There is no faster path to creating exceptional customer service than by learning from those who have done it before. You can take a course, but not everyone has time for that. The quickest way, and the one with the least impact on our day-to-day is to brush up on your skills by reading published advice from experts. The right book can be a huge timesaver, helping you avoid common pitfalls and grow beyond the limits of your personal experience. But there are so many customer service books published that you could spend your entire career just reading them.
In his clear and fluff-free book, Jeffrey Gitomer teaches and challenges us to go beyond mere satisfaction and aim for customer loyalty. Their Value-Irritant matrix is a powerful tool for focusing your customer service where it will have the most impact. For years, every new Campaign Monitor support agent received a copy of this book by Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon on their first day. Author Joseph Michelli spent two years figuring out how Starbucks was able to take a commodity product like coffee and sell it for several times the typical cost.
His book is an overview of how Starbucks was able to grow and continue to delight customers over time. Jill Griffin focuses on the factors that affect customer loyalty in this highly practical book filled with tactics you can implement in your own business. They claim reduced customer effort is the one true driver of loyalty. The second half of the book outlines ways to reduce effort across the customer experience. In this book, he and his co-author make the case for customer loyalty as the most important factor in profitability.
Much of the book is spent breaking down his practical approach to creating a customer experience strategy that does the job right the first time, using feedback and complaints from customers to identify opportunities for proactive service. In this book, Roy Peter Clark teaches you how to say more with fewer words than you thought possible. William James really made me aware of what I had been thinking and truly opened my eyes to examining the crippling power and control of the past.
The book provides a real appreciation for how our brains work that I find massively applicable in both my work and personal life. Saul, David, and Absalom. Whether you are a seasoned business owner or a young entrepreneur, this book is a priceless treatise on the art of identifying and dealing with the good, the bad, and the ugly attitudes of those who sit in the big chair at the office. It's not a sit-down-and-read-it-in-one session type of book. But I was facing some challenging moments, and she left a copy on my desk with a note that said, 'You need this. Sometimes founding a company is like a war--you need discipline, a game plan, confidence, and to understand the enemy competition.
I keep it on my desk for moments when I'm finding things tough. It's not always relevant, but sometimes it's a better pep talk than any inspirational Instagram post. The challenge for me--and for many business leaders--is why does it always seem harder than it should be?
This book does a great job of being therapist and consultant--from someone who's been there and done that--to those of us who have asked ourselves this very question. Ben's ability to convey, in an easy-to-read, engaging, and thought-provoking way, his thoughts, fears, and struggles about raising money, rapidly growing, restructuring, and ultimately selling his company makes this a must-read for any CEO who wants to build and run a great business. At the end of the day, success in business comes down to persistence and the willingness to make the hard decisions, day in and day out.
To succeed, we must, as Ben suggests, 'embrace the struggle. My main takeaway was when he talked about how he would go to his warehouse at 5 a. He felt that was where he was able to get the best information about what was going on with his business. Remember, they didn't have advanced inventory data programs and tracking systems to the level we have now. To this day, I continuously travel to our factories, warehouses, and fulfillment centers and talk with the folks who build, ship, and deliver our products.
That's where I get the most important information about my business. He shares how his focus on generous hospitality has led to his restaurants' resonating with customers. I find the intense focus on the details of the diners' experiences and the great respect and care shown to make their dining special incredibly applicable to businesses beyond restaurants. People want to be taken care of and remembered by the companies they do business with. Danny shares how he developed this philosophy and how he implements it across his various restaurants, from fine dining to fast casual burgers.
First, it challenges you to have a big vision, but teaches that creating and pursuing it is hard work and likely to take you on a very long journey. Second, you must learn by observing nature. To me, observation is the most important skill of an innovator. And the observation of nature is central to technological change throughout the ages. A robotics project at UC Berkeley mimicking cockroaches is just one modern example. Furthermore, understanding human nature is essential to being a good manager. In all his writings, Coelho reinforces that true inspiration comes from a quiet and calm place.
