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    59 blog articles in this category

      Linkedin adds pronouns and video - is it really what we need?

      LinkedIn has recently announced some additions to their services that has been received with some skepticism. While I understand the thought behind adding a more permanent version of Stories and the debated gender pronouns, I don't think it will benefit the users. The only change I really liked was the Live Broadcaster showing the broadcast in the banner.
      Pronouns

      Pronouns are heavily debated all over the world, even if it is mostly affecting lives of people in the US and Canada it seems. While I see why adding it can be a good thing for those that think these things are important, I fear they will add another roadblock for gender fluid individuals. I know for a fact that some companies will not hire anyone putting anything other than he or she in there. I also know for a fact that some companies will not hire anyone with he or she in there, but they are far less if I should venture a guess.
       
      Cover Stories
      Video cover stories is next and it is an extension of the existing stories. The current stories only exist for a day, but Cover Stories are supposed to be a more permanent. It is kind of the old video presentations that was popular back in the days. Until it turned out that people were discarded as candidates based on physical attributes before anyone even looked at their resume. I fear this will have a similar effect and I see several people already have addressed this and how it goes against the trend of having less identifiable data to determine the best candidates.
       
      Live Broadcaster
      Now this was a pretty cool feature, even if it may not be the ultimate experience for anyone wanting to view a broadcast. Whenever you broadcast your banner in your profile will start showing your broadcast instead of the image. Not only does in look cool, but hopefully it will draw some people to your broadcast. I hope this also will bring in more people trying out broadcast.

       
      My Thoughts
      Will these new feature make it easier to get a job or find new candidates? No, it will not. It will be nice toys for people that are already doing great at interviews and for people who love video presentations. In some areas where presentation skills are important it will add value, but in every area where the job is to focus and build things it will probably not be very useful.
      Pronouns are something I still don't understand how it is supposed to work as it is arbitrary labels that can not be discerned visually, making them kind of pointless unless you already know the person. It makes a lot of people uncomfortable and I think it will be something that can lead to exclusion or getting hired based on virtue signalling. Neither of those options will do the gender fluid any favors.
      I also think that some companies might demand that their employees either add video and/or pronouns, or forbid them. This is because both can add or reduce the chance of getting contracts for the companies. That can cause some bad situations and cause discomfort among the employees.
       
      On the upside you have a great new tool to promote yourself using video. This is great for some groups and I think a lot of people will love to add that to their otherwise dry resume. It is also a great way for young people that don't have a resume yet to still show their enthusiasm and their passion for their chosen field.
      For anyone who really feel that pronouns are important it is great that this feature now is added. I know that some people will feel a great relief over this and to be honest, what harm can it possibly do if it is voluntary? If it helps the gender fluid community feel more at ease, then I am all for it.
      The Live Broadcaster feature...yeah, it is all good.
       
      While I do see some concerns for these features I think it is great that LinkedIn experiment. Try out new features and see which ones are appreciated and which ones that are not. As they are optional it gives the users the power to decide what they want to use and what they don't want to use, which is great.
      Overall I give these changes 2 thumbs up and some fingers crossed that they will work out fine for the people that use them and that they will improve the chances of finding work instead of the opposite.
      What are your thoughts?

      Developer Velocity Index - one-sided nonsense or useful?

      Developer Velocity Index, or DVI for short, is pushed hard by Microsoft right now as a way to sell Azure DevOps as I see it. So what is it and is it just another pointless measurement tool that does not address the big elephant in the room, or can it actually be useful? Let us dig into it and find out.
      So Developer Velocity Index is a tool for measuring, well, quite a lot actually. At first glance we see a lot of focus on tools, which of course is the main goal for Microsoft as they need to get more clients for Azure Devops that is trying to challenge prominent actors such as Atlassian.
      If you look a bit deeper however you will see that the DVI is pretty extensive. While focus is on tools it seems to look at these from a perspective that is not just focused on the development discipline. DVI claim to involve 46 different drivers across 13 dimensions and that is pretty good. I say claim because I have not tried this yet, so I do not know to what extent this is actually true.
       

       
      The DVI is based on self-assessment through questionnaires, which is not a bad way to do this honestly. It will ensure that the introverts also get a say, which is not always the case in verbal situations where the extroverts are always loudest.
      I see the tool angle a lot when reading about DVI, but when you dig down you see that what that almost always mean is that the tools in question bridge the gap between business and IT. Tools that help manage inflow, portfolio management and of course tools to help with clarifying need, especially in Agile teams. I think Tibi Covaci from Microsoft express this best:
      I think this is profoundly true. Like my former colleague Eva Nordstrom would say "A fool with a tool is still a fool".  Good tools with a good and well-educated organization however, that will truly generate magic. It is my hope that DVI can help illustrate the need for organizational change to help facilitate that. This is often the biggest issue in my experience and one that is very hard to overcome.
      It is also no big revelation that most organizations find the funnel between business and IT to be lacking or that this is where most organizations fail. The introduction of Agile often make this worse, which is not the fault of Agile, but the way it is implemented in organizations. Hopefully DVI can illustrate the need to have a proper portfolio management on the operative level and that even in Agile work teams you need to ensure that demands are evolved.
      Ad-Hoc and shooting things from the hip are sure ways to make any developer sad after all, and we all want some form of structure to our chaos to ensure we know what to do, yet remain flexible...
      Developer Velocity Index is interesting, but it is still a stick that should not be needed in mature organizations. Sadly there are very few mature organizations out there, so I think this is very interesting for many reasons. I will dig into it some more and see what I can learn.
      What do you think?
      Is it just a selling tool for more tools you don't need, or something that can drive actual change?

      Knowit acquire Creuna - becomes the largest digital agency in the Nordics

      The Swedish consultant agency Knowit acquire Creuna, a nordic digital agency and form the largest digital agency in the nordics. The combined work forces will be gathered under Knowit Experience. The acquisition is conditional on approval from the Norwegian Competition Authority, which is expected to be received during the fourth quarter of 2020.
      How this will affect the market is still too early to predict. It will depend on how well Knowit matches Creunas way of working and what support will be provided in the merger. I suspect there will be some Creuna profiles moving on shortly, but in the end I think this should be a good match for Knowit. Just like Fjord was a good match for Accenture when I still worked for Accenture.
      Read the full press release (in Swedish):
      https://www.knowit.se/pressmeddelanden/knowit-forvarvar-creuna-och-blir-nordens-storsta-digitalbyra/
       

      How to write work ads - 6 tips on how to attract the right people

      As a consultant I see many work ads. Some are good, but a lot of them are almost to the point where I wonder if the people writing them know what they are asking for. It takes a while to write a work ad, so not only are you wasting your own time, but that of those who are looking for work as well. So here are my five best tips on how to write good work ads to get the right people for the job.
       
