Kurt's Blog

June 25, 2013

Play4Agile & The Agile Coach Camp

Filed under: agile, conferences, kanban — Tags: , , , — Kurt Häusler @ 4:32 pm

 

In February this year I attended the Play4Agile unconference for the first time, and more recently I attended the German Agile Coach Camp for the second time.

Play4agilelogo745cropped

As it was a while ago now, I will just cover a few brief highlights:

  • We made a stop motion movie with Lego Duplo. 
  • Some people had a blindfolded snow-fight. There is a longer video available here.
  • We had a nice walk.
  • We got a little bag of lego. I believe it was one of the bags in the 2000409-1: Window Exploration Bag

I also remember having a nice chat about the ALE network and conference. However I missed out on doing any actual Lego related activities (such as experiencing Lego Serious Play or using it for rapid prototyping), meditating, and helping develop the Kanban pizza game. I think there was just too much going on in the bar. Even at unconferences there is still a lot of learning going on between the organised sessions. Oh well there is always next year.

Here are some other reports:

  • Bruce wrote about it on his blog.
  • Pete wrote about a game he played there related to Kanban metrics.
  • And I am not the only one just getting around to it 4 months later. Sven uploaded some photos a few days ago.

 

Agilecoachcamp 3 182px

Earlier this month a very similar crowd met at the same location for the Agile Coach Camp DE 2013. The first session I attended was about changing organisational culture, but ended up being a discussion about the Schneider Model, which I am not the biggest fan of. One of the better sessions was the double session about Temenos. It seems like a fascinating tool to try out at work, but I don’t really feel qualified to attempt to do so just yet. I think it has significant power, and could go very wrong if facilitated by an inexperienced facilitator.

Coaching NVC was a refresher about Non-Violent Communication, as well as a way it could be used as  coaching: 

CoachingNVC

We played an interesting game with avatars, and how we can have a bit more safety when playing the perfection game by using archetypes as placeholders for our actual selves. We had some interesting chats about the Big-A Agenda, and self-organisation. The following day we did a quick scan through the book Liftoff, we organised a coaching exchange network. They created a google plus community, but as I understand it is also intended to create a Xing group. 

 

 

Advertisements

May 20, 2013

Pricing, and a little bit about estimation.

Filed under: agile, kanban, lean, scrum, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Kurt Häusler @ 12:54 pm

So I keep getting involved in discussions on twitter related to the different ways of basing prices for software projects, and it is hard to get some of the subtle details across in 140 character snippets so I thought it might be a good idea to put some ideas together in the longer form of a blog post. The whole thing is somewhat related to the #NoEstimates debate.

I also believe the base of my ideas is fairly mainstream. Most of the agile community (dominated by the Scrum community) talks about estimation in terms of estimating PBIs so you can plan how many to take on in each sprint. A few people still do it in ideal person days like Mike Cohn recommended back in the dark ages, which I am opposed to (but not to the point of getting into arguments about it) as I think there are some serious downsides to that approach. That is not a radical opinion, and it is the reason why most people use more abstract, relative units of size like story points, which I personally don’t advocate, but I don’t oppose either. Even most of the defenders of story point estimation for sprint planning recognise that the true advantage is in getting the team to talk about what needs to be done, and the actual estimate is a secondary benefit. A few of the more advanced teams, and even the inventor of story points Ron Jeffries himself, prefer to simply use a count of PBIs. This is the approach I find most sensible, when combined with backlog grooming and story splitting. Also after using Kanban for several years I have realised that estimating is pretty much wasteful. I don’t think that is a radical opinion either as it seems shared by much of the Kanban community, who make use of a metric called throughput which is essentially the same as velocity and is typically presented as a number of items done per unit of time.

But as long as all we are talking about is how many items to plan for each sprint, who cares? The consequences of over or underestimating are minimal. If we plan too few ask the PO for more, and the velocity goes up to plan more for the next sprint. If we over plan then we drop the velocity and plan less for the next sprint. As long as this is all we are using estimates for then who cares how we do it.

For me estimates are only really a problem when they are taken more seriously than intended. For example when calculating prices, or when forming an offer or contract that a customer may rightfully interpret to be a commitment to deliver, and expect to be based on something more solid than a guess. Sadly the agile community talks so much about estimation in conjunction with sprint planning, and very little about contracts and pricing. I have even heard people say that the way that contracts and prices are done is completely orthogonal to how the software “project” is carried out. I disagree completely. From my experience the way the contract is written and the way the work is priced are the fundamental factors that indicate to what degree any software development endeavour will be “agile” or not. Or should I say to what degree it is even appropriate for knowledge work and product development, or anything in the complex domain for that matter.

If some manager comes to the team and says “these requirements have to be done by the end of July, and we have a budget of 20 architect “person-days” and 60 developer person-days and 30 tester person days and 10 manager person days, now use Scrum to make it a reference agile project”, then your options are pretty limited.

I think the disagreements in the NoEstimates debate are based on a misunderstanding. The ProEstimates crowd are saying “What is wrong with estimates? It is just a simple tool to help teams plan how much work to take on each sprint”. The NoEstimates crowd are saying “if you are making promises to customers, and trying to price your work, there are much more professional ways to do it than guessing”. The ProEstimates crowd just don’t see things like offers, contracts and pricing to be relevant. Heck the Scrum Guide doesn’t even mention them. All that businessy stuff happens way upstream anyway so we just have to accept whatever deal management outside the Scrum team has made, and as long as we carry out the work according to Scrum we are all agile right?

I agree with both sides, which is possible because they are talking about completely different things. I just find the ProEstimate argument to be boring, obvious, non-controversial and not addressing any particular problem. The NoEstimate argument on the other hand is advocating one of the critical next steps that the software development community needs to take in order to restore a culture suitable for software development and good faith with our customers.

The other misunderstanding I see in the NoEstimates debate is that the ProEstimates crowd thinks the NoEstimates advocates are somehow refusing to answer questions like “How much does it cost?” and “How long will it take?”. This is quite false. As far as I am aware the NoEstimates crowd are attempting to answer exactly these questions using techniques with a higher level of professionalism and more reliability than guessing.

Anyway the opinions I have on pricing are based on experience, and they are also more relevant to some contexts than others. I believe this blog post is highly relevant to the following types of software development, which is where I have most experience:

  • Companies doing custom software development work for other companies.
  • Product companies where the customers pay for the features they want and even the bugs they want fixed.

