A common accepted rating gives people a voice, a vote and a clear message what needs to be done. That works for agile teams as well for other teams and in general for communication.
Agile teams are at the end of a chain in a development process and after the Review at beginning. They should only do what they are convinced of, because the chance for success is higher. The produced result of the agile Team is the beginning of the new Iteration.
A voice, a vote, a message and of course a rating must be fast, to be used in an agile environment.
A rating is a necessary condition for a decision. Before every action, there is a decision and before every decision, there is an evaluation. In this state of discussion, it is unimportant whether these steps are taken consciously or not accessible to consciousness.
Figure01 – Rating – Decision – Action – Effect
Humans have two decision-making systems
Humans have two Decision-Making systems, the Emotion System and the Cognition System. Daniel Kahnemann uses a similar concept for the cognitive biases and call them System1 and System2
Figure02 – Two decision Systems
Two human decision systems create different decisions
The Emotion System creates a decision, called the intuition or the gut feeling, after 350 milliseconds. This intuition is fast (350 ms), effortless, works always, is clear but is not accessible to the consciousness.
The cognition system creates in interaction with the emotion system a conscious decision. This process takes at least 550 milliseconds and when thought cycles are initiated, it takes seconds, minutes, hours, days and sometimes no decision is made because the conscious decision can be prevented.
The cognitive decision is not always suitable
Each form of decision is created by this two systems in thought cycles.
Cognitive biases and the problems in classical software development are showing that even the cognitive decision is not reliable of interpersonal communication.
Figure03 – Decisions are created in thought cycles
Using both systems consciously
The emotion system works always, fast and clear. Therefore, the intuition has the characteristics you would like to have in an agile team.
Since the intuition – the result of the emotion system – is always part of the conscious decision, the idea is close to using both decision systems.
A common and accepted rating is a prerequisite for this.
Which characteristics a common evaluation must have
For good decisions I need the intuition because it is unconsciously contained in all decisions and because it represents expert knowledge.
If I want to use the intuition as an individual and in an agile team, I first need a jointly accepted rating. Even if it is unconscious, it communicates through a natural impulse go(yes) or nogo(no). The intuition can be mapped on a scale. The scale, to which the intuition reacts, we have developed in 20 years from the experience of 200 projects.
Figure04: K-i-E Scale for Cognition – Intuition – Emotions
It ranks from 1-10 and always forced a decision because it has no middle. The larger range 1-5 represents the loss aversion to avoid biases. The numbers (1-10) get their meaning with a leading question: “How far you are able to implement the story” and meaning areas: 8-10: committet, 6-7: it has to be adjusted slightly, 1-5: it has to be corrected significantly.
Figure05: K-i-E Cards
Figure06: K-i-E Scale for Group Moderation
Figure07: K-i-E Cards Service
Figure08: K-i-E Scale App
This scale works for the intuition and the cognition.
How does the scale become a commonly accepted rating?
Now we have a standardized and flexible rating, we call it K-i-E scale (cognition-intuition-emotions) to distinguish it from other scales.
We can use the scale as experts or beginners:
- How far I’m committed to a successful implementation of a story?
- How far I’ve understood the vision?
- How far I’m committed to the vision?
- How far I’ve understood a story so I can go on to prioritization?
Figure09: K-i-E Scale for Commitment of Vision
The flexibility with the three parts: The leading question, scale type and meaning area allow any questions and ratings.
We work together on eye-level and with self-organization. Therefore, we have to agree on them as a jointly supported decision (commitment). Above all, we have the hot spot between product owners and development team. If we don’t do this, we have the risk of breakouts. Individuals would otherwise destroy the agile mindset with authoritarian manner.
Just assume there’s a commitment process you can use to make a commitment. If you are interested in, I can add it to the backlog for discussion.
Will the K-i-E scale be accepted?
In the first phase, a Master of K-i-E is assigned to the team to ensure consistency with the K-i-E scale.
After a certain time the agile team takes over the responsibility for the fidelity with the decision-making processes.
We implemented this in 350 projects and the scale was accepted without any problems. The scale is aligned to the human decision-making process and is therefore gladly accepted.
How to solve common problems in agile teams
Now one can go on to solve the problems without talking about the problems. The prerequisite for this is a jointly accepted rating. We reach certain points at which we steer the conversations solution-oriented with the K-i-E scale. If we are in the prioritization or effort estimation, we have a formal step to understanding.
The leading question is: How far did you understand the story?
Only when I have understood the story can I make well-founded statements or commit myself. We can immediately see from everyone’s feedback how far away we are from the goal. Because we trust and use intuition, it only takes a few seconds and everyone knows.
If everyone scores between 8-10, we go to the next step and don’t have to discuss what’s clear anyway.
Figure10 – open view for discussion
If someone is between 6-7, then the problem is not discussed, but the affected person explains what he would need to come up with (8). We first collect the topics and immediately see what is open for discussion. Then we go into the solution discussion, in which the resources of the group are usually sufficient. If not, it goes to the Scrum Master.
Figure11 – Resource Question
The agile mindset is growing
Thus we solve every problem and the understanding for each other grows and the agile mindset is created automatically. The K-i-E scale and how to deal with it is open, focused, at eye level, courageous we always have a commitment.
Figure12 -Way to agile mindset and agility
In this way, a jointly supported rating can ensure that people talk to each other in a solution-oriented manner and that the quality of the stories matures.
The joy of working together grows because you manage the work and at the end you get an increment that is accepted in the sprint review.
K-i-E Scale – A unsiversal Rating System
The K-i-E scale allows a fast and precise evaluation as a prerequisite for a clear decision. Its flexibility makes it a universal, accepted and standardized rating system for all ceremonies and decision-making processes.
The internal structure of the K-i-E scale is suitable for precisely mapping the little differentiated impulse from intuition. This characteristic forms the congenial bridge to combine intuition and cognition into a single decision strategy. Its transparency opens the way for using group competence.
The K-i-E Intuition – Consciously Using the Intelligence of Intuition
The natural intuition that every human being has, becomes the K-i-E Intuition, when it is expressed in a standardized and selective way through the K-i-E scale. With the K-i-E Intuition, the expert knowledge of all can be accessed in a flash, in order to make a first coherent individual decision for all ceremonies and artefacts. The K-i-E Intuition is the ingenious basis for lightning-fast communication without words in small and large teams.
K-i-E Resource Question – The integrative Way to a Solution
The resource question triggers a clear procedure that activates the necessary actions to make success possible. It is therefore a basic building block for all ceremonies and artefacts. The parties involved are obliged to make their contribution to a solution. Instead of criticizing, illuminating the problem or investigating the causes, a retrospective view is avoided.
Instead, competence is stringently demanded, and it quickly becomes apparent what and how much is necessary for success.
This shortens discussions about factors. Useful actions are worked out and as an accompanying effect it becomes visible how supportive someone behaves.
K-i-E Decision Strategy – Safe Decision-Making
With the individual decision strategy, agile team members as well as Scrum Master and Product Owner decide quickly and reliably. The distorting influence of the emotional system is reduced and the conscious use of intuition is integrated. Everyone knows – in the traditional and agile world – which deficiencies individual decisions have. For this reason, further decision-making processes are absolutely necessary for Scrum to succeed in its tasks and to integrate group competence.
Quality Process – Jointly Accepted Quality for all Artefacts
All artefacts such as the stories in the product as well as in the sprint backlog are created with appropriate resources and in appropriate quality. The quality is already produced in early phases, which limits later problems and efforts.
The quality process creates a self-organized process that enables those involved in the process to produce quality in a self-determined manner.
Quality problems in the backlog create the biggest problems, both in classical and agile methods. People get with the K-i-E Quality Process a chance to do it well.
The Motivation Triangle – Goals will be achieved
Goals will be achieved, conflicts will be resolved and projects become successful if the appropriate skills are developed, internal or external permission is given and the will of those involved is sufficiently present.
The K-i-E motivation triangle is a practice-oriented application of the K-i-E scale. It is a transparent tool with which candidates can be assessed in a comprehensible way.
With its help it can be derived how great the chances for the success of a project will be.
Commitment Process for Jointly Supported Decisions
Identification and loyalty to the goal are the essential success factors for all ceremonies par excellence. The commitment process involves all participants 100%. The process forces all participants to express themselves and to take an evaluable standpoint. Diverging points of view become visible right at the beginning and are brought to a common constructive solution through the supportive collaboration of all.
Obstacles, risks and hidden conflicts are identified in early phases. In later project phases they would cause cost increases and delays after considerable investments have already been made. This situation is counteracted even before the start of a project and the actions to ensure success are worked out jointly. The effect in the subsequent implementation is central to success.
Prioritization Process – Common Selection and Order of Topics
With the prioritization process, the core question – what is implemented in the sprint and what is not done – is solved together with the Development Team, the Scrum Master and the Product Owner. The topics to be worked on are then put in order by the Development Team.
For each sprint, various stories compete for the limited resources of time, budget, competencies, focus and implementation capacity. The prioritization process achieves the goal of finding a common set of requirements within a given timeframe.
Briefing Process for a successful Delegation – to get what you want
The delegation process ensures that you get what you need from internal and external teams to produce a good overall result. Prerequisites for the delegation process: a standardized evaluation with the K-i-E scale, the resource question, the quality, commitment and prioritization process and the motivation triangle.
The New Decision-Making Culture – The Book
The K-i-E theory of the inseparability of emotions, intuition and cognition provides the scientific basis for the agile methods and decision-making processes and thus places them on a solid foundation.
The decision-making processes for overcoming entrepreneurial challenges are described in practical terms for agile transformation in my book “Die neue Entscheidungskultur”, Hanser Verlag 2018.
More on my Homepage – www.k-i-e.com