Archive for February, 2008

  1. The punishment has to be relative intense.
    The subject should feel it as a punishment)
  2. It has to be giving promptly. This is one of the problems with the current law system. There is too much time between the crime  and the punishment.
    The person has to feel that it is related. Even when he/she knows it is related, the brain might not make the connection.
  3. It should be given consistent. Some  parents feel bad when they give their children all the time a remark. When it is not given consistent it does not work. In fact when the punishment is not followed, the children (team members) are negatively enforced.
  4. The punishment should not be associated with any kind of positive enforcement.
    If a punishment is associated with a positive enforcement, the behavior will increase instead of decrease.
    A patron that happens a lot with children is that people punish their children and immediately after tell them they love the child. They do that out of a kind of remorse or to make the child at ease. When this happens, the punishment had no sense.
    Also when the punishment is the only kind of attention the children or team members get from the parents (leaders)
  5. It should not lead to escaping or avoidance behavior.

The combination of these 5 conditions you can hardly get outside a laboratory (Where it was found that these conditions give the best behavior.) That is why punishment hardly get’s the desired result.
Check out other ways of behavior increasing actions and tips for making positive feedback work better.

Also note that “Punishment” is used in the psychological way. I did not write “punishment by hitting” people.

Source:Psychology Marc Brysbaert

Technorati Tags: raising kids,teammembers,children,leadership,coaching
Consequence = adding a stimulus Consequence = remove a stimulus
Behaviorincreases positive ratification
Behavior is followed by adding a pleasant stimulus
negative ratification
Behavior is followed by removing an unpleasant stimulus
Behaviordecreases Positive punishment
Behavior is followed by adding an unpleasant stimulus (Disapproving looks, shouting…)
Negative punishment
Behavior is followed by removing a pleasant stimulus (Ex Time-out)

Punishment in this blog post is not the same as what people usually call punishment.

I will use these terminology in upcoming blog posts.

Source:Psychology Marc Brysbaert (The book I have to read for my GTO training)

Technorati Tags:parents

I believe in giving positive feedback. While doing research for a big post that explains how to use these positive educational techniques with your (agile) team, I encountered this scientific fact:

Giving constant positive feedback works less good as positive feedback given at variable ratio or with a variable interval.

In fact people that are giving constant positive feedback, have a hard time when things go not as they want. Their frustration level is much lower.
Aggggh my eldest boy frustration level is not as high as we want. So this tells me we have stimulated it.

When I think about it,I should have known as the opposite I know:

The consistency of the “punishment” is very important.If you are not consistent with a punishment it will not work. A lot of parents (and team leaders) have a problem doing this. What they forget is that every time they don’t punish the children (Team members) get a negative ratification when the punishment does not follow the behavior. These people are then surprised they don’t get the desired effect.

Let’s look at a few examples:

candymachine When you put money in a candy machine and you get no candy.==> you stop immediately . You know that this is not normal.

When the candy machine works:

Put in money   ==> action

you get candy. ==> constant positive feedback

When this does not happen: we stop immediately.

Now look at this gambling machine:

gamblingMachineImagine it is broken. You put money in it. You get nothing back. What will you do?

Try again?
When the 1 arm bandit works:

Put in money   ==> action

you win or not  ==> positive feedback is given at a variable ratio. So we don’t give in that fast.

Source:Psychology Marc Brysbaert

Last week I used the old building a house metaphor again during interview when I was asked to explain agile in 3 minutes to people who never heard of agile.

3 minutes is of course not enough so I will take some more time here.

  • Have you ever (re) build a house? Did you know up front what you (and your partner) wanted?

Think about this. We all live in houses for at least 20 years before we build our own house. We have seen at least 50 different houses from the inside. And yet no-body I know, knows upfront what they want. We need an expert (architect) to ask the right question to figure that out. Then that person comes up with a plan. A plan most of us don’t understand. My father-in-law is such an architect. For 11 years I have been looking at his plans. I can say that now I understand them. Yet, from time to time I see a house that looks different from what I would have understood from the plans. And I have seen lot’s of plans in these 11 years.

So do you expect your end users to know what they want for software. Software that is more abstract then a house. Software that most people only work with a few years (instead of at least 20years)

  • How many times did you visit the house they were building?

In the non agile world, the team delivers the software at the end. Can you imagine to go and look at the house only when it is finished? Nah no me, I go and look at it every month, every week, sometimes even every day to see how it is going. It’s not that I don’t trust them, it’s more that I don’t trust my own opinion about the plans. I want to test the house to see if it is really what I want.

  • How about changing idea’s?

I still remember a story from my father-in-law about a customer that had most parts of the house build. That is the structure was there. The electricity, the water etc still had to be done. The customer walked in the house and decided the bathroom was on the wrong floor. So he asked Jean-Pierre to re-design the house, during the construction. It costed that customer a fortune. So what?  It’s his money, and no he is happy for the rest of his life. Oh yes they had a big contract etc, but who cares, he realized that the bathroom was in the wrong place and it would make his life miserable when it stayed there.  And don’t take this for a one-time event, this happens all the time in construction. Check out the article on lean construction from the Poppendiecks.

  • What about old houses?

When I bought my old house, we did not start rebuilding it. We first wanted to see the advantages and dis-advantages of the current state. Now we lived in it for 5 years we know better what we want to change and how. The same can be told about software. When you build version 2.0 software, make sure you have an end-user that you have direct access to.

People who care about refactoring and changing old programs should read the book: How Buildings learn, what happens after they are build

  • Do we need a plan?

Did you know in some countries you don’t need a blueprint to build a house? Did you know in some countries you are allowed to design your own plan(just once) Did you know in some countries people first build the main floor and then a few years later (when the kids arrive?) they add a second floor. And a third even later.  And yes they have to rearrange the first floor to add the stairs. Big deal they lived in the house without the stairs for a couple of years

Technorati Tags: Agile,metaphor

After the first European bootcamp, the booted team stayed in contact.

We tried to use the DECIDER in mail & skype and we noticed we needed to change it a little bit to adapt it to the different environment.

When  you decide in a meeting, you are all present and it is possible to show your decision at the same time. With e-mail that is not possible. And you need a kind of Wisdom of crowds effect in decisions.

We created a Decider by E-mail protocol. It felt strange at first. I have to admit it works. If you have to take decisions by a group that is distributed, this is the best way to do it. (Until we find a better way.)

Decider by E-mail

An essential part of Decider is diversity of opinion
attained by simultaneity of votes. Since simultaneity
is not possible in email, it must therefore be simulated.
The virtues of simultaneity are achieved in email by
using the following protocol:

A) Steps

1. Proposer sends a single well-formed Decider
proposal via email.

2. Email Subject line says, in caps:
DECIDER [optional topic name].

3. If possible, proposer sets automatic reply indicator
on email to “inform me when this mail has been viewed,”
or equivalent.

4. First line of email states time considerations,
as follows:
This DECIDER vote closes at [HH:MM on MM/DD/YY], or when
all on To: list have replied, whichever comes first. #

5. No email response is considered a YES response.

6. Respond Privately (no cc’s), directly and immediately to
proposer via email on your first reading of this proposal.

7. Assent as needed to proposer’s request for automatic
response (i.e. “return receipt”) informing proposer of
when you read the proposal.

8. Respond only with, YES, NO, ABSOLUTE-NO, or SUPPORT-IT.
Additional discussion, on or of email, is illegal.

9. Proposer alone will conduct Resolution, dealing directly
and publicly with NO voters, one at a time, or proposer
will withdraw proposal explicitly without further comment.

10. All other Decider provisions will remain in force.

11. This protocol should be sent with all email Deciders
as an attachment. (Or a link to this blog post can be added also)

# Note: Closing time and date should not be longer than
24 hours in most cases. Ask for Help if you think it
should go longer.

Update: Yes I think that taking decisions by e-mail is bad, but when that is what you want to do. I think this is the best way.