Doug Hubbard’s HDR pseudo-random number generator, can create identical streams of up to 100 million random variates on any platform. Now ChanceCalc 1.3, currently in beta, includes an interface to Tom Keelin’s elegant Excel Metalog templates. Using these templates, you can create 3.0 JSON libraries or paste Metalog simulation formulas directly into Excel for use with ChanceCalc, the SIPmath Modeler Tools, @RISK, or Crystal Ball

How Does This Work?

Like Taylor series, Metalogs can take any number of terms (see Wikipedia). But for practical purposes, 18 parameters will model virtually any continuous distribution you will face. In its standard configuration, the HDR generator takes up to four initialization seeds, which provides great flexibility when sharing SIPMath™ 3.0 Libraries with others. The version of the HDR built into our tools, which has been limited in numerical accuracy to support Excel, can generate 100 million random numbers before the rubber band breaks (or rather, before the results on the dieharder test deteriorate). So that’s a total of 22 input parameters (88 bytes) to generate nearly any distribution. The open SIPmath 3.0 Standard wraps these 22 parameters in JSON objects containing metadata that can be used in Excel, Python, R, or virtually any other computer platform.

The first commercial package to read and write the SIPmath 3.0 Standard was Frontline Systems’ Analytic Solver. This powerful Excel add-in performs both simulation and optimization, including stochastic optimization. Our new interface lets you use Tom’s templates directly.

Want to Learn More?

We are looking for beta testers for this new software. All those interested in becoming beta testers will need to attend a free information session where I will demonstrate the software.

Learn more and Register

Watch Sam Savage and Alex Sidorenko discuss the new Metalog interface

© Copyright 2022, Sam L. Savage



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drpratten
10 days ago
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Sydney, Australia
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Reduce Friction

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Reduce Friction

Outstanding essay on software engineering friction and development team productivity by C J Silverio: it explains the concept of "friction" (and gives great definitions of "process", "ceremony" and "formality" in the process) as it applies to software engineering, lays out the challenges involved in getting organizations to commit to reducing it and then provides actionable advice on how to get consensus and where to invest your efforts in order to make things better.

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drpratten
18 days ago
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Sydney, Australia
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On Coordination Costs: Moving A Couch, And Painting A Room

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I recently posted an essay “On Coordination Costs and Organizational Architecture: Book Thesis”, which describes the thesis of the book I’m working on with Dr. Steve Spear.  We spent the week together in Boston two weeks ago, and I was so energized by the following essay that describes the problem of coordination costs for a very simple problem.

Does this resonate with you?  Please leave a comment with any thoughts!

Even Moving A Couch Requires Brain Work

What we have observed is that across every activity across every industry vertical, high performers have figured out how to vastly reduce the cost of coordination.  

To better understand coordination costs, consider doing something as basic as moving a couch with a friend — let’s say their names are Steve and Gene.  When they start, they are immediately in conversation, actively communicating and coordinating: where do you put your hands, how do you keep the couch balanced, do you move the couch sideways or lengthwise?

To fit the couch through that narrow doorway, do we need to lift one end of the couch vertically, and if so, whom?  To get down the stairs, who goes first, and do they go down the stairs facing backwards or forwards?  

Through actions, trial and error (i.e., feedback), conversation, and correction, we can be confident that Steve and Gene will eventually figure out how to successfully move the couch.

Now suppose that the homeowner shows up and keeps butting in, imposing their strong opinions on where they should hold the couch, who should go through the door first, and so forth.

Worse, maybe this person starts interrupting Steve and Gene from communicating directly, or even insists that all messages be relayed through them.  Suddenly, urgent messages such as “the couch is slipping, can we slow down?” or “the couch is pinching my finger in the doorway” are no longer making it through to the other person.

The outcome is almost assuredly that the time and effort required to move the couch goes up — and the work becomes far more dangerous, as well.

This is because we are forcing information to go through an intermediary, dramatically increasing the cost of coordination, and making it far more difficult for Steve and Gene to get their job done — we lose information, we introduce delays and potential misunderstandings, and in short, get in the way of the people solving problems and doing their work.

The effects of coordination costs is evident in even moving a couch, because it requires coordination between people — it can’t be done by automatons, requiring human creativity and problem solving.  It is not just “brawn problem,” but a considerable “brain problem” as well, and requires considerable information exchange for the work to happen well.

And if coordination costs can dramatically affect the outcomes of moving a couch, consider how corrosive it can be to building a plane, train, automobile, or sending someone to the Moon and safely returning them to the Earth, or building and operating the software systems that enable all of those activities.

Extending the Couch Moving Scenario

Let us revisit the scenario of Steve and Gene moving the couch — they need to move the couch because their wives, Miriam and Margueritte, are painting the walls and ceiling of that room, and want to make sure that paint doesn’t get on the couch.

Now in the room are the two people moving the couch, as well as two painters.  Also strewn across the room are open paint cans and four ladders.

