Saturday, March 31, 2012

Extreme risk management

In a recent article about a new report on Japan's nuclear accident following the tsunami, I read that "In the darkest moments of last year’s nuclear accident, Japanese leaders did not know the actual extent of damage at the plant and secretly considered the possibility of evacuating Tokyo, even as they tried to play down the risks in public, an independent investigation into the accident disclosed on Monday"

Fair enough. How could they know the full extent of the damage? Even those at the plant site did not really know, and what they knew was changing pretty quickly anyway. Managing public safety is not always done best in a public spotlight. I've got no problem with the secret considerations.

But here's what caught my eye: the confluence of competing risk attitudes, risk management agendas, and domains: business--meaning the plant owners and operators; project--meaning the on-site plant manager and the emergency team working the accident; and political--meaning the Japanese government, both the bureaucrats and the politicians.

In a confrontation between the plant project manager and the the plant owner, we learn that the owner did not want the plant destroyed in order to save it from further nuclear disaster.  Specifically, the owner did not want sea water pumped in for cooling. The project manager, in an act of disobedience out of order for the Japanese business culture, went ahead anyway. A mutiny of sorts.

But, if you've read the book or seen the movie of "The Caine Mutiny" (available at Amazon for streaming), or more recently "Crimson Tide", then you've seen two examples of mutiny at the tactical level that were a matter of extreme risk management, and that proved to be strategically correct calls.

And, then there is the business-political dimension. Apparently, the prime minister gets in the loop and engages with the plant owner. The plant owner is apparently under a rock somewhere. The reporter opines:
Prime Minister Kan had his minuses and he had his lapses,” ..... “but his decision to storm into Tepco and demand that it not give up saved Japan

That's pretty strong stuff! Politicians demanding that the business not give up and do their job. Wow! What a concept!

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Leadership without easy answers

Ronald A. Heifetz is a leading academic on the subject of leadership. I've been working through his first book  "Leadership without easy answers" looking for--what else--answers!

Here are the crib notes for those that don't want to get into the book itself.

Disclosure: the book was published in 1994; I got if for $1 at a yard sale in 2012. That's more about my shopping for a bargain than it is "why now?" for a book that's 18 years old. Even at 18, it's great stuff.

The big ideas

Heifetz gets into your head a bit with his big  ideas:
  1. Leadership is an activity, less so a thing, with a take action orientation: Set direction, establish cultural values, resolve conflicts, bestow protection and security, and restore/maintain order.
  2. Values and effective activity are separable: This is the "Hitler was a great leader" school.
  3. Leadership can be very technocratic, bordering on--gasp!--management; in effect, leading with the solution (I've got the answer right here; follow me! model).
  4. Leadership is often most innovative when driving adaptive participation, leading with the problem rather than the solution ("it takes a village" model); and
  5. Authority is neither necessary nor sufficient (you know you're a leader when .....), but if you got it (authority of position) you still may not be a leader
 Here's your sign

Of course, sometimes the leader is not the "appointed one" in the corner office. (Indeed, with the open plan, there may not be an office at all to badge the leader)

 Heifetz posits four leadership profiles. The first two (really, the first three) most of us are familar with; but the fourth is less familiar but it actually holds interesting possibilities for everyday project management:

1. Trait—The “great-man/woman” or “history maker” approach. These people are "on a mission". They know who they are; they feel called to a mission. Not content with the small bore of every day issues, they synthesize the big and the bold. And, they are quite capable of leading without authority if need be.

We all have our favorite examples. In business: Donald Trump? or better yet Steve Jobs; in politics: Theodore Roosevelt (the Great White Fleet; the Grand Canyon). More recently: Margaret Thatcher (restore the "Great" in Great Britain)

2. Situational—Times and social forces “call forth” leaders. Such situation leaders usually depend on formal authority. They are put in charge and expected to restore order and set direction. The military always has these figures in the wings, to wit: General Dwight Eisenhower. Without WW II, he likely would have retired as an obscure but competent colonel rather than have led millions in Europe with 5 stars.*

3. Contingency—An attempt to synthesize the first two types: a person, born to leadership, steps forward in times of great stress or demand. Military, political, and religious figures are often contingent leaders.

But, here's the one that shows up day to day in project management:

4. Transactional—“Authority consists of reciprocal relationships.” The appointed leader, but draws authority from the confidence of, and the authority granted by those led; competent to set direction, instill order, resolve conflict. Steady in times of stress, earning the respect of followers. Great CEOs are often transactional leaders: Jeff Imelt, CEO of General Electric. Closer to home: portofolio leaders and project managers.

Situational leadership
Heifetz, at least in this book, keeps his arguments and examples more strategic. It's easy to port his examples into "change the world" projects, strategic portfolios, and the like. He doesn't say too much about might be thought of as "retail leadership". Leadership at the small unit level where person to person relationships count for a lot.

This is the stuff of  what Hersey and Blanchard called "situational leadership". In the Hersey-Blanchard model, leaders have four primary traits on a scale from totally delegating to totally directing. Any one leader has all these traits, but they are selectively applied according the situation set up by followers. Followers, in turn, have four traits from very capable to all but incapable. A matrix between leader and follower forecasts the intersection of leader-follower traits.

Leading without authority

Whether you're a situational disciple or more in Heifetz's adaptive/technocratic transactional corner, either is influenced by whether the leader has postional authority. With positional authority, you can occupy the commanding heights and direct resources towards your mission and passion.

But I'm sort of captured by the idea of leading without authority. This comes up in the agile business quite often. Leading without authority does not mean committee leadership; it doesn't mean the laws of dominance have been repealed. Indeed, someone without portfolio may well dominate the discussion, may be a "great man (or woman)", and may go for bold, even without the corner office.

And, in the case of agile, situational leadership needs may draw forward a natural leader. In Heifetz's view, leadership is an activity, meaning leadership is actionable. Leadership is willingness to take responsbility.  And, if position, authority, and responsibility are not in technical alignment, a true leader presses forward anyway.

Consider the possibilities of "no authority" as summarized in the crib notes:
Without the constraints of authority, one has, ...., more latitude for creative deviance “from the norms of authoritative decision making.” Unfettered from a broader array of concerns and “holding environment” responsibilities, the informal leader can focus on a single issue or selected, limited issues.

The leader without the formal position of authority is also usually on the frontline where he/she can get the “detailed experiences” of stakeholders. And perhaps most importantly, that informal leader has “the latitude to use himself as the embodiment of the issue,” as did Martin
Luther King, Jr.
Summary: leadership is not waiting for the in-box to fill up, whether email, txt, or paper. Leadership is activity.

Photo (Bill Engvall)
*(A wartime rank, equivalent to the European field marshall, held only by Eisenhower, Hap Arnold, MacArthur, and George Marshall in the US Army, and subsequently Omar Bradley; and a similar number of admirals in the wartime US Navy)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review: Against the Gods

"Against the Gods, The remarkable story of Risk" by Peter L. Bernstein is an excellent read and ambitious premise well delivered. Perhaps the best general history of risk and presentation of the major concepts of risk that is understandable by all practitioners at any level.

The content is presented in a general historical order in major sections by epoch, the first being from the ancients to 1200, then the middle ages and Renaissance, and then into the industrial revolution, and modern era. Along the way, Bernstein recounts not only the emerging understanding of risk per se, but also the allied concepts of counting, numbers, chance, and of course, business management.

There is not much math or statistics to trip up the qualitative mind, but the presentation of the evolution of our understanding of chance introduces many of the main characters and demonstrates their contributions with just enough math/quantitative examples to make it interesting. Much of this material describes the period 1700 - 1900 when much of the modern underpinnings of chance, probability, and statistics were developed and made understandable to the general business population. We learn, for instance, that it was in this period that the notion of risk in the modern sense emerged from the mystical and devine to the cause-effect concept.

While the parallel developments of mathematics, business practices--like insurance--and a math/cause-effect foundation for risk are presented with a storyteller's gift, I found Bernstein's recounting of the ideas that developed after 1900 to be the most interesting and insightful.

Of course, the story in this book ends just about the time that the ideas of Amos Trversky and Daniel Kahneman, first developed in the 1970's, are gaining popular acclaim in the 90's. Thus, in this part of the book we get a great explanation of the expansion of utility theory first developed in the 1700's but advanced into Prospect Theory by Tversky and Kahneman.

There is also excellent explanations of various biases and other congnitive maladies that intrude on the rational and objective. We learn a good deal about the failure of invariance--the idea that same manager can be risk averse and risk seeking depending on not only the point of view presented (glass half full/half empty) but also whether there is a sure loss or a sure win at stake.

Bernstein's expertiese is in the financial world. John Kenneth Galbraith write of "Against the Gods": "Nothing like it will come out of the financial world this year or ever. I speak carefully; no one should miss it".

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What is perfection?

“… perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” 
Antoine de St. Exupéry, Terre des Hommes, 1939, chap.3

This, of course, is another witty input on the simplicity-complexity-complicated discourse. I say witty, but it's serious stuff. Click here and here for some references.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

When there are no written rules

In the domain of project management there are rules, protocols, methods, process, knowledge areas, templates, scorecards, and checklists.

But in one key area there are no written rules: culture. And, of course, PMs run into culture every minute of every day. And, culture is at all levels:
  • Teams are said to have culture
  • There is a project or program culture
  • Business units have culture
  • There are regional differences that are cultural
  • National cultures are well known in many respects

But with all the acknowledgement and recognition, there are precious few rules for the rule-based among us. In fact, we may not even define it the same way.

Just to have a working definition, culture is:
  • It's the way we do things around there
  • It's what we believe and accept without proof that underlies how we act
  • A consequence of shared values, shared experience, shared environment, and the shared influence of leadership
  • An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior
So, in these definitions we find the knub of the issue with culture: it's really hard to port around. It doesn't fit well in an email, a standards manual, or in the signage on the back of an badge or ID. And, it does't port well through an electronic network from one virtual team member to another.

Even if you did write down all the rules and try to codify culture, you just can't roll up to someone and tell them they must "now believe"; and how do you get sharing if there is no opportunity to share values? And, what about an "integrated pattern"? How is that done without opportunity to interact over time?

Project managers are left with just a few tools: encourage sharing, common experience, and co-location. Drive up "density" so that integrated patterns must emerge. Of course, language  is the greatest integration tool ever invented.

If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.
Margaret Mead

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What do leaders want from agile?

Jim Highsmith has a suscint posting on the title question: "What do leaders want from agile", so I thought I would pass it along: click here.

Mr Highsmith posits these four answers, gleaned from his recent and continuing networking in the business, but--as of now--provides no companion strategy, thus a work in progress:

  • Are eager to understand their role beyond delivery
  • Want to explore how to expand Agile concepts outside IT
  • Are figuring out ways to be more responsive to business and technology opportunities
  • Are eager to connect with other leaders and managers.
It's not hard to see the value in these four "wants".

Agile has been delivery centric focusing as it dows on quality, timeliness, and faithfulness to user needs. But of course, delivery is only the end of earned value and the beginning of business value. It's natural that everyone wants to contribute to business value, and so the first place to look is in product support and maintenance--those things that enhance the brand and attract users.

To get beyond IT, agile will be challenged by the more structured world of projects that have to meet ordained specifications so that all the parts have fit and function with the larger scope. One can't be a too evolutionary and emergent when building software for safety centric systems, for instance, like flight controls.

Agile is already one of the most responsive methodologies, so perhaps this is not the highest priority

A lot of managers are not comfortable with, nor do they understand, the non-predictability of agile scope, even if they buy into the predictability of iterative delivery and capped investment. A lot of incentive systems and business scorecards are simply not compatible with emergent scope. Thus, a lot of work to be done here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

National cultures

I've been consulting a bit on change management, offering some advice and in turn learning some things.

One of the things I learned is that Geert Hofstede has a pretty informative website on national cultures.

If you ever worked virtual teams internationally, as I have, you'll understand immediately the importance of understanding culture: e.g. that one person's aggressive plan may be another person's failure to plan enough.

Hofstede defines culture this way:
“Culture is the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from others”

He has developed dimensions for cultural properties. There are six:
  1. Power Distance (PDI)
  2. Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)
  3. Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS)
  4. Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI)
  5. Long term orientation (LTO)
  6. Indulgence vs restraint
What he has done with this is conduct interviews and analysis of the cultural properties of  dozens countries around the globe and given scores for each according to the dimensions.

