Broken Window Theory

What is broken window theory? : There is a theory called the “Broken Windows Theory“. This theory states that if there is a disorder in a neighborhood for a substantial period of time, the mess will only get worse. The authors give the example of a broken window in an abandoned building. If it isn’t replaced within some time, the chances are that vandals will break another window. And another. Gradually making the mess worse, and therefore making the issue bigger. This above is taken from Richard Tuin blog entry.

My Take on the Broken Window Theory :

  1. When you see an issue in code, fix it or at least let everyone know so that as a team we fix it.
  2. Treat code quality as most importance, and any issue in quality should be taken as serious, as cost of fixing at development will be lower than cost of issue at production
  3. While reviewing code, ensure to notice the small stuff too, because it’s the right time to check on small quality issues which can become bigger in time.
  4. make your life and your project easier by fixing broken windows as soon as they appear.
  5. Always act on the tech-debt, it’s ideally a debt you have on the code you’ve written, the more you honor it, the better it is. Always saying that the PO is not prioritizing is not a solution, you need to work with PO to put tech-debt in priority too.
  6. Always believe in “I am the problem, I am the solution attitude” making yourself as a Leader. A Leader never cribs, he/she puts on the shoes, makes the problem his own problem and then walks on to the solution. Have that attitude. A Leader Is always one without authority and need not be a CEO.

An experience with Kids with m3.0

This is about the event I had posted a few days back where I was invited as a speaker by my friend Shrinkhla Sahai. She is currently leading her own organization – Swayam Foundation, where along with her team, she is working on arts, mental health and sustainability.  Under this particular project ‘Think a Leap’, they have partnered with Deepalaya’s Vocational Training Centre in Gole Kuan, Delhi to capacitate young adults in certain competences. The project is being led by Mohammad Kaleem, with support from Saransh Sugandh.

So, on a Sunday morning I left my home hoping that I would be able to help these kids create some impact and hoping to get inspired. It was a little trouble finding the place but eventually with help, I was able to reach the place. Funny thing initially was I was wearing a suit thinking about the cold and that people take you more seriously if I am wearing a suit, It turned out that was just my apprehension- their candor and openness helped me ease out of my formal skin quite easily.

When I had interacted with Shrinkhla a few days before the event, she had told me
“With Kids it’s different”, and I felt the same being there in the room with them
. I just knew in my heart that I had to do what I have always done with my audiences. Since I had already facilitated using Personal Maps and Improv Cards from Management 3.0 many times, I was confident. I will come back to why I mention this.

The crowd consisted of people from 10th – 12th class and looked active. I believe the work done prior to me had made the kids open in a way that they felt safe even with a new facilitator. For me for any session I have taken in my life, safety is important, because when people feel safe, they start to open up and share authentically which is needed to get them motivated. As Saransh said, they spent a good amount of time making the kids feel vulnerable, tell their problems in a way where they might not entirely solve the problem, but are at least able to keep it in front of them and perceive it from a different angle.

I  started the talk with my life story, and how I was an average kid at school, whereas the person standing there Shrinkhla wore a blue coat ( indicating 3+ scholar badge) and how I finished my studies as an engineer, gradually making it to the industry, further focusing on how I changed roles, what challenges I had, and how my quest to learn new things drove my life.

Money is a big motivator for all of us but even more so for those who families have had little access to it. Naturally for these young adults it is a big motivator, but I also kept the other aspect of how intrinsic motivation is important in life and how it really makes us drive. I showed them the Dan Pink video where they show 2 case studies and basically draw the point that money often works the other way around. I wasn’t certain about sharing this video with teenagers for whom earning money in the next part of their life is absolute necessity; but it also sent a message that do what you love so that your motivations create the best out of you.

It was time for some activities. I had planned to do two activities of management 3.0, one was personal maps, the other was Improv Cards. I started distributing colored A4 sheets, crayons, colors. The kids work with personal maps was sheer fun! Not only were they creative, but willing to express themselves truly on paper. Seeing their enthusiasm, we had to extend the time meant for the activity. It made me think that ultimately we are all kids at heart. Whenever I ask people to put themselves on paper, we feel so happy and excited, much like these teenagers.