We have now increased substantially the amount of required coordination — Steve and Gene need to be careful not to kick over the paint cans, or bump into the ladders or their wives. And Miriam and Margueritte have to be aware of the locations of Steve, Gene and the couch, so as not to drip paint on them.

As a result, everyone has to communicate what they want to do, where they want to go, perhaps ask that things be moved, and jostle and rearrange work to accommodate the other people’s needs.  We may even have a problem with dependencies: Steve can’t move his end of the couch until Margueritte moves her ladder, but she can’t move her ladder until Miriam is finished painting her section of the wall.

And despite all the efforts to coordinate, mistakes can still happen — paint cans can be spilled onto the floor, ladders can be tipped over (potentially with the painters on it), paint can drip from the ceilings onto the couch, and so forth.

And even if none of these things happen, we are now spending more time and effort coordinating: painters can’t focus on painting, because they’re focused on the couch.  And  couch movers can’t focus on moving the couch, because they’re worried about the paint.

The result is that we have a lousy painting job, and maybe divots in the wall caused by accidents moving the couch.  

 

Two Ways To Partition To Create Modularity

We propose that there are two ways to reduce coordination cost — 

The first method is to partition the activities by time: for example, Steve and Gene move the couch at 10am, and Miriam and Margueritte paint at 11am, when the couch has been safely moved out of the room. And when they are done painting at the end of the day, Steve and Gene bring the couch back into the room.  

By doing this, the couch movers and painters are not in the room at the same time, so their actions no longer affect each other.  By merely by agreeing on the separate times and places where their work will be done, the teams can work independently of each other. And astonishingly, they are now working in a more coordinated fashion.

Coordination requires communication, which is the exchange of information — and by partitioning the two activities in time, we have radically reduced the amount of communication needed and information that has to exchanged. 

By doing this, we dramatically reduce the amount of energy spent on coordination, which can instead be used to solve the real problems in front of us. Furthermore, we reduce distractions and interruptions, which increases our ability to focus. Studies have shown how critical focus is for cognitive tasks — for instance, when we are driving at night in a snowstorm, we will slow down, turn off the podcast, and ask the kids to be quiet, so we can concentrate.

The result is that we get a better paint job, and the couch is moved without damaging anything, and it was all faster, easier, and less dangerous to do.  And by removing distractions from painting, even the most intricate and difficult parts, such as painting the corners of the ceiling, can be done with focus and precision.

We have figured out how to harmoniously integrate the work of moving the couch and painting the room.

On the surface, solving the problem of moving a couch to paint a room to reduce coordination cost may seem laughably simple — however, this is a microcosm of what all high performers are doing across nearly every industry vertical, but at a much larger scale.

 

Other Method: Partition By Time

Incidentally, when we cannot partition the activities by time, we can partition the activities by space — in this scenario, the couch movers and painters will work opposite sides of the room at the same time. For instance, Steve and Gene will move the couch on the left side of the room, while Miriam and Margueritte paint the right side of the room.


When the right side of the room has been painted, the painting and couch will switch sides.
As in the previous example, by partitioning the activities, coordination between teams is needed only during the transition times — the couch movers no longer have to worry that moving the couch will affect the painting, and vice versa.


The outcome is the same: a far better painting job, with less time and energy required to coordinate.

 

Upcoming Book

(These are topics which will be part of for our upcoming book — if you are interested in staying up to date on the book’s progress, which currently does not even have a working title, but will be released in 2023, please sign up here: https://itrevolution.com/kim-spear-book)

 

The post On Coordination Costs: Moving A Couch, And Painting A Room appeared first on IT Revolution.

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drpratten
28 days ago
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Sydney, Australia
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Ongoing phishing campaign can hack you even when you’re protected with MFA

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Ongoing phishing campaign can hack you even when you’re protected with MFA

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Microsoft detailed an ongoing large-scale phishing campaign that can hijack user accounts when they're protected with multi-factor authentication measures designed to prevent such takeovers. The threat actors behind the operation, who have targeted 10,000 organizations since September, have used their covert access to victim email accounts to trick employees into sending the hackers money.

Multi-factor authentication—also known as two-factor authentication, MFA, or 2FA—is the gold standard for account security. It requires the account user to prove their identity in the form of something they own or control (a physical security key, a fingerprint, or face or retina scan) in addition to something they know (their password). As the growing use of MFA has stymied account-takeover campaigns, attackers have found ways to strike back.

The adversary in the middle

Microsoft observed a campaign that inserted an attacker-controlled proxy site between the account users and the work server they attempted to log into. When the user entered a password into the proxy site, the proxy site sent it to the real server and then relayed the real server's response back to the user. Once the authentication was completed, the threat actor stole the session cookie the legitimate site sent, so the user doesn't need to be reauthenticated at every new page visited. The campaign began with a phishing email with an HTML attachment leading to the proxy server.

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drpratten
30 days ago
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