On his website, his data and conclusions are available for interactive query. You can pick a country from a drop and pick up the scores of each of the dimensions.

Pretty engaging stuff if you're going to doing business internationally.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Exploratory testing

James Bach writes about exploratory testing.

In his paper, "Exploratory Testing Explained", Bach says exploratory testing is misunderstood and abused as just putzing around with no real plan in mind. Yet, he claims it can be way more productive than scripted testing.  Perhaps.

Bach explains:

Exploratory testing is also known as ad hoc testing. Unfortunately, ad hoc is too often synonymous with sloppy and careless work. So, in the early 1990s a group of test methodologists (now calling themselves the Context-Driven School) began using the term “exploratory”, instead. With this new terminology, first published by Cem Kaner in his book "Testing Computer Software", they sought to emphasize the dominant thought process involved in unscripted testing, and to begin to develop the practice into a teachable discipline.

Exploratory testing is simultaneous learning, test design, and test execution.

This is a general lesson about puzzles: the puzzle changes the puzzling. The specifics of the puzzle, as they emerge through the process of solving that puzzle, affect our tactics for solving it. This truth is at the heart of any exploratory investigation, be it for testing,development, or even scientific research or detective work.

I think this paragraph sums it up:

The external structure of ET is easy enough to describe. Over a period of time, a testerinteracts with a product to fulfill a testing mission, and reporting results. There you have the basic external elements of ET: time, tester, product, mission, and reporting. The mission is fulfilled through a continuous cycle of aligning ourselves to the mission, conceiving questions about the product that if answered would also allow us to satisfy our mission, designing tests to answer those questions, and executing tests to get the answers

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cause and effect

Who said cause and effect was a simple matter of fishbones or force fields?
There is no act that is not the coronation of an infinite series of causes and the source of an infinite series of effects
- Jorge Luis Borges ”La flor de Coleridge”, in Otras Inquisiciones, 1952

By the way, while we're on this point, lets not confuse causation with correlation. Correlation between two phenomenon are often linked by a third so-called confounding event. Thus, two events seem to move together, and thus one appears to be the causation of the other, but in fact, they are simply correlated by a confounding event.

Thus: lesson learned. Before declaring causation, look about for the confounder!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Disruptive innovation

Clay Christensen is a Harvard academic. I hope that does not disqualify him from the practical domain of project management. He and his colleagues write a lot about disruptive innovation, a popular buzz since there seems to be a lot of it going around.

His model looks like this:

His big point is that disruptive innovation often starts out as a loser in the market. It overtakes what he calls "sustaining innovations" which are subsumed by the attractiveness of the disruptive alternative after some adoption time.

His video, explaining all this, is 8 minutes, and well worth the look.

Of course, Christensen has a lot more to say on this subject. For example, he posits five skills for discovering innovation:

..... there are five discovery skills that disruptive innovators must acquire: associating, questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting.

While many business leaders tend to focus on honing their delivery skills, entrepreneurs and innovators must instead build the courage to start taking risks and cultivating their talent for discovery

And in his book, "The Innovator's DNA", he develops these five ideas for successful innovation:
(1) Associating: drawing connections between questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields,
(2) Questioning: posing queries that challenge common wisdom,
(3) Observing: scrutinizing the behavior of customers, suppliers, and competitors to identify new ways of doing things,
(4) Experimenting: constructing interactive experiences and provoking unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge, and
(5) Networking: meeting people with different ideas and perspectives

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Doing projects: the motivation

Mats Engwall has written on the motivation for doing projects. He gives these reasons:
  • As integrating mechanisms enabling cross-functional integration
  • As contractual arrangements between markets and hierarchies
  • As time-limited teams working towards stipulated deadlines
  • As temporary organizations with distinctive characteristics as compared to the permanent organization
  • As effective tools in organizing product development
  • As the natural work form in … [high tech] companies, and
  • As the core units of analysis for understanding the production of high cost, complex products and systems …”
All good reasons, to be sure, but theses are business mechanics.

How about something more compelling? How about: Projects are instruments of strategy; projects are the means to lift all beneficiaries to a better place?

And, you might ask: What is strategy that projects are instruments thereof? Strategy is the plan for the path to the future:
Strategy is about doing similar activities in a different way that achieves goals more effectively; or doing different things than those that are customary to achieve goals.
Michael Porter

Friday, March 9, 2012

Prima risk management

I recently learned about the risk mitigation built into the new Oakland-San Francisco bay bridge being built to replace the repaired structure damaged in the 1989 earthquake. There are a few problems to deal with:
  • Unlike the rock anchoring the Golden Gate across the west bay, the east bay floor is mud for the most part. This poor foundation contributed in part to the 1989 failure
  • The San Andreas fault runs within a stone's throw, and this is "the big one". It's the same fault line that destroyed SF in 1906.
  • The bridge carries a lot of traffic, all day and night, so failure is not an option

Of course, this is a zillion-billion dollar infrastructure project, so risk management and project management are not taken lightly.

So, what've we got here?
  • First, about the mud: There will be only one tower for the suspension of the road bed, and this tower is anchored on the only rock in the east bay. But, it's actually four towers side by side connected by fusible links designed to fail under high stress loads, allowing each tower segment to go its own way. These links are replaceable after the event

  • Second, the suspension is like a self-eating watermelon. That is, think of the road bed and then think of the suspension as a rubber band around the long axis of the road bed and also hung over the tower. You can't put on the rubber band until the road is in place, and you can't put the road in place until the rubber band is there. Obviously, to break this circular dependency, some temporary structure are needed.

  • And third, the road bed is actually multiple sections that are joined by sliding joints. It's possible for the road to separate by six feet and then come back together like it is on drawer slides. And with this system, the tower can sway five feet and not affect the road.
Now, what about acceptance testing? I recall projects I worked on that were nuclear event hardened communications systems. The army would never pony up a nuclear event as GFE (government furnished event) for a user acceptance test. Area 51 was not available. So, we went with analysis only. Seems like the same conundrum on this as well.

I hope it works; failure is not an option

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Michael Porter revisited

Some years ago, I spent some time reading Michael Porter's 1980 classic: "Competitive Advantage". It's still a great read. Some years later, Porter answered some of his critics with his 1996 HBR paper "What is Strategy", recently updated as given in an executive education presentation.

Now comes a nice summarization of Porter, and the evolution of his thinking based on accumulated experience, written by his research associate Joan Magretta and entitled: "Understanding Michael Porter: The essential guide to competition and strategy".

Of course, students of Porter have absorbed his idea that strategy is that which creates a sustainable value proposition for customers in the context of a sustainable value chain for the business. For Porter, strategy is unique activity, different from competitors:
The essence of strategy is choosing to perform activities differently than rivals do 
Michael Porter, "What is Strategy", 1996 HBR

And the purpose of strategy is enhanced business value; the means of strategy is competitive advantage (thus, the name of the book). Competitive advantage arises from the integrated effect of resources, capabilities, and differention:

But my eye caught something from Margette's book on the integration aspect of strategy (I'm always interested in anything that integrates the dots into a narrative)

The value proposition is the element of strategy that looks outward at customers, at the demand side of the business. The value chain focuses internally on operations. Strategy is fundamentally integrative, bringing the demand and supply sides together.

 Joan Magretta, 
"Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy"

I really thought the integrative effect of strategy was interesting in light of Porter's assertion in 1996 that Japanese companies had no strategies. To my mind, this is a shocking statement; but having worked for a Japanese owned company, I know where he's coming from. Porter says they simply focused on taking improved operational effectiveness (OE) to its maximum---and then they could go no farther, leading to the "lost decade". (Of course, it's a good deal more complicated than that, so I'll leave the lost decade right here). By Porter's definition, OE is not a strategy.

Operational effectiveness is about doing similar activities better than others—in other words, predictable repetition. Strategy is about doing similar activities in a different way that achieves goals more effectively; or doing different things than those that are customary to achieve goals.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March 6, 1912

100 years ago today, the Oreo cookie went on sale. Having eaten Oreo's all my life, I find this a remarkable business value success. Apparently, worldwide sales are $1.5Billion annually.

I wonder what the original project cost was in 1912? I wonder if it exceeded planned value, PV? Do you suppose they earned the schedule, ES? I hope it was a best value outcome for the managers of the day.

As we ponder (and too often confuse..) project planned value (PV) with post-project business value, Oreo is a great story of  business value success, and such success goes a long way to smooth out any wrinkles caused by problems in R&D--if there were any. Nothing succeeds like success!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Daniel Kahneman explains Fast and Slow to Charlie Rose

In a recent video interview, Daniel Kahneman explains "Thinking Fast and Slow", his latest book on behavioral psychology. If you've not listened to Kahneman before, this is a good opportunity.

This book, which we commented on already, is about the differences between thinking intuitively and thinking with purpose and analysis. The former is "system-1" fast thinking and the latter is "system-2" slow thinking.

One comparison that's been made is with Malcolm Gladwell's popular book "Blink". In Blink, Gladwell posits the idea of "thin slice" thinking, somewhat equivalent to Kahneman's 'system-1'. Both Gladwell and Kahneman say that intuition is often as good as it gets and that analysis can not improve on it.

However, Gladwell is a journalist for the New Yorker, and Kahneman is a Nobel laureate for his work in judgment and decision making. In the interview, cited above, Kahneman takes on Gladwell a bit, urging some caution in accepting Blink's thesis. However, it's evident that Kahneman respects Gladwell's ability to convey in the popular press some of these quite

A review of Blink is found here.

You might be interested in Jonah Lehrer's "How we think"

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Nash Equilibrium Part III

Back in October of 2010, we mused about game theory and the Nash Equilibrium. If you missed that two part blog, start here.

Since that October posting, the staff here at Musings discovered a Kindle gem on Amazon--and, only 99c delivered instantly to my free Kindle reader on my laptop. It's a self-published book by a graduate student William Spaniel, who is, as he himself explains:
.... a PhD student in political science at the University of Rochester, creator of the popular YouTube series Game Theory 101, and founder of

Our posting was based on original source material by Princeton economist Alan Blinder published in 1982. But the same stuff is in Spaniel's e-book in Lesson 1.3: The Stag Hunt, Pure Strategy Nash Equilibrium, and Best Responses.

Actually, the Stag hunt is a popular explanation of the Nash Equilibrium, and you can find many references to it.

So, why is this a topic for project management? Because it's about getting to a balance, an equilibrium, and a win-win with important relationships:
  • Buyer/seller;
  • Stakeholder/project manager;
  • Functional manager/project manager 
  • User/project manager.

Anywhere and any time there might be a need to get to non-zero-sum, where no one loses everything, and there is privacy that inhibits open collaboration, then the Nash Equilibrium applies.

Here's a introductory video. When you look at it, think in terms of a project management strategy as a substitute for "law".


Thursday, March 1, 2012

WSJ and the stand-up meeting

In the check-out line at the grocer I glanced at the Wall Street Journal (print edition) and right there on page 1, albeit below the fold, was an article extolling the stand-up meeting.

Has this gone main-stream? I mean really!--the front page of the WSJ? Isn't there the Euro-crises or something to take up that valuable real estate?

But no, we learn this bit:
Holding meetings standing up isn't new. Some military leaders did it during World War I, according to Allen Bluedorn, a business professor at the University of Missouri.

But then reporter Rachel Emma Sliverman goes on to explain the agile phenomenon and the agilists adoption of the stand-up meeting.

And, there's some interesting metrics that comport intuitively with what you would imagine:
.... a study back in 1998 that found that standing meetings were about a third shorter than sitting meetings and the quality of decision-making was about the same.

And, we learn the humorous stuff, like:
  • Playing Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" to keep the pace up
  • Passing around a 10 pound bowling ball
  • Passing around a rubber chicken
  • Charging a nominal fee for tardiness or verbosity
Not to miss out on an opportunity, the American entrepreneur is at work:
Office outfitters are responding by designing work spaces with standing sessions in mind. Furniture maker Steelcase Inc.'s Turnstone division, for example, recently introduced the "Big Table," a large standing-height table designed for quick meetings.

And then of course, the ultimate stand-up is no gathering at all; it's a variant of the traditional "sit-down"
At, a Toronto-based company that makes online accounting software, teams try to do daily 10 a.m. stand-ups. But on days when everyone is too swamped to gather around the company Ping-Pong table, team members will shout out their status updates from their desks, which are arranged in a circle.

They call those meetings "sit-downs."
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