Clearly, this is not possible if we never allow our minds and bodies some time away from emails, texts, and busy work. Finally, the book comes full circle, reminding us that the power to achieve our dreams is within us and was within us from the beginning. Think of it as a variation on the Star Wars theme: It is a good read as a novel, but more interestingly, it is a great business and leadership book. Its theme is that, in life and in business, you should constantly ask 'What's the goal? If you establish clear goals and a method of measurement, your action plan is more likely to line up with achieving the goal.
Have you ever written code that needs to provide deterministic outcome, but is fed with random input data? How did that work out? Name one logical fallacy in what he said. Maybe there is lack of palpable evidence for some statements but nothing is illogical. My experience with refactoring stories is they sit in the backlog for a couple years until someone looks at it and decides to close it. Bake it into your estimates even. To do refactoring, you need to do it under cover of some user request.
You need to hide it, or justify it by claiming that the code is impossible to fix otherwise. We always allocate at least 3 points per Sprint to do re-factoring. The devs decide which pieces of code are the highest priority and work their way down through the tech debt backlog Sprint over Sprint. Well, we need to differentiate: Is the refactoring a necessary task on itself e. If the latter is true, e. The PO decides what has to be done with priority in order to satisfy customer demands. BUT with respect to the first case: Maybe the refactoring work is not even estimatable, which makes it even harder to prioritize it.
Perhaps with the help of the ScrumMaster who is supposed to clear impediments. Rendering the development team servants to functional implementations, fighting for refactoring and technical debt. This makes those executors powerless to make their situation better. If the evildoers are evil then why give the tool to the evildoers?? Even factory workers are not treated like that. At every sprint devs decide how much story they can work on, so they do the estimate and they are the one who says if they can do it or not.
In theory no one should say to the devs how much they can afford. One of the pillars of Scrum is transparency so the devs says to the PO how much they can produce and PO says to the client how fast they can go. The author says that scrum and agile is stressful… it is not if you apply it correctly, it is much better than using non methodology at all. Everything is clear to everyone in the scrum devs, SM, PO, Client and if everyone respect the rules of the game no stress comes up for devs or any one else.
Ok, the first problem is having a task that can be divided into smaller tasks without losing coherence and it takes more time than 1 sprint. So basically the person taking it up will have nothing to show at the end of the sprint. Second most of the complex stuff that needs to be written have a great variation of how much they will take.
Something that seems it will take 1 day may take 1 month to complete and something that looks it would take 1 month may take a day. Third problem is that the client wants something he can see but when working on backend many times something like this is not possible for many tasks. For instance if you build a house the foundation is not important to the client but you can have something reliable without it. So all work goes to write incomplete features full of bugs rather than building a sturdy base because you need to show the client something.
And yes Agile is stressful because software devs do not work in divisions of time so small. For a dev is often a half a day time loss. Therefore everyone using scrum wrongly will be perceive as a waste of time and they will be right. You could make the same comment about any methodology. The big common denominator is good vs.
Good management will root out the evil parts of Scrum very quickly and get on with their normal business. This is because good management always converges on what works best for their specific problems. And they grab onto process thinking its a silver bullet.. I just wish I could figure out how to train folks to be good managers. I know the elements required, but few are willing to follow them.. I have been developing software for 30 years.
I once worked for a manager that could actually manage rather than hinder, bully and interfere for all of 6 months. They just get on with their work. You usually do good work in spite of the process, not because of it. Sorry, that is so not true! If you have a team producing code for any significant task, they will have to have a process in order to work together on that task.
The processes might not be very heavyweight, but they will be there. That will be true for and SDLC, agile or not. I agree with this comment fully. Craig, I have the same memory from my career. I worked for a company that had a six person team of developers that created, updated and maintained a medical billing and scheduling system. Our users and VARs sent us presents at Christmas. We were then processed and micro-managed to death with the result that we did less and did so very badly. And some of our formerly happy customers initiated lawsuits against us.
Small focused teams that have a shared vision do not really need much process or management to succeed. Same here, small focused team gobbled by larger company. We were doing our own Agile basically release vertically in the service stack for 2 years, moving along very quickly, killing 3 competitors in the process. This sounds exactly like my current situation… going to vote with my feet soon though…. I prefer writing a design from requirements and implementing in Sprints or whatever anyone wants to call it. As a programmer, I hate this Agile BS.
