Productivity through visibility – the Kanban board


Originally posted here.

We’ve all have been there: trying to become more productive and improve the way we work. If you are looking for a way to limit the “work in progress” answers received from your colleagues and achieve better results, here is a tool you can experiment with: the Kanban board.



What is the Kanban board 


A kanban board is a visual tool that is effective at easily communicating a large amount of information. This makes easier the process management and workflows that are important to helping the business run smoothly.

This type of board uses cards, columns, colors, icons and other visual indicators that help people easily understand the information and retain it. Most teams that use Kanban boards develop their own unique configuration. 

The board can be physical or a software tool, but that the physical board is usually more flexible and recommended. For example, both Mozaic Works team and MozaicLabs are using whiteboards to manage projects we are working on.
Why use a Kanban board 

Briefly, the Kanban board can help you and your team with:

  • minimize waste work (e.g partially done work, extra features, task switching)
  • ensure quick response to changes and problems
  • stay on top of your tasks
  • keep track of the activities and optimize the time spent on each activity
  • focus on the most important tasks


How to build and use the Kanban board

Identify and visualize the workflow

Start with what you are currently working on. Identify the main stages in the project/product development. The most simple Kanban board contains 3 columns: To Do, Doing, Done. 

Limit the work-in-progress (WIP)

For each specific activity, limit the number of tasks per step in the value flow (i.e. the process revealed by the board). They are pulled from column to column at each stage. This way, the team won’t be overload and bottlenecks can easily identify bottlenecks. You can add extra information to the post-its. For example, mention who is the owner of an activity and how many hours it lasted that specific action.
With the Kanban board, it can be visualized how work flows through the system. By building the Kanban board representatively for your product and limiting the WIP, you will quickly begin to see when work isn’t moving through the system. For instance, if work starts collecting in one stage, it’s time to look deeper at what might be causing a bottleneck.

Explicit policies and entry criteria

The policy is the team’s commitment to complete a certain list of activities before allowing work to be pulled into the next column. Identify and define policies and entry criteria for the tasks and activities. Make sure that even exceptional tasks are well integrated into the process.
As the team identifies opportunities to improve the system, this knowledge is “written in” to the Kanban board itself. This allows an easy capture and preservation of the organizational learning. By conveying clear expectations to stakeholders, the board helps you with dealing with misunderstandings, create a stronger, and built a more trusting relationship.

Manage the activities flow 

Monitor and measure the activities’ cycle time. The cycle time represents the work item spends from started to done (without the time that the task spent waiting on the board). This interval is measured from the work item’s point of view, that it doesn’t matter if it waits for something, the cycle time still passes. 
Therefore, the cycle time should start being measured, when the item task enters the “working” column, not earlier.
Time management and metrics are important for any team. The Kanban board helps with quickly answering questions like Is cycle time going up or down? Where are bottlenecks? Is something stuck somewhere, or should tasks be merged/split up?

Feedback & Continuous Improvement

Kanban is evolutionary. And one if it’s most relatable, proven benefit is continuous improvement. Talk about what worked and what didn’t. Based on the Kanban board, identify bottlenecks and find ways to fix them.
When the teams are allowed to take a step back and examine how they are utilizing their resources and labor, they can easily spot new opportunities.

Roundup 

In the rush for productivity and keeping in-sync, the Kanban board can easily do the trick. By being visual, simple and easy to understand and offer plenty of information in just a glance, it’s a tool that you and your team will enjoy using.

(RO) Interviu despre Product Leaders (un)Conference

Anul acesta, impreuna cu echipa Mozaic Works, am pus la cale prima editie a Product Leaders (un)Conference, primul eveniment din CEE destinat profesionistilor din zona de tech product. 
Mai jos puteti citi un preview al interviului pe care l-am acordat celor de eJobs, unul dintre partenerii evenimentului. 

Click aici pentru a afla toate detaliile pe care le-am oferit despre eveniment, dar si despre ce inseamna sa construiesti tech products, provocari, rolul unui product manager etc. 


