Tag Archives: Life hack

Holacracy – Spark; Wat ik leerde van Getting Teams Done

Holacracy - Getting Teams Done - SparkHolacracy (en de variant Spark) is een methode voor teamproductiviteit, net als GTD dat is voor individuele productiviteit. De onderliggende principes van Holacracy en GTD komen sterk overeen. Aan GTD ontleent Holcracy de discipline en helderheid van het denkwerk en de gewoontes en vaardigheden die daarbij horen. In Holacracy wordt het denkwerk gedaan en zichtbaar in de overleggen van het team.

Holacracy leent ook het een en ander van Agile. Een van de punten die Agile maakt, is dat je in complexe omgevingen niet al het denkwerk vooraf moet doen. Geen Big Design Upfront wordt dat genoemd. Je begint met kleine stappen en stuurt bij op basis van de ervaringen die je opdoet. Holcracy gebruikt dit vooral voor de kaders en afspraken waarmee en binnen het team functioneert. Het team begint met werkafspraken en stuurt bij waar daar behoefte aan is.

Het boek dat ik recent over Holacracy las is Getting Teams Done. Meerdere leerpunten uit dit boek zijn ook toepasbaar buiten Holacracy omgevingen. Die worden hieronder weergegeven.

Holacracy en spanningen

Binnen Holacracy zijn spanning de brandstof om het team dichter bij haar doel te krijgen. Een spanning is binnen Holacracy hetzelfde als wat Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline “Creatieve Spanning” noemt: Het verschil tussen waar we nu zijn en waar we moeten zijn. Als een dergelijke spanning ontbreekt is een voorstel of een andere interventie niet noodzakelijk en brengt het team niet dichter bij het doel.

Van iedereen in het team wordt verwacht dat men:

  1. Spanningen registreert;
  2. Deze spanningen verheldert, kijkt wat je ermee moet en waar deze thuis hoort;
  3. Een compleet en actueel overzicht heeft van acties en projecten (die deze spanningen oplossen);
  4. Regelmatig dit overzicht bijwerkt;
  5. Prioriteert en kiest op basis van dit overzicht hoe tijd en energie wordt ingezet.

De helderheid die bijvoorbeeld ook GTD kent, komt door het expliciet maken van de stappen die vaak impliciet genomen worden. Nu het expliciet is, worden de keuzen bewuster gemaakt. Binnen GTD is dit het verzamelen.

Spanningen verhelderen

Om de spanning en het overzicht zoals hiervoor beschreven goed in kaart te brengen, maak je gebruik van de volgende vragen:

  1. Hoort het bij mijn rol? – Pak het op.
  2. Hoort het bij een andere rol? – Draag het over.
  3. Hoort het binnen dit team (deze cirkel)? – Laat rollen (verantwoordelijkheden) aanpassen zodat het overgedragen kan worden.
  4. Hoort het binnen onze organisatie? – Draag het over het het verantwoordelijke team.
  5. Vind ik het persoonlijk belangrijk? – Pak het op persoonlijke titel op, maar laat de organisatie er buiten.
  6. Laat het los.

Hiervoor worden 3 niveaus van werk onderscheiden:

  1. Rollen en verantwoordelijkheden.
  2. Projecten (Lijst van mogelijke toekomstige acties gedefinieerd als gewenste uitkomsten).
  3. Eerst volgende acties.

Compleet en actueel overzicht

Om een compleet en actueel overzicht te hebben is het handig om lijstje(s) bij te houden. Deze zijn vergelijkbaar met die van GTD en kent de volgende categorieën:

  • Wachten op lijst – waar je op iets of iemand wacht;
  • Later / misschien – waar je nu geen actie op neemt, maar misschien in de toekomst;
  • Agendapunten voor teamoverleg – spanningen over operationele zaken
  • Agendapunten voor roloverleg – spanningen over verwachtingen, rollen (verantwoordelijkheden) en procedures.

Reading list of 2014 so far

In this blog post I’ll share a list of books I read during the first months of 2014. There is more business focus compared to previous years…

The everything store

The everything storeThe everything store is one of the books I liked reading most of my reading list this year. It tells the story of amazon.com so far; The vision and ways of working of the company and it’s founder Jeff Bezos.

The book gives a good insight into the ways amazon.com operates. There is a interesting review on that on The New York Review of Books. You should also read the reviews on amazon.com in which some of the staff reacts on the book. Find my separate post on the book – the everything store.

Mobile first

Mobile FirstMobile First is written by the former Yahoo! design architect, Luke Wroblewski. It is a to the point guide, with good examples. Though examples in this field quickly seem outdated they show the point very well.

The book offers both insightful design patterns and common-sense principles. In the end it all boils down to the adagium: keep it simple.

Automate this, How algorithms came to rule our world

Automate ThisMore and more parts of our lives are ruled by algorithms. There application isn’t only in the financial world or in automated systems inside companies, they are also in medical applications ranging from wait list prioritisation to assisting in diagnoses. The book is full of anecdotes, especially on high frequency trading. It also shows side affects liken how the war for talent has affected development and innovation of other innovations.
There is little room for the downside of algorithms creeping into our daily lives.