Now when you think of a personal map, all I’ve seen is people saying someone loves driving, dance, singing, but some of their personal maps gave me goosebumps. Again, the work done with kids prior to me made them feel so safe that their personal maps brought about some very private things like their social life, their relationship with their parents, their agony and anger. Their personal maps were not just what they liked, but their feelings, their dreams, their aspirations, their goals, the ugly things in life, the good things in life. Some of them writing the maps were looking so serious, for a second, I really thought this was something so different.

Following this, I made them then sit in pairs as the original activity and talk to each other. Seeing some of the kids map, it made me feel we as adults are so scared being vulnerable even with our closest friends. It was amazing to see them so open with each other. It was tough, but they did it. I made them go through two-three rounds and I saw some good conversations happen. As always when I do this activity, I tell people to dig in more than what is their on the paper, and again some very interesting things came out in the end discussion.

While seeing these maps and reading over the content post the event, I felt that these kids had a big heart to get what they feel on a paper and then share. It takes a lot to do this. Hats off to them.

The second activity was the Improv, distributed six improv cards to each kid. All of them were wondering what the heck was this? They were thoroughly amused looking at the strange images. The idea was for them to use the images and tell things about their life looking at what has happened.

I emphasized on the fact that sometimes in life, we need to seriously reflect on what all we are doing, what is done and where are we headed. The emotions and facts that surface during self-reflection is a powerful thing. I’ve sat with people talking about this and seen them sometimes ending in tears, but always emerging with a clearer sense of where they may want to go from there. So, we started the activity with instruction to use a minimum of three out of six cards and narrate a story from their lives. In parallel we created a word cloud from what came as stories (you can see in the images).

With something as simple as this, the topics which emerged like gender, society, aspirations, dreams, parents were quite powerful, and I felt the session went way beyond what I had initially thought of. While some reflections were tough for me as a person to digest, others were good to hear. We don’t realize in life that when we keep the problem or state the problem, we are in a way seeing the problem in absolute starkness. We see it from a different perspective, and again this is necessary. The word cloud was simply illuminating compared to some of the other sessions I’ve done before.

We ended up the session with kids coming up to me and discussing some career related queries, and how to progress in life. I felt the crowd was awesome. They were expressive, they had the energy, and above all they were very “vocal”. I give a big shout to Shrinkhla, Saransh and Kaleem for making these kids so confident in their vulnerability. They are doing an amazing job; my heart goes out to them in a big way.

When I left the session, I felt that I experienced something which I thought was not possible. I go in sessions and I’m usually like bring it on, I’ve seen everything, and yet some sessions give me goosebumps. This was right on the top. I felt awesome that I motivated the kids and I felt very blessed to be given the opportunity to do so.

Life will keep giving us things, you work hard you land up at places you dream. I’m not an Elon Musk, but I tell everyone this: “Happiness is the identity of a person, so be happy and let that happiness spread around”. At the end of the day, it’s those moments of happiness with your friends, family and people around you that matters. Live each day to be happier, and while I might not be the best at this, I aspire for this too.

And while we learn, while we grow in life, we should always remember to give it back to the society we live in. And when I see people like Shrinkhla, Saransh and Kaleem, I feel they are doing this so awesome work, big KUDOS to them for the same!!

Personal Maps and the importance of individuals and Interactions in the Agile world

We as Millennials saw an era where talking to friends outside homes was normal followed by yahoo chat followed by ICQ followed by WhatsApp and nowadays people like to play games at home. The whole life has circled back for me when I think about Agile and how people are so important. The people and their interactions are very critical in any environment or setup and so it’s often important to break the ice and go beyond the conventional talks where all we hear is people cribbing about work or their work timings.

There is a practice in Management 3.0 called Personal maps which targets at making individuals talk about themselves. The idea is for each person in the team to take a A4 paper, write their names in the middle of the sheet and then draw bubbles around to depict themselves thinking outside the office about their interests and aspects which they generally don’t share in a normal conversation.

