Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Nine-to-Five folk

I have been working as a change agent now for a while and one question that I pump into from time to time is: "How about the non-motivated part of our people?". The curious thing is, that most of these people were enthusiastic students. The working life is the one that has killed the passion.
Cubicles in a now-defunct co-working space in Portland, Oregon. CubeSpace 2009-05-20 20:30 By Asa Wilson
So why is that? In a natural way, people are organising themselves into a dynamic network. I wrote a blog post about this. Workplaces are forcing people to form unnatural constructions and the agony which is caused by this is the one which starts to eat the motivation of people.

As long as we are not going to fix this, we are only dealing with symptoms. By fixing symptoms nothing magnificent will happen.

ps. With the Nine-to-Five, I mean second definition from here:

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Hierarchies are oversimplifying complex things

After I started working as a Scrum Master back in my times. I felt, that there is something really dysfunctional about our workplaces. Still I was not able to put my finger on it. There was an excellent talk by Kati Saarikivi about Work as learning, meaning and interconnectedness in my previous company where I worked. In the talk there was something mind blowing and it has been puzzling me ever since.

Here comes the idea in brief:

By nature, people are creating human networks dynamically. Pretty much same way as neurons are working in brains. In other words we (group of people) organise ourselves automatically to correspond to the changing environment.

During that time, I was working as an Agile Coach and of course I started to think, how this idea reflects to companies which I have been working with. If you have ever worked in corporate, you know that organisation change is something which is constant... every year.

So this was my first tought out of it.
Workplaces nowadays does not really support this natural way of forming. If we think about all the "fun" stuff, what is happening, like policies, rules, hierarchies and matrix organisations. I came to this one.
and this one.

But I was not quite happy yet. What is the reason, why is it like this? The final piece came from Duarte Vasco, he tweeted like this.

We are trying to make sense to these complex things. How to do it? We try to categorise things. Introduce different kind of boxes with different functions. Oversimplify things with the hierarchies and matrix organisations.

So what should we do? A change in paradigm is required which makes it hard. We should embrace the environment which nurtures adaptive social networks.We should not create any artificial borders or roles. And we should not be bothered about the fact that the situation changes all the time. And above all, enjoy working together!

And how this reflects thing like Agile methods and frameworks? Kids, that's an another story. :)

Monday, 19 August 2013

How to install Robot Framework to the Windows machine using PIP

Pre-Requirement: Python 2.7 is installed.

1) Install Setup tools.

2) Install PIP

3) Add Python Scripts to the path
Start -> Edit environment variables
eg. C:\Python27\Scripts

4) Install Robot Framework
Start -> cmd

 pip install robotframework  

5) Execute Robot Framework

 pybot --version  

Robot Framework 2.8.1 (Python 2.7.5 on win32)

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Free Jam

Have you ever felt bored in technical conferences? Long talks, presentations that did not hit your spot, although the topic sounded interesting. Hey, we are engineers, we want to build!

This idea came to me from the Open Spaces. Open Space is a great way to have dynamic discussions around the topics. The whole nature is, that people are voting with their feet and it’s ok! The process of free jam is so simple, that it made me almost embarrassed to see it working.

All workshops, presentations, etc are coming from the people inside the organisation. There are absolutely no pre-selections. Before the event itself, there was a whiteboard, in a very popular place where people are passing by on daily basis. With the post-it notes, people could propose things they wanted to learn about and things they were ready to present. This is only preliminary input for the session itself.

In the session, there were numbered tables. We called those tables “resources”. There were also three white boards

- the Wishlist, here people could write what they wanted to learn more about.
- Ready to Rock, in this one, there were things were a presenter had volunteered for.
- There were two things in the last one.
- WIP, if people had chosen a topic they could reserved the table here. There were columns as many as tables.
- Done. Things that were ready.

When there was enough people around the topic, they could choose a free table. They worked around the topic as long a they wanted and when they were ready, they freed the resource for the next session.

And what kind of topics were there? Learning coding skills, playing with the gerrit, presentation about Cloud Technologies. etc. There were no limitations how and what you can have there.

How this all came together? Extremely well, there were almost no hassle at the beginning and people were enjoying their time to learn new things. Should we do this again? Absolutely YES.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Radical Coaching - What it was for me

By Hans Hillewaert [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
We have started a new training/coaching/mentoring session called Radical Coaching. This session has already gained publicity inside the company and also around external communities. The problem has been, that it's like the Matrix, you need to see it for yourself.

I'll try to explain now the Matrix. :)

Like one of the fathers (Henri Kivioja) of the sessions has said, it's emotional. There are almost none Agile/Lean methodology and framework stuff. We are going to the core values, where all the good things grow. A true change is not eg. taking Scrum into use, a true change is to change the surroundings in order to support people to evolve.

The entire session was based on conversation. Facilitators created a context and then people started to share ideas and opinions about it. It takes the whole session to a new level, that actually our leaders are the ones who are facilitating it. It's just not that this has outsourced this to eg. some external company, it gives strong feeling of commitment, that we are really going to do it.

This whole thing gave me a lot of new hope! We are really going to change things to the better and we are truly going to support each others. Maybe the biggest thing that I felt from the whole session was companionship. You guys and girls are amazing!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Feedback Loop Workshop - The Vision

It  is extremely important to understand where we are and where we want to go. This Workshop is all about that, regarding Feedback Loops. It is mandatory to have people from every part of the organisation and from different roles, not only developers or testers. This is how we are ensuring that we are drawing a complete picture.


  • Big White Board. I prefer a movable one
  • Flip Charts. 1/5 people
  • Post Its
  • Pens 


  • What are the feedback loops
  • Picture about the present
  • Break
  • Vision about the future
  • Wrap UP

What are the feedback loops

This is a short talk about the Feedback Loop itself. This gives a basic understanding what we want to achieve in this Workshop.

Picture about the present

Split people in small groups. In the groups there should be diversity as much as possible. The size can be around 5 people. Give people a flip chart, pens and post-its. Ask people in groups to create picture about Feedback Loops in timeline. It needs to present the situation at the moment. People can be really free style. I usually draw really simple example. You can give groups around 20 minutes time to create their own picture.

After creating pictures, every group presents their view to the rest of the people, question may be asked, but try to avoid criticism, this is just showing the result from this part.

Create common picture. Share the white board into two parts. Draw the timeline and let people merge their pictures together. You can give a 20 minutes time box.

Rough example about feedback loops

Vision about the future

Now we are ready to draw the picture about the bright future. People can stay in the same groups or create new groups, again with the diversity. I prefer old groups, because there might be already some group dynamics in. Now same exercise, but let the people create a picture without the legacy. People should free their minds about solutions at the moment and they can really be as creative as they can. Again about 20 minutes.

Presenting the picture and in the end merging the pictures.

Wrap UP

You can briefly tell, what has happened today and what are the next steps. Ask people to present their pictures again.

My Last Words

Like I said in the beginning, the idea is to create vision. Vision does not need to be perfect. Nature of things are that they are changing, so this is just a snapshot about the situation at the moment and the vision what it should be. This snapshot should be created as often as needed. In other words, this is a longer process, not just one shot. :)

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Feedback Loops

I have been thinking, how to dig out the essence, why do we need Test Automation and Continuous Integration. Also how to help people to understand why these things are really important, when we are doing more fast paced software development.

I came up with two Workshops  which are related to one another. In this blog post, I'll explain the concept of Feedback Loops and there will be two more posts, which are describing those Workshops more carefully.

Copyright Robin Stott and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
So what do I mean with Feedback Loops? Feedback Loops are the things, when people who are developing the product starts to get feedback. Did he/she provide right kind of behavior to the product? In the end, customer is the one who gives the final verdict, does it do what they want.

These Feedback Loops can be something like this:
Unit Tests
Acceptance Tests
System Tests
Load Tests

And why are these so important? I have used this wine metaphor before. Abnormal behaviour is not like a wine, it does not get better with age. The sooner you catch and fix the abnormality, the better. What do you think, which one of these scenarios is cheaper? Customer finds a performance problem, which is caused by an architectural flaw vs. create small functionality based to the architecture and test it as soon as possible.

These thing are not directly tied to the Test Automation and Continuous Integration, but with the knowledge what I have, those things are mandatory to create as fast feedback as it can be.

Like I promised, following two posts will be about those workshops, so stay tuned.