7 Traits of Superstars @ Work

7 Traits of Superstars @ Work

Do you have someone in your team who seems to be a superstar? Someone who gets a lot done in much less time? Someone who is always looking for challenges? Such highly productive people are an asset to any organization. Over the past few years, I have been observing the common traits, habits, and characteristics of such people around me.

 

The 7 traits that are most common in these superstars are listed below:

Focusing on ONE thing:

A super-productive person always seems to focus on the ONE thing at a time. As rightly written by Gary Keller, "Extraordinary results happen only when you give the best you have to become the best you can be at your most important work."

Multitasking is a myth. Research suggests that productivity can be reduced by 40% by the mental blocks created when people switch tasks. Super-stars focus their energies on the most important thing. They also tend to minimize the number of different things to work on at a given time.

Setting High Goals

Superstars set stretch goals for them and are always keen to challenge themselves. They aim to achieve the highest possible reward and recognition in their organization. They think BIG and are often self-motivators.

Building expertise

A super-productive person continuously learns new skills and builds his or her expertise. He appreciates the need for continuous learning and believes in the concept, 'What got you here, Won’t get you there’.

Collaborating with others

The star performers know the power of networking within and outside the organization. They tend to collaborate with like-minded people and share their knowledge freely with them. They empower others around them and help them to be more productive and successful in their careers.

Having Self-Discipline

Superstars are highly disciplined in life. They tend to resist temptations, adhere to the guidelines, and follow the goals that they set for themselves. With high self-discipline, they consistently drive great results.

Being Positive

Superstars have a positive mindset for work and for life in general. They like to read new books, attend inspirational seminars, volunteer their time to local charities, etc. They surround themselves with positive like-minded people.

Innovate

Star performers tend to be more creative than others around them. They look for opportunities to pioneer innovations in business processes and technical practices. They thrive better in a team that fosters a culture of innovation in an open and transparent environment. 


Continue reading

Please follow and like us:

Kanban Boards – Practical Examples

Kanban Boards - Practical Examples

Applying Kanban

What Is a Kanban Board?

A Kanban board is a visual tool for enabling Kanban to manage work for any business. The board helps the team to track each of their work items, minimize idle time, improve predictability, increase quality, and reduce time-to-market.

 

Sample Kanban Boards

Let's dive-in into a few practical examples when teams manage their work via Kanban:

 

Consider a scenario that a DevOps team receives several requests each day to automate build process in Jenkins, resolve test environment issues, onboard new applications onto the hybrid cloud, and so on. Here’s a sample Kanban board for such a scenario.

DevOps Kanban

 

Consider a scenario that an operations team receives several calls during the day from its customers and works together to analyze reported issues, provide real-time guidance, and execute fixes to a customer-facing application. Here’s a sample Kanban board for such a scenario.

 

Consider a scenario that a software development team receives new requests on a regular basis to build new capabilities and enhance existing application features. This team targets to deliver a quality code and invests time in peer code reviews and application testing. Here’s a sample Kanban board for such a scenario.

 

Consider a scenario that an organization’s legal team receives requests on a regular basis from different portfolios in the organization to review content on their sites, campaigns, offers, etc. from a legal point of view. Here’s a sample Kanban board for such a scenario.

 

Consider a scenario that a platform team receives multiple requests from different application teams every day to onboard their applications onto the new platform. Here’s a sample Kanban board for such a team.

 

Consider a scenario that you are buying a new home. In order to track the various tasks and reduce distractions, you create a personal Kanban Board with a WIP limit of 2 home viewings. Here’s a sample Kanban board for such a scenario. 

 

Consider a scenario that you need to sort your house over the weekend. You decide to organize your work and reduce task-switching by creating a personal Kanban board. Here’s a sample Kanban board for such a scenario. 

 

Please follow and like us:

5 Expert Tips for Agile Teams

5 Expert Tips for Agile Teams

Being Agile

Here are the 5 relevant tips for agile teams. You can use these valuable insights to create effective, self-organizing Scrum teams. These tips are in no particular order, so feel free to skim down the list and read the ones that are most suitable for you.

 

Agile Tip # 1: Discipline is the key ingredient in achieving extraordinary results. It brings stability and structure to one’s work or personal life. It takes discipline to attend scrum ceremonies, meet sprint commitments, and continually learn. As Jim Rohn rightly stated, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”

 

Agile Tip # 2: In Scrum, the entire development team is responsible to ensure that sprint commitments are met. A team member who has completed his assigned tasks should look to assist other team members who need help. The team should practice empathy towards others, learn new skills, and meets their commitments.

 

Agile Tip # 3: Story points are a relative unit of measure for estimating user stories. A team’s story point estimate should include: 1) the amount of work 2) the complexity of the work 3) any risks or unknowns in doing the work 4) must-have items on your definition of done.

