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What is the biggest form of "waste" you find your departments or company?

After spending the past several years exclusively helping loads of companies with their scrum transformations I am finding on average most companies operate at < 20% effectiveness. Or > 80% waste (many in excess of 92% waste). What are the top 2 or 3 things you think organizations are or are not doing that is just ruining its ability to attract and retain top talent, step into latest development frameworks, build the right things and get out of its own way?

14 Replies

Stacy Ciulik
0
4
Stacy Ciulik Entrepreneur
Co-Founder of Aquafuture Switzerland GmbH
Hallo! Ich bin in den Ferien und werde deine EMail erst ab anfangs Maerz beantworten koennen. I am currently on vacation and will not be able to get back to you until the beginning of March. Stacy
Brandon Towl
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Brandon Towl Entrepreneur
Writer, Blogger, and Speaker Making Words Have Impact
Hmm, that's a loaded question. For example, most of what I do is content development, research, and writing. And yet I find that, with any client of a certain size and project of a certain size, I probably spend half my time (or less) doing those things. The other half is spent doing client discovery, making sure everyone is on the same page with changes, collecting stakeholder input, editing and reworking pieces, etc. That all might seem like "waste" to some. It is certainly redundant work in many cases. But I've learned that there can be hell to pay if you don't do it. Projects that seem long get even longer when someone takes it off the rails because they weren't with you on page 1, or because there was some compliance issue that blind-sided you. So, when you say that there's 80% (or 92%) waste with scrum transformations, does that just mean that the actual work (coding and project planning?) takes 8-20%, while the rest is dealing with humans? Yeah, sounds about right... Brandon N. Towl Words Have Impact www.wordshaveimpact.com (314) 276-6500
Chris Pattullo
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Chris Pattullo Entrepreneur
Manager, Change Management & Learning at Vision Critical
Hey James,

That's quite a lot of questions. Speaking specifically to 'building the right things', I've found one of the single largest wastes has been not investing enough time clearly articulating down to the lowest levels what the organization is seeking to achieve. This means both identifying vision, values, etc. and the tangible annual goals & objectives the business is seeking to achieve in the short-term.

Without alignment, teams, departments, and even divisions can end up working at cross-purposes or in related but not coordinated directions.Put differently, plenty of building is done, it's just not "the right things" that are getting built.

On the other side of that coin Jim Collins covered something similar in Good to Great when he discussed the "stop doing" list which can help address part of the challenges in communicating direction.

I've also found that too often the tail ends up wagging the dog in medium-to-large sized orgs. By that I mean there's so much red-tape involved in planning and approving things that opportunities are missed simply seeking approval to start on something.

Changing gears and speaking specifically to agile, I've seen and heard of orgs failing to understand what agile actually is before they began implementation. As a result they ended up with something that was agile(ish), possibly being even less efficient then they were pre-agile.

This often leaves a bad impression of agile and some revert, often not knowing that they were never really agile in the first place.
Theresa Marcroft
5
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Theresa Marcroft Entrepreneur
Marketing Strategist / CMO / Interim VP Marketing
The biggest form of waste I see is requiring people to be in the office Mon-Fri. In Silicon Valley, that means 45 minutes to drive 10 miles. If people are set up with a home office, and they are allowed to use it, they can be SO much more productive than when they spend 90 min per day on the highway. They can also eat healthier and take short exercise breaks. The most productive companies set a day or two per week to have everyone in the office - often Mondays work best to get in sync with scrum team staff ... then you let them have at it!
Cindy Riach
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Cindy Riach Advisor
Founder | Facilitator ► Founders Connect
Relationship relationship relationship.

I have a strong bias, maybe because my life is revolved around relationship.

*And* I see strong cultures attracting strong talent, great people, and a collective motivation when:

...Relationship becomes the tool and the goal.

What does this mean? Beyond financial and emotional pressure, people are strongly motivated by exercising potential, purpose, and play, and how they can demonstrate that is within relationship. When better relationships in the work environment becomes the goal (and the communication/collaborating to reflect that), more people are motivated to show up as their best. When relationships are built, retention is higher, and there is no cause for talent to look elsewhere.

How? Build context and intention. Understand why your employees are working --- their true motivations, not the stock answers that makes their employers happy. Encourage trainings/coaching to improve communications and structures to flesh out the contexts of every given project. Talk about tensions, personal or professional (I think all tension is personal).

Prioritize relationship.

