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Critical Agile Practices, Nuanced Techniques

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Five techniques that can make our teamwork and our teams dramatically more effective. Nonetheless, they're nuances I almost never see teams doing (and that have made my own teams much more effective).

I'm an engineering-team and engineering-organization fire-jumper. This is stuff that works for me.

I've not only seen these techniques work with my teams, but... I'm also the co-author of the Study of Product Team Performance, in which correlations from the thousands of respondents on product teams all over the world have validated the universality of the nuances of two of these techniques.

I've been teaching and coaching managers and teams in all five for 15 years. It's time they get wider visibility, and a wider swath of teams and managers get a shot at leveraging them.

Presenter Ron Lichty has, for 30-plus years, championed delighting customers. He believes that strong product/engineering collaboration is essential to achieving that goal. Ron co-authored the Addison-Wesley book Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams (http://www.ManagingTheUnmanageable.net) and annually coauthors the Study of Product Team Performance (http://www.ronlichty.com/study.html).

Ron spent seven years as a programmer, two years as a product manager, and 25 years managing product and development organizations at all levels - at companies ranging in size from tiny startups to Charles Schwab, Stanford and Apple - to VP of engineering, VP of product and CTO. 

He now consults across that realm, taking on interim VP Engineering roles, advising executive leaders how to untangle the knots in their product development organizations, training teams in agile, training managers in managing software people and teams, and coaching development teams and executives in making software development hum. (http://www.ronlichty.com)

Ron has long been a popular speaker at product, development and agile meetups and conferences. Ron@RonLichty.com

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Critical Agile Practices, Nuanced Techniques

  1. 1. Critical Practices Nuanced Techniques Ron Lichty www.ronlichty.com
  2. 2. Managing Software People & Teams 2
  3. 3. © Ron Lichty 3
  4. 4. •  Untangling knots in software development •  Making development “hum” •  Interim VP Eng roles Advise Business & Engineering Leaders 4
  5. 5. http://ManagingTheUnmanageable.net <-----tools, excerpts, more rules of thumb * Addison Wesley (Amazon, BarnesandNoble, InformIT.com, Safari) * 5
  6. 6. * Addison Wesley (Amazon, BarnesandNoble, InformIT.com, Safari) http://ManagingTheUnmanageable.net <-----tools, excerpts, more rules of thumb * 6
  7. 7. The Study of Product Team Performance http://www.ronlichty.com/study.html 7© Ron Lichty
  8. 8. Consult: Untangling the Knots; Making Things Hum •  process •  culture •  communication •  planning •  rigor © Ron Lichty 8
  9. 9. Five Practices that Promise More / Nuances to Struggle Less •  Don’t just do Agile •  “Done” •  Standups •  Planning •  Estimating © Ron Lichty 9
  10. 10. Don’t just do Agile... Software development is a team sport! © Ron Lichty 10
  11. 11. Teams (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 11Ron@RonLichty.com By Michaelblinkpipe (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AAn_Abcam_stand_up_meeting_using_BlinkPipe_video_conferencing..png
  12. 12. •  Think about… The best team you’ve been on? The most high performance team? Think about what were the… • characteristics • relationships • qualities • ways of being . . . that made it stand out? Teams (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 12Ron@RonLichty.com
  13. 13. •  Characteristics like… –  trust –  psychological safety –  teammates had my back –  shared goals –  mutual respect Best Teams... (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 13Ron@RonLichty.com
  14. 14. Doing Agile: Agile Practices (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 14Ron@RonLichty.com
  15. 15. Agile Practices Deliver Value •  Plan Daily •  Plan Weekly (or biweekly or…) •  Plan Publicly & Transparently •  Order Work Based on Customer Value •  Together define “Done” •  Relatively Size Stories •  Deliver Frequently •  Share how we’re doing •  Reflect on how to do better(c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 15Ron@RonLichty.com
  16. 16. Agile Practices: Data •  Standups –  Standups matter: –  Effective, Daily Standups --2015 Study of Product Team Performance (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 16Ron@RonLichty.com
  17. 17. Agile Practices: Data •  Definitions of Done –  Definitions of Done matter: –  Created within the team --2016 Study of Product Team Performance (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 17Ron@RonLichty.com
  18. 18. Agile Practices Deliver Value (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 18Ron@RonLichty.com
  19. 19. Voting Machines Deliver Value, too 19(c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come TrueBy Seattle Municipal Archives from Seattle, WA (Voting machine, 1971) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Ron@RonLichty.com
  20. 20. Voting Machines Deliver Value, too •  But voting machines don’t make us a democracy •  Democracy emanates from –  Values –  Principles (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 20Ron@RonLichty.com
  21. 21. Similarly… Agile Practices Don’t Make Us Agile Agile Practices Only Deliver Better Teams They Don’t Deliver Great Teams! (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 21Ron@RonLichty.com
  22. 22. Agile Values Inspire Great Teams (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 22Ron@RonLichty.com
  23. 23. Agile Values Inspire Great Teams •  Build projects around motivated individuals •  Trust… to get the job done •  Face-to-face conversation •  Self-organizing teams •  The team reflects, …tunes, …adjusts -- http://agilemanifesto.org/ (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 23Ron@RonLichty.com
  24. 24. Agile Values Inspire Great Teams •  Build projects around motivated individuals •  Trust… to get the job done •  Face-to-face conversation •  Self-organizing teams •  The team reflects, …tunes, …adjusts -- http://agilemanifesto.org/ (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 24Ron@RonLichty.com
  25. 25. Self-Organizing Teams •  For a team to self-organize,... – everyone has to participate – every team member must step up (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 25Ron@RonLichty.com
  26. 26. Self-Organizing Teams •  If our self-organizing team were an acting troupe, … What kind of acting do we do? (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 26Ron@RonLichty.com
  27. 27. Self-Organizing Teams •  If our self-organizing team were an acting troupe, … What kind of acting do we do? •  If our self-organizing team were a music group, … What kind of music do we perform? (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 27Ron@RonLichty.com
  28. 28. Self-Organizing Teams •  If our self-organizing team were an acting troupe, … What kind of acting do we do? •  If our self-organizing team were a music group, … What kind of music do we perform? •  Who is the leader? (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 28Ron@RonLichty.com
  29. 29. Best Teams •  A relationship? between – Agile Values •  Shared Leadership •  Self-Organizing Teams – Best Team characteristics •  Trust •  Mutual respect •  Psychological safety (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 29Ron@RonLichty.com