      Describe the problem you need solved Don't add buzz words Have a person that knows the craft write the ad Be honest about your work process Don't ask for unicorns Set tiers internally and price accordingly  
      1. Describe the problem you need solved
      Most ads are just a big list of qualifications required, but very few actually describe what you need. Asking for certifications and extensive experience in a very specific field is a sure way to narrow the field of applicants. It does not however ensure that you can get the help you need. A certified scrum master or project manager can still be completely useless, while an uncertified person can be a miracle worker. Describing the problem also ensures that you can follow up and see if the person you hired actually could solve the problem you specified.
      To some people this is very difficult, because it implies a problem and not everyone can admit that there is a problem to be solved. The thing is though that all work ads are requests for help due to a problem. It may be that you are understaffed, or that there is a competence missing. It can also be that you need help to organize or create work processes. No matter the need, just state what it is that you need help with and you will have a much better chance of getting the right person for the job.
      2. Don't add buzz words
      As a consultant I can easily read between the lines and when I see an ad stuffed with buzz words I know that this is a bad position. There are certain combinations like "Agile Mindset" with "dig in where needed" that I know means you have a chaotic workplace. Other combinations like "comfortable talking to steering groups" and "team player" means that you will be thrown under the bus frequently.
      Anyone claiming that they work in an Agile way in a large scale company don't really know what Agile is and throwing in DevOps, SAFe, full stack x or made up words like "Scrum Manager" does not make it better. In act I often skip ads that are keyword stuffed with nonsense or where I can clearly see an underlying hint of a bad work environment.
      Make sure you know what you are talking about and be up front with the situation you are in. Most of us experienced consultants have worked in very bad condition, and we make it work. I just want to know what I am stepping into rather than wasting my time and yours.
      3. Have a person that knows the craft write the ad
      I have seen ads that so clearly are written by people who have no idea what that role really will do. I understand that it is often managers or HR people that write the ads, but I suggest you let the people who know the trade write it instead. Not only will the ad suffer less from #1 and #2 above, but you can also define the actual work much better.
      Having the person I will replace or work alongside write the ad will ensure I get the right information. This is because that person want the very best for the job so the ad will be aimed towards that. I will get the tools, disciplines, work processes and characteristics described properly and without nonsense.
      4. Be honest about your work process
      Everyone has crappy work processes. It is a fact and there is no need to pretend otherwise. Just be up front about just how bad your process is and most applicants will be fine with that. If the requirement process does not work or you have constant change in your iterations because no one can actually commit to anything, that is actually fine. Most of us work that way every day of the week, and we make it work.
      If I know what I am getting myself into, then there is less chance that I will feel like you lied to me and I will stay longer. If you claim you work according to Scrum and it turns out you just have an ad hoc process with stand-ups, then I will probably not be very happy. This is often very difficult for managers and HR, which is why you should use tip #3.
      Simply telling that you are trying to work in a more Agile way, but that you are struggling a bit due to the fact that your organization is still project based with a long tradition in ITSM is enough. Or that you are in a transformation phase so things are a bit shaky while you figure things out will do wonders.
      5. Don't ask for unicorns
      This is the biggest source of amusement for me and many other experienced consultants. Mixing roles as if you were doctor Frankenstein and then asking for 20+ years of experience for minimum wage. I have actually seen ads that ask for longer experience than the technique or tool has been around, which means they failed with tip #3.
      When you define roles, then stick to one discipline and don't mix things. The more things you mix in, the less focus you will get in that area. If you combine opposing types, like "Scrum Manager" or "Developing Scrum Master", then you will not get both at 100%. One will be dominating at 80% or more.
      An easy way to avoid this is to use the color coding on this page. Mark the requirements you have put in with a color and then see how many colors you get. If you have two colors, then you are splitting the work into two disciplines. Three or more, then you are asking for a unicorn. Secondly you should look at the roles and see how they match up.
      A Scrum Manager for example have both Scrum Master and Manager in the same category, but they are opposing in work direction and empathy. Managers work upwards with focus on finance, while scrum masters work downwards with focus on people. Developing scrum masters have conflict in focus. Scrum Masters are extrovertly focused where content switching is natural, while developers are introvertly focused and content switching will hurt their work capacity.
      Work is often hard enough as it is and people burn themselves out far too often when working in just one discipline. Combining them increase that risk a lot and if you care about the people you hire you should avoid putting them in that situation.
      6. Set tiers internally and price accordingly
      Finally, don't ask for unicorns or highly experienced people and offer peanuts. I rarely care about the financial side of things because I value other things and I love helping people, but if you ask for someone with special abilities or long experience, then understand that you get what you pay for. Asking for a lower price makes sense, but don't ask for a senior or someone with expert capabilities and offer them half or a third of what they normally cost.  You will just end up getting a junior with basic skills rather than an experienced unicorn...
      I suggest you set tiers internally for all roles you have, or need. Grade then according to experience, competence, workload and then match them towards the value they provide. Make it into a five tier grade where tier 1 is the highest and tier 5 the lowest and every time you make a new ad, define what tier you are looking for. Not all ads are aimed towards tier 1 applicants, in fact I would say most are not. So just make sure you know what you are looking for and then price it accordingly.
       
      Final thoughts
      Writing ads are difficult, but the cost of getting the wrong person for the job can be far worse. You also scare away a lot of good applicants if your ad is considered bloated, dishonest or if you send out danger signs because of an unfortunate combination of keywords. Even if the ad is for a temporary position you want to make sure you get the right person, so put some effort into the ad. If it is for a permanent position, then it is very important that you put your soul into it.
      I know a lot of people think that you will just put something together for the ad, and then we do the real recruitment during the interviews. The downside to that is that you may already have lost the unicorns or that perfect candidate with the ad.
      So make it good.

