Weekly Pulse by William Meller | Week 35, 2022

Weekly Pulse by William Meller - Week 35 2022
Weekly Pulse is content curation and highlights from readings, books, podcasts, insights, ramblings, and other interesting things I discovered and digested during the week.

So, let's go with some discoveries from the week!

#1 - Fear of Feedback
#2 - Why Agility Pays
#3 - The Best Digital Business Models Put Evolution Before Revolution
#4 - The Frustration with Productivity Culture
#5 - 
The Stretch Goal Paradox
#6 - The Contingency Theory
#7 - Book Notes: The Art of Agile Development - James Shore and Shane Warden


Fear of Feedback

Source: Harvard Business Review 
Author: Jay M. Jackman and Myra H. Strober
Year: 2003

Summary: Nobody likes performance reviews. Subordinates are terrified they’ll hear nothing but criticism. Bosses, for their part, think their direct reports will respond to even the mildest criticism with stonewalling, anger, or tears. The result? Everyone keeps quiet and says as little as possible. That’s unfortunate because most people need help figuring out how they can improve their performance and advance their careers.

3 Highlights:

"... People avoid feedback because they hate being criticized, plain and simple..."

"... As executives begin to ask how they are doing relative to management’s priorities, their work becomes better aligned with organizational goals..."

"... The last phase of the proactive feedback process involves coming to conclusions about, and acting on, the information you’ve received..."



Why Agility Pays

Source: McKinsey
Author: Michael Bazigos, Aaron De Smet, and Chris Gagnon
Year: 2015

Summary: New research shows that the trick for companies is to combine speed with stability. Agile organizations appear to be powerful machines for innovation and learning. Their performance stands out in three of the four management practices — top-down innovation, capturing external ideas, and knowledge sharing — associated with that outcome.

3 Highlights:

"... The speed that had been its hallmark began to wane as management focused on the constant renegotiations between the two parties. These unhealthy levels of internal competition caused leaders to lose sight of external threats...."

"... Agile organizations appear to be powerful machines for innovation and learning..."

"... Agile companies seem to be strong at motivation..."



The Best Digital Business Models Put Evolution Before Revolution

Source: Harvard Business Review
Author: Didier Bonnet and George Westerman
Year: 2015

Summary: Business model innovation is hard. But managers make it harder when they think about it only as radical industry reinvention. While revolutionary business model changes can be valuable, you don’t necessarily need to transform your industry. You don’t need to destroy your current business model. There is another way to make money from business model innovation. Sometimes it’s better to think a bit smaller so you can set yourself up for big results.

3 Highlights:

"...  Digital technology is changing the way companies work and the way customers expect them to work. Many opportunities exist to profit from digital business models. But building radically new ones can be expensive, difficult, and highly risky..."

"... Start with how you can deliver greater value to customers through technology..."

"... These evolutionary approaches can give you a jump start on digital business model innovation even as you search for the next big revolution..."



The Frustration with Productivity Culture

Source: The New Yorker
Author: Cal Newport
Year: 2021

Summary: The Mythical Man-Month, a book by Fred Brooks, gave rise to the revolution of agile methodologies, which helped overcome many inefficiencies. The software industry didn’t increase productivity by demanding more from its engineers, instead, it developed a more productive system to organize their efforts. Simple? I'm not sure.

3 Highlights:

"... Pulling together these threads, it seems that our problem in this moment of overload is not our general interest in productivity but instead the specific targets to which we apply this objective. I’m still happy to use “productivity” when talking about a sector, a company, or a system, but I’m increasingly empathetic to the resistance among my readers, and among critics such as Celeste Headlee, to apply this term to people..."

"... Agile project-management methodologies didn’t alleviate the need for programmers to strive to be better coders, but they did prevent the developers from having to excessively worry about what they should be coding and whether they had done enough..."

"... Leaving individuals to focus on executing their work well, while letting scrutinized systems tackle the allocation and organization of this work, might just be exactly the balance needed to allow growth without dehumanization..."



The Stretch Goal Paradox

Source: Harvard Business Review
Author: Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller, and Kelly E. See
Year: 2017

Summary: What executive hasn’t dreamed of transforming an organization by achieving seemingly impossible goals through sheer force of will? Indeed, in countless business narratives, the practice of setting such objectives has been celebrated as a key source of achievement. But in practice, stretch goals rarely work out, the authors’ research shows.

3 Highlights:

"... Consider Yahoo. When Marissa Mayer took the helm of the ailing internet giant, in 2012, she announced a number of wildly ambitious targets, including the exceptionally difficult objective of achieving double-digit annual growth. Five years later, she’d fallen far short on them all, and Yahoo was still struggling..."

"... The problem is that organizations that would most benefit from stretch goals—those with recent wins and slack resources—seldom employ them..."

"... But businesses in trouble often adopt them in a desperate attempt to turn things around—and they nearly always fail. This is the stretch goal paradox..."



The Contingency Theory

Source: Article of the Week

A contingency theory is an organizational theory that claims that there is no best way to organize a corporation, lead a company, or make decisions. 


The essence of the Contingency Theory is that there is no single ideal organizational model, and every model is subject to contingency against its internal and external reality. 

The success of an organizational model must be studied, but it would be foolish to copy it without understanding its context. 



Book Notes: The Art of Agile Development - James Shore and Shane Warden

Source: Book Notes of the Week

The Art of Agile Development contains practical guidance for anyone considering or applying agile development for building valuable software. 

There are many books that explain agile development and why it helps software projects succeed. There are, however, very few that combine information for developers, managers, testers, and customers into one easy-to-use package.

This book provides no-nonsense advice on agile planning, development, delivery, and management taken from the authors' many years of experience with Extreme Programming (XP). 




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