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From Facilitator to Soup Master

December 27, 2011

A few weeks ago I was invited to drive an interesting workshop.

Around 30 people were put together in a big room with the objective of doing this Root Cause Analysis regarding their own behavior – we were trying to find out what’s missing for us to be more focused, committed and successful regarding our promises.

Unfortunately this invitation was not extended to teams, but then again, it would be a huge, probably uncontrollable crowd to facilitate. So we only had people considered to be managers and leaders (some both) of some departments.

It was of course an interesting workshop (as all are if you get managers inside – correction! I meant people).

Humans are strange creatures. I don’t want to talk about Avery’s responsibility ladder again, but it’s amazing how people get stuck on blaming and denial. Humans are super-creatures: all virtues come from within, all faults from the outside.

I don’t want to disclose any information I’ve heard. But of course I can disclose silly comments. I mean, if they’re silly, then it’s not information – it can even be helpful to mislead your competitors.

So, here we go – remember the focus of the workshop is: How to improve our commitment.

Now, imagine I’m there, you know me :), on stage, holding a pen waiting for info to add to the board (managers almost never standup to write- it’s part of their role description) and I start listening some comments as:

– This is because their estimations always fail

(I was there only to listen, but later I explained what estimation means, what facts means, what absolute values and relative values mean and, of course, what witchery also means).

– Backlog is the problem

(My fault here, I assumed everyone knew that a backlog is just a list, so the problem might be with whom does or works out the list, not the list itself… although lists may sometimes also be a problem…  Imagine Santa’s list… how does that little old fat bastard set his priorities? It overwhelms me).

Maybe they meant: Backbone is the problem. Cause sometimes Backbones are a pain in the…

– Lack of Sense of Urgency is due to Agile

Yes it is. As is the Global warming and my neighbor’s cat getting fat.

Back are the good old days when we had these 1 year loops, and this made it much easier to check we were stuck, getting late or loosing quality. With 1 year loops, commitment, focus and sense of urgency were way closer to our thoughts. Transparency was our middle name and responding to change our daily breakfast. Back in those days, we worked hard for 1 year, then we got to the delivery day and we could say: oh damn, we missed it. And that was it! We would only have to say it and think about it once a year… not this rubbish silliness of making us think about this every 3 weeks and TALKING about it every day… Stop that! Leave us alone freaks!

Nowadays we don’t have Sense of Urgency cause we spend it all during our iterations, rather than saving it for a grand finale!

– We should always deliver scope on time, and the solution for that is to work extra-time

Yes, and weekends too!

Or rather: YES! WEEKEND! (as Mr. Obama would say to his Administration, which by the way I don’t know and I don’t care. Mr. Obama, I’m not a terrorist I just write this silly blog about silly people like me, not you. You can send your snipers away, I’m not a bad person, just annoying… but I’ll change someday. Maybe)

And BTW, if we do this (work extra hours), we can also stop planning. Let’s just work. We can rest when we get old or die.

– Priority is equal to Urgency

This clearly shows how people manage work. And it’s not a compliment. It’s not the first time. Unfortunately, it will not be the last either, where I see people transforming Priorities in Urgency just to get their work on top – this happens mostly when you have teams working on more than one project at the time.

Rather then setting and agreeing priorities among managers/ Product Owners, what naughty people do is transform their requirements in Urgent items so they get to the top of the team’s workload. This totally ruins priorities but, above all, trust among people.

– We don’t have Sense of Urgency cause we lack control

Also true. People are like sheep. They need to be guarded by dogs, otherwise they won’t see the wolf coming. A good dog is needed to say: Hey sheep, there’s a wolf behind you chewing your butt, now it’s time for you to technically develop your sense of urgency. Go ahead, I give you my permission…oh… are you dead already? Bastard… stupid sheep never gets it right”

– Someone should be responsible for the work delivered by the team… maybe a team leader or a line manager

Or the Pope (Mr.Pope), or myself, or the janitor. Never, never never never, ever! The team.

–  Team Leader is the same as a manager

Yes. We just use the word Leader instead of Manager cause we want to look fashion.

Btw, we are thinking also about (we, the wording committee) to use CLEAN rather than LEAN.

Specially regarding “thinking”…we want you to have not a “Lean thinking” but rather a “clean Thinking”… That way your code and work will come out totally refactored and… Clean! Shinny, Smelly… Tasty… Cosy… Fluffy.

–  There are Successful Command & Control Managers, for example, Hitler

You won’t believe it, but it’s true: I did not comment this one.

Someone referring Hitler as a successful C&C manager deserves my silence.

(I kind of felt scared also, it’s a bit weird for me to think someone would refer Hitler as an example of management in a company environment). But then again, my opinion here, people believe in whatever, whomever, they want. And I don’t give a damn. That’s why the world is a funny place, full of strange creatures.

– Sense of responsibility is not a soft skill

(This was an answer to a question I made: “So, Is sense of Responsibility a Soft or Technical skill?”

So… my fault here again… I should never ask a question giving 2 options…

Then again, if Sense of Urgency is a technical skill we should provide certification and make more money.  OMG!  This is Totally, Blasting, Buzz-light-year Awesome!!!


Sense Of Urgency Professional certification aka SOUP. Get your SOUP Today!


SOUP 1.0 (beginner): you are now able to see that your code has a bug.

SOUP 2.0 (intermediate): you are now able to see your code has a bug and create a task for fixing it.

SOUP 3.0 (expert): you are now able to see your code has a bug, create a task for fixing and, BY YOURSELF, rollback your code and pick up that task.

Soup4.0 (trainer/coach): you can coach other’s to detect bugs. (Training material provided, Video-tutorial with coach in action and a T-shirt saying: I’M A SOUP MASTER)


So after this, during this, besides this, we had a pretty good workshop. And I realized these people had a problem in common: they all have been working for far too long in failed projects. So I came up with this model while listening to them. At the time I called it:  ”How to die in 7 failed projects – AKA 7 Feet under”.

I’ll post it later, you may find it interesting (or not) :) at least it was funny for me to come up with this.


Ah! Merry Xmas.



From → Agile, People

  1. awesome. love the SOUP certification. Where do I get that T-shirt?
    thanks, mate!

  2. Hurray for the soup master! Lol

    Great post my friend ;)
    I know a few soup masters, they just need official paper certificate to be issued. I can send you their cvs as well, LOL!!!

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  1. The 7 Feet Under model – losing good people « Scrumplicity

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