  30. 30. Projects Not Suitable for Agile? (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 30Ron@RonLichty.com
  31. 31. Projects Not Suitable for Agile? •  Micromanagement (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 31Ron@RonLichty.com
  32. 32. Projects Not Suitable for Agile? •  Micromanagement disrupts Agile •  Micromanagement prevents Best Teams •  Micromanagement prevents Learning •  Micromanaged teams become order-takers (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 32Ron@RonLichty.com
  33. 33. Projects Not Suitable for Agile? •  Micromanagement disrupts Agile •  Micromanagement prevents Best Teams •  Micromanagement prevents Learning •  Micromanaged teams become order-takers •  Agile calls for everyone on the team to step up •  Micromanagement causes everyone to step back (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 33Ron@RonLichty.com
  34. 34. Shared Leadership… and Managers (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 34Ron@RonLichty.com
  35. 35. Agile: “Servant Leaders” (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 35Ron@RonLichty.com
  36. 36. •  Traditionally, managers: –  run things –  give direction –  tell people what to do –  like being the center of attention Shared Leadership… and Managers (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 36Ron@RonLichty.com
  37. 37. “If you’re the ScrumMaster and everyone is looking at you, you’re doing it wrong.” --Marilson Campos, VPE Shared Leadership… and Managers (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 37Ron@RonLichty.com
  38. 38. The Problem for People Managers: ScrumTeam.jpg (from Exploring Scrum- the Fundamentals, by Dan Rawsthorne & Doug Shimp) Ron@RonLichty.com (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 38
  39. 39. the Agile Manager Squeeze youyouyouyou herehereherehere areareareare OrganizationalOrganizationalOrganizationalOrganizational ChangesChangesChangesChanges My JobMy JobMy JobMy Job ChangesChangesChangesChanges TeamTeamTeamTeam ChangesChangesChangesChanges Peer & PartnerPeer & PartnerPeer & PartnerPeer & Partner ChangesChangesChangesChanges LeadershipLeadershipLeadershipLeadership ChangesChangesChangesChanges Welcome to Agile! --Agile Learning Labs, Laura Powers 39(c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True Ron@RonLichty.com
  40. 40. Managers and Agile •  Foster an Agile Culture •  Model, Defend, Evangelize Agile Values •  Empower Self-Organization & Excellence 40(c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True Ron@RonLichty.com
  41. 41. Managers and Agile •  Foster an Agile Culture •  Model, Defend, Evangelize Agile Values •  Empower Self-Organization & Excellence •  Remove Impediments 41(c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True Ron@RonLichty.com
  42. 42. Managers and Agile •  Foster an Agile Culture •  Model, Defend, Evangelize Agile Values •  Empower Self-Organization & Excellence •  Remove Impediments •  Counsel, Coach and Mentor •  Scale Scrum •  Hire and Fire 42(c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True Ron@RonLichty.com
  43. 43. Managers and Agile •  Foster an Agile Culture •  Model, Defend, Evangelize Agile Values •  Empower Self-Organization & Excellence 43(c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True Ron@RonLichty.com
  44. 44. Fostering an Agile Culture 44(c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come TrueManaging the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams , http://www.ManagingTheUnmanageable.net Ron@RonLichty.com
  45. 45. Fostering an Agile Culture •  Theory Y: “enabling”, “empowering”, “developmental", “continuous improvement” -> Servant Leadership Douglas McGregor's X-Y Theory 45(c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come TrueManaging the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams , http://www.ManagingTheUnmanageable.net Ron@RonLichty.com
  46. 46. Managers and Agile •  Fostering an Agile Culture Lean-Agile management is the art of leading people, not managing them... Leading people involves creating the correct environment, focusing them on the right things, and trusting them to do their work... In Lean-Agile, the manager has two primary responsibilities: • setting the outcomes or goals expected of the team; • assisting the doers in creating a better process and workspace to get their jobs done... --Alan Shalloway, Net Objectives 46(c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True Ron@RonLichty.com
  47. 47. Rules of Thumb / Nuggets of Wisdom* * 300 in the book / more at http://managingtheunmanageable.net/morerulesofthumb.html 47(c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True Ron@RonLichty.com
  48. 48. Delegation & Empowerment •  Rules of Thumb Management sets the boundaries of what needs to be done and says to the team, I trust you to figure out how to get it done. --AgileOpen 2012 (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 48Ron@RonLichty.com
  49. 49. Managers and Agile •  Empowering Self-Organization & Excellence When teams self-organize... a manager’s job is to engineer the organization so that teams can do their best work. --Esther Derby, co-founder, Scrum Alliance 49(c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True Ron@RonLichty.com
  50. 50. Creating an Agile Culture •  Establishing Culture 50 http://www.ManagingTheUnmanageable.net (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True Ron@RonLichty.com