 

Agile Tip # 4: Split your stories into small stories. Resist the temptation to group items together to avoid the management overhead. Smaller stories flow better through the sprint. Imagine 1,000 marbles working their way down a chute rather than 100 basketballs working their way down the same chute. Smaller stories are easy to estimate and have less variability than large stories.

 

Agile Tip # 5: Define personas for your product and write persona-based user stories. A persona is a fictional character that you create based on your user research to represent different users that might use your product. Understanding the characteristics, experiences, behaviors, and needs of your personas will help you to write valuable user stories.

Also, read my agile tips on Medium.

 

Continue reading

Please follow and like us:

What is a Sprint Burndown Chart?

What is a Sprint Burndown Chart?

The Sprint Burndown or the Iteration Burndown chart is a powerful tool to communicate daily progress to the stakeholders. It tracks the completion of work for a given sprint or an iteration. The horizontal axis represents the days within a Sprint. The vertical axis represents the hours remaining to complete the committed work.

The below table shows the number of hours remaining at the end of each day within a Sprint to create a sample Sprint burndown chart. The ideal remaining hours are calculated by assuming a uniform rate of task completion each day.

 

Sprint Burndown Chart Table

The Scrum Master creates a Sprint Burndown chart using such data. The below diagram depicts a sample Sprint Burndown chart with ‘Date’ represented on the horizontal axis and ‘Remaining Effort (Hours)’ represented on the vertical axis.

Sample Sprint Burndown Chart

Learn all about Agile Scrum with my book, The Basics Of SCRUM.

 

Please follow and like us:

5 Habits that Successful Leaders Have

5 Habits that Successful Leaders Have

The 5 significant habits of successful leaders are listed below:

  • Having a Positive Mindset

Great leaders have a positive mindset and they radiate positive energy to others. They strongly believe that they are they are confident, successful, and loved. They read inspirational books, listen to motivational speakers, attend personal development workshops, and surround themselves with positive like-minded people. Leaders hire right people on their teams, who not only have the right skills but also possess a positive mindset. Such positive minded people are self-motivated to perform at their best.

Check out my inspirational book, Think Positive, Speak Positive, Act Positive to embrace positivity and change your life.

  • Communicating Effectively

Effective communication is vital to the success of an organization. In 1938, Chester Barnard, the author of pioneering work in management theory and organizational studies, concluded that effective communication is the most important responsibility of leaders. Great leaders listen effectively and encourage their team members to provide feedback. They keep an open mind, encourage collaboration, and promote consensus.

  •  Empowering Others

Great leaders with a positive mindset empower the team. They target to create more leaders than followers.

The best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution, Bill Gates stated, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

Great leaders inspire their team, appreciate their work, help their team members to grow their visibility, connect them with right opportunities, and encourage them to fulfill their dreams. One of the richest American and successful industrialist, Andrew Carnegie, once said, “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.”

  • Continuous Learning

Great leaders always look forward to read inspirational books, listen to motivational speakers, read the autobiographies of other great leaders, and learn from successful self-development coaches. They often listen to audiobooks while driving to work. Leaders set aside some percentage of their earnings to invest in their learning.

John F. Kennedy once stated, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

  • Networking

Great leaders spend their time and energy to build strong relationships with others. They like to connect with like-minded people. They attend seminars, workshops, meetings, conferences, and any other public events not only to build their expertise but to meet new people who share their passion and purpose.

There’s a famous quote, Birds of the same feather flock together.”

 

Read about High Ambition and Purpose Driven Leadership, Goal Setting, and Successful Habits in my book, Think Big.

 

Please follow and like us:

The Power of Positive Thoughts

The Power of Positive Thoughts

You might have noticed around you that there are some people who are a pleasure to be with. They have a magnetic personality. They attract people and share their positive vibrations with others. Such people find it very easy to strike a conversation with anyone. They are usually your ‘go-to’ persons at your work or elsewhere. On the other hand, there are other people who seem worried and depressed. They like to stay with themselves. They usually find it difficult to start a conversation and feel comfortable when they are alone. The difference lies in the energy that they possess and radiate. Thoughts play an important part in creating this energy. Every moment, one is receiving and radiating thoughts. Thoughts define our character and influence our destiny.

Positive thoughts are formed if you have self-confidence. If you think you are strong, confident, accepted, successful, and loved, you will radiate positive energy to others. On the contrary, if you think that you are weak, unaccepted, defeated, unsuccessful and unloved, you will possess negative thoughts and radiate negative energy.

Swami Vivekananda once said, “All power is within you. Do not believe that you are weak. You can do anything and everything.”