I suspect this blog post might be less relevant for the following types of software development:

  • Internal IT. I have little experience in this area, and even less in how it is priced and funded, but I suspect things are a lot simpler than when dealing with an external customer
  • Product companies where the product is funded in another way separate to the development of features. E.g. via a subscription model, or advertising, or purchases of new versions. I do have a bit of experience in this area, and things are a lot simpler.

I think a lot of people on the ProEstimates side of the fence are engaged in the latter areas and simply don’t see the issues that the NoEstimates guys are having to deal with.

There is also a grey area in-between, such as where are large company has outsourced its IT and while the company doing the software development is technically doing custom development for a customer things are also much simpler as there is only one customer. In effect it is basically the same as internal IT.

So what is the problem?

I have worked for a number of companies in the former category that used similar methods for pricing software and suffered similar disadvantages because of it. Generally these companies rely on a horrendous mix of time tracking, rate cards, up front estimation in person-days, time & materials billing, bookable time and “slack” divided up according to percentages, and the need to explain to customers why the actual amount billed differed slightly from its up-front estimate. For me this is the worst. And so many of these customers are using agile approaches like Scrum to develop the software too. You would think they would be aware of the dangers of things like time tracking. The community (with the exception of Scott Ambler) seem to be unanimously against it. But unfortunately those with an understanding of knowledge work and product development are not those making the deals. They are usually a very different type of person unlikely to read books like Don Reinersten’s Flow, or engage in the subtleties of the economics of software development at conferences or online. They are more like the software equivalent of the used car salesman. 

So here is how it works: the customer has an idea of what they want. Sometimes this is just a vision (which is good), sometimes it is a more detailed list of requirements (which is ok, but a little bit wasteful as it is highly likely to change). The salesman will then take some of the team capacity and if the customer only had a vision those team members will then have to come up with some business and technical concept and estimate how many person-hours of each role is required to develop each bit of the solution. If the customer presented a more detailed list of requirements then they can skip the business concept, and just come up with the technical concept and an estimate. The salesman has to choose carefully how many and which team members get to be a part of the conception and estimation activity. You don’t want the whole team as this is all non-bookable time, which is perceived by such cultures as expensive, so usually the salesman picks the architect, the analyst and the best senior developer, or something like that.

This approach is already non-agile, or worse than that, it is fundamentally against the realities of knowledge work and product development, regardless of “agile”:

  • The idea of having a complete set of requirements at the beginning is long known to be unrealistic, the the downsides to this way of thinking are well known. Many of the requirements will, according to the Pareto Principle, be superfluous in the sense that their effort in being developed will be out of proportion to their use in the finished product. It is also a myth that anyone can know in advance what is required, This always changes. The customer never gets exactly what they want, and even before they see the first version they change their mind about what they think they require.
  • It is actually preferred, and more realistic to start with a mere vision. This allows the true scope to be discovered, adjust and grow as the development endeavour proceeds, and starts off with the knowledge that scope is and should be negotiable. The idea of having a complete set of requirements works against this. For the actual software company to start with something good (a vision) and discard all the advantages by turning that into a detailed list of requirements up front is bizarre and ridiculous. The chances of it being what is actually best for the customer are even less than if the customer themselves came up with a list.
  • It is also pretty disadvantageous to select a sub-set of the team to create the conceptions and estimates. This requires crossing the problem-solution line, and breaks one of the rules of estimation that it has to be done by the whole team. In software development, the team should be problem solvers. They should get an idea of something small that the customer desires, and work with the customer in solving the problem, implementing the solution as software and realising it as true customer value. With the used-car-salesman approach, the small sub-team of elites are trusted with the task of solving the problem, and determining the solution up-front, and the actual development team are reduced to mere source code typists, which is highly demotivating.
  • Additionally the estimates are usually much more optimistic than if they had been given by the team, and those in the sub-team are not available to the development team for assisting with the actual development of actual software.
  • It is also a waste of time, all these discussion that take place during conception and estimation still need to be held again so the actual whole team can understand them. (At least this second discussion might be bookable to the customer).
  • If you are using something like Scrum, combined with estimation in story points which is fairly typical, you have to go through and estimate everything again anyway.
  • Also these estimates are usually “ideal”. They only reflect the actual minimal time an expert might spend on typing in the solution once and that is all. Anything like research, or learning, or pair programming, or communicating with each other, or improving the system, or tests, or refactoring is extra. That is why project managers add a buffer to to the estimates or the price that the customer sees, so they have some wiggle room later, but the actual team still sees the tighter estimates. After all if you let them see the actual buffered values they will simply chew the buffer up with non-value-adding activities like refactoring or writing tests, and there won’t be any buffer left at the end to make up for the shortfall which for some reason always occurs at the end.

So what happens next? The developers start counting hours present in the workplace and recording them in some electronic system. This is called time-tracking, and suffers the following problems:

  • Some people say the main or only problem is the time that time-tracking takes. This might be the most obvious issue but it is the least of it. Sure it can chew up around 15 minutes per day, but time tracking is much more evil than that.
  • The developers have a budget per feature, and there is a general hectic vibe with everyone primarily concerned with which booking position every minute of the day belongs to. No one want’s to be the guy that has less bookable hours than anyone else. In fact everyone tries to keep their bookable hours as close to 100 percent as possible, as the general perception is that any hour not booked is wasted. Typically project managers and even product owners insist that anything like knowledge transfer, or writing tests, or refactoring or even one person in a programming pair shouldn’t be at the customer’s cost, and has to be booked to an internal booking position. As a result, these activities simply do not get done, or at least no one wants to spend much time on them.
  • The teams more expensive roles end up siting there idle. Since the project manager was involved in the technical conception and estimation, and was concerned with presenting as low a cost as possible to the customer, he preferred to see more (cheaper) junior developer hours being offered as more expensive architect or senior developer hours. As a result, even when the team is struggling to meet its sprint goals, the architects sit there doing nothing because if he did the work the customer would get a more expensive bill than if the junior developer did it. The customer would then come back and demand to know why he was charged architect costs for something that could have been done by a junior developer. As a result project managers insist on architects NOT helping the team to meet their sprint goals, which damages the feeling of trust in the team.
  • A related issue is when cheaper developers get assigned the tasks where there is a high risk of requiring more time than that estimated. I have seen a team suffer a huge drop in motivation when a student, with a cheap per hour rate, was given all the most interesting tasks (that were sold to the customer as junior or senior developer hours), because he essentially had more than twice as much time as estimated to do it, and you automatically have some extra buffer for the risky, more innovative and interesting parts of the “project”.

I hear a lot of managers claim that time & materials works well for them, and that estimates correspond very well with actual development hours. That is because developers are painfully aware of their budget, and compromise on quality in order not to “overspend” their time budget. Without fail these managers also wonder why they run into technical debt issues a year later. Actually they don’t wonder. They know it is down to poor commitment and discipline on the part of the developers. On the other side of that coin is that it discourages innovation, and encourages maximising expended effort. Assume a task was estimated at 5 days. If someone can find a clever way to do it in 2 days he probably should right? Well with T&M there is no incentive. If he does it in 2, then he might not have anything else to do for the week and his bookable hours will drop. Also the company will  get 3 days worth of money less. Usually project managers solve this by shuffling hours around and lying to the customer about what took how long. They will simply say it took 5 days, and use the extra 3 days to reduce something that took longer than expected.

Particularly sad are the companies that think they are cool and generous like google for allocating a 20% “slack” time that doesn’t have to be bookable. This implies that everyone is under extreme pressure to book the other 80% of their time. Guess what ends up being done in the 20%? Meetings, bug fixes that the product owner thinks should not be billed to the customer, writing tests, learning from other developers, pair programming and refactoring. It is much better NOT to have such a percentage goal of bookable hours. The team needs the freedom to decide for themselves how to best to allocate their time in order to deliver, and besides, the customer pays for everything anyway. It is not like the government pays for the 20% time. This trick might look good at first glance, but it is total bullshit that has no pros, and only cons.

There is one general issue that lies at the root cause of all the parts of this nasty approach to pricing software development efforts: The idea that it is appropriate to measure software in terms of person-hours. Once we get beyond that dangerous myth, we instantly solve a number of problems and we open things up to the next level of professionalism in managing software development.

So what is the alternative?

So let’s look at better models for pricing software in order from best to worst, according to my opinion:

  1. Value based pricing: The best way to price software is according to the value it brings the customer. We can negotiate with the customer and help him discover what sort of value the delivered software might bring, and come up with a price that correlates with the expected level of investment required to bring such a return. However I find this suffers from a couple of problems that might make this approach difficult:
    • Business value is hard to determine. Software development, when worthwhile, is a high risk endeavour, featuring an asymmetric payoff function similar to the development of medications. We can expect to start a large number of experiments with the hope that they will be highly successful, and expect that most of them will be canceled as soon as we discover that they are not going to be a big winner. The occasional big winner results in so much profit that it more than covers the losses associated with the “failed” experiments. (Actually, the information we learn from these experiments usually makes the investment worthwhile, so failure is probably mot the right word). The fact is, we often have to at least start the development process and test a feature or two on the market before we even know what its value might be. This is hard enough at the project level, and even harder at the “story” level that agile development prefers, so I suspect for this reason value based pricing to be very difficult in practice. One model that could work would be to measure actual value afterwards, but this requires a high level of trust, and exposes extra risks for all participants. It essentially makes the software development company a full stakeholder in the product, which may or may not make business sense.
    • The other issue is that customers may not be willing to share their expected value, even if they know it.  They want to get the lowest price possible, and not give the software vendor a hint as to the maximum they might pay. There are also a lot of things that can be done cheaply and easily, but result in huge wins for the customer. The vendor might think it is fair to take the usual percentage cut of the wins, but the customer most likely does not.
    • Even if we know the customer value, before we decide if we should do it or not we might like to know to what degree, if at all, it covers our costs. This means that even when using value based pricing, we might still have to use one of the following more cost-based methods to determine if we should do it or not.
  2. Price per feature (determined at time of commitment): My current favourite model is very simple and based on measuring the teams price per (average) groomed feature. It works especially well with a system where Kanban plays a role. You should have a rough idea of your costs. Ideally they are mostly a function of team salaries and fairly fixed, otherwise in more dynamic environments you can determine separate components, perhaps basing it partially on an average of previous months, and known costs for the next month. You simply divide these costs by the throughput and add an appropriate margin. Before the customer and team commit together to developing a feature, some backlog grooming should occur and the team should perform the usual steps of story splitting. Queue replenishment consists of presenting the split stories to the customer, together with the current price per feature. They can select as many stories as there are free places in the input queue. When working with multiple customers it is good to authorise the product owners to do this on behalf of the customer, or to establish some idea of how much team capacity is to be allocated to each customer (ideally in terms of total system WIP). This shouldn’t be too big a deal, the PO can communicate with the customer up until queue replenishment about what the price could be and how many free slots the customer will have. The price is fixed at the time of moving the item from the backlog to the input queue, and payment is due a number of days after the item is done. If you have a two stage commitment system, or end up cancelling more than a handful of items in the middle of the process and have multiple customers then it could get a little more complicated, but I might blog separately about that. I don’t currently see any disadvantages, but I know someone will have some questions about it so please challenge me in the comments, and allow me the opportunity to make this concept even more solid. I know a lot of people seem to think it will only work with items that are “roughly the same size”. This is not true, and in fact the concept of size is a bit bogus when considering the whole value stream. We groom and split in order to preserve some liquidity and flow in the process, to prevent large items from blocking the system, and to inhibit the lead time distribution from blowing out too far to the right. I fully expect significant differences in the measured lead times of different items, that is the reality of knowledge work and product development, but there is no real need why they all need different prices. If the customer has 3 features in the backlog, but only feels 2 are offer enough value to justify the price per feature, then he should only choose those 2.
  3. Renting team capacity for a period of time (in terms of system WIP, not in available person-hours): This might be an ok option for those doing a longer term software development effort, and wan’t to save the communication overheads of accepting a small offer every week or so. It is also based on a Kanban approach. Assuming costs (plus margin) of 100,000 per month, and a total system WIP limit of 100, then we could have one customer paying 30,000 per month for exclusive rights to 30 of that WIP, and so on. If the throughput is 100 items per month, we might expect he gets to see 30 items per month. Or he might not. We could provide both options and allow him to choose which is best for him.
  4. Fixed price per team-day or team-sprint (aka. T&M light): This is probably good for Scrum teams, or teams when you only have a single customer and don’t have too many issues with balancing capacity between different customers or classes of service. It is also based on costs plus margin. One discussion I got into recently on twitter was with a defender of T&M. It turns out they don’t do up-front estimates of entire projects, they don’t have rate cards, they don’t have a target number of billable hours and most importantly they don’t do time tracking. Basically for every day a team works, they get a bill for a team day with a discount for team members on holiday. To me this is a lot closer to a fixed price per team-day than the true T&M monster as typically practiced. However they reported it requires a large amount of trust, and only works when the team has a single customer (which some consider ideal, but I personally consider it a risk of the “all eggs in one basket” variety.) The team just developers iteration after iteration until either the product is good enough, or the customer decides they have spent enough money.
  5. Fixed price variable scope: This is the classic agile fixed price scenario where there is some budget set up in advance, and the team simply develops iteration after iteration until the money runs out. It is essentially equivalent to the fixed-price per sprint, except presumably the option to quit before the fixed budget runs out is excluded. I don’t know what is supposed to happen if the product is good enough before the budget runs out. I guess the team is supposed to keep developing unwanted features until the budget runs out. There is also the question of how is this budget determined. I guess the customer has some idea of what he wants to spend. I could also imagine it being based on a rough release plan, which is in turn based on an initial but negotiable backlog and a known velocity. I am not sure what advantages this model brings over the previously mentioned ones.
  6. Fixed price, fixed scope, but the price is obviously sufficient to cover costs and the scope is easily achievable by the due date: Sometimes we get lucky even with dysfunctional traditional methods. As long as we ask for more than enough money to cover things even if things go wrong, and we leave ourselves plenty of time to get things done, even with the inevitable changes in scope, then why not? It is still better than the full-on T&M model with all its disadvantages. But not much better.
  7. Fixed price, fixed scope, fixed due date, and the team thinks it will be tight: This might even be worse than full-on T&M. I don’t know which one is worse. They are both extremely damaging. Sadly they are the 2 most common approaches. In fact the typical Scrum-using but otherwise not very agile company thinks they are the only two options. They are convinced that one of them is not “agile” so the other one must be. Usually a company has a bad experience with number 7 so declares it un-agile, and then feels super smug and ultra-agile for using full-on T&M together with Scrum.