  51. 51. Communicating •  Create a culture of communication –  at every level –  with everyone •  up, down, within and across •  “We have two ears and one mouth. Use them in this ratio.” — Kimberly Wiefling (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 51Ron@RonLichty.com
  52. 52. Communication 52 You cannot overcommunicate. -RON LICHTY (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True Ron@RonLichty.com •  “We have two ears and one mouth. Use them in this ratio.” — Kimberly Wiefling
  53. 53. Communication 53(c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True Ron@RonLichty.com •  Google’s Project Aristotle: “psychological safety” –  “equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking” –  mutual respect encourages sharing from everyone –  the opportunity and the safety to speak up
  54. 54. Virtual Teams •  There is never enough communication •  Commitment to communicate •  No substitute for face-to-face meetings 54 The more distance between teammates, the more you have to formalize communication and make it explicit. -Ted Young, Guidewire Development Manager (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True Ron@RonLichty.com
  55. 55. Managers and Agile •  Model, Defend, Evangelize Agile Values “Managers are still needed. Not so much for their planning and controlling ability, but for the important job of interfacing on the team’s behalf with the rest of the organization.” --Diana Larsen, co-author, Agile Retrospectives 55(c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True Ron@RonLichty.com
  56. 56. Five Practices that Promise More / Nuances to Struggle Less •  Don’t just do Agile •  “Done” •  Standups •  Planning •  Estimating © Ron Lichty 56
  57. 57. 57 Definitions of Done © Ron Lichty
  58. 58. 58 Definition of Done 2016 Study: Does having a definition of done matter? © Ron Lichty
  59. 59. 59 Definition of Done 2016 Study: Does having a definition of done matter? We asked: Who creates your definition of done? © Ron Lichty
  60. 60. 60 Definition of Done © Ron Lichty
  61. 61. 61 Definition of Done 7.4% of product teams that have no definition of done …perform worst. Having a definition of done matters… © Ron Lichty
  62. 62. 62 Definition of Done 48% of product teams that have definitions of done handed down by managers outside the team were… average performers Having a definition of done matters… © Ron Lichty
  63. 63. 63 Definition of Done 45% of product teams that rely upon the team product owner or the team collaboratively to create the definition of done: high performance teams Having a definition of done created within the team matters most! © Ron Lichty
  64. 64. Study of Product Team Performance •  Definitions of Done –  Definitions of Done matter –  Created within the team matters most 64 more results, and the study itself: http://www.ronlichty.com/study.html © Ron Lichty
  65. 65. Five Practices that Promise More / Nuances to Struggle Less •  Don’t just do Agile •  “Done” •  Standups •  Planning •  Estimating © Ron Lichty 65
  66. 66. 66 Standups 2015 Study: How effective are standups in your organization? © Ron Lichty
  67. 67. 67 Standups © Ron Lichty
  68. 68. 68 Standups Product teams that do not hold standups, or hold ineffective standups… perform worst.© Ron Lichty
  69. 69. 69 Standups Product teams with standups that are effective and regular… perform better.© Ron Lichty
  70. 70. 70 Standups Product teams with standups that are effective and daily… perform best.© Ron Lichty
  71. 71. Study of Product Team Performance •  Standups –  Standups matter –  Standups held daily & effectively matter most 71 more results from the study! http://www.ronlichty.com/study.html © Ron Lichty
  72. 72. What Makes for Effective Standups? © Ron Lichty 72
  73. 73. What Makes for Effective Standups? •  The three questions –  tend to be “me”-focused –  tend to make Standups status meetings not planning © Ron Lichty 73
  74. 74. What Makes for Effective Standups? •  The first two questions –  tend to be broken •  “do” and “did” –  What I want to hear: •  “accomplish” and “accomplished” –  the power of the first 2 questions: •  time management principle: commit •  clue my team in to how I’m doing © Ron Lichty 74
  75. 75. What Makes for Effective Standups? •  All three questions: broken for another reason –  tend to be “me”-focused –  tend to make Standups status meetings not planning •  Focus: How are we doing on our Sprint plan? •  Fist-to-Five: daily: our confidence in our plan –  bring focus from “me” to “us” © Ron Lichty 75
  76. 76. Fist to Five: Are We on Track to Make Our Plan? no confidence we’ll make our sprint plan Totally confident we are still on track to make our sprint plan From to © Ron Lichty 76
  77. 77. What Makes for Effective Standups? •  The three questions –  tend to be “me”-focused –  tend to make Standups status meetings not planning •  Focus: How are we doing on our Sprint plan? •  Fist-to-Five: daily: our confidence in our plan –  brings focus from “me” to “us” –  4s and 5s, or conversation to get there –  how will we work together as a self-organizing team to accomplish the Sprint Goal? –  heads-up (early!) to our Product Owner if we can’t © Ron Lichty 77
  78. 78. Fist to Five? From to •  Can help teams work as a team © Ron Lichty 78
  79. 79. Five Practices that Promise More / Nuances to Struggle Less •  Don’t just do Agile •  “Done” •  Standups •  Planning •  Estimating © Ron Lichty 79
