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    Praveen Thomas
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  1. John Kotter who was a Harvard Business School professor, had developed Kotter’s 8 steps which helps in executing change management effectively within organizations Kotter's 8-Step Change Model · Step One: Create Urgency - people involved need to understand the importance and urgency · Step Two: Form a Powerful Coalition - choose people who can help in bringing out the change · Step Three: Create a Vision for Change - A vision with key values and objective need to be derived · Step Four: Communicate the Vision - Vision and objectives need to communicate properly and clearly to all levels of organization · Step Five: Remove Obstacles - Removing obstacles at various levels to ensure change is carried out without issues · Step Six: Create Short-Term Wins - Short term goals need to be derived which help in keeping the team motivated when team achieve them · Step Seven: Build on the Change - Its important to keep changing and not to lose focus · Step Eight: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture - Leadership must initiate this, by constantly reinforcing the new expectations Now lets see how Kotter’s 8 steps can be blended into the DMAIC framework. SixSigma blackbelts use quality management tools to define, measure, analyze, improve and control processes. Using change management techniques by Kotter, they can facilitate and manage organizational change by explaining to project team members how it makes sense by changing processes to enhance. Threats and obstacles to implementing the proposed changes are unearthed here. Six Sigma Black Belts lead these initiatives, with support from stakeholders, key team members, sponsors. Process improvements should need to tangible benefits, accordingly, the leaders can build the team and which generates the momentum needed to evolve and alter . Six Sigma initiative that is successful, spreads throughout the entire company. Each department establishes and finalizes its own process improvement goals. Leaders then consolidate these goals to finalize the company's vision. Each project team identify their own goals and motivated team members embrace the vision and plan working towards it. A uniform message is communicated to everyone through presentations, email message, newsletter etc. Vision should be clear at all levels and simple. Complicated vision make people lose interest or interpret it incorrectly. Along with Project goals, personal development goals also need to be aligned while using Kotter’s change management steps to enhance Six Sigma results. When every employee makes process improvement a part of his development plan, things like error reduction, waste elimination and improve customer satisfaction also gets embedded. Rewards and recognition are also key here. This makes sure employees remain motivated. Short-term wins need to be celebrated, changes through improvements should be made a part of company review meetings, newsletters and award ceremonies.
  2. Code refactoring is the process of restructuring the existing code – structure, content, design etc without having any changes to its functionality/behaviour. Code refactoring is done to make the code simpler – reduce complexity in terms of the logic used, cleaner, better readable, maintainable and efficient which would also help in improving the performance. In agile where the focus is on smaller continuous iterations it is paramount to have code refactoring which will ensure the code quality is improved continuously through modifications Certain things have to be kept in mind while refactoring code. · Refactored code needs to be testable and should be tested appropriately before changing · Refactoring should be done in an incremental manner · It needs to be done by breaking down the code in smaller chunks, refactoring should be small Refactoring is essential and it has to happen. However if you want to avoid refactoring altogether, following steps could help but is very difficult. · Coding the perfect way: though this might be absurd but the perfect code might be the first thing that can help you from not having to refactor later · Sufficient testing : Sufficiently testing the code when you write it initially can avoid refactoring to an extend · Simple logic : Code logic can be written in simple or complex logic. It is always better to stick to simple terms while coding which will help in understanding it better for anyone referring and would help in avoiding any refactoring need arising due to code complexity
  3. Visual Control is a business management/lean technique where we use visuals to convey an information than written, oral or other communication modes. This is one of the easier mode to convey as the information is clear and user understands it better since they can visualize. This technique helps in increasing the efficiency and effectiveness by providing visibility to the steps to be executed. Visual controls allow us to speak without words and share information without interrupting. It helps to urge everyone working together by providing a transparent understanding of what's required at that time. Visual controls contribute to the management of each process during a way that individuals alone aren't ready to do, by showing where discrepancies occur. This technique is universal and can be used anywhere irrespective of industry – manufacturing, software or nature of work
  4. The functionality customer requires is described as simple, clear and short. This is user story. A user story has to meet INVEST guidelines. INVEST is the short form of the keyword that would help us in writing user stories Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimatable, Small, and Testable Independent : Features of user stories selected should preferably be independent from each other. This will avoid prioritization issues later Negotiable : User story should be simple, clear and short. It shouldn’t be a detailed description Valuable : A user story which adds no value should be deprioritized or even eliminated Estimatable : Story should be written such that the people referring it especially developers would understand and get and idea on the implementation of it. A story being estimable is important as it helps in prioritization. Eg a story with high value but estimated long time for development may not be high on priority. Testable : Any story should have an acceptance criteria and should be testable. The criteria should be objective and have a definitive value that a subjective description In my opinion, keeping the story independent everytime is the most challenging guideline. The stories could have a dependency on the other in real life. Eg: If you are testing to check the steering functionality in a car. This cannot be a standalone functionality check as it is important to see if this has impact on other features say break, clutch, gear etc. Likewise the user stories may not be independent everytime, it could have a very strong relation to another story. So the most challenging seems to the Independent guideline.
  5. Human Centred design is a providing a creative aspect or approach to problem solving. This is aimed at innovating with a human centred approach. There can be different approaches to problem solving, the way human centred design differs is that it has its focus on understanding the perspective of the person who experiences a problem, what they need, and whether the solution them is meeting the needs succesfully. This mainly has 5 key phases Empathize : Understanding the problem before designing Define : Defining the current process which will help in understanding better Ideate : Brainstorming to identify possible solutions for the problem in hand Prototype : This is the POC or sample of how the solution would look like Test and Iterate : The shortlisted idea/prototype to be tested and validated through multiple iterations Human-centered methods are advanced in problem solving and provide the following benefits · increase productivity and operational efficiency · easy to understand which helps in reducing training/support costs · increases accessibility · improves user experience · reduces discomfort/stress · provides competitive advantage You can find numerous examples in real life. Lets look at one. Inverted bottle design for shampoos : While using shampoos its difficult to get the last few drops from the bottle, that is when the companies had decided to give it a thought through human centred methods and came up with the inverted design. This new design ensures even the last drop also comes out as the bottle is kept inverted at all times through the design. Same applies for Ketchup as well.
  6. McClelland theory of needs advocates that every person is driven by 3 needs which are Achievement, Power and Affiliation. This is not inherent but shaped over time through culture and experiences in life. This was put forward by Psychologist David McClelland and he suggests this is useful to understand from a managerial context. Need for Achievement : This is the urge to achieve certain things in whatever you do. Such people avoid both low risk and high risk situations. These people are generally individual contributors and do not value financial gains much as compared to the achievement they look for. Need for Power: This is the desire to have control and authority over another person to influence their decision in accordance with his/her need or desire. Most strong leaders fall into this category Need for Affiliation: This is the desire to build interpersonal relations/socializing with others. They want to maintain a healthy relationship with anyone who they interact with and always want to be loved and accepted everywhere. Now lets see how this can be used by a project leader for team management. Based on the personal traits, the leader can assign people accordingly who can encourage and urge people, take charge of deliverables etc. This could be a person who is driven by the need of power. As per who has the need for affiliation can be entrusted to maintain harmony and resolved conflicts within a team. This can be analysed from past actions of the team members. It is important to keep the resources motivated so as a manager its important to know that so that resources can be offered the tasks/responsibilities based on their needs. These analysis could be considered while setting up goals, targets for the individual, designing the learning plan etc
  7. Earned Value (EV) is a technique which helps to measure project performance and progress wrt the plan in plan. This will help in assess the performance on schedule, cost and scope. EV is calculated by multiplying %completion of each task by its planned value. It is advised not to wait till the completion of a project to compute EV as the identified risks or challenges identified through the process may become inconsequential if you do not have sufficient time to make necessary modifications EV = % work completed * Budget For Eg: if the project in scope has to deliver 500 features of a product and the total project budget is INR 5,00,000 and currently the project has delivered 300 features then Work completed = 300/500 = 60% Budget = 500000 Then EV = Rs 300000 Earned Value though a powerful technique to assess performance, may not hold good in certain scenarios. They are as below · EV is based on the % completion, in cases where the completed % cannot be computed logically, EV may not be valid · Again EV doesn’t take complexity into consideration. In the example quoted above, the pending features could take much time than before based on the complex logic involved or could even be simpler · EV has a huge dependency on a structured plan. In cases where the project plan is not extensive or volatile and keep changes then EV calculation will not be meaningful · EV numbers may not give the full picture and the situation on ground should also be considered. The data reported without contextual awareness could result in wrong analysis
  8. 3 point estimate is an estimation technique which is used to predict the outcome of future events by constructing an approximate probability distribution based on limited information. The distribution used could be normal distribution or triangular distribution. Like the name suggests, three figures as produced. a à best-case estimate : amount of work if the task is performed the best way. It is assumed that no impediments occur and everything is going smooth m à the most likely estimate : avg amt of work the task might take if performed it in most realistic way by the team member b àthe worst-case estimate : amount of work if the task is performed the worst way Estimate, E = (a + m + b) / 3 PERT or Program Evaluation and Review Technique is similar to the 3 point estimate technique only that it emphasises more on the most likely estimate. Estimate, E = (a + 4*m + b) / 3 For Activity A: a = 10 hours , m = 20 hours , b = 30 hours Three point E = (10 + 20 + 30 ) / 3 E = 60 / 3 E = 20 hours PERT: E = (10 + 4(20) + 30) / 6 E = 120/6 E = 20 hours In this example, we do not see much of the difference if estimated using any of the techniques but could significantly vary in other scenarios The Standard Deviation is a measure of variability from the mean and is defined as (b-a)/6 so in the example above S.D = (30-10 )/6 = 20/6 = 3.33 hours The PERT method takes probabilities of value ranges into account. This is very useful if the probability varies largely that is if the difference between best case and worst case estimates is significantly deviating among different activities.
  9. Bodystorming is a technique used in creative thinking where you act as if a product exits in real life physically to envision a solution. This technique can be used to design physical products or software Body storming is usually performed with a limited count of participants as the complexity and time go up with more people involved. This is like empathizing – like the person thinks as to what its like to be in the shoes of the customer/user. The person subjects to the same condition as what a user might face which help in designing or refining the design for better use. When designing the interaction of a physical product, or someone’s in-person experience in a dedicated space, it’s important to understand the relationship between the product, user, and the space. If the product is used in multiple context/ environment, or the environment is some place you don’t spend more than an hour a week this technique is especially very helpful. For example : if you are designing a device for the blind, the creator or person who is subjected to bodystorming is ensured to be blind folded so that he will face exactly the same situation as that of the person who the device/solution in intended for. The findings or observations received during the bodystorming technique is then used to improve the prototype which is again tested and goes through the same bodystorming technique
  10. Card sorting is a technique/method used to organize information into logical groups with labels. Though this is majorly used for structuring website navigation and structure, this can be applied to other areas too. It could be done using actual cards, on paper or online card sorting tools. User sorts the cards into the categories that make the most sense to him/her. Card sorting helps you provide a two-level hierarchy: a category, and its sub-components. It is illustrated through the following diagram There are different types of card sorting methods 1. Open card sorting : Users are asked to organise cards into groups which is preferred by them. They're then asked to call each of the groups and then create a label that best describes that group. This method is usually used for new/existing information architectures or organising products on a site or when beginning to create a replacement IA from scratch 2. Closed card sorting : Users are provided with both the content cards and the category cards and asked to put the cards in the provided categories. This method is mostly used while enhancing an existing site with new content or as a further analysis after open card sorting 3. Remote card sorting : In this session, a user will work independently via their computers and sort the cards which are provided through an online tool. There are a variety of online software tool options available in the market today that permit you to line up and distribute to as many users as you need for the test 4. Face to Face sorting : As the name suggests, these sessions are in person. Users are provided with a set of cards and they can think through and provide reasons behind their decisions. Once data are collected in the types mentioned above, data is analysed for identifying any trends. It is done using cluster analysis software or in a spreadsheet in case sample size is small. Advantages : Easy and cheap : Studies are simple and cheap Quick to Execute : Sorting can be done very quickly to yield valuable data in no time Established : This is an established technique used for a long time Involves users : Provides a good insight to the users and get them involved Disadvantages : Time consuming : In case results are complex, analysing the results can be time consuming since techniques used are simple Varied results : Results could vary depending on the users chosen for analysis May not be deep : It could give analysis only at the surface and may not give deeper insights Now lets see how this differs from Affinity Diagram An Affinity Diagram is very similar and is a tool which gathers large amounts of language data (opinions, issues, ideas) and then organize them into groups based on their natural relationships This process involves a group or team of people , unlike card sorting, wherein you'll either have single individuals or group them together. This works majorly by collaborating the creativity and intuition that a team possesses. The ideas and insights of different people who have a better idea of the issue is combined in this process . It is always recommended to combine a group say six or seven users while performing affinity diagram process. Major differences between Card sorting and Affinity Diagram 1. Affinity diagram aims at organizing the content and generate a discussion whereas Card sorting is aimed at organizing content only 2. Card sorting is done when data is limited, affinity diagram comes handy when the data is large and has complex logic 3. Card sorting would give individual analysis output which could vary when looked in a group where Affinity diagram gives a consensus result from a group which ensures results could be accepted to most
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