December 30, 2012

I am not lazy, I just don’t like doing it

Do something you don’t like every day.
Visualization, decisiveness, Kanban and consistent will help a lot.
We know that visualization is a powerful tool that helps us get things done. Adding Kanban makes the tool even better, as even difficult things, like doing homework, learning to take exams, going to the gym and so on, once they are on the board, you can’t escape them easily. Even getting your kids to take out the trash or tidy their rooms can be done with a Kanban board. Of course, we parents need to be there to encourage, follow and explain.
But what happens when we need to do something that we don’t like?
We procrastinate. We ‘don’t have the energy’, or ‘now isn’t the right time for this’. Take going to the gym. It’s too hard. I’m too tired. It makes me sweaty. It’s not that we don’t know the benefits – we DO, and we know that we need to do it at least 3 times a week. But we don’t.

Delaying these tasks more than necessary will not lead to a good result. In fact, things will get worse later on.
Dealing with those unpleasant tasks correctly will lead us toward getting them done.
It’s simple:  visualize and mark the tasks you don’t like and perform one each day.
1.       Visualize all your tasks using a task board, even ones you don’t like.
2.       Prioritize your tasks. You don’t need to perform tasks that aren’t important, right?

Furthermore, you can prioritize the tasks you don’t like and divide them into smaller, practical tasks later on. It will make getting them done easier. For example: Not all the exam material needs to be studied, right? There are probably more and less important issues there to scope on. Make sure hard learning topics are divided to smaller practical items, so you can pick one topic at a time and get it done.
3.       Of course, looking at the positive aspects of the task, even if you don’t like it, also makes it easier. Once the task is higher up the priority list, it is easier to understand that it is important and has value for us…Find what is that you like and make sure to add it to your list as a task as part of the area of dislike. for example: Going to the gym I like  ________ And dislike______
4.       Think of creative ways that will help you address those tasks you don’t like, like studying for your next exam with a group of friends.
5.       Mark those you don’t like to do .


Use different colors to distinguish between regular tasks and those you don’t like.
6.       Every day :
a.       Pick up one task you don’t like. Only one, among all the other tasks.
b.      Schedule those that you don’t like into your routine and visualize them. Yes, plan to go to the gym; plan to study; visualize it; write it down if necessary and make sure you do it.

7.     Consider it as an obligation, a job.
8.     Be decisive. Just do it!

Further read on the subject in blog:
·         Achieving goals with agile
·         The Power of Sticky Notes




December 20, 2012

On our way (Burn) up! - Part #2 -A burn up chart process example:

Let’s go further into a  leads to opportunity example using a burn up chart: (you can read more about how to manage leads and opportunities using Kanban)
      Understand your flow
We need to first review the progress behind the chart
For example:  a lead to opportunity process.

At the end of every week, we will track the amount of contracts signed.
We can track other process areas as we will scope over them if we want to improve in those areas as well.
      Visualize your flow.

      Visualize the burn up chart. The burn up chart visualizes the progress over signed contracts each week.
      Analyzing the burn up chart allow us conclude and change.
For example: as a marketing team member or manager what flattened the chart? Was it a seasonal trend? Maybe we didn’t invest in the correct leads?
What made it go up again?
Visualizing the process behind the results will lead us towards better effectiveness and efficiency. We may ask, what do we need to change so the graph will go up again?

      In fact, we can also compare our current status to our monthly goal (and we should!)
Obviously we should set our goals according to business needs. The ability to visualize this way is a great motivation tool for the team to reach toward the goal, to be scoped daily over the goal as long as they discuss the  ability to change towards the goal .

Goal missed-- >


      Change & inspect
Remember, small frequent changes are better than an entire flow changes, try small process change - then change again if needed.
The change reflection may be immediate shown on the chart.
      Daily meeting:
Meet every day as a team, reflect over your progress and change if needed.
Once a week, a sprint or a period of time, retrospect over your performance.
What did we do well, and what can we improve.
The Agile framework enables us to build a continuous improvement mechanism. Obviously continuous improvement has a lot more than just a burn up chart and a flow visibility, but the burn up combining with those Agile methodologies is a one hell of an incentive towards improvement.
There are many more ways we can use burn charts in our day to day life , school , personal projects… but this is another blog story…
Ho … and as always, don’t forget to have fun…
For further read and references :

December 13, 2012

On our way (Burn) up! - Part#1: It does not mean the burn down chart makes us go down.

A burn up chart (not to be confused with the burn down chart) is a true motivator for getting things done. It enables us to see our progress, it provides quick feedback that allows decision making, and you can quickly see if your decisions were efficient and effective. Behind the burn up chart lies a process, of course, and our performance is reflected in the chart. Using the burn up chart with Agile enables one person, or a team with a common goal, to continuously improve over things that needs to be done.
Burn up charts are widely used in software development Scrum teams to reflect the release status as compared to the changed release scope.
But the truth is that it is an awesome tool for personal improvement.
So what IS a burn up chart?
A burn up chart is a graphical representation that tracks progress over time by accumulating functionality as it is completed. The accumulated functionality can be compared to a goal, such as a budget or release plan to provide the team and others with feedback. 
The X axis:  Represents time (days, sprints, weeks )
The Y axis: Represents the accumulated functionality completed over that period of time (stories, value or cost).
Every period of time (X axis) we track the progress work completed over our functionality (Y axis)
For example: For an orange factory, we ship orange crates. Every week, we add the amount accumulated to the chart at this week point in time. Now obviously, behind the ‘shipped orange crate’ item there is a process that needs to be followed.
What’s the process? in this case:
Pick the oranges Sort Clean Pack Transport to the warehouse load the trucks Ship Reach destination.

The way the factory performs this process effectively and efficiently will be reflected in the chart final outcome points. The chart is just a reflection of a process performance.

So what’s the difference between a burn DOWN chart and a burn UP chart?

And now in detail.
The burn down chart:

When we do have a fixed amount of tasks that need doing in a specific time frame, a good way to motivate the team can be to follow the amount of work left. Visualizing the progress from one day to another as a team has a good impact toward achieving the goal.
It provides feedback, and earl feedback at that!
Seeing your team’s progress means that it’s far more likely that the tasks will be carried out. We can deal with any impediments that may occur early on, and make decisions that will change our work flow as we approach our goal. We know where we stand at each and every step, we know how fast we are progressing, and the changes we need to do to complete it.
 For example: a teacher has committed to finish grading 20 exams by the end of the week. Counting down the work left is a good motivator; it’s like a countdown toward the spaceship or a missile launch.

The burn up chart:
When our goal is one of completion, even within a specified time frame, and we want to track the progress and the amount of work we can do, we may want to use a burn up chart.
For example - converting leads into opportunities as compared to the monthly goal for the sales department.
In this case, turning a lead into an opportunity is a long process involving many hands and operations. Visualizing the amount of contracts signed is a huge motivator for a team to keep driving towards the goal.
Knowing the rate of change enables us to use the early feedback coming from the chart to take action and project the lines forward in time.
So both burn up and a burn down charts encourage teams to get things done.
      We can use each of them on the same project. Each reflecting a different scope or process and each is valuable for encouraging continues improvement.
      They are both visibility tools – and as we know, visibility is a powerful tool in getting things done.
      They both reflect reality as it changes. Reality = the process of work we set to get from point A to point Z.
       They are both dynamic enough to reflect a decision or process change immediately.
For example : Yesterday we had a rank of 50. Due to market changes, we made a small change - and that is immediately reflected. Early feedback enables us to review our decisions.
      All of the above acts as good motivators towards success – our ability to see and control the flow of events play a curtail rule here in getting things done.