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Peste 200 de participanți, din România, Marea Britanie, Turcia, Suedia și Germania, care ocupă funcții precum: Product Manager, Product Owner, CEO, Product Designer, Business Developer, Business Analyst și Tehnical Manager. Mai mult de 16 speakeri, din Statele Unite ale Americii, Europa și Asia și zeci de povești și studii de caz. Așa arată, în doar câteva cuvinte, cele mai importante informații referitoare la Product Leaders, eveniment dedicat celor pasionați să aducă inovație în produsele tehnologice.


Evenimentul Product Leaders este dedicat Managerilor de Produs, Designerilor de Produs, Analiștilor Business, Fondatorilor de Start-up-uri, Dezvoltatorilor de Business-uri, Testerilor.

„Fiecare speaker va prezenta în sesiunea sa studii de caz. Aceasta a fost principala noastră recomandare în ceea ce privește fiecare prezentare, deoarece favorizăm exemplul personal, fie că vorbim de povești de succes, fie de lecții învățate din greșeli”, spune Steliana Moraru, Marketing & Communication Manager la Mozaic Works, companie care organizează Product Leaders.

Steliana Moraru vorbește, într-un interviu acordat eJobs, despre caracteristicile pe care le are un produs tehnologic de top.

eJobs: Care sunt, în opinia ta, elementele care contribuie la succesul unui produs tehnologic?


Steliana Moraru: Consider că există două perspective către care putem privi: impactul pe care îl au produsele tech asupra utilizatorilor și elementele pe care le oferă. Astfel, ținând cont de prima perspectivă, produsul trebuie să rezolve o problemă reală pe care o au utilizatorii, într-un mod eficient. Acest lucru înseamnă că produsul trebuie să fie ușor de folosit de către utlizatori, în sensul în care le oferă o amintire plăcută a utilizării și aleg să îl folosească cu plăcere de fiecare dată. Mai mult decât atât, îi oferă valoare utilizatorului, fie că vorbim de reducerea costurilor sau de acces la anumite servicii. De asemenea, acesta trebuie să creeze un randament al investiției pentru persoana sau organizația care a realizat respectivul produs.

Din a doua perspectivă, un produs de succes are o calitate superioară și oferă o serie de elemente unice în comparație cu alte produse competitoare. De asemenea, un produs tech are șanse crescute de succes dacă este primul în segmentul său de piață sau acoperă o nevoie pe care alte produse nu au abordat-o.

Povestind cu Davide Scalzo, Product Manager Octopus Lab, din Marea Britanie ne-a spus că: „Succesul depinde de tipul produsului și natura businessului. Unele produse sunt centrate foarte mult pe utilitate, de exemplu sisteme back-office sau site-uri e-commerce precum Amazon. Intenția utilizatorului este să rezolve cât mai repede treaba, astfel încât soluțiile sunt optimizate pentru acest lucru. Pentru aceste tipuri de produse tech este relevant să măsurăm succesul în ceea ce privește timpul de finalizare al acțiunii, activității și alte valori similare. Pentru alte produse, intenția vizează o parte inspirațională – fashion, călătorii, bunuri de lux sau rețele sociale. Aceste produse vizează partea de experiență a utilizatorului. Astfel, valorile pentru aceste produse sunt diferite și legate mai mult de obiectivele de business. Avem, de asemenea, frameworkul propus de Dave McLure –<>– pe care îl consider extrem de util în a oferi o privire de nivel înalt referitor la unde se află businessul și pe ce ar trebuie să ne concentrăm în următorul semestru”.

În ceea ce privește exemple de produse tehnlogice de succes, menționez Hyperloop, companie a lui Elon Musk, care este descrisă ca fiind un mijloc de transport revoluționar, un hibrid între Concorde, proiectil și o tablă de hockey în aer. Pasagerii vor călătorii în capsule care levitează în interiorul unor tuburi masive, înconjurate de perne de aer. Va schimba nu doar modul de a călători, tehnologia, dar și timpul necesar parcurgerii distanțelor. De pildă, călătorii vor putea ajunge de la Londra la Edinburgh în doar 30 de minute, față de șase ore, cât durează în prezent.

eJobs: Când vorbim de un produs tehnologic, cum ai descrie product managerul ideal?