So there you have it. My current views on the various approaches to the pricing of software development. I have to mention again that my favourite is 2. I don’t really have a problem with any of 1-4. I don’t see much point in 5. 6, 7, and the full-on T&M I described at the beginning are the used-car salesman approaches. They are lazy, damaging, unprofessional and betray a poor understanding of how knowledge work and product development works. Instead of violating our customers and teams with such approaches we need to think about things a bit deeper, and consider the damage we are doing, and start behaving more like professionals. The relationship between the software development and the customer is too important to be left to sales-people. It requires product developers to be involved. It needs to be more like the way a doctor and their patient communicate, than the way we currently operate, as if it were possible to fix scope and sell person-hours like the kids at McDonalds sell fries.

I recently read a blog post from someone, it isn’t that great, it exhibits one of the misunderstandings about NoEstimates (he somehow thinks NoEstimates is all about refusing to answer the “how much” or the “how long” questions), but one quote was interesting:

If you don’t know where you are going, if you don’t have some notion of what done looks like, if you can’t tell me approximately how much and how long, please don’t start.

At first I thought, woah wait a minute, this pretty much excludes anything in the complex domain, aka anything worth while. Even beginner agilists know that software development is an experimental process, and it is quite typical to begin something before we know how much it will end up costing, or how long it will take. But on second thought I agree with him. There is no way to know what done looks like when we are talking about a large project, no way of knowing how much it should cost, and no way to know how long it will take. They can only ever be discovered once we have invested some effort in the information generation aka software development process. So I agree. We should not do large projects. However we do know what done looks like at the story level. We can say how much it will cost, and we can provide a certain degree of confidence about how long a story will take based on concrete measurements and backed up by statistics. So I agree. We should only ever do story sized things. Actually why not take his quote even more seriously and use it to base our definition of what we should attempt to develop? If we don’t know what done looks like, we can’t put a price on it, and we can’t say how long it will take then we shouldn’t start it. It is obvious what he means. We shouldn’t do anything larger than stories, we have to get away from projects being the main batch size of relevance to pricing, offers and customer communication in general.

So here are the main points again:

  • Don’t sell person-hours, it is not appropriate for things like software
  • Don’t pretend scope can be fixed in advanced
  • Don’t use time tracking
  • Don’t use T&M billing
  • Only estimate where and how it is appropriate, the whole team may use story points to plan how much work to take on per sprint, and that is pretty much the only place for estimation in software development.
  • Never estimate in hours, only relative units like points
  • Never base prices on estimates, use measurements instead
  • If you have customer contact, write offers, work out prices or negotiate contracts, please go to a couple of conferences, read a book or two, and engage with the community
  • Don’t think you are cool by gifting your employees 20% slack time (by insisting 80% of hours must be bookable), all you end up doing is pressuring the employees not to spend time doing what they should. And it really messes with the idea that a team should self-organise
  • If the offer and pricing is fundamentally not “agile” or at least makes no sense from a knowledge work and product development perspective, then planning the development using Scrum won’t help you much
  • Forget about “projects”. When it comes to prices and offers, we don’t want to deal with anything larger than a story

I have a feeling this might be a blog post I keep coming back to and refining. I already suspect I have left some interesting details out.

Any questions or comments? 

Addendum 1: Two additional models that I have been made aware of but forgot to include to this list are the “price per story point” model. I don’t prefer it, as it suffers from many of the same disadvantages that other approaches based on up-front estimation suffer, but if you are estimating in story points anyway, it might work for you. I would probably put it somewhere between 4 and 5 maybe. The other model is the incremental funding method. This is a really great one if you can get it to work. In this method we minimise initial investment and risk, and focus on developing a product that makes sufficient money to fund further development. This concept isn’t really an alternative pricing model as such, and can thus be combined with any of the above listed pricing models as an additional technique. You could even use it to filter out projects that should not be invested in past their initial MVP. Any projects that don’t self fund after a calculable investment in money or time should be cancelled, so that that investment can be channeled in more worthwhile activities. I believe Don Reinertsen’s book Flow even presents some useful numbers that can be used to help support such decisions in the section on asymmetric payoff functions.

May 11, 2013

The Limited WIP Society Rhein-Main

Filed under: agile, kanban, lean — Tags: , , — Kurt Häusler @ 4:33 pm

I just wanted to write a short note to inform any interested readers that I am in the process of setting up a Limited WIP Society in the Rhein-Main region (the region around Frankfurt). A Limited WIP Society is a user group mostly for those interested in David Anderson’s Kanban method for supporting evolutionary change in your knowledge work and product development processes and systems.

