Practicing Evolutionary Management at Trainline: Experiments in Self-Management and Wholeness

For the last year, I’ve led the web team at Trainline on a test and learn journey towards a new way of working called evolutionary management. Building on the foundations of agile, this management paradigm adds a new playbook of practices meant to promote self-management, wholeness, and evolutionary purpose.

Part one of this series describes my journey towards discovering this way of working and the foundations of evolutionary management. Here in part two, I detail what we learned from experiments designed to create breakthroughs in self-management and wholeness – the good, the bad, and the beautiful. Continue reading

Gamifying Agility at Trainline

As the Agile Coach across the Trainline Group, where we have enjoyed a rapidly expanding tech contingent, I have had to put my mind to devising ways in which I can quickly assess the agility of individual teams.

It is also important to ensure a common culture and common understanding. If you have been in tech for any length of time at all, you will be well aware of the fact that “Agile” means different things to different people. To some extent, this is OK. My own natural inclination is not to be too prescriptive, and this is part of the strength of Agile principles. However, experience has shown me that this can often lead to a kind of entropy – an “anything goes” approach which, once adopted at an individual level, leads to the disintegration of a team in all but name. Continue reading

Practicing Evolutionary Management at Trainline: The Journey to Evolutionary-Teal and Beyond…

The gong went off with a humming twang.

Around the table, 20 people sat staring. Our agile web team had kicked off many sprint planning meetings, but none like this. As the sound of the Tibetan meditation bowl receded into silence, nervous impulse rushed to fill the space – fidgeting, murmuring, exchanging glances. After 30 seconds or so, this noise died down too, settling into a deeper silence still. Once another half-minute had passed, I rang the gong again.

We then proceeded to have one of our most efficient sprint planning sessions in weeks. We even finished 15 minutes early. Not a bad return on investment for one minute of silence. Continue reading

The scientific approach to increasing conversion

We wouldn’t dream of running an A/B or Multivariate test without a solid hypothesis in place. These little statements are the tiny hearts that power an idea through to completion.

But what is it about this statement that makes it so invaluable? And how specifically has it helped us? I’m hoping this article will give you an answer to these questions, as well as convince you to use them in your testing program (if you’re not already doing so, that is).

Best of all, I’ll be using a real example as a case study! Continue reading

Agile and Employee Engagement

i-love-my-job

In our newly formed Agile Community of Excellence, we discussed the topics of Empowerment, Motivation and Engagement.

This is a fascinating area for me and, if borne in mind, is a subject which I think really helps to make any Agile effort a really effective one. Employee engagement matters and a worldwide Gallup poll in 2013 was an indication that no company should be complacent on this.

Empowerment and motivation – more specifically – intrinsic motivation – are key to employee engagement. At Trainline, we have already embraced Agile for lots of good reasons and I believe that employee engagement is one of those good reasons.

So how can we make a positive impact on employee engagement? Below I will share with you three perspectives and consider how Agile principles support these. Continue reading

Deadlines are not Agile! Are they?

deadline

 

Rage against deadlines

How often have you found yourself set an ‘impossible deadline’ and been left asking: “Why the heck am I having to break my neck to hit it? Where did it come from? Who came up with the date?”

Pretty often, huh? I know it’s happened to me a lot. I regularly see people getting very angry about being set a deadline. The typical response is to froth at the mouth and curse “the management”. Continue reading

Better collaboration: Agile and Improv

IMPROVISATION

whose-line-is-it-anyway

Collaboration and creativity are vital for effective Agile Teams. If you’ve ever watched “Whose Line is it Anyway?” on the TV, you will have seen improvisation (“improv”) in action. It is all about people working together in a mutually trusting atmosphere to co-create something new and surprising: the sum of the collective imaginations of those involved and something which could not have been known beforehand. Continue reading

Better estimates by embracing uncertainty

Uncertainty

Existential philosophers tell us that uncertainty is a fundamental given of existence.   But uncertainty is also something which we often find to be undesirable and we seem to spend a lot of time trying to rid ourselves of it.

Friedrich-NietzscheBut often the solution is not to rid ourselves of uncertainty.  Instead, it is to embrace it.  As Nietzsche said:

“Not doubt, certainty is what drives one insane.”

I am sure that a lot of software development teams will relate to this quote when considering estimation – that great attempt at removing uncertainty. Continue reading

Setting the ground rules for running a team brainstorming session

“The best way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.” – Linus Pauling

Brainstorming

In my opinion, one of the most important things to get right when running your workshop is to set the ground rules. Our team found that following these simple rules really helped make our brainstorming sessions a success – maybe it will help you too:

Continue reading