It has to do with people less than process. Strong, good managers will find success and root out incompetence and inefficiency no matter what system they are working within. While I agree with most of what the author says I think he throws the baby out with the bathwater and misses a key root cause. Agile was created by commercial IT folks who believed Waterfall was the problem.
Commercial IT rarely uses best PM or software development best practices. This, to the authors point, makes Agile worse. This results in no project level data for any oversight. Thereby allowing for eternal software development work based on almost zero cost, scope or schedule accountability. Having said this Waterfall can suffer from trying to know too much upfront and being boxed in by that.
Given this my suggestion is to use a hybrid. A best of both approach to mitigate the weaknesses of the other. A DSDM like with actual best practice use. It might be worth actually reading the Agile Manifesto agilemanifesto. To blame this on the creator of the Agile practices thus abused is just bizarre. Which he has said in a bunch of places are useful in some situations but which are basically an abuse of your people in most places where they are being used.
I am not sure where you got the idea that this was a personal attack. It is a mystery to me why people quote him the way they do, except that he became a guru by … becoming a guru. Waterfall is the project management of the whole AD process in a strictly linear fashion, which it has been always accepted as being only purely hypothetical, as real projects are never actually driven like that. Somewhat waterfall like design cycle is desirable, as opposed to the agile chaos, as discovering requirements later costs much more to implement instead of when requirements known early.
The dumbing down of the workforce is a desired outcome by some organisations…keeping good engineers out of management…for the horrors they would discover. Ya… among the many other things I would have to agree with in posts above, the whole problem of people winding up in management positions that clearly have no business there and no idea how to effectively manage either people OR processes is part of what gets industries into the market for things to try to fix that which could be fixed by simply using better hiring and placement practices.
As a somewhat seasoned software designer I feel this pain every day now and I just want my autonomy back. Agile has managed to suck the creativity right out of design. What I do now looks something more akin to Customer Service Representative. I ask myself every day how this came to pass and how I can get back the career I got into in the first place. For about 3 years I had the unique opportunity to pick anything we like fro Agile and do or not do. Like happy children we tried Scrum elements, and found out only a few things really work.
Biggest benefit not the short planning sprint, but the result from it — a vertical release of the stack, as much as possible. This created a space of navigable release artifacts for selection from other stakeholders: QA would binary search the assemblies to find when we introduced a degradation, Ops would pick up to upgrade a customer up to a version we ha a fix for in already, Sales would pick a version that had their thing to demo. We as devs can always go back in our stream and rerun some tweaked test.
Investing in automation and comparative testing added trends and graphs of various qualities memory, CPU usage, coverage, resilience, and so on of the release artifacts dimension. Standups, but not every day, too intrusive. With remote workers it is more of psychological, see their faces, hear their voices. We do not do guilt trips or blame games. We found departing from time-based estimation to using relative Fibonacci, helped a lot get a general idea of who thinks what regarding the size of things.
If we overflow to the other sprint Kanban style , no big deal. Things usually intertwine, and the completion date moves, while the total amount of work may have stayed the same. So with Fibonacci we would more or less get an idea whether we try to bite to many big pieces in the next weeks.
Then, a large corporation purchased us, enforced formal Scrum and work stopped being fun. I have seen it be very effective and also a trainwreck. Each team is different. Each team needs to decide what their processes will be. Accountability goes both ways. The developers need to be able to call the business on their shit, and the business needs to be able to call developers on their shit this is what the Scrum Master should do.
Story point estimation is effective if you are willing to measure it and discuss it in retrospective. How long are you actually working on a 3 point story vs an 8 point story. We keep estimating stories using that involve Angular. Scrum processes are as iterative as development. This is hard in large corporations but those managements issues go much higher than middle management.
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The finance team has the same issues. The sales team is being micromanaged. The customer service is micromanaged. If you are stuck in that situation RUN. I was at a company where the Java stories were largely finished on time, but the UI stories were not. We had three different UI developers during the time I was there and all struggled. To make this much worse, the manager would largely base his performance reviews on the number of story points that folks accomplished. We lost two good UI people because of this. I know what the response will be. The Scrum documentation says that people should not be rated on their story points.
The fact is that managers need metrics to do their reviews and metrics are hard to find, so if they are presented with an easy metric like story points, they will use it even if it is a very poor one. People will say that this is an abuse of Scrum. I say that Scrum is easily abused. I divide my projects up so that I can come up with a minimal deliverable as often as possible. The last thing I want is a piece of code which cannot be tested end to end until months later. All the cargo-cult stuff done in the name of Agile is like people claiming that democracy means making every single little thing in everyday life subject to a majority vote.
It seems that the methodologies discussed seem to favor many coding minions doing lots of quick turn around grunt work. These minions are just translating requirements or coding processes not really thinking about systems and solving problems. I wonder where the true Programmers of the future are coming from? Makes me worry about the security of our financial and health systems. Agile summarily eliminates best practices in software engineering, but claims to increas customer satisfaction and overall system reliability.
This is especially important when Agile is used for enterprise network services, where Agile is a complete disaster. That was the point I left as the lead developer, after 12years of delivering market leading software. This was a high touch, top right Gartner quad product that dies because of blindly following this Agile garbage. True to Agile, it died quickly less than 36 months. Nope if you want to be in the software business, you have two choices. Agile is evil corporations.
Sorry to hear that and I feel your pain as this was pretty much my experience too. No credibility was given to the decades it took me to develop and hone my skills and knowledge. And the product headed for the toilet. In the meanwhile I became a certified Scrum Master myself. Problem is not Scrum or Agile, its incomplete implementation.
Hope it was worth it. I am not against becoming a scrum master, but preaching the scrum gospel means you sold your soul. And I loved software development too much. I too am a Certified Scrum Master scrum. He made many of the same points you have. I consider this one of the top 5 books on sofware of all time, and would recommend it to anybody.
Perhaps you might want to think about why dysfunctional management in its various forms has always been the norm, rather than exceptional, in large impersonal human groups- be they corporations or nations. I tend to agree that the core problem resides in knowing why dysfunctional management has always been the norm in large organizations. Both points are true. As a manager I have to agree with this. I am tired on repeating other managers that the best kind of management is self-management, as they did at the Bell Labs while creating Unix.
And the manager just eases the information channels to make others easier to decide themselves. The opposite is wanting to managing all by yourself. Then you get responsable of every little problem that could happen, your mind blows up, and for sure you will get angry with the hole world because of been everyone all over you.
That is how psychopaths are made! Give a healthy person that kind of work, and soon you will have a tyrant.
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Let people decide themselves and you can just relax a little bit, because even if you die you know that everything will continue working. I prefer to help team members grow into independent proactive engineers. How to do this? In trying to improve they look towards and try to control the measurable output, many times to the detriment of those doing the work. Dysfunctional management is the norm because it is made within that environment itself, because a piramidal structure will always encourage focusing on reputation over in doing good work.
Or doing well just for the sake of doing well. Writing a functional, elegant piece of software because it is rewarding and pleasant and professional to do so. They care far less about merit than they do about being social animals. Agile never solved this problem nor did it intend to. So it was crushed by the social animal all the same. I could write another horror story on here about how the Agile transition was a vehicle for less qualified people to call the shots over more qualified people.
Or how those unqualified people were promoted. Or how the company hit the skids. The only environment that will suffice for intellectuals and true developers out there is unbridled autonomy even at the expense of pay. I see a lot of hate for a decent programming methodology with no offer of any better path. You hate waterfall and you hate agile. So am I to assume that anarchy is your preferred method?
Waterfall is mostly a strawman. I can verify that waterfall is actually how it was done. I have had most success with Agile. True waterfall would mean that once the requirements were written they could never change, once design is written, it can never change, etc. Requirements and design get modified or enhanced all the time. I just went through Agile Training barf. I worked for a company doing contract work for military avionics and it is in the contract.
Thou shall develop this software using waterfall methodology. Requirements are defined and locked down before a single line of code is written. All software is written to the requirements. That code is tested against the requirements. The code and test cycles continue until all requirements are met and all defects are eliminated. Indeed — but this are situations when risks are too big to proceed othewise. Only that such things will not be changed without an adult standing up and stating coherent reasons and be willing to take some heat for it.
Since programmers browbeat into being cogs was invented looooong before Scrum, such shifts rarely happened. Very Waterfall projects certainly did exist. Whether they were True Waterfall or True Scotsmen is really unimportant. Waterfall was never meant to be. Scrum was introduced to the public in , earlier than XP. XP was created as a superset of Scrum that added, among other things, engineering principles. Scrum is purposely sparse in respect to what it includes, making it broadly applicable.
XP is much richer, and hence less broadly applicable.
To do B, you must first do A; to do C you must first do B; etc etc. The biggest flaw is that while traditional software development projects and not Waterfall itself are managed by Project Managers, Agile and Scrum projects have abandoned PMs to get rid of all the seemingly unnecessary management administration, meetings, prioritization, planning, estimation, risk management ets etc.
One prof told me: What could be a working alternative? Odds are high that you are either a manager, scrum master, or a product owner — a super special snowflake. Strangely, I was recently thinking about how I want to work senior architect. Does this play to my best abilities? It was replaced later by the waterfall model, another equally dysfunctional model where I forgot the name, and lastly, agile. As evidence for why this works — all those companies which have kick ass software are lead by very competent software engineers, or at least people who have some programming background.
By lead I mean they have an engineering manager, CTO or whatever, at a high level. Agile has some good ideas, and some bad ideas, but the 1 problem is agile prescribes itself as the solution to anything and everything that ails you i. Replacing one management-methodology with another is maybe not the solution.
Never tried agile and have no interest. Seems like the project is setup for failure by letting the business team and developers run most of the show. What a terrible idea. Production releases are time suckers for everyone. Releasing often means those nits get fixed just as often, and ideally even the fix gets automated away. You make a valid point, and I agree that small, frequent releases are better than large, episodic ones. On the other hand, the team should be releasing and improving software constantly.
I tend to agree with you Clint. I was lucky to be on a well-run Agile Scrum team for a year and half. The team selected the work each sprint, and had autonomy on how to accomplish a story. I do wonder, based on this article, whether the team devolved into something more like the author describes. But it was successful and satisfying while I was there.
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I agree too with Clint. In our organization, we have an Agile approach from management down to the Application Developers. Management only needs to prioritize where the business gains value, and everyone is in agreement and buys into the deliverables. About evolving depending on what you mean by that the team cannot evolve forever. But I believe what you mean is deliver code faster and faster and in the deluded minds of managers better and better. Things do not work like that.
Agile is promoted by people that have 0 understanding of the complexity of software development. They talk big words using cliche lines like team work and such but have no idea what happens at factory level and what those words mean. Also it seems that all agile promoters, including you, cannot stop themselves of doing ad hominem attacks to the vast majority of developers that find Agile to be cancer.
Having x years experience does not impress or matter to me. What would bring more validity is specifying a software you brought significant contribution to. Of course since in Agile the tasks are split so much that none of the pieces is comprehensible having a meaningful contribution is almost impossible which is one of the reasons I hate it. About teaching software development I did that too for a while… is irrelevant. And I do not know to have all the answers to recognize a turd when I see it.
I never said I know everything or have all the answers but I can say with certainty Agile is crap and does not work. You do not need to be expert to realize something does not work. You need to be one to make something work, not see it does not. I think what most posters including myself mean by an experienced developer is a person who has a proven track record of solving complicated programs systematically. Having solutions that have a low problem incidence bug count and that are still in use and able to be modified after years of usage.
Solving increasingly complicated problems is analogous to growing in knowledge by taking and understanding increasingly complicated courses in college. I have seen young developers who I immediately knew had talent but what they needed was to add to that the years of actually doing and learning. Some of them were easily modified as new business models emerged. And yes, I had a couple of clusterfucks in the process.
It is also wrong for others to think they know how to do the engineering job better than engineers do. Any methodology will work well if managed by good managers. The true measure of any methodology is how well it works in the hands of mediocre or poor management. Scrum fails this test.
Mediocre or poor managers often see Scrum as a miracle cure to their problems and a way to micromanage the engineers. Some methodologies are better in certain business models. Other than that, a very well written and expressed post. A solution to all of our problems — free on the internet sarcasm mine. Passion and overtime trumped experience and logical thinking. You can use various tools all together: Perfection is not achieved when nothing cannot be added, but when nothing cannot be removed. If it does not deliver a clear value, discard it. You are better served with a 9 that takes 2h, than with a 10 that takes 10h.
Exactly the type of person who will never, ever get software development. Probably follow your buddies around from company to company too.
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Programmer Anarchy is actually a thing — http: Kanban is significantly better. I hated Scrum because of its lack of flexibility. It was a complete disaster and I had to leave the project. While Kanban is much more flexible and you can still handle if something in the project realization went wrong. Even if you, as a team leader, never worked with Kanban before, you can even implement it in an intuitive way. I found out that it gave much better results, much more happiness among developers and higher customer satisfaction. This is also Agile but that does not need to waste time in standing meetings, sprint plannings, sprint reviews and other bullshits.
My developers are not even aware I am applying Kanban. They just need to focus on their work, having enough time to think carefully about how to implement their features. They do not need to care: Also my job, no need for any Product Owner so that the customer as well also has nothing to do. Everything smooth, triple-win situation.
Whereas Scrum is like a Cultural Revolution for every part: By the way, I have always been told that Scrum is based on Agile Manifesto and its twelve principles. OK, let us take a look at it and show me, where it is written that we have to do stand-up meetings, estimations, sprint plannings, sprint reviews and such uselessly time wasting bullshit. I saw this nowhere! I think people will follow scrum tactics instinctively in a corporate war mode. Scrum just seems to describe what people do in a war mode. This articles reminded me of the days when I had a job at an agile software company.
Thinking about how I was treated under agile practices causes mild nausea quickly. Thanks for the article. As someone who is working in an agile team I have two points though: I can also see your point about career growth. I also like the idea of stand ups; so clearly there are parts of scrum that do work. Should we look for a hybrid? Or follow an entirely new process? Standups are one of the worst things about the whole process — EVERY single day you know you have a scheduled interruption at 10am.
I firmly believe borne out by experience that only those who have not coded for a living love standups and SCRUM. Hire a really good team of engineers and get the fuck out of the way — we are perfectly capable of designing for change. As an engineer, I never felt this to be a problem — nobody will go into technical detail, nor would it make sense to do so.
Not all the time, but on occasion. Why do you care what other team members are doing? If their projects interfere with yours, you will talk to them about it anyway, in smaller groups and in greater detail. Everyone throws in a few buzz words and nobody listens. Yet it postpones my actual start of the day to Sometimes, if people talk about what they are working at lunch breaks I notice that nobody has a clue what others or I are working on at all. How can you be sure that the work of other team members is not interfering? Who knows this and who coordinates? This is exactly the idea of an agile process: And please tell me: If it is not mentioned quickly, not in depth!
I very often experienced someone saying or said it myself: Would you prefer redundant code instead? And a once-per-day meeting is a great opportunity for this. Well, because not everyone works on whatever they come up with. Few tasks come from developers. There is a defined channel for incoming feature requests, bug reports, etc. These assignments are not random. Everyone has their fields of responsibilities and expertise. Out of 12 people there are never more than working on the same region of the whole blob of software.
And the people working on similar things as I have their desks around mine. In the rare case that my work may affects theirs, I know so and talk to them to before I do it. In Scrum, everything to be done comes as a story in the backlog. One of the main goals of Scrum is to spread knowledge among the team. This cannot be achieved, if everyone only works on the things he already knows. At the end, both people will have learnt something. I know that many companies strictly separate certain types of work from each other e. Are you that ignorant that you really do not want to know?
It is not meant to explain in depth what genius ideas every dev is currently implementing.
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I forgot to mention: If there are only 2 to 3 working on the same region, you have a small team! I lately had 12 devs in one scrum team working on one part of the big project. There were multiple Scrum teams working together. Then how about this: That way you can get problems solved without introducing a new layer of management specifically designed to solve the problem you introduced by creating the large team.
If you actually had 12 devs looking at or relying on the exact same lines of code, then either your system architecture was not modular enough or you just had too many people making decisions about the same logic. In either case, it sounds like your team was pretty inefficient. And that, my friend, is the point.
In my world, it is common that there are layers with one relying on the other.
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