The human mind is always full of thoughts. It is very difficult to retain the positive thoughts in the mind. Negative thoughts will try to enter your mind all the time, but the key is to replace those thoughts with positive ones. If you start to think that you are weak, painful or tired, immediately replace those thoughts with those of strength and recovery. If you think you have failed, replace your negative thoughts with positive memories; when you brought a smile to others, when you wiped off the tears of your loved ones, or when you made them proud. Fill your mind with thoughts that make you happy. Remember the moments when somebody thanked you for your generosity, when you received an honest appreciation for your hard work, or when your colleagues admired your skills. Realize the power of positive thoughts. With positive thoughts, you can attract the positive energy towards you.

Do not doubt your abilities. Don’t forget that you are the creation of the almighty God and have a unique purpose in life. You are a masterpiece. You have been carefully made by the creator of this universe. You can achieve whatever you want.

Nick Vujicic is an Australian Christian man who is born with no arms and no legs. It was very easy for him to think negative. Imagine how helpless he would have felt in his childhood. He must have received countless comments about his inadequacy. But, instead of thinking negative, he chose to stay positive. Despite his disabilities, he didn’t find reasons to give up. He not only wrote seven successful books but is also a motivational speaker across the world. One of Nick’s quotes is, “God won’t allow anything to happen in your life, if it’s not for your good.”

Albert Einstein, one of the most brilliant scientist in the world, was expelled from school. One of his teachers called him ‘a lazy dog’. After being expelled, he was very disappointed in himself. Even then, he refused to live his life under the shadows of poor self-esteem. He went on to become a professor at the University of Zurich, introduced his theory of relativity, and won the Noble Prize for Physics. One of his quotes is, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Zig Ziglar was raised in a little house in the outskirts of Alabama. When he was five years old, both his dad and his younger sister died. In his childhood, he used to milk the cows, sell vegetables on the street, and work in the grocery store. He was underweight and had poor self-esteem. His dream was to own a large house with an acre of land, and a big garden. He attended the University of South Carolina, married at the age of seventeen, dropped out of college, and worked as a cookware salesman for WearEver Aluminum Company. He feared rejection and did not sell much. During one of his sales meeting, Mr. P. C. Merrell, the divisional supervisor of the company, encouraged him to believe in himself and trust his potential. He gave him advice on how to succeed. This was the turning point in Zig’s life. As soon as his self-esteem improved, he became one of the best salesmen and got promoted to the divisional supervisor position. Later, he became a bestselling author and a motivational speaker. His first book ‘See you at the Top’ was published in 1975. He wrote several books, including his autobiography, and even received the prestigious Cavett award by the National Speakers Association. Such was the result of an improved self-esteem and positive thinking.

If you like this blog, you may be interested to read my book, Harness The Power Within.

 

Please follow and like us:

8 Most Popular Connected Home Devices

8 Most Popular Connected Home Devices

What are the some of the popular connected home devices?

 

The most popular connected home devices are listed below for your reference:

  • CURB Home Energy Monitoring System: This is the most powerful smart system for visualizing and controlling the real-time energy consumption in your home. It integrates with Samsung’s SmartThings platform to enable direct control of the system via smartphones on the go.

 

  • Ecobee 3 Smart Thermostat: This is a very smart thermostat that delivers the right temperature in the rooms that are occupied based on home's unique energy profile, the weather outside, and many other factors. It works seamlessly with Amazon Alexa on voice commands and even supports Apple HomeKit.

 

  • Amazon Echo: This is a smart hands-free speaker that you can control with your voice. It can connect with Amazon Alexa to play music, make calls, provide information, set alarms and reminders, send and receive messages, and more.

 

  • Amazon Cloud Cam: A smart indoor security camera that works with Alexa and provides 1080p Full HD view to watch the last 24 hours of motion alert video clips for free. Check out the complete specifications on the Amazon product page to understand how this smart device is contributing to home security.

 

  • Philips Hue Smart Light Bulbs: Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit, and Google Assistant, this wireless lighting system can automate your lighting experience such that you can control or schedule your light settings from your smart phone. Detailed product details are available on Amazon product page for your reference.

 

  • August Smart Lock: August Smart Lock is a smart keyless door lock that works with Amazon Alexa and Apple’s HomeKit. With this lock system, you can control and monitor your door from anywhere. It attaches easily to your existing deadbolt so you can use your existing keys anytime. This is yet another smart product that is available to enhance your home security.

 

  • SkyBell HD Bronze WiFi Video Doorbell: Compatible with Alexa, this WiFi video door bell will enable you to monitor your front door and see, hear, and speak with your visitor via your smart phone. You may refer to the full specifications on the Amazon product page for reference.