Steliana Moraru: Un product manager ideal știe să asculte piața, să înțeleagă utilizatorii și colegii, are o viziune clară a produsului și, în plus, poate accepta că unele ipoteze sunt greșite, astfel că va schimba planul atunci când este necesar. Știe cum să organizeze informația, să filtreze opiniile care trebuie ascultate și cele care trebuie ignorate. Toate produsele de succes sunt rezultatul învățămintelor trase în urma multor experimente eșuate. Așadar, product managerul ideal reușește să își creeze autoritatea din faptul că greșește mult, învață repede și ajunge la success prin experimente. În fiecare rol există permanent loc de îmbunătățire, pentru că vorbim despre abilități pe care le rafinăm în timp, căutând succesul.

De altfel, povestind cu speakerii de la Product Leaders, aș dori să redau opinia lui Gabriel Steinheardt, CEO Blackbot: „Un product manager trebuie să posede o multitudine de skilluri, printre care gândirea strategică și analiza. Responsabiliățile pot fi diferite de la o companie la alta, însă funcția principală a jobului este de contribui la a aduce valoare pe termen lung, prin crearea produsului respectiv. În ceea ce privește partea de business, consider că product managerii ar trebui să aibă următoarele patru competențe de business: expertiză în domeniu, expertiză funcțională, soft skills și aptitudini strategice. Acest lucru înseamnă să ai experiență specifică industriei, know-how tehnologic, cunoștințe cu privire la procese sau tooluri și tehnici de planificare și marketare a produselor, skilluri non-tehnice – mai ales de comunicare – utilizate în business și planificare pe termen lung, abilitatea de a lua decizii”.


Interviul poate fi citit integral aici

[RO] Interviu pentru eJobs Romania despre I T.A.K.E Unconference

Saptamana aceasta am povestit cu Liviu Florea, eJobs Romania, despre I T.A.K.E Unconference, unul dintre cele mai apreciate evenimente tehnice in regiune. 

Mai jos puteti citi un preview al acestui interviu, iar aici aflati toate detaliile pe care i le-am impartasit lui Liviu. 

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Ești programator sau pasionat de tehnologie? eJobs îți recomandă să participi la evenimentul I T.A.K.E. Unconference, care va avea loc în mai, la București.
Bucureștiul va găzdui a cincea ediție a evenimentului I T.A.K.E. Unconference, dedicat programatorilor și pasionaților de tehnologie care vor să afle totul despre ultimele noutăți din domeniu.

Organizatorii I T.A.K.E. Unconference estimează că aproximativ 300 de pasionați de tehnologie vor participa la eveniment, care va avea loc pe 11 și 12 mai. Cele două zile de eveniment cuprind, printre alte, un concurs de programare și o petrecere.
Steliana Moraru, Marketing & Communication Manager la Mozaic Works, prezintă, într-un interviu acordat eJobs România, ce se va întâmpla în cadrul I T.A.K.E. Unconference 2017.



Evenimentul, organizat de Mozaic Works, va reuni peste 30 de speakeri internaționali, care vor discuta pe teme specifice universului IT&C, precum software desing, inteligență artificială sau programare funcțională.


eJobs: Ce așteptări aveți de la eveniment?

Steliana Moraru: I T.A.K.E Unconference a devenit un reper în materie de evenimente destinate comunității tech internaționale. Iar acest lucru înseamnă că ne-am setat un standard de calitate al conținutului și al programului în primul rând în cadrul echipei. Sunt cel puțin trei obiective pe care le avem:

√ să găzduim speakeri de talie internațională, cu ani buni de experiență în domeniul tech;

√ să generăm conținut de calitate și raportat la ultimele tehnologii;

√ să avem un program invovator ca format, dar și complex, din care participanții să își extragă valoare pentru proiectele proprii și să experimenteze cu respectivele concepte chiar în cadrul evenimentului.

Astfel, ne concentrăm pe creearea unui program hands-on, complex și technology agnostic (care acopera subiecte si practici aplicabile în orice tehnologie – trad.; n.red.). Acest lucru înseamnă o selecție riguroasă de vorbitori, printr-un proces de triere internațional. Avem în vedere cele mai noi tehnologii, trenduri și topicuri în domeniu. În ceea ce privește conținutul technology agnostic, acest lucru înseamnă că participanții, indiferent de backgroundul (experiența – trad.; n.red.) tehnic și de limbajul de programare folosit au acces la informație, resurse și exemple pe care să le utilizeze în propriile proiecte. Se discută pe cod, atât în prezentări, cât și în hands-on workshopuri și în sesiuni de live coding (scriere de cod în timp real – trad.; n.red.). Și asta ne bucură, pentru că încurajăm abordarea practică și exemplele concrete, din situații reale. Iată câteva exemple de întrebări la care ne așteptăm să primească răspuns participanții: „Ce provocări au existat în alte proiecte?”, „Ce probleme au întâmpinat?” și „Ce tehnologii au utilizat și cum?”. Mai mult, participanții pot să fie provocați de ceea ce află.

