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  • 08/30/2021 2:46 PM | Deleted user

    Dave Best, Technical Director, Mile Two

    “Minimum Viable Product,” or MVP, is a well-known acronym in the software and product development community. Eric Ries popularized this term in the book, The Lean Startup. He describes the MVP as:

    “[...] the minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort” (https://leanstartup.co/what-is-an-mvp/).

    That definition is reasonable, but the reality is more complicated. “MVP” has become a largely unhelpful term. In this article, I will present two ways that it is unhelpful and two mechanisms for mitigating those concerns.

    A Lack of Shared Understanding

    Shared understanding is one of the most valuable assets of a team, especially when moving quickly. It is inefficient and expensive if your team members are building too much or building the wrong things. The group may be well-aligned on the “what” you are developing, but the ambiguity of the MVP term creeps in around the edges. You may find yourself answering questions like:

         Do we need tests?

         That feature needs to be complete, but what about these related features?

         What sort of user load does this need to support?

         How, where, and which users will be using this MVP?

         Will this become production code? Really? (How many teams have been burned by this one?)

    I’ve seen the term MVP used as a stand-in for non-production work or as an excuse for bugs or poorly implemented features. This lack of shared understanding may not be a problem for the disciplined and experienced team, but I’ve repeatedly seen senior teams make poor assumptions.

    The Build Trap

    The second concern with MVP is the last word in the acronym - ‘product.’ Product implies a level of fidelity much higher than ‘experiment.’ The original definition and the Lean Startup book couch the MVP in terms of the scientific method. MVPs are experiments; they allow the team to test the output from a single cycle through the “Build, Measure, Learn” loop (read more about it here: http://theleanstartup.com/principles).

    Shipping a product can be uncomfortable work; I’ve seen many teams get bogged down in the details of their MVP; they are doing too much (or the wrong) work because, for many groups, building a product is less daunting than facing the customer.

    At Mile Two, we use a handful of terms alongside the stray MVP; experiment, design seed, prototype, mockups, etc. Our early “MVPs” for some projects were simple pen and paper or whiteboard exercises. Some relied on mockups designed in Adobe XD. When your business is developing software, you’re going to get some odd looks if you call your mockup drawn on a whiteboard your “MVP.” You’ll get fewer strange looks calling it a “Process Experiment.”

    Words Matter

    Fundamentally, my problem isn’t the term itself. It is a placeholder; shared understanding must support it to make it effective.

    Scales of Fidelity

    At Mile Two, we’ve been experimenting with using “fidelity scales” to better understand and communicate the level of effort to be invested in any endeavor. The categories that we use are in flux but include:

         Software Fidelity

         Design Artifact Fidelity

         Project Resilience

         Progress Alignment to Plan

    Our goal is to develop consensus around these levels so that every team (and team member) has a shared understanding of the work needed. An experiment that is (for example) a “3” on the software fidelity scale, regarding the level of testing, reliability, and roughly how long the team will work on the iteration.

    These metrics connect to the specific way that Mile Two works, but they are adaptable to the processes of other organizations.

    Embrace the Experiment

    One of the easiest ways to frame the work is to walk through the three parts of the “Build, Measure, Learn” loop backward:

         What one thing are you trying to learn?

         What can you measure so that you will learn what you need?

         What is the simplest thing you can build to measure what you need adequately?

    This framing can help you break out of the “build trap” where you over-engineer or over-develop your experiments. The “Build, Measure, Learn loop” is meant to be an iterative process; if you try to learn too many disparate things from an experiment, you can end up learning nothing at all.

    At Mile Two, we believe strongly in iterative development and co-creating the solution with our customers. We bring them into the process early and often; we get feedback on small experiments that advance our (and sometimes, our customer’s) understanding of the problem domain as frequently as possible.

    I’m always happy to talk about product development processes or how Mile Two can help you solve your complex problems. Feel free to send me an email at dbest@miletwo.us.