Hidden Persuation

Hidden PersuationGreat introduction into the ways in which we are influenced and how we can influence others. It details the psychology behind the techniques of influence described. The book offers very illustrative visual references. It is well created with a fine look-and-feel and an eye for detail.

Hidden persuasion is interesting for professionals in marketing, advertising and communications, but also if you’re just slightly interested in these fields. You will look in another way at (visual) communication in everyday life.

It is about how you use technology

You might have read here or on other blogs that SOA isn’t a purpose. It is a means to an end. The same goes for all the technologies that we use when implementing a SOA, or an architecture, or an application in general. So I wanted to share the next video with you since I think that it – in an even broader perspective – shows this point. Technology itself is not good or bad. It all boils down to how we as people use it.

Source: RSA.org 21th century alignment.

Revoke Access to Twitter Account

There is a growing number of Twitter Apps that trick you into giving them access to your account and so enabling them to send spam on your behalf. Should you (like me at least once) fall for this trap, here is an easy way to prevent further damage. Use the following url: http://twitter.com/settings/connections or click the links that are highlighted in the screen shot on the right to manage your Twitter connections.

After that you just click Revoke Access below the Application that is using your account to spam others. An example is depicted in the screen shot below (for a non spamming App):

Group Development and a Lessons Learned session

Yesterday I attended a Lessons Learned session for a Software Development project where I’ll be involved in the upcoming phase. All participants shared their opinion on the negative and positive experiences. What went well and what needed improvement. Putting all these opinions expressed on Post-It notes in perspective I realized that the major part of the negative experience where from the early days of the project. Whereas the positive experiences seemed to be from the most recent period. This brought me back to one of the models I was taught on Group Development while taking training and coaching courses. It suddenly made sense to me that there had to be a relation with the Tuckman’s Group Development Model.

Tuckman’s Group Development Model

Tuckman Group Development ModelThe Group Development Model that was proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965 has four phases:

  • Forming: Individual roles and responsibilities are unclear. Lots of questions about the team’s purpose, objectives and external relationships. Processes are often ignored. Members test tolerance of system and leader.
  • Storming: Clarity of purpose increases but plenty of uncertainties persist. Cliques and factions form and there may be power struggles.
  • Norming: Agreement and consensus is largely forms among the team. Roles and responsibilities are clear and accepted. Commitment and unity is strong. The team may engage in fun and social activities.
  • Performing: The team knows clearly why it is doing what it is doing. The team has a shared vision and is able to stand on its own feet with no interference or participation from the leader. There is a focus on over-achieving goals.

More in this PDF on Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.
So in which phase do you think the most fun, excitement and productivity is? And as you guessed this was reflected in the Lessons Learned session mentioned: The negative experiences were during the Storming, and the positive experiences during the Performing phase.

Note that:

These phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results.

It is important to realize this because sometimes a group of people in a meeting go through these same four phases. And if your a real goal oriented person you could try to skip the first two of three steps. That in will have a severe impact on the buy in of the group / team.
The teams that don’t get out of the Storming phase usually deliver no or very low quality software…

Gestures as the human – device interface

Pranav Mistry did a great TED talk on tools that help the fysical world to interact with the digital world. Pranav works on a project called Sixth Sense and most of his examples are based on this project and the research that led to it.

And the busines – IT gap

Inspiring talks like these make me wonder if there is any groundbreaking research that could bridge the business IT gap that is mentioned so often. One thing that makes this even more complicated is that both “IT” and “business” are concepts, unlike the real fysical world. Besides that the concept do not follow laws of nature like the fysical world does.
To build a bridge between business and IT bith need a level of understanding of how the other works. In most case this will require a lot of communication.

Convenient Open Source on the move

Working as a consultant for multiple customers, I get to work with a lot of different desktops, besides my laptop. This used to result in installing the same software again and again on different machines, and keeping it up to date. I found an alternative in PortableApps.

Portable Apps in Windows 7

Portable Apps in Windows 7

PortableApps.com is an open platform that works from any USB flash drive, iPod, memory card, or portable hard drive. It’s open source, it´s free and it´s convenient. Now I can carry a great bundle of applications and utilities on a simple USB stick (OK, I admit to use an USB hard drive). This allows me to work with the same tools everywhere without additional cost, or the need to install software.

These are the applications and utilities I favor from the collection:

  • Firefox: Not only enables this me to take my bookmarks everywhere, thanks to the great collection of add-ons I also take my Twitter and Yammer platform with me.
  • Notepad++ a great text editor.
  • Task Coach to keep on track with my tasks.
  • Filezilla, WinSCP, and PuTTY
  • OpenOffice Works great for reviewing etc. However most companies I work with use templates based on the MS office suite for reports, memos, etc. The right version always comes with the PC…

The complete set of applications can be found here.


When I started using Portable Apps it was installed on the first available USB stick. Which turned out to have a USB 1.1 controller. That was replaced very quickly with one that supported USB 2.0. This device was a few months later replaced by a USB hard drive. Both because of capacity and speed considerations. Now the external hard drive is the primary device and the (network) storage of the PCs serves as back up.
Portable Apps works on any Windows computer.Using Ubuntu you can use Wine to run it.