Venim cu format de tip „unconference” (un format construit în jurul participanților – n.red.), fiind primul eveniment destinat industriei care pune în valoare și cunoștințele participanților. Acest lucru creează un mediu dinamic de învățare, de dezbatere și de discuții mai amplu decât discuțiile pe fugă din pauzele de la conferințele tradiționale. Mai mult decât atât, tocmai pentru că ne-am dorit să păstrăm acest sentiment de comunitate, de interacțiune reală, am decis să avem maximum 300 de participanți.

Așadar, ne setăm așteptări mari în materie de conținut, program, discuții reale, bazate pe experiență și mult cod.


Interviul poate fi citit integral aici

Marketing insights to promote your event

In a previous blog post, we tackled the branding side. Now it’s time to tell the online world about your event.


When it comes to strategizing how to attract speakers and attendees, there are at least 3 critical questions:

#1. What type of content will be shared?

Experienced event marketers consider the following:
√ What mix of content works best with your audience?
√ Where can you promote the content?
√ What channels do you already have? What channels can you add?
√ Can you re-share or write a guest post for other platforms? Which are they?
eventriX tip: Guest blog posts are an effective way to share your knowledge, to engage potential speakers and attendees.

Rest the rest of the article here.

Using branding to craft a memorable identity for your event



Originally posted here.

A brand is not just a logo, a website or your business cards…it’s an experience. — Jeff Bezos


What do you expect the attendees and speakers to feel after your event has ended? What is the promise you’re making to everyone involved, from speakers to attendees and partners? What makes them want to come back next year?


A memorable brand image turns speakers into promoters and increases the number of returning attendees. To become memorable, here are 5 things to consider:

#1 Name

It all starts with the event name. I receive plenty of emails about events with similar names. The organizers neglect the power of a memorable name, not only for conferences but also for webinars or workshops.

Tip: Don’t shy away from a catchy, easy to remember name. Get inspired by big, renowned events: Coachella, Burning Man, Collision, The Next Web.

#2 Hashtags

#hashtags can create buzz, call to action, or be used as a mechanism to measure the success of your brand. Make sure speakers know it, attendees know it and encourage them to use it as much as possible. They help you strengthen the digital presence, attracting media coverage too.

Tip: Don’t forget to use the #hashtag on each platform where your event is promoted, starting with Call for Speakers / Call for Papers stage. Encourage everyone involved to use it everywhere.

#3 Visuals

When it comes to attention and memorability, what people see about your event is crucial. Every single piece of marketing and communication material must be aligned with a common style of colors, logos, and typography.

Tip: A speaker’s badge to be added to their public profile, and a personalized poster aligned with your brand helps promote both event and speaker.

#4 Tagline

The verbal identity of your event matters, too. The tagline carries the emotion you want to transmit. As part of your event brand, it should be consistent with visuals and the name.

Tip: Find inspiration in your favorite movies, as they always have a memorable tagline. To mention just a few: Houston, we have a problem! (Apollo 13), Who ya gonna call? (Ghostbusters), Life is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re gonna get (Forest Gump).

#5 Branded items

Last but not least, create a branded trademark for your event, find a twist that your speakers and attendees will remember long after the event is over. Be consistent, but original.

Tip: Look for original ideas in other industries than yours. Examples of little gifts to bring home: branded teddy bears, board games, stickers, coasters, etc.


A memorable brand image is not an easy endeavor. Make sure your mission is carried on by what attendees and speakers take away from the event.


Roundup: Be consistent with your branding and start early. Don’t be afraid to be original and creative. Think of ways everyone involved can promote and engage with your brand way before D-day.

We at eventriX would love to hear the story of how you make your event a unique, memorable experience. Get in touch with us at @eventrixco.



The reading challenge in 2016

It's that time of the year, folks! As we usher into the (hopefully) better 2017, many of us (myself included) start making lists and plans. I did learn he heard way how to make realistic plans and make them happen. I'm still improving, but I'm pretty proud of what I've achieved.

There is definitely one plan I'm going to great lengths to keep it: reading as much as possible. I've set an ambitious goal for the year, to read 50 books. I didn't achieve this goal, but I'm not too unhappy. There is a trick: in a certain way, I've achieved this goal. This year I had to finish my Ph.D. paper so there was plenty of reading involved, but I didn't want to include much of it in the list below. 

If you are looking for inspiration for what to read in the next free days or set your reading list for 2017, find below the list of books I've read with some personal comments. Some of them are re-reads, as I was looking for some particular job inspiration. I didn't make notes for all, so feel free to ask me any questions in a comment. 


Most of the books I've read in 2016. The rests are eBooks or audio books


Oliver Sacks - On the move, Awakenings
Oliver Sacks is one of my favorite authors in the world. I've discovered first his New York Times articles and then the books. This year I've read his biography (On the move) and Awakenings. A little bit of background for Oliver Sacks - he was a world-renowned neurologist, an amazing author, a motorcycle enthusiast, weightlifter. This biography depicts his adult life: research, travel, writing, personal life, family background. I recommend you to read first Uncle Tungsten, a truly revealing writing depicting his childhood, his childhood battles, and science. 

"Awakenings" is the book that inspired the eponymous movie. It tackles the period when Oliver Sacks joined the Bronx Home for Incurables (currently Bronx's Beth Abraham hospital) and made research about the patients who were infected with the sleep-sickness after WWI (known as encephalitis lethargica virus). The persons who contracted this virus have been able to lead a normal life for years, before manifesting symptoms similar to the Parkinson disease.


Alain de Botton - Essays in love 

Another favorite author. I've been reading all the books I've found written by him, a long list is waiting, though. I enjoyed this writing from the first phrase: The longing for a destiny is nowhere stronger than in our romantic life. The book, the first Alain de Botton wrote, is a part fiction and part philosophical reflection on falling in love. A man falls in love with a lady he met on a flight. From this encounter, the reader can follow the narrator's feelings, inner traits, entering the relationship, and the sequence of events that follows.

Another quote I've enjoyed: We are all more intelligent than we are capable and awareness of the insanity of love has never saved anyone from the disease.





As marketer, I truly value Seth Godin's books and articles. We Are All Weird is a first read, but All marketers are liars is a re-read. The first is a manifesto that touted the future of business and marketing as catering to the “weird". It depicts the people who live and thrive outside of the norm, outside of the masses. The second is more of blog-ish written book. I do remember I made plenty of noted when I've read it the first time, but now I've only taken some inspiration for my work. (if you are a young communicator/marketer this should be on your reading list)


One quote from We are all weird: Amplified creation, marketing efficiency and the support of tribes, then, are pushing toward one outcome: we’re getting weirder. Mass is withering. The only things pushing against this trend are the factory mindset and the cultural bias toward compliance.


Viktor - Mayer-Schonberger, Kenneth Cukier - Big Data - A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

A re-read (also part of my Ph.D. reading lists). Definitely a must-read for every person working in the digital, marketing, tech and not only. 




This one is right on my all time favorite reads. I've admired profoundly Jaqueline's Novogratz work during my years of working in the non-governmental sector. This book, part autobiography, part real-life example of how to have an impact in the international community, is an inspiration for me. Definitely a thought-provoking reading and a must-read for everyone in the nonprofit world (and not only).


This was both part of my Ph.D. reading list and my work reading list. I've found plenty of inspiration for improving my vision and skills in what concerns the small bites of information I can pay attention. The book is part anthropological look of the author, part examples of improving business. For those looking for a more scientific/textbook approach, they will find more of an observation book. Lindstrom is on the road for 300 days/year and is terrific at discovering and unveiling the tiniest details that will make a difference in the end.



David Allen - Making it all work 

Anthony Bourdain - Kitchen confidential 


David Rothkopf - Superclass 

Elizabeth Gilbert - The signature of all things 

Not going on my recommendation list. It's an interesting book, but sometimes a bit too long and losing your attention. 

This is a re-read. I've prepared a seminar for my Leadership students including work of Gladwell. I've read all his books so far, and I would definitely recommend them for Aha moments, creativity boost and lateral thinking improvements.


Michael Paterniti - The telling room 



What did you read in 2016 and made to your favorite books/authors list? Share with me in the comments.


Routine vs. Creativity: 3 practices for your product team


Originally posted here.  

You can’t just give someone a creativity injection. You have to create an environment for curiosity and a way to encourage people and get the best out of them. Ken Robinson
The ability to create something new, to get a new business started, break boundaries with bold ideas or redefine the existing standards are among the perks of being a creative professional. Connecting the dots is no easy endeavor. The outstanding creative ideas many times:
  • spring from small ideas
  • require constant practice – creativity is just like a muscle, it needs constant training to obtain better results
  • are inspired from other industries, from other ideas, or even from small talks near the coffee machine

Creativity has become an appanage of many public speeches and a prerequisite of each professional hat. In practice, companies do forget important things: the investment in creativity is usually minimal; unfortunately nowadays, everything is focused more on productivity, rather than creativity.
Here comes the role of the manager: she can create and foster an environment that helps the teams becoming more creative, more eager to develop skills in this direction.
To easier enhance your creativity, here are three techniques you can start with:

The 6 Thinking Hats

Coined by Eduard de Bono, the 6 thinking hats techniques is a process, enabling the creative thinking. The technique involves “wearing” a different colored hat: black, white, red, green, yellow, and blue. By trying the hats, the team can explore more situations and redirect the flow of ideas.
Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 14.39.36
The 6 thinking hats, Eduard de Bono

Green Light/Red Light thinking

On one hand, Green Light (or think Captain Kirk model), just like the traffic light, is a metaphor expressing that any idea can work.  The accent is on positive encouragement, generation of as many ideas as possible, no matter their status. On the other hand, the Red Light (or think Mr. Spock model) is the metaphor for the sober analysis of what will go and what will be put in practice.
Green Light thinking can be associated also with brainstorming, as it involves the generation of as many ideas as possible, encouraging people to think of solutions they might overlook in other conditions. For the Red Light thinking, it involves an evaluation of each potential solution through certain criteria. Andy Green synthesis the process like this:
Green Light Thinking 
  • Anything goes and is permissible
  • The big picture is the context
  • Positive impact of risk
  • Emotional and intuitive
  • Anything can happen in the future
  • There is no evaluation or censorship of ideas
  • There should be no selling of ideas
  • The leader does not offer ideas
  • The list is reviewed at the end of the session
Red Light Thinking
  • Focus on analysis
  • Bring in the judgment mentality
  • Analyse practicalities
  • See functionality – will it work?
  • Assess the negative impact of risk
  • Take a look at the details
  • Examine what worked in the past

The Disney Strategy

This technique, inspired by Walt Disney strategy, focuses on a set of distinct stages to encourage creativity. According to this method, by using a specific flow builds parallel thinking that can be used to generate, evaluate, critique ideas and solve problems.
The stages are the Dreamer, the Realist, the Critic.
When your team is in the stage of dreamers, allow them to brainstorm without any restraints. Ask questions like:
  • What do we want?
  • What is the solution?
  • How do we imagine the solution?
  • What are the benefits of applying this solution?
Next, switch to the realist stage: filter the dreams, organize them and act upon. The team switches the place and the mode to think in a more logical planning style, starting to work on how dreams can be translated into the real world.
During this stage, ask questions like:
  • How can we apply this idea in reality?
  • What is the action plan to apply the idea?
  • What is the timeline to apply this idea?
  • How to evaluate the idea?
Then move to the critic phase. Here is the stage in which the team evaluates the ideas. Help the participants with questions like:
  • What could be wrong with the idea?
  • What is missing?
  • Why cannot be applied it?
  • What are the weaknesses in the plan?

A long-term investment

The creative mindset is a must have in the today world. Work is done not just for the sake of work, but for us to leave a better and outstanding tomorrow.
Let your teams experiment. Encourage them to challenge the obvious and make the quest for creativity an on-going endeavor. Thus, they will make an outstanding contribution in your products, business and internal/external communities.
If you work hard enough and assert yourself, and use your mind and imagination, you can shape the world to your desires. Malcolm Gladwell