Gabor Nagy
3
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Gabor Nagy Entrepreneur
Founder / Chief architect at Skyline Robotics
I'll second Theresa. Commuting is the biggest waste. It not only wastes time, but it causes you to be already stressed out and exhausted when you get to work, then even more stressed out / exhausted by the time you get home. This is a major productivity killer, not to mention its morale-degrading effect.
Melissa Meyer's biggest mistake was banning telecommuting at Yahoo. At an internet company, in Silicon Valley, in the 21st century, it was an epic WTH.
I wonder how many good people Yahoo lost, or never had a chance to hire becuse of that.


James Kies
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James Kies Advisor
Agile Coach, Scrum Trainer, Full Stack Developer
Awesome kick off, so far I see in these stories things like:

Emotional Waste, Travel Waste, Schedule Waste, Opportunity Waste, Organizational Structure Waste, what else?
Gabor Nagy
3
1
Gabor Nagy Entrepreneur
Founder / Chief architect at Skyline Robotics
Also, (too many) meetings, rather than letting people do actual work.

If I had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be 'meetings'.
- Dave Barry

Most people I know, find the very concept of being locked into a room with a group of people an unintuitive and frustrating productivity-killer.
Conversations can spark ideas, but you can not force creativity by putting people in a room. On the contrary...
Being a creative professional myself, I find the very concept of "creativity on demand", a complete misunderstanding of how creativity works.
In this age of gazillion communication applications, Dave Berry's quote rings more true than ever.
If you need to talk to someone in person, you can walk up to him/her. Everything else can be handled much more efficiently in email, IM, social media etc.
Those give you time to think ideas through, so you can flesh them out before communicating them and they give you a record, for free, so you can look things up later.
Unfortunately, way too many managers are meeting junkies.

Lindi Horton
1
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Lindi Horton Entrepreneur
Keep it Simple, and Move! Coaching, Chief Transformation Officer
I wake up every morning inspiring and unlocking the passions of people. They have these inherent skills, talents and desires that if unlocked and aligned to a larger purpose (like getting man on the moon) creates innovative teams and organizations.

You ask an interesting question, but it sounds like you want a few bullet points and some speaking points. I don't have it that there's one way to be that supercedes any other way to attract and retain the best talent, motivate, and get out of each others way. In fact often the flip flopping of 'strategies' and frameworks is one of the things that creates confusion or lack of vision.

I will say that I have put into practice several tools to support an organization in getting clear on what is getting in the way for them. There's some fantastic resources out there. If you're interested or curious I'd be happy to supply more information about what my teams support and do.

Isn't the biggest opportunity businesses face today unlocking the true potential of their biggest asset, the people? I choose to see it as an opportunity, not waste. In fact, organizations are spending 100% of their employees time. In some cases overworking teams with conflicting goals that stagnate their growth due to lack of direction. I use the analogy of well intentioned people, all rowing in a boat really hard. They are working hard. But if each team member is rowing in a different direction, where's the boat going? (By the way, this applies to the micro scrum team as well as the macro of operations, sales, delivery, accounting, finance, marketing, etc). And ultimately I have it that really what each team wants is a breakthrough in being fully at cause for what it is that they create. The work then is to support as previously mentioned purpose by aligning the core CEO strategy to the individuals contributing to the work. You will see this really well articulated if you follow any military leaders who are radically changing the leadership styles in our world's military. The case study I use is JSOC command. you have the worlds most elite special forces, Navy SEALS, Rangers, Marines. They are bad ass. By the time they are in the field each person has the best training and over $2M spent on them. But yet, when they got into new styles of war, the initial missions failed. This is not unlike many things happening in our world organizations and enterprises today.

I love how Gen Stanley McChyrstal put it, "we didn't change because we wanted to, we changed because we were losing [war in Iraq]".

It's about the big scary I word. Integrity. Purpose and vision that is aligned to thoughts and actions. Behaviors that support alignment to the Why (simon Sinek). And ultimately I have it that is what most people want in their lives both in and out of work. They want to be more at cause for whatever it is that they create in their world.

As a leader, I ask two critical questions, are people in the right positions and are they being coached and held responsible for their position and role? That clarifies for me, what's next.
Raghu Ananthanarayanan
2
0
Raghu Ananthanarayanan Entrepreneur
Founder Flame TAOKnoware and Chief Mentor at Ritambhara
Waste of Human Potential through an inadequate valuing of people as people. Treating people as tools and agents makes them respond in contractual ways.
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