Go Lean Limit WIP

Some of the other topics relevant for a Limited WIP Society include:

  • Flow-based product development
  • The Theory of Constraints
  • Lean Systems
  • Systems and Complexity Thinking
  • Modern management methods in general

I have set up a Xing group that as of writing already has 21 members, and I have planned the first meetup which will be an informal gathering at a restaurant later this month. If you are interested in any of the topics mentioned above then please come along. I hope to see enough interest in organizing a regular meetup. Ideally in a location more suited to other formats like the lean coffee format or talks.

Yes We Kanban

The first meetup will be somewhat casual, focussing on getting to know each other, sharing our experiences and tips, and making plans for future events.

You join the Limited WIP Society Rhein-Main here: Limited WIP Society Rhein-Main Xing group

You can register for the first meetup here: First meetup of the Limited Society Rhein-Main

Vote Ltd WIP

Here are some other interesting links:

Advocate Ltd WIP

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you at the next meetup!

May 4, 2013

Agile Business Thinking

Filed under: agile, rightshifting, scrum, stoos — Tags: , , — Kurt Häusler @ 7:06 am

So I went along to a new event yesterday. Apparently the Agile community have taken a bold new step and finally written a new manifesto to address agility outside of software development. Essentially this could be the most significant thing to occur in the history of the workplace since Frederick Taylor invented Scientific Management. (One could perhaps consider the original Agile Manifesto if the scope wasn’t restricted to software development). After years of false starts and dead ends from Deming to Stoos, could this finally be the beginning of the end of command & control in the workplace?

The event I attended yesterday was called Darmstadt SPIN, a forum and network for “Vordenker” (which Leo translates as mastermind, mentor or prophet). They meet regularly to discuss various topics. Yesterday was my first time there so I don’t know what the usual topics are or what sort of people attend. There were actually a lot of newbies like me there yesterday.

We started off with an introduction to the new Agile Business Thinking Manifesto. I tried to find an english version but couldn’t, so here is a lazy Google translation of it:

Manifesto for Business in a New Century

We develop better ways organisations to lead by doing it yourself and help others to do the same. Thus we have learned to appreciate the following values:

We value personal responsibility and self-organisation 
more than hierarchical control.

We believe that personal responsibility, self-organisation and agile teamwork enable organisations to deliver higher performance. As a result, employees find more meaning in their work.

 

We appreciate interdisciplinary and efficient team structures 
more than labor.

We believe that interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation capacity and allows more employees bring their personal strengths.

 

We appreciate growing organisational knowledge 
More than individual expertise.

We believe that collective learning and action strengthens the organisational success and employee capable of personal development.

 

We value partnership 
more than formal customer-supplier relationships.

We believe that a partnership creates added value for customers and employees to connect to the customer’s wishes.

 

We value responsiveness and agility 
more than stability and continuity.

We believe that an agile and responsive organisation better use of opportunities in the market and its employees empowered to change themselves and their businesses.

 

We are convinced that the above values of a powerful organisation and employee satisfaction are important.

 

Why a manifesto? The point is to formulate a compelling and emotionally provocative promise that forms the staple of the “followers”. The aim of the manifesto is to bring about a “Yeah, right” reaction in the reader.

 

Why values in a manifesto? Agile enterprise management is to control and align a set of interconnected values that organise the behaviour and culture of organisations and the individuals in them.


I hope it is ok to post a translation here like this. I didn’t see any copyright or license information, so just let me know if it should be taken down. One bit I didn’t past in was, due to formatting, this note:

All values in this set are important to us. We estimate the values in the first row as more important than those in the second line. 
(This applies to all 5 pairs of values)


They actually indicate that e.g. “hierarchical control” is important.

The only other thing on the page is a link to the Xing group, where we can get a clue as to who is behind this manifesto (two consulting companies) and how old it might be (the Xing group was created in April 2011). 

When i read this manifesto I am reminded of  a critique I once heard of the software craftsmanship manifesto. To me a manifesto should send tingles up one’s spine and make one’s blood curl. They should passionately and almost violently challenge the status quo, and present a serious threat to our fundamental beliefs. My reaction to this manifesto is a little different. To me it reads more like a cautious compromise between the status quo and common sense. Where is the rage? Where is the earnest plea? Where is sense that someone is putting it all on the line for the sake of a better future?  I find it decidedly not emotionally compelling.

And hierarchical control is still important? Cmon! In the age of betacodex, rightshifting and Stoos, this reads exactly like what it is. An advertisement for German consultants that don’t want to appear too radical so they can still peddle their wares to senior management mostly concerned with preserving their place in the analytic machines they think they drive.

Anyway, back to the event. After being introduced to the manifesto we heard a case study that we were then to use as a basis for discussion on how to apply this manifesto to the problems mentioned in the case study. I had expected to hear about an actual case of organisational change or at least an attempt to “agilize” something not related to software development. Unfortunately the case study was about a software development project that used Scrum for a year or so before giving up on it. There was very little about the business or organisational context. As a result, the discussions sounded exactly like every other discussion about agile software development over the last decade. Most people were focussed on the idea that the goal was for this single team to do Scrum properly, all the suggestions were too focussed on the team and anchored in the language of software development and Scrum. To really get a feel for how this manifesto could be relevant for actual business thinking, they should have focussed on a case study that had nothing to do with software development, and focussed more on the business and organisational issues.

I found it frustrating. Also the discussions felt a lot like ineffective meetings at work, where everyone knows they will only get a sentence in before getting interrupted so everyone is rushing, complicated ideas cannot be introduced, and the loudest voices dominate. It would have been a lot more productive in written form on twitter or via mailing list.

I did note that the Darmstadt SPIN will be meeting again in September, and that Agile Business Thinking will be on the agenda again as it has been selected as their topic of the year. I thought the Stoos community really has to get involved as they seem a few steps ahead. Then I noticed that Darmstadt SPIN itself is also organised and sponsored by the same two consulting companies that are as far as I know, behind the manifesto. It would make sesne to me for everyone with goals in this area to work tgether a bit, and see what others are doing, rather than reinventing their own ecosystems to address the issues alone. (A quick glance at some of the names associated with the manifesto indicates mostly people who I have not yet seen engaging with the wider community on the issue).

Anyway, what are your thoughts? Have we finally produced an artefact that can guide us towards a noble future of business agility? Or is this just another attempt, and a weak one at that, for agile software development consultants to add something to their portfolio? Do you have a favourite collection of values or principles that attempt to achieve a similar goal, yet do provoke an emotional response?

