SOGETI UK BLOG

Working with the “Bad Apple”

We’ve all heard the phrase “One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.” While its origins are not entirely known, I would imagine that it originates from an apple orchard farmer who would purposefully remove that apple from the bushel so that it’s disease would not spread to the rest of the apples.

When teams are in the transition to good Agile practices, whether from another ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) or from poorly implemented Agile practices, you will often find your team has a “bad apple.” They will often reveal themselves in one of a few various manners such as:

• Half-hearted participation: They won’t update their task/story cards on the Board, will show up to meetings consistently late, will size all stories the same, or some other means of half-hearted participation to indicate that they either don’t care or don’t believe in the changes.
• Combative participation: They’ll attend meetings but you will find that they are combative during the stand-up, during sprint planning they are un-comfortable no matter what the size of the commitment is.
• Refused participation: They just refuse to participate in the meetings, code reviews, pair programming, unit testing, or any Agile practice.

When to Step up / When to step back
As an Agile practitioner you have to be able to discern between “when to step up” and “when to step back.”1 Before we look at what to do with the “bad apple.” Let’s first look at what I mean by “stepping up” and “stepping back”.

Stepping Up
Determine if it is time, as a leader, to step up and “assist/guide” them towards success. You don’t want to find yourself where you constantly have to come to their rescue, but you also don’t want to let them continue to fail either.

Stepping Back
When working with team members stepping back goes beyond trusting them to do the job they were hired to do. What this also entails is allowing the team or team members to experience the failure within the team. This way the team can learn to be self-managing and learn to be successful from its failures.

As with the bad apple in the bushel, the “bad apple” on the team needs to be dealt with to prevent spreading of the “disease.” However, it isn’t always recommended to just “remove” the bad apple. So what do you do?

Understand their reasoning: Talk with the team member apart from the team to better understand the reasons why they are resistant to the transition to Agile. Be sure to not discount any of their reasons.

One of the possible reasons for their resistance is that they may have experienced failed attempts transitioning to Agile.

• Recognize their strengths: Point out the team member’s strengths and offer insight as to how the team member can use their strengths to help the team.

Possible strengths may include their knowledge of the business logic, their understanding of the technology, or their experience in their particular practice.

• Minimize their weaknesses: Recognize the team member’s weakness and offer suggestions on how to minimize that weakness or turn it into an item of strength for them.

Weaknesses can include a lack of understanding or experience with Agile methodologies, their passion to not repeat past mistakes, lack of experience with technologies, or being uncomfortable with change.

Provide smaller challenges of change: Based upon the team members reasons for their resistance, their strengths, and their weaknesses, offer smaller challenges of change to them.

Unlike the bad apple in the bushel, your team member can learn, change, and grow. Resistant team members need to be guided, encouraged, and mentored along the way.

What’s your experience with a bad apple in an Agile transformation, and how did you handle it?

1. http://www.accelinnova.com/docs/stepup.pdf

Image: google images

 

David Yancey AUTHOR:
David Yancey, having 19+ years of experience in web development, joined Sogeti Dallas in July of 2010 as a Manager Consultant specializing in .NET Technologies with a focus on Web Architecture and Design. Through his efforts as a Test-Driven Development advocate and Agile Practitioner, he quickly became recognized as a software craftsman within the Application Development and Integration practice. Over the next 2 years David helped establish a series of training initiatives around software best practices and craftsmanship. Maintaining his focus on .NET technologies David moved from the AD&I practice to the Mobile practice in 2012 and began obtaining his Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) Windows Store Applications Certification focusing on HTML 5 as the technology platform. Once David joined the Digital Transformation Practice (formerly Mobile Practice), he immediately established himself as a leader through his training initiatives and establishing a method for building prototype applications while utilizing consultants on ATO. David took over as practice manager of the Digital Transformation Practice in June of 2014 and continues in that role working closely with the National Practice Lead and UI/UX Solution Architect in establishing a UI/UX Solution offering for Sogeti. It is because of this passion for technology, the Digital Transformation practice, and Sogeti that David was promoted to Senior Manager in November of 2014. David is active in his community through speaking, volunteering, and user group participation. His speaking engagements include: Agile Development Practices West 2011 Dallas .NET User Group Tulsa TechFest Dallas TechFest Worth .NET User Group Worth Agile Professional Leadership Network The topics he can be heard speaking on include: Agile Practices Software Craftsmanship Application Architecture David is also a leader and recognized technical resource for the Dallas GiveCamp efforts having donated over 200 hours of his time and experience to charities over the past 4 years.

