All posts by bizhackr

Silo Cruncher

The Silo Cruncher is hacking the culture of a startup which has grown into a structure of silos, each optimizing on its own behalf and not contributing to the whole anymore.

The crack is that product development is nearly stalled and connection to customer needs are lost. Endless discussions are not leading to any result. High tensions and toxic atmosphere exist within management team where everyone fights for his own unit. Everyone suffers from dysfunctional behavior, especially the CEO is desperate with the situation having clear idea what he wants from the team but nothing is delivered.

The hack is while introducing Scrum to make the CEO the Product Owner (1) at least as along as it takes to level the silos. The result is that the Product Backlog becomes the most important thing everyone in the firm pulls work from. Impediments get raised to the highest level and silo structure being a prominent one can be removed, so that teams can group better around work from the Product Backlog. The hack causes a lot of stress for the middle management and can create also a lot of damage. Another con is that the CEO is driven by shareholders and does not have the capacity to fill the Product Owner role fully. While teams are freed from silo boundaries the Product Owner becomes a bottleneck. A less brutal alternative is the Leadership Hack #1: Knitting together silos in your company.

(1) Product Owner is a role within the Scrum framework

Pass the P0 role

Product Owner Role

The specific culture of this hack can be characterized as money driven, lacking respect for people, focusing on individual capacity utilization, high valuing of acquittal and favoring direct control over establishing a shared vision and working agreements. A Scrum Product Owner (1) is seen as the waiter receiving orders instead of a leader responsible for making the best out of the Scrum Team’s efforts and holding the purpose of the group.

The crack originates from trying to replace the direct control oriented leadership style by the distributed authority model of Scrum and resistance against the change. Stuck in the middle of the change the Product Owner is not given the authority to succeed with his job, yet he is kept responsible for the outcome by the Development Team and his Managers alike.

First part of the hack is to make the authority dilemma visible to everyone. A useful tool to do this is delegation poker to create an authority board clarifying the delegation level of the Product Owner’s key decision areas. The second, part is investigating peoples happiness at work, e.g. creating a happiness index from 1-5 by regularly doing a quick 5 finger voting. And third, voila, a Product Owner of the team chooses to pass (2) his Product Owner role during a management meeting as a piece of art: P0 (null=no happiness) written on an empty role of toilet paper making elegantly exploiting the tension with fun.

The result is a honest discussion what the conditions of the role of a Product Owner is: freedom, fun and playfulness to live the role fully.

(1) Product Owner is a role within the Scrum framework
(2) Pass is an element of the Core Protocols


Business culture hacking at ale2012

Oxygen supply hackThe aim of the business culture hacking event at the Stoos Stampede Amsterdam on July 6th and 7th 2012 was to catalyze action instead of accommodating the overwhelming mess Stoos has identified. While we have gathered insights about potential cracks and had fun at the two sessions, we also have created a queue of ideas, which are left in the darkness of the shadow world – at least for now. Moving ideas into the real world is the hard part – a crack, which was easy to sense at the second session at Amsterdam: business culture itself being a blocker for artful, fun and non-sens, type of actions like a culture hack.

So here is a view of the live line of the business culture hacking idea at Stoos:

On first meetup of Stoos satellite Berlin RE:LEAD, June 19th 2012, Simon said: ‘Let’s get a list of actionable things like hacks from the Stoos Stampede Amsterdam’ ———> idea scale for Stoos Stampede——-> Stoos Stampede Amsterdam July 6th&7th —>  … queue of ideas —> ?|||||#/%% hard part ”#§”||||?

Hacking means doing something and we are not done yet with the first cycle. Let’s meet at the event The Core and Culture Hacking and the open space of the ale2012 unconference to investigate cracks and actually implement hacks in the real world.