50 shades of fail

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Personal insights from ScrumMaster Ulrika Park and a summary of ideas from other thought leaders in systems development and Agile leadership.


  • 1.50 Shades ofFAILPersonal insights and a summary of ideas from inspiringauthors, thought leaders, teachers and co-workersthrough years of Systems Development and AgileLeadership experience.

2. Ulrika ParkScrumMaster, SmartBear SoftwareUlrika.Park@SmartBear.com@ulrikapark 3. Success depends upon previouspreparation, and without suchpreparation there is sure to be failure.- ConfuciusLearn how you can succeed in the most common areas ofsystem fails. Here are 50 of the most common fails in softwaredevelopment and how you can learn from them. 4. System: Failure1Systems thinkers say our behaviors are the result of thesurrounding system, that errors made by people arecaused by the system.But the systems are created by people, and people are theonly ones who can change the system. So, what do you doto change the system?Get allies. 5. Fail: IT 2Governments and businesses continue to throw billions ofdollars into IT black holes.Thats quite an oxymoron: So many failures in IT projects.Still, there has been an extra-ordinary development of ITservices the last 50 years.Do Waste money to explore, fail and learn.Stop.. Wasting money by ignorance 6. Fail: Not Delivering 3At the moment the most famous IT failure in Sweden is theOne IT Road Map project that one bank was working onfor several years. So many people spent so much moneyon this project, and in the end they didnt deliver.This is the traditional Big Design Up Front (BDUF) concept.After analysis for too long time, requirements are outdatedat the time for practical work. Now, hopefully, they knowhow not to run IT projects.Do.. Share your failure! Others can learn from you.Stop.. Big Bang initiatives 7. Fail: Handoff4A thorough analysis up front isnt necessarily all that bad,and the process of gathering facts, trying out concepts andanalyzing domain can take up a lot of time.The error often comes in the time for handoff. After doing allthis thinking and analyzing, one-way documentation ishanded off to the project team, which now has to do thethinking all over again.Do.. Keep your analysts, architects and designersthrough the whole developmentStop.. Handoffs 8. Fail: Courage5IT failures can continue for years due to cowardicemanagers, silent project managers or sheepish teams.On a similar note, IT failures can be stopped bycourageous managers, vocal project managers or confidentteams.Do.. Dare to say NoStop.. Keeping quiet 9. Fail: .com6Most of us remember the .com bubble in the late-90s. Somany crazy initiatives, crazy stories, no account for money.Seemingly simple problems were solved with amazinglylarge budgets.Thank you so much everyone who contributed to thebubble! Without you we wouldnt have e-commerce, e-reading, mobile services, awesome navigations, socialnetworks and streaming media today.Do.. Stop thinking, innovate even if you end up losingStop..Trying to innovate without being crazy 10. Fail: Focus7Why do all brilliant developers and technical workers puttheir time into new Facebook apps instead of, with the helpof technology, working on saving the world from climatecatastrophes, starving children and oppression?Do.. Focus on human developmentMaybe.. Stupid Facebook apps are the reason for thehuge spread of democratic media 11. Fail: Complexity 8Complexity in systems make systems thinking fail. Notnecessarly bad, just less optimizable. Do you know if yoursystem is complex or not?Do... Amplify and dampen behaviors in complex systemsStop.. Blaming the system when its complexity 12. Fail: Test 9Some of the most common failures in softwaredevelopment are: No usability testing No behavior testing No acceptance testing No business testing No unit testing No performance testing No security testingSeeing a theme? Services and products just work betterwith tests.Do.. Test now!Stop.. Waiting for code or extra time 13. Fail: Curiosity10When you stop being curious, youre as good as dead.Be curious about your co-workers across the office.Be curious about your users.Be curious about customers.Be curious about your own limits.Curiosity is evolution.Do.. Look around youStop.. Looking inside yourself 14. Fail: Outside-In Thinking11Everyone talks about outside-in thinking, but how manyteams actually apply this idea?Do you apply?Do you go outside your tribe to find out?Do you go outside your office to talk with users?Do you let the outside world into your office?Do you admit you dont know anything about the outside forevery minute you are not there?Do.. Go SeeStop.. Speculating 15. Fail: Comfort Zone12Do you fall into the same patterns over and over?Do you test the same way youve always tested?Do you analyze as youve always analyzed?Document as youve always done?How about your design?And decision making?Goals?Welcome to the comfort zone.Do.. Find and try a new techniqueStop.. Blindly repeating yourself 16. Fail: Ignorance13Nothing to add here. 17. Fail: Discipline 14With discipline, you succeed. The more disciplined youare, the more likely youll succeed in testing, in design, inanalysis, in leadership, in teamwork, in methods, in Agile.How do you gain discipline?Be relentless. Keep coming back to the practice whenyou stray from the path.Do.. Working agreementsStop.. Follow the crowd 18. Fail: Groupthink 15This psychological phenomenon has lead to crashed spacecrafts, World Wars and, for us, failed IT services andinvestments.Do.. Aggregation of opinionsStop.. Continuous problem solving within closed groups 19. Fail: Blah, Blah, Blah 16Okay, let me be a bit more clear:Talking without a message.Writing without clarity.Setting goals without acting.Instructions without respect for the reader.Documentation without purpose, recipients or maintenance.Do.. Consider the recipient of your message, visualize,get feedback and act.Stop.. Writing heavy documents or fancy statements justto feel good about yourself 20. Fail: Documentation17This could be either a lack of documentation or an overflowof documentation. Neither is helpful, and documentationneeds to be helpful.Have you tested your documentation lately? If youre notsure who to test it with, or dont know the recipient, thenwhy did you bother writing it in the first place?Do Get to know the recipient of your documentation.Find out what she wants. Ask someone else to summarizethe core of your doc.Stop Document by habit and feel good about it 21. Fail: Communication 18Communication is the second largest cause of all systemsfailures.Many research on project failures points to this.Do.. Find ways to have real conversationsStop.. Emailing 22. Fail: Constraints 19People work most productively under well-thought-outconstraints. Empowerment without some frames and pillarsto hold on to will fail.Leadership is to find good balance in constraints.Do.. Decide on broad, clear constraints that allow yourteam to think and actStop.. Micromanaging or ignoring the need for rules 23. Fail: Trust in People20Do you trust your manager? If not, what would make youtrust them? Tell your manager.Do you trust your co-worker? If not, what would make youtrust them? Tell your co-worker.Do you trust your team? If not, what would make you trustthem? Tell your team.Do.. Make an effort to gain trustStop.. Believing people around you trust you by default 24. Fail: Trust in Technology 21Do you trust your software? If not, what would help youtrust it?More tests?More information from your users?Shorter delivery cycles?Go get it. When you trust your software, your stakeholderswill trust you.Do.. Whatever it takes to improve trustStop.. Waiting for others to do it for you 25. Fail: Business Alignment 22Failures in IT projects are often a result of failure inbusiness and IT communication.What have you done lately to bridge this gap?Do.. Take the first step. Invite the other side to your party(or just over to your desk).Stop.. Blaming the other side 26. Fail: Requirements23Failures in requirements are still one of the most commoncauses of failure in IT.Requirements = Communication between business and IT.Do.. Find ways to have continuous conversations withthe supplier or client.Stop Emailing 27. Fail: Resources 24People are people. They are not resources. They are notcapital. They are humans.Do.. Treat people as thinking beingsStop.. Calling them resources 28. Fail: Opportunities25Im sure we miss business opportunities every day.Sometimes this is unavoidable, but theres no excuse forlack of focus or lack of courage to stop what were doing togo for the opportunity or take risks.Do.. Dare to stop the line when you see an opportunityStop.. Keeping your stakeholders comfortable 29. Fail: Plans26Plans are nothing, planning is everythingA plan is just a hypothesis of the future; treat it as ahypothesis. Test the plan and adjust it with new empiricaldata.Do.. Communicate a plan as what it is an ideaStop.. Viewing a plan as fact 30. Fail: Estimates27How many times have you heard about, or worked offof, estimates that werent accurate?The latest story I heard: A project that was estimated totake two months turned out to be a 16-month project, whichactually succeeded in value.Do.. Continue to update and share estimates during theproject as you gain more informationStop.. Acting as if initial estimates are the truth 31. Fail: Time 28Time is not important, only life is important Mondoshawan, The Fifth ElementWhen time flies I stop and think, What is reallyimportant, right now? Without prioritization Im for suregonna fail.Do.. What is really important right nowStop.. Multi-tasking 32. Fail: Creativity 29When professional people come together to set goals anda vision for the future, they tend to schedule meetings toget things structured and completed quickly.You cant schedule creativity. What you need is to get out ofthe office.Do.. Go on a boat and have dinner with colleaguesStop.. Filling your schedule with meetings 33. Fail: Objectives 30Pia Gideon and other friends have told me, We usually put80% of our time in defining vision, goals and targets; 20%to understand o