Posted in: Agile, Application Lifecycle Management, communication, Human Behaviour, IT strategy, Research, Testing and innovation, Transformation, Transitioning      
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Digital explosion“The digital revolution is far more significant than the invention of writing or even of printing.” – Douglas Englebart

The age of the Digital explosion is upon us, are you ready?  Everywhere we look, we see someone carrying a tablet, using a Smartphone, and sporting a FitBit or Jawbone and all three devices are communicating with each other, displaying who’s called us, who’s emailed us, who’s poked us on Facebook and how many steps we’ve taken today. As a developer, the task of trying to decide where to start in this digital explosion can be daunting.  Even an experienced developer can be overwhelmed with the decision of whether to start with mobile development, IOT development, Big Data & Analytics, or developing for wearables. Following are the five steps that can help resolve your confusion:

Find Your Passion

First and foremost, we know that you are passionate about technology, otherwise you wouldn’t be here reading this blog article.  Finding your passion is an important first step so that you can prioritise your path into new technologies. Begin by looking around your environment at the various technologies and see what piques your interest. Are you curious about connected devices and how they communicate with each other?  Do you look at the appstore on your phone every day to see what is the latest greatest app?  Are you constantly browsing the KickStarter technology section to see what others are making?  Start with whatever rouses your interest. If you later decide that you aren’t passionate about that area of technology then you can easily try something different.

Brainstorm

Once you have found what you want to focus on, start jotting down ideas.  At this point, don’t focus on the size or possible complexity of your project; if you have an idea for a project, write it down. After you have between 5 and 10 ideas, order them as per their complexity level (as assessed by you) from easiest to hardest and then start with the easiest.

Gather your resources

Before creating your project, you will want to gather your resources. Be sure to have reviewed your blogs, examples, videos and any other resource to help you on your venture. If your chosen passion requires any specific software, hardware, devices, locations or people, you will want to make sure you have those at your disposal as well.

Build a POC

When building a POC (proof of concept) or Prototype, you don’t want to focus on the code structure or quality. You would want to focus on proofing out your idea. Can you accomplish what you have set out to create?  Start small and then build on as you progress, recognising small successes as you grow. For example: if your project is based on connected devices and you are using an Arduino board, you will most likely want to start with turning LED lights on and off before you progress into reading a thermal sensor.

Refactor

Once you have your prototype completed and you are happy with your progress, you can look at your code base and begin your refactoring process.  This is where you will want to focus on the code structure and quality. When refactoring, look for areas of reuse and encapsulation, making sure to follow the tenants of object-oriented programming and solid design principles.

Now that you have completed your first project, ask yourself if you are ready to build your next one. If you can answer “yes” then you have likely found your passion, if not then just move on to your next area of interest and repeat the process. Either way, you have learned about a new technology, increased your skillset, and entered the digital age.

To read the original post and add comments, please visit the SogetiLabs blog: Five steps for Developers to cope with Digital Explosion

Related Posts:

  1. A different kind of S.M.A.R.T. mind-set for developers
  2. Five IT Imperatives in the Digital Era
  3. Ambient Intelligence or Digital Aura – The Augmented People
  4. Digital Transformation Transit Map

David Yancey AUTHOR:
David Yancey, having 19+ years of experience in web development, joined Sogeti Dallas in July of 2010 as a Manager Consultant specializing in .NET Technologies with a focus on Web Architecture and Design. Through his efforts as a Test-Driven Development advocate and Agile Practitioner, he quickly became recognized as a software craftsman within the Application Development and Integration practice. Over the next 2 years David helped establish a series of training initiatives around software best practices and craftsmanship. Maintaining his focus on .NET technologies David moved from the AD&I practice to the Mobile practice in 2012 and began obtaining his Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) Windows Store Applications Certification focusing on HTML 5 as the technology platform. Once David joined the Digital Transformation Practice (formerly Mobile Practice), he immediately established himself as a leader through his training initiatives and establishing a method for building prototype applications while utilizing consultants on ATO. David took over as practice manager of the Digital Transformation Practice in June of 2014 and continues in that role working closely with the National Practice Lead and UI/UX Solution Architect in establishing a UI/UX Solution offering for Sogeti. It is because of this passion for technology, the Digital Transformation practice, and Sogeti that David was promoted to Senior Manager in November of 2014. David is active in his community through speaking, volunteering, and user group participation. His speaking engagements include: Agile Development Practices West 2011 Dallas .NET User Group Tulsa TechFest Dallas TechFest Worth .NET User Group Worth Agile Professional Leadership Network The topics he can be heard speaking on include: Agile Practices Software Craftsmanship Application Architecture David is also a leader and recognized technical resource for the Dallas GiveCamp efforts having donated over 200 hours of his time and experience to charities over the past 4 years.

Posted in: Behaviour Driven Development, Business Intelligence, communication, Developers, Digital strategy, Innovation, Internet of Things, mobile applications, Opinion, Rapid Application Development, Technical Testing, Technology Outlook, Testing and innovation, Transformation, Transitioning, Wearable technology      
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