February 5, 2013

My Reading Strategy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Kurt Häusler @ 2:02 pm

I enjoy reading but, I find it difficult to make time to read. There is usually some other thing I find to do instead. I have found that reading in bed in the evenings doesn’t really work. I just don’t take things in as I am falling asleep. About the only time I get to read is when I have to spend a bit of time travelling on a train or something.

Last year I choose my books based on the list of required reading for the PMI-ACP certification. It began slow (as I wasn’t spending as much time on trains), but in the last few months I was able to churn through the books, spending a couple of hours on a train each day.

I was planning on allowing Amazon’s recommendations help me decide but since I read so much on the topic last year, I am sick of the “agile-management” related genre of books, so I decided to concentrate on some more technical books.

The problem with technical books though, is that it makes a lot more sense to read them in front of the computer rather than on the train.

So I am making the radical decision of reading 2 books at once. One technical book for at home, and something else for the train.

But what topic though? Well there are a lot of topics that aren’t quite technical, they aren’t quite domain-related, and they aren’t about process. Things that my current employer might find useful for managers like me to know about: business intelligence, social media, innovation, competition, the market, cloud computing, data warehousing etc., but all from a business rather than technical perspective. Who knows, maybe I will find something interesting… I started reading a book on data warehousing but I am finding it pretty dry and they way the author keeps calling people “resources” is distracting.

Got any suggestions?

January 9, 2013

Retrospective 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kurt Häusler @ 10:46 am

So this will just be a short note to let you know what happened last year and how I felt about it.

We started the year off in a new city and with a new job. I had already spent the previous 6 months doing something other than being a software developer, internal Kanban coaching and process improvement, but at the beginning of 2012 I became a consultant at a company claiming “The Agile Organization” as one of its areas of core competency. After a slow month settling in I was sent off as a part of a team to my first client, where my job was to help improve their Scrum process. The Scrum process was already pretty good though. I was able to make a couple of suggestions which were readily accepted, but there wasn’t a lot to do there full time for 4 days per week. I started to notice some other issues at the technical and management level, which were actually connected, but they were either hard for an external consultant to directly fix or outside my mandate.

I ended up feeling a bit bad about being there counting billable hours that I felt were out of proportion to the amount of value I was providing and convinced my boss I should probably finish up and leave the team to get on with it.

And that was basically it. Month after month I was sitting at home (turning up to the headquarters on Fridays) waiting for another customer, only collecting 70% of my salary.

Now this job had a variable salary. I was guaranteed 70% each month, but the other 30% were based on billable hours. At the beginning it was explained to me that it should be no problem working enough billable hours to make the full 100% and the idea behind the variable salary was that in previous years people had worked so much that they had no time to write articles and attend conferences etc., and that the variable salary means people can choose not to take on a client project and still get a reduced salary. It was not explained to me as a system for allowing the company to save money in case the projects dried up, while still keeping me hanging on so they can assign someone to work in short notice without having to recruit.

Now you have to understand that in Germany you get a generous unemployment insurance of 70% of your last salary anyway, so it became clear to me that variable salary is of no benefit to the employee, and only benefits the employer. Basically you are unemployed, receive the same amount of money as if you were unemployed, but you are not free to start work elsewhere, you have to wait out your notice period.

What I should have done was to set the base level at the 100% and enjoy anything I get from over that from billable hours as a pure bonus. Then it wouldn’t have been so bad.

As it turns out, after taxes I was getting roughly half as much as I was in the previous year and what I expected, and after things like rent and insurance came out I only had around 10% discretionary spending money than I had in the previous year and what I expected.

I had lots of free time though. Not much money but lots of free time.

But I don’t want you to think money was the main issue. I certainly reduced the number of conferences I attended in 2012 because of money, and also because I wanted to be free in case we got a client. The main issue was frustration with not doing anything.

I had developed a lot of interest and knowledge in exactly the area the company wanted to specialize in. I knew there was a lot of demand for expertise in these areas. I knew other consulting companies working in this area had more work than they had people to do it. The fact I was so extremely keen and reasonably well qualified to work in an area where there was so much demand, and it was an area my employer wanted to specialize it, it was just plain frustrating not to be able to work! I think they had problems developing a marketing strategy as there was a lot more meta-conversation about how to find customers than actual discussion about agile organizations and what it means to be one.

There was an attempt for me to write articles and presentations solving potential problems that future customers might have, but I don’t think that works so well in the agile world. I think so much is context dependent, and of course “complex” that any solutions can only come about when an actual problem exists and a mechanism to allow a solution to grow via feedback etc. I came up with a few bits and pieces but never got to try them out, so for me they remain unrefined, unvalidated, and essentially spoiled milk (which is an analogy for any work invested that expires before it gets a chance to realize value).

Anyway I made the decision before my 6 month trial period that I have to do something, so at the same time as waiting for a client via my current employer, I decided to open up a search into finding work through other channels. I noticed there was a lot of interested in me personally either as employee or freelancer, either as developer, coach or consultant, but little interest in having a team of consultants coming in selling a box with “The Agile Organization” written on it.

As it turned out the company and I had fairly different ideas about what the agile organization actually is. For me it was something larger than software development, and involved a significantly different management system and culture than what exists in the typical organization. I had imagined helping organizations realize the vision shared by people in the Rightshifting and Stoos communities. My employer was really focused on just helping companies with the way they develop software mainly by scaling Scrum, and helping with some of the issues that companies face with using agile approaches while still attempting large-scale projects with several interdependent teams without having to change too much at the cultural level, or affect the management system outside of the software development departments too much. Not that there is anything wrong with that. There is certainly demand for it, but it is something I find somewhat less interesting than enabling my vision for the future of the workplace: small teams of motivated individuals having fun delighting customers supported by leaders acting and thinking according to a synergistic or chaordic mindset, rather than merely developing software a bit faster while still being constrained by the same old analytic management culture.

But I was patient, and not under any real pressure. It would have been ideal if a client came, and I could have remained employed as a consultant, but other opportunities simply won the race, and I now have an interesting job at a company that mostly develop and maintain web sites for advertising and marketing, but not exclusively.

They have an interesting structure based on the Scrum team. They have a number of super-teams. Each headed by a Process Master (analog to a Scrum Master) and a Business Owner (analog to a Product Owner). Outside these super teams are minimal roles. Senior management, administration and office. All other functions are contained within the super-teams that enjoy a fairly high amount of autonomy. Within these super teams we have a number of roles like product owners and scrum masters, developers, engineers, information architects and the like. They are divided into cross functional project teamlets, some of which use Scrum some not. Many teams also use Kanban in various ways.

I applied for a Scrum Master job, and was offered a role as Process Master which is like a Scrum Master of Scrum Masters and has some extra management responsibilities that a Scrum Master would typically not have. I have also been working as the scrum master for one of the projects within my super-team.

So far so good. I am still getting used to many aspects of the role that are new to me.

I did attend a couple of conferences this year. Notably the Stoos Stampede, and Lean Kanban Netherlands where I also gave a talk for the first time.

After a bit of a rough start I am pretty happy with how 2012 ended and I am excited about how 2013 might look.

December 6, 2012

Lean Kanban Netherlands 2012

Filed under: conferences, kanban, lean — Tags: , , — Kurt Häusler @ 5:59 am

Over a month later, I am finally getting around to blogging about this great conference I not only attended, but spoke at. Apart from open spaces, and leading semi-prepared informal discussions at user groups and stampedes, it was my first time presenting at a conference.

David Anderson‘s keynote was of course very interesting. I found his idea of a second, or multiple, committal points interesting, and the idea that the lead time should stop at the first non-WIP-limited queue or buffer (and presumably start again from the next WIP-limited queue or buffer). I am not convinced on that last point. I think even if a buffer should be non-WIP-limited because it is under the control of an external stakeholder, it could still make sense to include time spent there in the lead time, if you are using it to predict how long things might take. Why not just take both lead times I guess. 

He also mentioned that the cost of delay was perhaps more useful at the portfolio level than the user story level, expressed some interesting opinions about calculating business value, and combining that with strange cost estimates, which is how a lot of product owners etc currently spend a lot of time. An alternative could be to focus on risk. Capacity-constrained people should never work on optional things like estimation as it brings the whole team capacity down, only those with slack capacity should do such things. The bulk of his talk was about liquidity which is something I need to spend a lot more time looking into. He presented some interesting metrics such as “pull transactions” per person, or per unit of money.

Another interesting session on the first day was Ralf Kruse‘s Kanban Pizza Game. It was good to do something a little bit physical after sitting in a chair watching others talk.

Laurens Bonnema gave an interesting talk that appealed to me, because talked a lot about the more subversive aspects of culture hacking. There were a lot of good tips for being an effective change agent, and not the usual types of tips one reads either.

The evening meal was pretty classy. Lots of little courses, very delicious. It was a great location too by the way: De Fabrique

The next morning I realised I drank too much at dinner the night before and was worried I wouldn’t survive my talk. I found Don Reinertsen‘s keynote a little heavy going. Lots of graphs and maths and I had trouble relating it back to the concrete experience of helping a team develop software. Someone else mentioned he should try story-telling. Then I gave my talk. I think it went well, but there was a minor technical hitch. The screen-saver kept kicking in,and the main presentation display kept working but my secondary display with the timer went dark. So I lost track of time and had to really rush through the last bit. I still went a few minutes over time. My hangover wasn’t an issue. Once I was standing up and moving around and talking it kind of went away.

You can see the slides here:

Deep Kanban – a biased and opinionated participant in the path towards synergy from Kurt Häusler

After that Jasper Sonnevelt and Sarah Reeder made us dance. I saw Arne Roock‘s nice looking presentation about creating a Kaizen culture. The last session I attended was probably my favorite. My “classmate” from my MSc program, Steve Tendon, presented a very informative presentation about the Theory of Constraints, with really great looking slides. Steve should really present at conferences more often!

On the last evening a few of us joined up with the local Theory of Constraints community and went out to dinner. We went to the Oudaen where we had the surprise menu, but it was also a very classy dinner with lots of little courses.

Over all I really enjoyed this conference. I am starting to get to know a few people now, and actually look forward to catching up with them as much as the actual content. 2012 was a fairly quiet year for conferences, but I will definitely have to look at not only attending but talking at more conferences in 2013. I already have one unconference on my plan. Play4Agile in February.

November 1, 2012

The uncertainty implied by planning poker cards

Filed under: agile, scrum, Software Development, xp — Tags: , — Kurt Häusler @ 5:24 pm

After hearing about some experiments in using planning poker cards to come up with a estimate range rather than a single estimate, it occurred to me that planning poker cards are categories rather than accurate measurements, and so have ranges built in. I was curious about what sort of uncertainty was implied by each card. So here is a table that summarizes my findings:

Card From To Midpoint Uncertainty

0

0

0.5

0.25

100%

1

0.5

1.5

1

50%

2

1.5

2.5

2

25%

3

2.5

4

3.25

23%

5

4

6.5

5.25

24%

8

6.5

10.5

8.5

24%

13

10.5

16.5

13.5

22%

20

16.5

30

23.25

29%

40

30

70

50

40%

100

70

100

85

18%

 
Some decks are different with different values, but this is what I have here at the moment.

Effectively, when we play a 5, we are saying “I think it is about a 5.25±24%.

Playing a 0 expresses the most uncertainty with the estimation. 0.25±100%

Also the 1 has 50% uncertainty! You would expect the 0 and 1 cards to have the least uncertainty. Or at least you might assume that when expressed as a percentage the uncertainty should be roughly the same over all cards.

Cards 2 to 20 all have uncertainties in the 22-29% range, which seems appropriate. 40% uncertainty for the 40 card makes sense too I guess.

The 100 card is a special case. I am just assuming that 100 is the upper bound here. You could assume ∞ if you wanted, but I don’t know how to calculate the uncertainty in that case.

I guess it means we have a range built in. There is no sense playing two rounds for a separate lower and upper bound. Or perhaps taking the lowest card in each round, and the highest card in each round and adding them up.

If we are estimating a larger project we can use the midpoints and uncertainties to calculate a range if required, using normal rules for calculating uncertainties.

If we have for example 5 stories, a 1, a 2, a 3, a 20 and a 40. That adds up to 66. The lower bounds add up to 51 and the upper bounds add up to 108.

When you add them up though, the 66 is not relevant. The values on the cards were only names for categories. There is no category 66. The estimation total is actually something more like 79.5±36%

You have to be careful with planning poker cards. The number on the front is basically an arbitrary label for a category of values that fall within a range, and that label doesn’t correspond to the midpoint.

If you are adding them you should really be adding the midpoints, not the category labels, and preserving the uncertainties.

