I have chosen to write about From Push to Pull because I think it’s one of the most important as well as difficult shifts to make in an organisation. You can find signs of a push culture in many areas and on many different levels: that’s why I think it’s critical to start change here.
Basically, it’s only about whether you assign tasks to people or let them pick up work when they’re ready. Can’t be that difficult or important, right?
Well, I think it defines the workplace. Here are some typical characteristics in different areas.
Meetings vs “Slack” Time
To start with something very common in large companies: the meeting obsession. Having calendars super-full of important meetings back-to-back makes everyone feel busy: but how much value is really added? Plus, a full calendar creates a lot of stress to most people. And stress eats positive energy.
You need “slack” to work on improvements and innovation, to focus on the most important tasks and to give good leadership.
Find a way to create this slack time. You can block your calendar or try a standard diary, that is plan your time to make room for what really matters every day.
Ownership means defining your important products and collaborating in the best way to maintain and develop them. Let small autonomous teams focus on each product. This includes moving away from short-term projects with unrealistic business cases, handovers, and (too often) poor quality as a result.
The project plan is one of the best examples of a push artefact and the project manager, although with best intentions, the push ambassador.
Product doesn’t always fit: in the enterprise it’s about owning the capabilities needed for your business: invest and organise in the best way to support business development.
Performance Development Plans
Then we have the performance development plans, another possibly counter-productive tool. Many individual goals are defined in a way so that they push work on other people. This will create tension if not conflict.
Instead define vision and goals together: identify the key improvement areas, work on the system. Be transparent, share and visualise goals.
Limit work in progress – on all levels
It’s not only about software development. It encompasses all initiatives, all projects and activities running in parallel. We just try to do too much at the same time, with the same people. Collaborate and focus to finish what’s already in process, then, start the next thing.
The Planning Fallacy: plans and forecasts are unrealistically close to best-case scenarios, they overestimate benefits and underestimate costs
Quality and Software Craftsmanship
How easy it is to change a product is one indicator of the level of software craftsmanship. Poor quality in the foundation and a large technical debt will ruin flow and eat up capacity, and cause a lot of push on teams.
Good software craftsmanship means building an adaptive and sustainable platform, and continuously improving it to support business in the best way.
Finally, I would say you need a climate of trust in the organisation, at all levels. Because moving to a pull culture is also about trusting people to do the right thing.