"How was your climbing trip last weekend ?" Herman asked as Maya answered the phone.
"Great. I redpointed a 5.12b and flashed an 11a," Maya responded.
"I don't have a clue about what you just said, but I'll assume it's good. I'll stick to golf," said Herman. "Now tell me about employee performance. With a flexible project management system like APM, how do I measure performance?"
"Well, my basic rule is measure effective effort, not conformance to the plan. The best example of this is a story my uncle told me. He played basketball for John Wooden at UCLA. According to him, Coach was an incredibly competitive man who wanted to win, but he never talked about winning. He focused on effort. According to Wooden, if everyone plays to their potential, that's the most he could ask."
"But isn't that the wrong thing? We always hear about how negative it is when a company focuses on activity rather than results. What else is effort except activity?" Herman asked.
"Maybe, but you gotta remember, Wooden's the best college basketball coach of all time," said Maya. "When we debrief at the end of each milestone, I ask the team if we did the best we could do. Did we work hard? Did we work smart? Did everyone make the effort to fulfill our goals?"
"Yeah, and I bet everyone just says they did their best."
"Actually, by focusing on effective effort rather than a plan, people are really more honest in their assessment. As they admit, they can always weasel out of a plan variance, but engineers tend to be brutally honest. If they slacked off a little, they tend to fess up."
"I don't think that would happen around here," Herman replied. "Can't the team just use 'we did our best' to shirk accountability for results?"
"Sure, with a less-disciplined team. Here, we're accountable," said Maya. "The team puts in extra effort, and they've always been honest about missing goals. Early on, teams tend to be optimistic. After an iteration or two, things get more realistic. You have to understandthe key isn't how closely we came to meeting schedule but how much value we created."
"So, let me ask you again. How do I improve performance on my team?" Herman asked.
"By being there for the team. I find that a lot of what I do is facilitatesort of keep things on an even keel. A few members of my team tend to retreat to their cubes under pressure, and I encourage them to keep interacting. As to how to get the team to perform better, the answer is to ask them. After all, since they're the ones who make things happen, they're the ones who need to make the change."
"OK, gotta run. Call you next week," said Herman.
The Agile Revolution
Guiding Principles: Customers and Products
Guiding Principles: Leadership-Collaboration Management
An Agile Project Management Model
The Envision Phase
The Speculate Phase
The Explore Phase
The Adapt and Close Phases
Building Large Adaptive Teams