I usually Start it saying that I know we all know each other, we’ve been working with each other for so long, but do we really know each other, let’s find out.

The activity is a big noise creating event. You get out so many things which you would never have thought to know, and it’s so surprising that people sitting next to us had so many common interests which we never thought.

We basically draw ourselves on the paper, and then exchange that page with the person sitting on right who describes you using the paper, doing these multiple times, knowing people in the room. The more we make people introduce the more they come to know how they really didn’t know the real person.

 Not taking names, I had 2 girls working in same team doing same kind of dance, we got a movie producer in one of our session while in another I got a person who owned a resort! Just imagine these people never struck conversations bringing these aspects out. The best part is the common ground items coming out like someone having interest in books, other in cartoons, you get more grounds to talk to people.

We then create a tree out of the map near the desk, so that if a new person joins the team, they can get to know the team using the tree.

This is the method prescribed. I’ve tweaked it a lot of times asking people to dig into it to find 1 interesting thing of the person which they need to reveal it in end. Sometimes I make a tree only about interesting things people find.

In the end we live in a world where people interact and we need to recognize that people are important because an individual success might be good, but a team working well is the best as teams rally towards a cause and make it a great thing. Good teams always shine and are often asked for best practices.

I’ve also done this for remote teams having multiple video feeds interacting and it has been amazing experience. All this we can so much relate to the focus on individuals and interactions.

I recently used the same for a deep dive in Spark Business Agility Conference and people liked the idea. We had a great tree created in end with names and 1 interesting thing about the people in the conference.

Update : 20 th December 2019

So, I recently did this at 2 different places and I would like to update the post on those 2 places, because I felt the implementation was great.

The first instance was with kids. I was doing a motivation workshop with kids from 10th-12th class. The activity went like this:

I started distributing colored A4 sheets, crayons, colors. The kids work with personal maps was sheer fun! Not only were they creative, but willing to express themselves truly on paper. Seeing their enthusiasm, we had to extend the time meant for the activity. It made me think that ultimately, we are all kids at heart. Whenever I ask people to put themselves on paper, we feel so happy and excited, much like these teenagers.

Now when you think of a personal map, all I’ve seen is people saying someone loves driving, dance, singing, but some of their personal maps gave me goosebumps. Again, the work done with kids prior to me made them feel so safe that their personal maps brought about some very private things like their social life, their relationship with their parents, their agony and anger. Their personal maps were not just what they liked, but their feelings, their dreams, their aspirations, their goals, the ugly things in life, the good things in life. Some of them writing the maps were looking so serious, for a second, I really thought this was something so different.

Following this, I made them then sit in pairs as the original activity and talk to each other. Seeing some of the kids map, it made me feel we as adults are so scared being vulnerable even with our closest friends. It was amazing to see them so open with each other. It was tough, but they did it. I made them go through two-three rounds and I saw some good conversations happen. As always when I do this activity, I tell people to dig in more than what is there on the paper, and again some very interesting things came out in the end discussion.

The second instance was the Bangkok Management 3.0 Retreat. While coming into the room, meeting some highly motivated people, saw Ralph putting up 4 charts lined up against each other. Looked interesting in the first look itself.

We then started the activity with 4-5 people at one go drawing their maps (since it was all facilitators, we all knew the drill). The interesting part was when we were done, we started connecting things we missed from our maps to the other map, and that was so much fun! The connections were from the first chart paper towards the end. And that showed us that while being from different countries and continents, we all had common grounds where we connect. There were Netflix fans, Marvel fans, someone liked hiking, someone loved swimming, and what all not.

While everyone was looking at the map, suddenly an “aha moment” used to come that yes, I like this too, and people used to draw a line from their name to the where the interesting thing was. And this happened over and over for the next 10-15 minutes.  

Self-reflecting on this, seeing the common ground across the team was interesting, and obviously this made us know about each other in a good way. Again, very powerful method for interactions.

If you want to learn more on the Personal Maps, you can check out the management 3.0 page here on the same.

Retrospective using Rory's Story Cubes and management 3.0 practices

While we do a lot of Retro’s, often a thought which comes to my mind is that “does everyone really speak?”, or “does everyone wonder how they were spending their days inside the sprint?”.

I had recently done an amazing workshop on management 3.0 with Sarika , and that has a practice called as improv cards where using improv cards we tell stories.

She also said a similar thing could be done with Rory’s story cubes, and while seeing them on amazon made me so excited that I couldn’t help ordering the standard set that moment itself. Although I really didn’t know what to do with it back then, I did have a faint idea that like improv cards, they had images, but then how to play it in a retro was not very clear.

So, we recently had a retro, and I created a game. The rules were that each person steps on the stage and rolls four normal dices. If they get a six on any of the four dices, they are lucky to roll the Rory’s story cubes, else we continue to next person. The moment you get a six, you roll the Rory’s story cubes, and then using the images you rolled, you take minimum of 5 cubes or a max of 9, to make a story of your life inside the sprint, the story could be a happy thing, the story could have a thing which needs improvement or both. Once you tell the story we see possible actions.

I started this by giving an example with all 9 cubes. And post this it was fun, initially some people didn’t get a six, but once they did, I saw people pumped up to get to the stage.

Not only people were telling stories, I felt they were connecting their story to their empathy, and how they felt on some actions, which was so good to hear. Some people stretched which no one knew but came out through this, some minor things which we ignore came out, and the participants had fun linking the images to the stories. Sometimes they would ask me what’s this image, and I would say use your wild imagination, because an image might mean something to someone. The funny one was that one took an image of magnifying glass; another guy took same image for a bat. So, the different perspectives of individuals came in.

Not to forget the essence of the whole activity was the story telling. The Stories shed more light on the seriousness of the issue, or the happiness on the delight, and it made people connect. I was super impressed how everyone participated, and even the people who are generally shy to speak had a story to tell.

The whole activity took an hour, and everyone did roll the cubes. The entire activity for me was such a good one, made me so happy that people were able to connect their life inside the sprint to a story.

End of the day a great Retro is where you get the reality out, and you as a team see the need to improve.

Continuous Improvement is like oxygen to a Team, as it motivates the team constantly to do better.

Who is Sumit?

A Technology Leader with 14 years of experience who loves coding in free time and has passion for Agile. Played various roles of Developer/Scrum Master/PO/RTE/Program Manager in his career delivering quality Products. Also love to give Trainings on various topics like management3.0/C#/R/SCRUM/Good Scrum Practices/Effective Scrum Master/etc., some of them are public and some inside company. Has lot of experience in getting teams up and running on Agile and coach them to make them mature agile teams.

I believe in making people happy, and ensuring that teams are happy building quality products. In order to do I do a lot of activities and workshops to ensure that people are engaged.



Other Key Highlights :
• Highly ambitions and performance-driven professional with strong program management skills.
• Skilled in executing projects from Day 1 to ensure quality delivery using Agile(Scrum/Kanban/SAFE/etc).
• Diverse experience with a large number of business domains and technical environments. Highly valued for ability to establish collaboration among business and technical leadership and teams.
• Always been a fast learner and always willing to help people around. … see more

How it all begins

Inspiring Agility .. intent.. purpose and the way ahead

Let’s always ensure to make people around us happy.

— Sumit.

As we live an era where the need of agility is every growing, I felt on the recommendation of people to have a blog where I can share my views, share the agility changes around me and what I feel about them. The intent and purpose of this website is only to share, and hope it help few. The knowledge I’ve gained over the time is from help of many teachers and I respect them a lot for what I’m today.

We all live in times when the meaning of Agility is not confined to just Development teams, but go beyond to Org, HR, Finance, Sales and where not. I felt the Agility is like Oxygen as I did my last workshop with some local kids.

All this said, let me say that in my life if I consider my greatest discovery has been that in the end it’s about Happiness. How we can be happy is important right from an individual to a team to an organization to a country to the world. The people and their interactions are very critical and no process in the world is above that. So, let’s always ensure to make people around us happy.