      Making up combined roles - it is rarely a good idea

      Scrum Manager. Developing Architect. Fullstack Developer/Designer. The new roles are popping up left and right these days. Some are clearly just another way to say "generalist", but others are roles that have a very high chance of making people sick. Why do we see these ads? I think it is because the people writing them do not know the craft.
      For me, who actually is a generalist with pretty decent competence in multiple fields, I find these ads very amusing. Rather than writing that they need multiple roles filled, but only have budget for one, they make up new roles. Presumably in the hopes of getting someone who can do most of what they think they need.
      Because this is the thing, most people that write these ads don't really know what they need. I have seen ads that sound like someone making a frankensteins monster out of the roles. Clearly with little to no understanding of what the different roles actually mean. Some ads just try to mix the best of two worlds, like the Scrum Manager that combines the caring/facilitating aspect of the Scrum Master with the managing/controling role of the Project Manager.
      From the person who write the ad it probably makes sense and that is because they do not understand the work involved. From their perspective they probably see a scrum master and a project manager as both having management descriptions, so it should be ok to mix. The fact that they work in different directions where the scrum master work down towards the team and the project manager work up towards the steering group does not seem to occur to them.
      In most cases this is not so much of an issue because what you will get in most cases is a generalist. A Scrum Manager for example will be a general manager with some understanding of the scrum process and some understanding of the financial side of project management. The person will not be optimized for any of the roles, but will get things done. Sometimes at the expense of either the project or the team. Or both.
      The biggest risk with making these combined roles is that unless you really know that you are compromising the roles you can cause serious damage. Not just to the deliveries and the teams as they do not get the attention they need, but also to the individual you are trying to hire. It is very easy to burn someone out with a combined role, especially if the expectations if that you should do both roles at 100%. The very least you must always do when defining combined roles is to define the ratio. How much time should be spent where and why.
      For anyone looking to fill a combined role, here are some examples and some sugegstions on how to approach them:
      Scrum Manager - Focus on the Scrum Master part. By making the team working well you will get most of the work as a project manager for free. Deliver reports to the steering with focus on risk mitigation and finance. Progress will come of itself if you focus on the Scrum Master part correctly. If put in a compromised position, always protect the team. It will serve you best in the long run. This is a sure way to burn yourself out if you try to do both at 100%, so be weary of the signs and make sure you get plenty of time to actually work and not just sit in meetings.
        Full stack x - Most designers or developers are full stack, kind of. We do take an interest in what is around us and we dabble in the surrounding fields naturally. So just make sure you are not expected to actually be responsible for anything you are not comfortable with and you will be fine.
        Developing Architect/Scrum Master - This is one of the most devestating roles you can have. As an architect or Scrum Master you will be in meetings constantly, whch means that any attempts to actually develop anything will be a massive source of frustration. If you will attempt this, dedicate blocks of time to development that can not be disturbed. Preferably you work from home or in a separate room with phone, mail and other distractions turned off. Minimum of 4 hours blocks, but I suggest full days for focused work. Avoid this if possible or accept that the amount of developing you will do is most likely next to nothing or will happen during weekends and night time.
        Scrum Master and QA - While most Scrum Master will assist in QA by doing tests or gathering requirements, that is not their actual job. Being a tester or a reuirements analyst is a full time job, just like being a scrum master. If you are going to split your attention between the two, make sure you understand the cost both to you and your team. You will not be doing any 40 hour weeks, but rather do 60 hour weeks to make this work and the stress will be intense. Be mindful of combined roles as they can spiral and become very stressful. What may look like an opportunity to show your skills, especially if you are new in the role(s) can put you on the bech for years if you are unlucky.
      If you are looking for people to join your team, always look towards who need that role. Is it for management taking care of the need of the people above, then hire a manager. If the person is taking care of the team, then hire a scrum master. If you need someone to do focused develop, hire a developer. If you need someone to take responsibility for the code structure, hire an architect, or elevate a development lead. And so on...
      Combined roles have always been a part of working in IT. As long as you know what you are expected to do and know you can handle it even when things get rough, then ignore the title and do the job. Also be careful about dividing your work because that also can cause serious health issues.
       
      Above I have some of the combined roles I see a lot.
      What roles do you see and how do you handle them?
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