  • 08/30/2021 2:44 PM | Deleted user

    Mardi Humphreys, Change Agent, Integration Edge

    Why am I, a marketing aficionado, writing about developers? Because their scarcity is about to halt the pace of innovation here in Dayton, Ohio. You know, the birthplace of aviation, the cash register, and the pop-top beverage can? This situation could hurt Dayton’s brand, and that’s where I come in.

    So here we are, fully vaccinated and (somewhat) back in the office, but wait…where is everybody? Where did all the developers go? If they aren’t all WFH, (and research suggests that if you want them to work for you, you should let them work from home, but more on that later…) then they are probably being wined and dined by potential employers like Google, IBM, and Apple because good developers are hard to find. They are few, far between, and in demand right now.

    In 2019, the average time it took to fill a tech position was 66 days compared to taking 43 days to fill non-tech positions. When COVID-19 sent everyone home in 2020, and multitudes of businesses moved to e-commerce, the demand for developers went up exponentially. Here at the end of Q3 2021, businesses continue to rethink their strategies thanks to the lessons learned from the digital transformation thrust upon them last year. Plus, evidence suggests that there is no going back to the way things were pre-pandemic. Competition for talent is intense. Simply put, there are more open positions than developers to fill them.

    Why is there a shortage?

    Every employer is now a tech employer: retail, education, finance, healthcare, etc. Reading those industry categories, you can think of at least one name for each of them. Take retail for instance. Kroger not only offers a digital shopping experience, now they are testing drone delivery right in our backyards. Kroger has nearly half a million employees and plenty of them are developers since their digital business doubled in 2020, and they plan to do $20 billion in online sales by 2023.

    Lack of skills:The technology is evolving so fast (like Blockchain, Cybersecurity, and AI) and the necessary skills are so specialized (e.g., Chief Nursing Informatics Officer is a real job) that humans can neither learn fast enough, not get experience fast enough, nor interview fast enough to fill open positions.

    Lack of credentials:Our colleges and universities are playing catchup in offering the languages and internships necessary to work with the emerging technologies, and employers are looking for those college and university names on resumes. To fill open positions, more employers and job seekers are turning to bootcamps as avenues to quickly upskill workforce.

    If you want to be a developer, what should you learn?

    There are a few things you should be well versed in to stand out from the competition and attract a lucrative salary. Employers are looking for developers who are experts in Python; followed closely by JavaScript and Go. If you are looking for certification, CompTIA has paths that are widely accepted by employers and offered by local workforce development companies. Python is the most popular language to date and experience with machine learning is quick on its heels because you have to be able to make sense of all of that collected data. Being able to legitimately list Data Science on your resume is a plus. It’s a bit vague since it could mean anything from data analytics to software engineering, but if machine learning is on your resume, data science can be too. If you are not already certified in Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and/or Google Cloud, get certified. Everything is moving that way. It behooves you to be ahead of the wave. If you want to specialize, then experience in Cybersecurity, AI code testing, or IoT (especially as consumers gain access to 5G) will put you in a good position to get the role you want. But please remember, you also need soft skills like emotional intelligence, flexibility, continuous learning, strategic thinking, and habitual process improvement to thrive in a team environment.

    If you employ developers, how do you keep and attract talent?

    Be flexible: Remember earlier in this article when I said more on WFH later? Well, it’s later. Developers in the market for new positions are in the driver’s seat and plenty of them are driving home. Post-COVID-19, WFH is less of a perk and more of an assumption. Hey, if Microsoft can do it , so can you; particularly as it pertains to where, when, and for how long an employee works for your company. Giving employees options for working in the office, at home, or a combination of both, will help you compete for top talent. And flexibility has a wonderful side effect. It helps you with your DEI goals. Offering remote work attracts mothers, diffuses location bias, and ensures accessibility for the physically challenged.

    Communicate: Offer multiple communication channels to promote team bonding. Open a Slack channel for remote workers to discuss what Netflix shows they are currently bingeing as well as separate channels for teams to collaborate on their mutual projects. Smooth onboarding by assigning new hires an ambassador to help them navigate company culture, introduce them to colleagues, and answer questions. In your emails to the entire company, normalize asking for help and promote overcoming challenges together.

    Upskilling: Make continuous education for employees an item in the company budget. It should be a perk of working for you. Partner with local higher learning institutions and talk about emerging technologies, what you think you’ll need, and how you’d like to get your pipeline from them. They want to supply you with future employees as well as upskill your current workforce, you want a skilled workforce, and the workforce wants to, well, work. It’s a win-win-win that keeps everyone in the Tech Community in business.


  • 08/30/2021 2:29 PM | Deleted user

    Randy Hinders, IT Director, Mile Two


    What was your first job?

    Afternoon paper delivery route. This was great at teaching responsibilities and accountabilities. It’s a shame that these types of opportunities for teens are not as easily available today.

    What’s the best career advice you ever received?

    My dad told me as I joined the Army. Volunteer for everything. Sometimes you will get a crap job, and I did, and sometimes you will get an awesome assignment. Which I have. I raise my hand for those technical challenges that will push my understanding of a topic or business process so that I learn and grow. Sometimes they stink and might not be successful, other times they are wonderful experiences making lifelong friends in other areas of business that I would not have seen had I just stayed in my cube.

    What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders?

    First, remember that it is about your team and not you. If your team is successful, only then will you be successful. Second, know and be yourself. Do not try to be someone you aren’t but do bring on people who can and will fill in your shortcomings.


  • 08/30/2021 12:01 PM | Deleted user

    Aaron Davis, Recless Tech

    Your professional network holds the key to solve a work problem, sign a customer, or get that new job. A referral from a known person comes with more trust. It is engaged more quickly and creates a bias for the connection to be a success.

    I can no longer count how many times I’ve coached a technical professional through how to network with their contacts. Unfortunately, it’s often when someone is referred to me in an urgent job hunt situation - a contract ending, an unexpected termination, or work suddenly becomes unbearable. I always wish we had talked months prior.

    The best time to network is before it's needed!

    Make a List

    People get lost, and it’s hard to keep up with everyone that’s valuable to you. If your LinkedIn is too vast and messy (like mine), document who you want to keep up. Do they have a good reputation? Do you trust them? Do they respect you? Add them to your list. Salespeople and recruiters use CRM systems but staying in touch is valuable to all of us. There’s nothing wrong with having a list of valued connections and dating your last interaction with them so you don’t lose touch.

    Find Ways to Give

    The hardest part of any give-and-take relationship is finding ways to give. If you want your network to be ready to help when you need them, invest early. The people you need to stay connected with are not always the ones right in front of you. Old colleagues may not come to you first to solve a problem. You have to go out of your way to stay in touch.

    Everyone knows the value of connecting with influencers and decision makers. But people you can help are even more important. They will remember you, and many of them will be in positions to help you in the future. Giving generously is the master key to networking.

    Connect through Curiosity

    People won’t always remember the details of your last conversation with them. They will remember how they felt! Being heard is an important part of feeling good in any relationship but can be with a more introverted personality. Stay curious. Asking big questions like “How’s work?” or “How’s your family?” might be enough to get conversations going with some. Others are more to the point. You may have to probe to stay connected. It’s your network, so do the work of learning what’s important to them, and how you can help.

    Ask Directly for Help

    When the time comes, and it always does, be prepared to ask for help. People like to help their friends and colleagues. It’s satisfying to know you’re valuable. It scratches a life-purpose itch to improve someone else’s situation. And when you state it in a way that is clearly an ask for assistance, it gives your connection a chance to feel like your hero.

    Leave some room to decide exactly how they can help. If you communicate your goal, tell them what you’ve done to get there, and ask them how they can help, most people will want to come to your aid.

    I prefer:

    “I’d like to communicate directly with PersonA about XYZ. I don’t trust the portal. But I need help getting in touch with them. How could you help me?”

    Over:

    “Would you introduce me to PersonA with an email?”

    Adding a bit of problem solving to the ask can offer a feeling of appreciation for the idea on top of the connection.


    Aaron Davis is the founder and CEO of Recless Tech, an external referral platform that uses peer-to-peer sourcing to fill tough technology positions. He has previously served as the COO for a software services firm, the Talent Acquisition Director for a large health plan, and an Account Executive for a large tech staffing firm. Aaron is a Senior Professional of Human Resources, a Certified Scrum Master and holds an MBA from Wright State University.

    Aarondavis@reclesstech.com 

    937.672.4598


  • 08/26/2021 3:51 PM | Deleted user

    Mardi Humphreys, Change Agent, Integration Edge

    Last week we discussed how to retain your current employees during the Talent Tsunami. But despite your best efforts, it’s likely that some of them will still jump ship (cue Debbie Downer). From a financial perspective, hiring a new employee is an expensive process. You not only have to calculate salary, but also the cost of recruiting, training, and benefits. If you are a company of 0-500 people, this price could average $7645. How can you ensure you’re attracting trustworthy talent?

    Congruity Through Change

    It’s tempting to just increase the top of the salary range or offer a sign-on bonus and publish the “We’re Hiring!” post. But throwing money at the problem is not a long-term solution. The pandemic proved the workplace can function very differently than it’s been allowed to since the industrial age. This excited employees, but management not so much. COVID-19 fast-tracked the inevitable evolution of the way knowledge work gets done. Protocol that made factories run efficiently (e.g., all employees work five consecutive eight-hour days) are no longer in employees nor companies best interests here at the end of the digital revolution. If you make this an arbitrary rule, you risk losing out on valuable talent. Conversely, if you explore innovative alternatives for running your business, then you keep your company’s vision intact by taking advantage of modern methods to manifest it. For example: How many processes can you automate? Can you employ subcontractors? Can you upskill high-value individual contributors? Concepts like remote working and unlimited PTO that your company deemed impractical before COVID-19 are now your competitors’ widely advertised company perks. Ponder how implementing such changes may impact your business. A company that helps its workforce navigate work-life integration attracts employees who want to make that company thrive. Be a company that allows employees autonomy to get their projects done, advance in their career and life, and affiliate with both their coworkers and company. Prioritize being a great place to work; a place where employees are valued as human beings. When you do, that becomes part of your brand. In short order, you have an inspiring story to tell everyone and you will attract a workforce excited to invest in the company’s success.

    Not Your First Rodeo

    You’ve been short-handed before, so now is not the time to panic. Employment is a long-term prospect. You need to discern whether a new hire will be a loyal member of your team or if they are just riding a Talent Tsunami wave. Be as selective in choosing whom to add to your staff now as you were pre-pandemic. When hiring, consider: 

    • Why are they changing jobs?
    • Did COVID-19 cause them to be laid off or furloughed?
    • What did they learn during the pandemic that will help them succeed in this role?
    • Are they looking for more purpose in their work?
    • What specifically drew them to your company?
    • Did someone you trust from your network connect you to this talent prospect?
    • Do they seem excited to meet with you?
    • Did they tailor their resume to the open position?
    • Did they ask you good questions about both the company and the job?

    This power shift to job seekers won’t last forever. You’ll likely have the same pre-pandemic issues (e.g., finding employees with specific skills) you always had, but if you refresh your policies to create more win-win working conditions, you’ll attract quality talent.

    What makes your organization attractive to talent?


  • 08/18/2021 11:31 AM | Deleted user

    Mardi Humphreys, Change Agent, Integration Edge

    You kept your business solvent during the pandemic. Now vaccines are available and buildings are reopening. Both you and your workforce are deciding where to go from here. Pivots like switching the product you manufacture (e.g., making hand sanitizer instead of bourbon) or shifting your employees to working from home has not only burned everyone out, but also revealed work-life integration paradigm shifts. You need to both retain your current workforce and attract new employees, but how? This week, let’s focus on keeping the folks you have.

    Pivot Again

    You regularly adapt your business to market conditions. This shift in the balance of power is a condition more abrupt than most, but it offers you a gift. It forces you to look at your mission, vision, values, policies, and procedures and sift them through the filter of The Platinum Rule. For example, employees hear the siren call of flexibility and autonomy in their jobs. Are your company’s paid time off policies amenable to employees with caregiving duties to young children, aging parents, chronically ill partners, etc.? If not, then it behooves you to reevaluate those policies. If your employees are being washed away by the Talent Tsunami, then you need to take a long, hard look at your company’s culture, protocols, and development paths. If your workforce was happy before the pandemic, then they would not be so tempted to leave now. You will be wise to shift your mindset to focus more on taking care of your employees and repeatedly communicating that commitment. People want to work in an environment where they feel valued. If your company has a vision the workforce can believe in, you coach them to share it, and demonstrate how their jobs are integral to realizing it, then employees get invested in meeting the company’s goals and want to stick around.

    Engagement Brings Retention

    The inconvenient truth is it’s cheaper to keep an employee than to hire a new one. If you don’t know what your employees need to achieve work-life integration, or to feel appreciated, now is the time to ask and actively listen to their answers. Individual contributors who feel they belong and have purpose are less likely to burn out. How do you know if your employees are burned out? Ask them. Company-wide email surveys are easy to create, send, and compile results. You can ask questions like: How do you think the company handled pivoting during COVID-19? How many days a week do you want to WFH? If the company reimburses you for upskilling, will you agree to work for us for a year? The answers will give you data that will not only help you to assess the risk of employees leaving, but also reveal what you can do to keep the good ones.

    “Bye” the Way

    Unless employees signed a contract saying they’d do one, they are not obligated to give exit interviews. A smart employee will not grant one if they don’t have anything nice to say. An exit interview is more of a benefit to you than to them. It’s an exiting employee’s gift of feedback to you. If the resigning employee grants one, stick to questions that will help you retain other employees. For example: What could the company have done to make it easier for your team to communicate with each other?

    What are you doing to encourage your employees to join you in making your business succeed?


  • 08/18/2021 11:13 AM | Deleted user

    Project Management Institute - Dayton Miami Valley Ohio >> Submit Your Proposal!

    Our goal is to curate outstanding content for our 2021 Virtual Summit. We are seeking engaging speakers for our 1-day Conference on October 29, 2021. If you are willing to share your expertise with our PM community, complete the speaker form below. The email address you provide in the form will be the main method of contact throughout this process.

    With the focus on our theme "Change can be Scary", our ideal speaker is:

    • Experienced, engaging, and comfortable speaking in front of groups.
    • Passionate about sharing expertise on topics such as leadership, program/project management, business strategy, work-life balance, and change management.
    • Willing to partner with PMI’s Southwest Ohio and Dayton/Miami Valley Chapters to provide the best possible experience for our attendees.
    • Speakers should tell the story based on experience and be candid about outcomes, lessons learned, and techniques. Please “Think TED talk not Lecture Hall.”

    Please submit your information via the speaker form today!


  • 08/11/2021 1:12 PM | Deleted user

    Mardi Humphreys, Change Agent, Integration Edge

    The pandemic made us take a hard look at our priorities. What is now most important to you? In terms of your job, if you were able to pivot (e.g., a restaurant moving from fine-dining in person to at home delivery) or to transition to WFH (e.g., software developing), you’re grateful to have found a way to continue making a living. But now that we’ve moved into COVID-19’s phase of vaccines and variants, do you want to keep this up?

    What Do You Want?

    It’s time to decide what aspects of the working-under-quarantine conditions you want to maintain. Has the way you had to work made you want a different job, maybe even a different career path? If so, you have loads of company. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 3.6 million Americans quit their jobs in May 2021. But before you start searching for a new situation, get clear on why you want to leave your current one. If you’re running away from this job instead of running to another one, your discontent is likely to follow you. Ask yourself:

    • Am I burned out?
    • Did the pandemic reveal a side of my company’s culture that I can’t support?
    • Were my manager’s expectations unreasonable?
    • Did I discover a remote position would be best for work-life integration? 

    During the work day, when you feel frustrated or stressed, write down what you’re working on or what’s happening. Is it a project, person, and/or PTO? The answers will help you define your non-starters when considering your next role. 

    Defining what you don’t want narrows your choices down to what you do want. Compensation (salary, PTO, insurance, retirement benefits), location, culture, and leadership development are all obvious details you need to consider. But also ask yourself:

    • What does your perfect job look like?
    • Where are you doing it?
    • When are you doing it?
    • Who are you doing it with?
    • Why are you doing it?
    • How are you doing it? 

    What values do the answers to these questions reveal (e.g., freedom, culture, growth)? Rank them in order of importance. For one work week, notice what you are doing when you lose track of time as well as what you are doing when time seems to drag. Write these down and analyze them. While looking for a new position, search for one that allows you to do more of the work you enjoy.

    How Do You Get It?

    Once you figure out what you want, make a list of companies whose mission, vision, and values match yours. LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Business Journals regularly identify great companies to work for. Target people in these companies you can reach out to for informational interviews. Notify your network that you are looking for a new role. Ask them not only for introductions to hiring managers you want to meet, but also ask how you can help connect them to the decision makers they want to meet. It’s tempting to apply for every job that looks like fun, thinking that eventually one will take, but that’s actually a time waster. It’s more effective to invest your time building relationships with your network. Insiders know a position is available before it gets publicly posted. A good rule of thumb is to network with five people for every one job application you submit.

    Are you thinking about a new position? What are you looking for in a company? 


  • 08/02/2021 7:15 PM | Deleted user

    Mardi Humphreys, Change Agent, Integration Edge

    The number of posts from my LinkedIn connections announcing their new positions increases every day. Have you noticed it too? The Talent Tsunami is soaking us. Is it tempting you to find a new gig? Even now a job search can still be long, arduous, and uncertain. How can you tell when it’s time to move on?

    In my role as a Change Agent, I ask questions so my clients can visualize both where they are and where they want to be. Next week, we’ll discuss how to figure out where you want to be. But first, here are questions to help you determine whether or not your current employment situation is still worth your T.E.A.M.

    Your Body

    Stress can physically manifest itself. Do you have headaches, nausea, and/or heart palpitations when you’re getting ready for work, at work, or just thinking about work? If so, your subconscious is trying to get your attention.

    Your Mind

    If your talents aren’t being tapped, you’ll get frustrated and, eventually, resentful.

    • Do your skills match the work you’re doing?
    • Are you unhappy the majority of the time you’re working?
    • Are you spending more time on social media than your work?
    • Are you watching the clock hoping time will speed up so you can leave?
    • Do you experience Sunday Scaries? 
    • Are you looking at job postings and daydreaming about them?
    • Are you no longer proud of the work you’re doing?
    • Are you lowering your standards?
    • Do you hear yourself say, “It’s just a job?"
    • Have you lost your passion for the work?
    • Do you see your work as challenges or problems?
    • Careless mistakes (e.g., frequent typos, forgetting scheduled meetings) happen, but too many too often indicates that you’re disengaged from the work. Are you making too many glaring errors?

    Your Environment

    You can try to influence your environment, but the only actions you can control are your own.

    • Is the environment toxic?
    • Is the culture (e.g., you want to WFH and the company insists you spend the entire week at the office) not a good fit for you?
    • Is the company restructuring?
    • Are there rumors of outsourcing your department or selling the company?
    • Are you chronically understaffed?

    Your Development

    • Has the novelty of being the SME worn off?
    • Are you tired of being the trainer and never the one learning something new?
    • Does your employer provide company time and money for upskilling?
    • Is advancement possible?
    • In order for you to move up, does someone have to leave?
    • Can you have a transparent conversation with your manager to find out if what you’re looking for can be attained within the company?
    • Have you taken on more responsibility and the effort has yet to be acknowledged?
    • Have you asked for a promotion at multiple performance reviews and even after completing the tasks your manager told you would result in advancement, they tell you that you’re still not qualified yet?
    • Are you no longer getting highly visible assignments?

    Your Relationships

    • How do you get along with your manager?
    • Does your manager habitually give you instructions and refuse to hear your insight?
    • Does your manager refuse to negotiate benefits or discuss salary?
    • Are conversations with friends and family dominated by complaints about your job?

    When you evaluate whether or not your current employment is worth your T.E.A.M., what criteria do you use?



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