  80. 80. Sprint Planning Meetings © Ron Lichty 80
  81. 81. Sprint Planning Meetings •  All Backlog reordering must be complete! © Ron Lichty 81
  82. 82. Sprint Planning Meetings •  Team pulls cards: from Backlog into Plan –  not assigned by anyone: not SM, not PO –  refine stories: break stories into tasks •  Sprint: a timebox –  Leverage their previous relative sizing story points –  May estimate tasks in days, may write names on •  Can lose sight of our being a team •  Goal: a perfect Sprint Plan for our team •  close with a Fist-to-Five confidence vote © Ron Lichty 82
  83. 83. Fist to Five: Is This Our Best Sprint Plan? no confidence in our sprint plan: it’s a terrible plan Totally confident we’ve identified a best sprint plan From to © Ron Lichty 83
  84. 84. Sprint Planning Meetings •  Team pulls cards: from Backlog into Plan –  not assigned by anyone: not SM, not PO –  refine stories: break stories into tasks •  Sprint: a timebox –  Leverage their previous relative sizing story points –  May estimate tasks in days, may write names on •  Can lose sight of our being a team •  Goal: a perfect Sprint Plan for our team •  close with a Fist-to-Five confidence vote –  again, look for 4s and 5s© Ron Lichty 84
  85. 85. Five Practices that Promise More / Nuances to Struggle Less •  Don’t just do Agile •  “Done” •  Standups •  Planning •  Estimating © Ron Lichty 85
  86. 86. Estimating •  Pointing is for entire backlogs, not sprints •  Pointing an entire backlog should take ½ day •  Pointing is about relative, not absolute sizing © Ron Lichty 86
  87. 87. 150 Epics & Stories 120 features: 2 hours to “snake”; 1 hour to size 87 3 hours © Ron Lichty
  88. 88. 88 Remote Sizing: RealTimeBoard Team in 10 different locations, collaborating via both Skype & RealTimeBoard © Ron Lichty
  89. 89. Estimating •  Pointing is for entire backlogs, not sprints •  Pointing an entire backlog should take ½ day •  Pointing is about relative, not absolute sizing •  Once stories are ordered by value as a backlog... –  Estimates ± 20% •  leveraging relative sizing, plus velocity from stable teams •  Two pass relative sizing: –  Steve Bockman: Practical Estimation: •  A Pocket Guide to Making Dependable Project Schedules •  99 cents on Amazon © Ron Lichty 89
  90. 90. How Do We Foster Being Agile? •  Foster shared leadership & an Agile Culture •  Trust Our People •  Shield Teams from Politics & Distraction •  Remove Impediments •  Empower Self-Organization & Excellence •  Create a Culture of Communication •  Model, Defend, Evangelize Agile Values (c) Ron Lichty: Teamwork: Making Your Dream Team Come True 90Ron@RonLichty.com
  91. 91. Critical Practices / Nuanced Techniques •  Standups matter –  Standups held daily & effectively matter most •  Definitions of Done matter –  Created within the team matters most •  Fist-to-Five technique –  can help teams be more effective teams •  every sprint planning meeting, every standup •  Effective pointing leads to effective estimating © Ron Lichty 91
  92. 92. Pre-Order & Save 40%* informit.com/managing2e •  Use code EARLYMANAGING •  Available as Book and/or eBook (eBook all-inclusive: PDF, EPUB, and MOBI) •  Free Shipping in the US Book is also available via booksellers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble and in O’Reilly’s Online Learning Service. *Discount code EARLYMANAGING is only good at informit.com and cannot be used on the already discounted book + eBook bundle or combined with any other offer. Offer ends December 9, 2019 and is subject to change. 92
  93. 93. Ron Lichty Consulting •  Mentoring, coaching, training, consulting: –  http://ronlichty.com, Ron@RonLichty.com •  The book: Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools & Insights for Managing Software People & Teams –  http://ManagingTheUnmanageable.net <-----tools, excerpts, more rules of thumb •  Video training: LiveLessons: Managing Software People and Teams –  http://ManagingTheUnmanageable.net/video.html •  The study: The Study of Product Team Performance –  http://ronlichty.com/study.html •  Training: The Agile Manager Managing Software People and Teams Zero to Agile in Three Days © Ron Lichty 93
  94. 94. Pre-Order & Save 40%* informit.com/managing2e •  Use code EARLYMANAGING •  Available as Book and/or eBook (eBook all-inclusive: PDF, EPUB, and MOBI) •  Free Shipping in the US Book is also available via booksellers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble and in O’Reilly’s Online Learning Service. *Discount code EARLYMANAGING is only good at informit.com and cannot be used on the already discounted book + eBook bundle or combined with any other offer. Offer ends December 9, 2019 and is subject to change. 94
  95. 95. Ron Lichty Consulting •  Mentoring, coaching, training, consulting: –  http://ronlichty.com, Ron@RonLichty.com •  The book: Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools & Insights for Managing Software People & Teams –  http://ManagingTheUnmanageable.net <-----tools, excerpts, more rules of thumb •  Video training: LiveLessons: Managing Software People and Teams –  http://ManagingTheUnmanageable.net/video.html •  The study: The Study of Product Team Performance –  http://ronlichty.com/study.html •  Training: The Agile Manager Managing Software People and Teams Zero to Agile in Three Days © Ron Lichty 95

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