September 18, 2012

The Häusler Problem-Solution-Value Distance Model

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kurt Häusler @ 12:17 pm

I remember sketching out this simple idea a few months ago, and I have been thinking about it since then, so I decided I should blog about it. It is essentially a model for looking at the general process for identifying problems, investing work in solving them, and then applying that solution in order to realise some value. Visually it looks like this:

Psv

P is the point at which the “problem” is identified or specified. S is the point at which some work is invested in forming a solution to the problem. V is the point at which the solution can be utilised to realise some value.

The other important concept is the “distances” between P and S, and S and V, or indeed the total distance between P and V. Distance here might not just be spatial, it could also be temporal. It could even be more abstract like the distance between two people’s mindsets or value systems. Or it could be a vector quantity, with spatial, temporal and other components.

The central claims I intend to make with the model can be summarised by the following formulae:

  • distance PV ∝ waste
  • distance PV ∝ 1/quality
  • distance PV ∝ 1/motivation

That is, the longer this distance PV is, the more potential for waste, more potential for quality problems, and more potential for demotivation.

It should be interpreted from the S perspective. Some manager or knowledge worker hears some description of some problem. He or she invests some work in developing a solution for it, and hands it on to further on in the system, to be, somewhere, at some time, utilised in generating value. In the most ideal case, the distance would be 0. Point S occurs at exactly the same conceptual point as point P and point V. That is the knowledge work or manager is right there when the problem is first conceived, invests work in a solution at that same point, and the value is immediately realised.

This concept is already understood, and finds expression in many existing principles. For example the lean concepts of “going to the gemba”, and “those who do the work are best placed to solve it”. Also the agile concepts of close collaboration between customer and developer, and developing products with short feedback cycles.

Many models and theories of intrinsic motivation also claim people are more motivated when they can at least see, or better yet be involved in, that right hand part of the model, where the value is realised. This puts the solution in context and provides a sense of purpose to the expended effort.

It also has implications for every day decision making. Once understood, it is harder to claim that developing solutions in isolation, remote from the problem and point of value realisation, is merely a matter of taste, or a valid alternative way of working. It becomes a matter of professional ethics to continually try to reduce this distance PV. It also allows us to help decide in which problem solving activities might be better investments of effort. We should normally prefer to invest effort where the problem was more closely and recently identified, and thus better understood, and can also be realised as value sooner.

I also think there is a fractal aspect to the model. It is possible to zoom out and see this whole PSV chain as being part of an S point in some larger context. It seems possible to zoom in on an S point, and see it containing other smaller PSV chains. There could also be multiple S steps between a P and a V (where perhaps the act of realising one solution as value is the same as defining a problem for the next step).

I was recently discussing on twitter the situation of developers wasting effort on developing software that is not useful, and whether or not they have the power to be involved in deciding what should be developed. In terms of this model, I claimed it was more professional for knowledge workers to see themselves in that whole context, and understand the context that gives rise to the problem and how it should be realised as value, rather than merely solving problems. It certainly seems professional to continually strive to shorten this distance where possible.

August 15, 2012

A Story About a Dance

Filed under: Stories — Tags: , , , — Kurt Häusler @ 2:48 pm

One evening at the village dance, the new girl in town shows up and stands around weirdly for a bit. She is determined to get to know people and integrate as quickly as possible so she musters up the courage to approach the handsome guy in the corner and ask him for a dance. Now this requires a fair bit of courage, in this old-fashioned village it seems customary for the dudes to ask the ladies to dance. But she’s bored, and feeling uncomfortable about standing around doing nothing, so she goes for it. She approaches him timidly and says “hey would you like to dance?” She doesn’t know what to expect, she doesn’t know if he likes to dance, or the music, or even her, but she has just enough confidence to see herself as a sufficiently good dancer so she goes for it.

The dude replies “Hmm I dunno, can you first describe your moves to me?”. Hmm not exactly the level of excitement she was hoping for, but she obliges, and describes how she likes to dance. “Hmm could be interesting. Can you show me the moves?” he replies. She thinks to herself, well look if we can just dance you will see, you don’t get an accurate impression about how I dance with other people by looking at me dancing by myself. But she obliges. She is a little embarrassed to be standing in front of the dude dancing by herself, but he asked, and she doesn’t have anything better to do.

Then he shakes his head and says “no that is not how I like it sorry. I would like a sexy dance, something with a bit more visible flesh, and thrusting, something less wholesome, but something that will attract a lot of attention”. She thinks to herself, you know, that is not really how I dance, I have my way, I think it is a good way, and there are enough people doing sexy dances already, but I guess, if that is what he wants… So she tells him “ok, I will try and come up with a sexy dance, it is not really my thing though, but I think I can do it”. 

So she goes back to her family over on the other side of the dancing room, and thinks a bit, and can’t really think of any sexy dances, and isn’t particularly interested any more anyway. He didn’t seem that interested in her either. She keeps it in the back of her mind, but eventually starts chatting to some of the other girls and forgets about the dude.

Next minute the dude comes over, with an attitude, yelling to her Father as much as to her, “I asked you for a sexy dance, you promised me one, and you haven’t given me one! What’s up?”.

Basically dudes, if a girl comes up and asks for a dance, just decide. Yes or no. Give her a go, chances are, if she was able to muster up the courage to ask, she probably isn’t that bad a dancer. She at least seems motivated enough to dance with you which is a good sign. If she really does turn out to be a bad dancer, big deal. You don’t have to dance with her again, if it is really bad you might even be able to break it off half way through. But don’t put the poor girl through the wringer. Don’t grill her on whether she meets your standards or not. She was just making a friendly offer! And if you feel like she is not the type of dance you are looking for, if you think she isn’t sexy enough, just say no and dance with one of the many sexier dancers at the dance!

And if you act so disinterested, grill her and demand she acts differently, and she goes away to consider your request, don’t be surprised if she doesn’t come running excitedly back to you. And chasing her up and acting like she promised you something, when she actually offered something that you refused, just makes you look like a dick. And she sure isn’t going to offer anything again! Maybe she was also a good cook, or plays a mean guitar? You will never know.

And ladies, have some self-respect! If the dude can’t make his mind up, if he wants to put you through the wringer, prove yourself, or be something you aren’t or do something you don’t feel comfortable with then screw him! Make the offer, and if he doesn’t accept walk away. And don’t offer him anything again. There are plenty of other dudes who will appreciate you for who you are, and how you dance.

It is just simple trust and respect.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: