What I Think When Your Website Is “Down for Maintenance”

We have two dogs at home, one of whom is “microchipped” in case she wanders off or we lose her. We pay $18 a year to a company to keep our dog’s information available to whomever finds her. This year’s renewal notice came in the mail and it indicated there was an online renewal option available. So I toddled over to the website, entered the microchip number, and… no record found. Hmmm. Maybe I fat fingered it. I entered it again and… no record found. So I called the customer service number and spoke to a rep. I told him I was trying to renew the account for my dog, but the website wasn’t bringing up her record. His response was, “Oh, yeah. Our website is down for maintenance. I use the same website so I can’t take payment from you right now, either. Could you try again tomorrow?” Hmmm, again. I was really surprised this company would schedule a website maintenance window in the middle of the day and it would be so significant they couldn’t even take payment from a customer. Who does that??? It left me thinking about the company and what else I could infer about them just based on this one experience, especially about their IT practices.
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Good Coach, Bad Coach: What does a good Agile coach do?

I’ve heard a lot of horror stories from people about engagements with so-called Agile coaches. They want their teams to perform better and, from what they’ve learned and heard, they believe Agile is a way to address that. So they spend a bunch of money on individuals claiming to be Agile coaches hoping to find Agile goodness, but they end up just being frustrated and a little poorer. Even worse, their teams get frustrated, too, and sometimes the whole Agile transformation is put at risk because of the bad experience.

So what does a good Agile coach do?
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6 Principles for Consulting Teams

I’ve worked on a lot of consulting teams over my career. Many of them have been mixed teams including our employees, other contractors, and even client staff. Everyone comes with different backgrounds, perspectives, and personalities and it’s important to get everyone on the team pulling in the same direction to get the best results. You’ve probably remember times when a team wasn’t clicking either within itself or with the client. It’s not fun. It’s feels bumpy. It takes effort. It’s draining. And you feel things could be so much better.

One tool I’ve used to orient teams and get alignment is a set of team operating principles. These principles aren’t rules, per se — they define the basics for our attitudes and outlook and guide our actions. I’d much rather have a few principles that can be applied by intelligent, well-meaning people in a variety of situations than a ton of rules covering every conceivable situation.
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