 

  • Belkin WeMo Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug: With this Wi-Fi enabled smart plug, you can control your lights and appliances from your phone and your voice through Amazon Alexa or Google Home. This sleek plug also works with Nest.

 

Learn more on connected homes and other emerging technologies with my book, Emerging Technology Trends.

Please follow and like us:

15 differences between Waterfall and Agile Scrum

15 differences between traditional Waterfall and Agile Scrum approach

Here's a quick comparison of the plan-driven Waterfall methodology and Agile Scrum approach:

 

Core Waterfall Features:

  • Encourages conformance to processes and tools
  • Needs comprehensive documentation
  • Restricts new ideas
  • Promotes a process-centric environment
  • Depends on contract negotiation
  • Conforms to a plan
  • Requires continuous effort to motivate the team members
  • Require a huge rework to accommodate late changes
  • Results in a high cost of change
  • Encourages a detailed project plan
  • Leaves a large possibility of a mismatch between requirements and the final product
  • Is likely to have unhappy customers
  • Supports late customer feedback
  • Requires upfront decisions
  • Does not encourage regular interaction with business sponsors

Core Scrum Features:

  • Encourages people interactions
  • Promotes working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Encourages experimentation and new ideas
  • Promotes a people-centric environment
  • Encourages customer collaboration
  • Embraces change
  • Creates high performing, self-organizing, and motivated teams
  • Adapts late changes with minimal rework
  • Has a low cost of change
  • Is based on just-in-time planning principles
  • Reduces mismatch between initial business requirements and the final product
  • Is likely to produce delighted customers
  • Encourages fast and frequent customer feedback
  • Decisions wait till the last responsible moment (LRM)
  • Promotes high collaboration with the Product Owner

Learn Agile Scrum with my complete handbook, The Basics of SCRUM.

Please follow and like us:

Bitcoins

Bitcoins

Emerging Technology Trends

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a virtual currency created in 2009 by an unknown person or group of people with alias Satoshi Nakamoto. The main difference between real money and virtual currency is that virtual currency transactions don’t have any transaction fees. Moreover, they are not subject to bank regulations.

How can I purchase Bitcoins?

A user must install a virtual wallet onto a personal computer or a mobile device to purchase Bitcoins. The wallet keeps track of all Bitcoin transactions for the user. The user then deposits the real money to an account that allows the user to buy or sell Bitcoins. The transactions are like trading stocks through an exchange such as Bitstamp or MtGox. Bitcoins can also be purchased from third parties who deposit Bitcoins directly into the virtual wallet.

Where are my Bitcoins?

Bitcoins are stored in a virtual bank account or a digital wallet, which either exists in the cloud or on user’s computer. Unlike bank accounts, Bitcoin digital wallets are not insured by the FDIC.

What is the identity of a Bitcoin owner?

Bitcoin owners are identified by a string of characters such as a digital address. This digital address is also known as Bitcoin address.

Is your identity linked to your Bitcoin address?

Yes, your identity can be associated with your Bitcoin address. If you post your Bitcoin address and your name online, then your name gets associated with your Bitcoin address on the internet. If you create any content online, for example, post comment on an online forum, create a new blog etc. and provide your Bitcoin address, your personal details get tied to your Bitcoin address. Moreover, if you trade Bitcoins on an exchange or transact with Bitcoin, your personal details that you provide to the exchange or merchants will be associated with your Bitcoin address.

What are the risks from Bitcoin Transactions?

Since Bitcoin transactions don’t record buyer’s and seller’s name or physical location, these transactions can be used to buy or sell illegal products or services anonymously. Law enforcement agencies don’t like the anonymity with Bitcoins.

 

Continue reading

Please follow and like us:

How to manage estimate inflation?

How to manage estimate inflation?

What is estimate inflation?

Estimate inflation is the term used when team estimates start growing over time. If a product backlog item was earlier estimated as 3 story points and a similar item is now estimated as 5 story points, this is referred to as estimate inflation.

What causes estimate inflation?

Higher management, often, mistakes high velocity as high productivity and put a tremendous pressure on the scrum teams to increase their velocity. In order to achieve a target velocity, the team then starts inflating their story point estimates. This inflation has a ripple effect on other product backlog items that have not yet been estimated. During planning poker, when team estimates a product backlog item, they compare their story to an already inflated story and provide another inflated estimate. 

How to limit estimate inflation?

Mike Cohn recommends comparing the product backlog item being estimated to two or more other items to ensure consistency among estimates. When you compare the item with two or more backlog items during planning poker, the probability to compare against inflated estimates is reduced. 

What are the challenges to this approach? 

Time is the biggest challenge. The development team does not like to spend additional time during planning poker to compare the item against multiple backlog items. 

Please follow and like us: