Occasionally, my journeys into Agile and Lean process force me down to its foundation: cultural fit. Frankly, there is nothing more central to the success of a team than culture. That’s especially true about Lean because of the humility and honesty required. If your team is not built on a foundation of trust and shared values then it’s impossible keep having the listening and responsive dialog with our customers.
Successful teams have to be honest about taking negative feedback and you cannot do that without trust.
Trust is built on working out differences. Ideally, it would be as simple as “we agree” or “we disagree.” In an ideal world, every team would be that binary. Remember, that no team always agrees – it’s how we resolve those differences that makes the team successful. That’s something we know as “diversity” and it’s like annealing of steel to increase its strength.
Unfortunately, there are four modes of agreement and two are team poison.
Yes: We agree! Let’s get to work!
No: We disagree! Let’s figure out what’s different so that we’re stronger!
Artificial Warfare: We disagree! While we are fundamentally aligned, everyone else thinks that the team does not have consensus and ignores the teams decisions. We also waste a lot of time talking instead of acting.
Artificial Harmony: We agree! But then we don’t support each other in getting the work done or message alignment. We never spend time talking about the real issues so we constantly have to redo our actions.
If you find yourself on a team with this problem then you’ll need management by-in to fix it. I have not seen it be a self-correcting problem. I’d love to hear if you’ve gotten yourself healthy from a team with these issues.
Signs of artificial agreement syndrome include
Lack of broad participation – discussions are dominated by a few voices
Discussions that always seem to run to the meta topic instead of the actual problem
Issues are not resolved and come up over and over
People are still upset after the meeting because issues have not been resolved
People have different versions of events
Lack of trust for some people to speak for the group
Outcomes of decision making meetings are surprises
Rarely in my life have I seen true juxtaposition as in the last few weeks. Mearly hours after my long time friend and cloud conspirator, Dave McCrory, joined our team at Dell; the company that we founded, Surgient, was aquired by Quest software. Neither of us had been there for years and had been looking for ways to work together again. Apparently the cosmos required that we could not join forces while our first effort together was still standing.
Our cloud team at Dell is full of people who like to both dream and do. Now that we added Dave, I am expecting BIGGER things. We’re actively planning coordinated blogging about some of the issues and inspirations that are driving our plans. Those topics include Dev-Ops, PaaSvsIaaS, and the real “private” cloud.
Dave, welcome back to the party!
Here’s what Dave posted:
A lot has occurred since my last blog post. I am continuing the development of my technology and working in the Cloud, however I have chosen to do this with a great team at Dell. I was approached a while back about this opportunity and as I dug deeper and saw the potential I began to buy in. Finally after meeting the great team of experts involved behind the scenes I decided to join them.
I have worked with some of the team members before including Rob Hirschfeld. Rob and I founded both ProTier (note that PODS ran on VMware’s ESX) and co-founded Surgient together (interestingly Surgient announced its acquisition by Quest Software last week). Rob and I have created a great deal of IP (Intellectual Property) in the past together, including the First Patent around Cloud Computing (This was filed as a Provisional Patent in 2001 and a Full Patent in 2002). Our time at Dell should produce some new and great work in the Applied Architectures and Intellectual Property sides.
As a Dell employee, I’ve had the privilege of being on the front lines of Dell’s cloud strategy. Until today, I have not been able to post about the exciting offerings that we’ve been brewing.
Two related components have been occupying my days. The first is the new cloud optimized hardware and the second is the agreement to offer private clouds using Joyent’s infrastructure. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring some of the implications of these technologies. I’ve already been exploring them in previous posts.
Cloud optimized hardware grew out of lesson learned in Dell’s custom mega-volume hardware business (that’s another story!). This hardware is built for applications and data centers that embrace scale out designs. These customers build applications that are so fault tolerant that they can focus on power, density, and cost optimizations instead of IT hardening. It’s a different way of looking at the data center because they see the applications and the hardware as a whole system.
To me, that system view is the soul of cloud computing.
The Dell-Joyent relationship is a departure from the expected. As a founder of Surgient, I’m no stranger to hypervisor private clouds; however, the Joyent takes a fundamentally different approach. Riding on top of OpenSolaris’ paravirtualization, this cloud solution virtually eliminates the overhead and complexity that seem to be the default for other virtualization solutions. I especially like Joyent’s application architectures and their persistent vision on how to build scale-out applications from the ground up.
To me, scale should be baked into the heart of cloud applications.
So when I look at Dell’s offings, I think we’ve captured the heart and soul of true cloud computing.