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Not everything is a nail: choosing the right tools


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Have you experienced the frustration of failure when trying to introduce new tools, use bad software, work around old habits, engage with the latest new technique for retrospectives? If you're fed up with new tool mania then try a different start point - consider your goals and problems instead.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Not everything is a nail: choosing the right tools

  1. 1. Not everything is a nail Choosing, evaluating, and integrating the right tools for the way you work Shahina Patel: @shhh_hina at #DC17 #DeliverConf 25th January 2017
  2. 2. Enjoys hands on learning and doing A big fan of community events and sharing experiences On Twitter: @shhh_hina If you want to visit a website: Shahina Patel
  3. 3. Traps! Avoid them.
  4. 4. This workshop We will be… Getting to know ourselves better because Knowing yourself helps you work out what you need and what suits you Learn how to identify the need for a tool and how to assess their suitability We will not be… Telling each other that JIRA is the ideal bug tracker Finding a way to shoehorn a suite of tools into everything we do Looking for silver bullets, or golden hammers....
  5. 5. The wrong tool for the job… causes face-melting, tear-inducing frustration in even a fully grown PM
  6. 6. We’re not choosing tools, we’re choosing goals.
  7. 7. “Would you tell me, please, where I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where-” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat. “- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation. “Oh you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if only you walk long enough.”
  8. 8. Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom -Tupac Shakur (Just kidding, it was Aristotle)
  9. 9. Your ‘Work Management’ Persona
  11. 11. ..but see if you can recognise your style of work It’s important to appreciate that we have different communication styles We engage with technology, processes and tools in different ways So what works for you, might not work for someone else! If you know what your strengths and weaknesses are, you can better align yourself with a solution that suits your particular preferences This is the same for teams, too
  12. 12. The Team Captain The Project Manager’s Project Manager The Lion Tamer Understands the tech Able to soothe the savage stakeholder Knows every deadline and deliverable by heartWilling and able to pitch in Always on point with reporting Makes connections across teams and across levels Superhuman efficiency Can explain complex ideas simply Not always patient with people who won’t engage with the technology More interested in doing the work than reporting on the work “Efficient and succinct” can come across as brusque Great empathy for end users Less people-focused, more project-focused Less interested in the specifics of the tech Has been known to forget the odd detail
  13. 13. The right tools will... Enhance your strengths and talents Help you achieve your goals Make up for your weaknesses, give you more time to focus on the parts of the job you love
  14. 14. Building your toolkit: the assessment Identify your goal/requirement Select the right tool for that requirement Evaluate its effectiveness Integrate it into your practice
  15. 15. Identify your goal Are you solving the right problem? What are you trying to make better? How could you spend more time doing the things you love and less time doing the things you hate?
  16. 16. The ‘slow elevator’ problem pt.i from The problem: The lift in a building is too slow, or so the residents complain. The solution? Make the lift faster How? Buy and install a new motor for the lift But is that the only solution? It’s an expensive one! What if there’s a different way to look at the problem?
  17. 17. The ‘slow elevator’ problem pt.ii The problem: The wait for the lift feels too long The solution? Give people something to occupy their time with How? Install mirrors in the lobby and lift area
  18. 18. Learning from lifts (or elevators) Re-framing a problem gives you a different solution space It doesn’t solve the problem (in this case, the lift is still slow!), but instead helps you consider if there’s a different/better problem to solve So ask yourself: are you really getting to the root of the problem? And if not then don’t skip this step! Make it your starting point. Problems help to define goals. Remember to choose goals, not tools.
  19. 19. The # Whys The 5 Whys techniques can help you get to the root of a problem quickly Start with your problem and ask “Why is it occurring?” If it’s a need, ask “Why do we have this need?” Keep asking until you have a counter-measure for the problem (origin: Toyota )
  20. 20. Select the right tool Identify your parameters Ask for ideas Do you already have something you can re-purpose?
  21. 21. These are all parameters that Stephen will consider when choosing an issues tracker. He’s also considering re-purposing what he already has by using: Google form + JIRA + manpower
  22. 22. Make an evaluation plan What are your evaluation criteria? What is the benchmark for improvement? Your minimum viable improvement? What’s your evaluation period? Will you have an evaluation team?
  23. 23. Integrate your new tool What’s your rollout strategy? What’s your maintenance strategy? What’s your review strategy?
  24. 24. Organisations have personalities, too
  25. 25. Integrating tools at an organisation level Will you have an evaluation team? Consider all the users Have you considered all the parameters around integration? Use the plan as an evolving template Use the plan each time Always have an escape plan
  26. 26. What’s going into your toolkit?
  27. 27. Tools checklist Does it match my overall objectives or goals and purpose for finding a tool? Have I been inclusive of all stakeholders and users? Power up: can this tool be adapted to suit my purpose better? Will my evaluation plan capture the success and effectiveness of the new tool?
  28. 28. Get to know your goals
  29. 29. Choose your tools wisely
  30. 30. Take care of those tools
  31. 31. And they will take care of you.
  32. 32. Thanks for staying ‘til the end! Do you have any questions? Get in touch! Shahina Patel | Twitter: @shhh_hina | Website: