Category Archives: Uncategorized

Establish a Lean Startup in Your Corporation – New Comic Book in the works

Page #1 – Lean Comic

The world as we know it, is disrupted; entire industries are being violently shaken by powerful forces beyond their reckoning, wealth is redistributed and lines are drawn where once ocean waves merrily danced their afternoon whimsical pirouette; the evil conglomerate Gramazon has all but taken hold on the chicken food supply chain; the once flourishing Ross’s Hole Foods for the soul is tethering on the brink of annihilation. In a distant corner of the universe as we know it;

Ross, owner and long lasting heir since 1914, unemployed and down trotted, is staring intently into a bleak future; Patricia the garden earth worm is frolicking across the barn… But unbeknownst to them, a silent stir in the fabric of the feather is rolling the dice once again.


Join us weekly here as together we discover the world of Ross, Patricia and Owl as they embark upon a journey to rid themselves of Gramazon tyranny and save the family business; Along the way we learn of Lean Startup business practical enterprise implementation…


Looking for your feedback on the comic strip, logic, dialogue etc

Design Thinking and Agile – complimentary and powerful 

We’ll first describe what Design Thinking and Agile are for those who are less familiar with the terms, and discuss shortcomings of the two, then we’ll explain how combining the two provides the best of both worlds.
Design in its most effective form is a process, an action, a verb not a noun. A protocol for solving problems and discovering new opportunities.
Design thinking is strategy for product design that avoids the mistakes of extrapolating future customers wants based on past data or defining a strategy based on instinct instead of evidence.
In Design Thinking we shift the focus to human behavior.
Design thinking consists of five key elements: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test – read more here.
While Design Thinking provides a robust creative innovative process it doesn’t necessarily address actual product development limitations and requirements from an organizational perspective. Thus theoretically we can iterate through the 5 steps with little involvement from the engineering, product development and operational units. We might segregate and silo the design – 5 step process and end with a lengthy requirement document that feeds to a linear approach such as waterfall for the actual development. Otherwise we can view the Design Thinking process as a sequential process in itself and superimpose it on our existing development methodology, encumbering the creative innovative process with a procedural governing methodology. We end up with product iterations that are 9 months long which are detrimental to fast feedback loops.

Agile Development is an umbrella term for several iterative and incremental development processes that accelerate the delivery of initial business value. Through a process of continuous planning and feedback we are able to ensure that value is continuing to be maximized throughout the development process.  The most popular include Extreme Programming (XP), Scrum, Scaled Agile, Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Lean Development, and Feature-Driven Development (FDD). Agile methods are those that follow the Agile Manifesto and Agile principles. read more here:
While Agile provides a paradigm shift in how products are delivered, it doesn’t necessarily address the challenge of what to deliver. The product backlog which is a common artifact in many Agile processes is populated by an invisible process outside the product organization. Practically many Agile transformations do not address new product and strategy initiation at all. Thus we can be very efficient using an Agile process and yet remain ineffective.
It is not uncommon that users use less than 20-30% of the product features. See more here:
This results in 70-80% of the development effort being a waste. Imagine – for every 100 engineers we have in a company – 70 are doing wasteful work. Thus, being Agile might mean producing waste quicker.
Coupling of Agile and Design Thinking

Design Thinking with Agile – balance exploration and exploitation – searching and shipping
Design Thinking as a guiding process, a culture of innovation
Agile for rapid product development

Teach the business and design teams, the Agile concepts to enable effective product development
Teach product and development teams, Design Thinking to instill innovation and creativity

Project managers & Product owners are from Mars Quality managers from Mercury

Do you feel stuck when communicating with Project Managers, product owners and other action oriented individuals and getting your point across?

Here’s a handy model to help you

Action communication style and behavior

Is on the low responsive and high assertive scale, it is also known as the task or the driver-communication style in similar models. Individuals who are action oriented tend to be: pragmatic, direct, impatient, decisive, and energetic. This style is about getting things done through pushing, demanding and making clear what they want accomplished. These individuals will discuss results, objectives, performance, productivity, efficiency and moving ahead. They will emphasize responsibility, feedback, experience, challenges, achievements, change and decisions. They will be found in project management, mid-level management, IT, and manufacturing departments.

In order to influence and persuade individuals who are action oriented it is important to:

Focus on results;
State your best recommendation;
Be as brief as possible;
Emphasize the practicality of your ideas;
Use visual aids.
When communicating and influencing others, we use words that resonate with ourselves, however if Action style is not your preferred communication style, avoid using the words that impact you – since it is not yourself that you attempt to influence

View the free Slide deck here for more information about the styles:


Ifluence styles



Are You Aware ???? Secrets to Influence through Space

Silent Influencing

Are You Aware ????  Secrets to Influence through Space Changing Difficult Settings

There we go again, no raise. If only I knew how to get it right this time!

Jennifer – the client doesn’t agree to our terms – how can we influence him to sign the contract? Robert – there is no way the team will follow you – maybe you can show some leadership? Sounds familiar?

From the denizens of corporate cubicles to the ever distressed home business owner all the way to the supply chain, engineering, development, finance and marketing departments – knowing how to influence can greatly impact your results.

Let’s review for example the following scenario:

Let’s revisit the situation of a tough colleague, who assumes a hostile, close position and is unwilling to join, collaborate, open up, and so on. Realistically, we are not always able to change such a position. However, there are tools and techniques to silently influence this scenario.

When I encounter a negative closed attitude where there is no cooperation, I appreciate that there is little use in continuing the interaction. Often, it is futile to work against powerful resistance. The first thing I do is slow down, take a breath and observe the process. Breathing is a very important and often neglected remedy to overcome challenging scenarios. Awareness of a situation is heightened when we offer ourselves the possibility to take the time to notice our breathing. As we are focusing on our breathing, we magically loosen up and build our personal support, which increases our perception and option for viewing the situation with a new point of view and heightened empathy. This in turn, enhances our propensity for influence and leadership.

I might then ask an open-ended question. I avoid asking a yes/no question such as: “so do you agree with the proposed solution?” I also refrain from asking: “WHY don’t you agree?” WHY is a problematic word, as it carries a hint of blame to it and would intensify the conflict. I use softer framing with the word HOW, such as: “HOW would you suggest continuing now?” Or alternatively: “can you offer us your perspective?” And even: “I would like to receive your view on the solution.” By stating what I want, I lead by example and create an opportunity for others to do the same. Many decision making meetings are at an impasse, as everyone is doing what s/he thinks should be done rather than stating what s/he would like to achieve.

Sometimes, to overcome an impasse, I might carry out a shrewd move and offer the resisting colleague an object such as a pen, a document, a paper during the meeting to influence his/her chosen closed position physically. This can result in him/her opening his/her folded hands, or shifting forward in his/her chair. Also, my leaning forward toward him/her will create some physical response in him/her. The change in the outward behavior changes the inner attitudes, just as surface behaviors generally are a reflection of inner feelings.

To overcome an impasse, I might carry out a shrewd move and offer the resisting colleague an object such as a pen, a document, a paper during the meeting to influence his/her chosen closed position physically.

Silent Influencing Michael Nir Impass


Influencing Through Surrounding Space

Notice how you use the space around you!

  • An object on which you place your hands on, at is as though you claimed ownership for. Pay attention where your hands wander.
  • A meeting table is virtually divided into personal zones. These zones are maintained zealously. Make sure you aren’t crossing the lines.
  • Alternatively, it can also serve as an opportunity to move away from negotiation stalemates and conflict situations by reorganizing the physical setting as the meeting progresses and no decision is reached.

King Arthur knew about personal space and seating hierarchies and opted for a round table.

  • Sometimes, better decisions are reached away from the formal meeting table with the long rectangle heavy mahogany.
  • A low circular table in the lobby or sitting in a corner can yield better results.

Observe your personal office space;

  • Can you imagine how guests and colleagues feel there?
  • Experiment with changing the physical surrounding.
  • Change seating arrangements often to increase the opportunities for silently influencing.

Want to learn more about Silent Influencing? Silent Influencing – Employing Powerful Techniques for Influence and Leadership  available on Amazon Also in Print

Executives are asking the wrong questions

Context and perceptions

Reading the November 2013 issue of the Gazette as well as the great new book “Business Analysis – best practices for success” by Steve Blais, who is a colleague of mine, I couldn’t help feeling that we are looking under the lamppost: Project management is already a well understood and defined field of knowledge with accumulated experience and lessons learned. Business analysis is gaining more traction daily. In the business analysis workshops that I am leading, I witness a growing understanding of the text and context for the role of the business analyst. However, the pain we are experiencing with projects and products and specifically in the public sector, are not a result of poor project management or business analysis on the tactical level. Rather, it is portfolio and executive management that is at fault, asking the wrong questions concerning projects, programs and portfolios. Participating often in governance boards, I am surprised time and again that they are bothered with the trivial instead of the essence. Graphical displays, colorful reports, PowerPoint presentations of the ten highest risks, main issues and workarounds; they are interested in the ‘what’ and ‘how’ the projects are faring. Instead of asking ‘why’ governance boards betray their responsibility to question the further relevance of the projects. Indeed, the only time they do ask the ‘why’ question is during project initiation, this falls short of what governance is about. Asking: ‘why are we doing this project’ is the most important question that portfolio and executive management must ask.

Yes, I know it is a hard question to ask, but hey, that is what they get paid for. The prime benefit of governance is the capacity to cancel a project halfway through because it no longer provides value. According to the work of Eli Goldratt in Critical Chain Project Management and Professor Boaz Ronen’s research, among others, organizations can make more with less. Practically, when I am asked to help faltering project organizations (IT and others), my first perceptual cognitive exercise is to ask executive stakeholders to cancel 30% of the projects. The initial response is shock, followed by a long series of argument of why it is impossible. I explain that it is merely a theoretical exercise, which placates the participants and they follow to provide such a list. With it, we then assess the real strategic value of the projects. Surprisingly enough after three demanding days we do cancel approximately ~15% of the projects. In half a year we achieve much more, faster and cheaper.

Why can’t organizations perform this endeavor themselves? There are two causes to emphasizing the ‘what’ and ‘how’ instead of the ‘why’.

Political cause – asking the ‘why’ question is politically dangerous; it might lead others to question the original project approval. In addition, the budget and time which were already invested would become sunk costs – yet again, this will raise uneasy questions. In order to move from ‘what’ and ‘how’ to ‘why’, public sector and governmental organizations in particular need to change their mindset: stopping a project halfway through is a blessing – it demonstrates courage and forward thinking. In fact, we can define a KPI which tracks the number of projects that have been cancelled before completion as a method to promote this line of thinking.

Cognitive causes

Political causes are grounded in powerful cognitive bias and cognitive dissonance.

Decision commitment – as aptly described by Dr. Cialdini in the: Power of Persuasion, committing to a certain course of action promotes consistent support of it. People find it extremely difficult to revert on their formal public decisions, preferring to remain consistent rather than questioning those decisions. The project governance stakeholders have an underlying cognitive bias which leads them away from asking the tough question of ‘why are we doing this project’. Since they are the ones who approved the project, they are committed to following it through to completion.

Cognitive dissonance – recent studies in decision making show, that we are highly unlikely to question our initial decisions. We view newly gathered information, as supporting the original decision, even when new information contradicts it. In this case, since the portfolio and executive management approved the project initially, they find it extremely difficult to ask ‘why are we doing this project’ presented with new contradicting information. At time when information analysis suggests cancelling the project, people will pounce on it, disregard it or claim that it isn’t relevant to the situation.

From the causes detailed above we understand the challenges to cancelling an approved project. It is our mission as project and business experts to promote better results from project, program and portfolio execution. The best way to challenge a project is to be bold, asking the tough questions throughout the lifecycle of the project.

You can check: the Agile PMO – where I further discuss these concepts