BONUS: The Art of Slicing Work with Anton Skornyakov

This episode features Anton Skornyakov, an expert in Agile methodologies and the author of “The Art of Slicing Work: How to Navigate Unpredictable Projects.” Let’s unpack the concept of slicing work and explore how it can revolutionize productivity and project management.

Inspiration Behind The Book

“Focusing on ‘what’s the result we want from this discussion’ shifts our mindset towards more practical, outcome-oriented conversations.”

Anton shares what drove him to write his book. In his coaching practice, he noticed that many organizational discussions were mired in theory rather than focusing on actionable outcomes. By centering the conversation on “the next step” and the desired results for the upcoming two weeks, teams can move from abstract planning to concrete, actionable steps.

Understanding Slicing Work

“Think of work like a large dinner; slicing it into dishes rather than tasks offers flexibility and maintains the connection between different work elements.”

In his book, Anton introduces the concept of Slicing Work using the metaphor of preparing a large dinner. He explains that traditional task division (horizontal slicing) often leads to a loss of flexibility and a disconnection between different parts of a project. Instead, he advocates for vertical slicing, where each slice represents a complete unit of value, enhancing coherence and team productivity.

Common Barriers to Slicing Work

“Old habits and upfront software design practices prevent effective work slicing; adopting Test-Driven Development (TDD) can help overcome these barriers.”

Anton discusses the habitual and educational barriers that prevent effective slicing of work. Many professionals are trained to focus on their specific expertise and to plan extensively before starting actual development, practices which can impede the flexible and iterative nature of Agile methodologies.

In this segment, we refer to Extreme Programming and the pattern of the tracer bullet.

The Slicing Work Mindset

“Empowering teams to feel they can reshape their work structure is crucial for successful implementation of work slicing techniques.”

Implementing work slicing techniques can be straightforward technically, but the real challenge often lies in changing the organizational mindset. Anton points out that teams may understand the concept intellectually but often struggle with feeling empowered to change existing processes.

Addressing Leadership Skepticism

“Instead of promoting slicing, I discuss potential risks with leaders to help them see the value in breaking down projects to manage risks effectively.”

When faced with leadership skepticism, Anton shifts the conversation from slicing work per se to managing project risks. By identifying what could go wrong and finding ways to address these risks incrementally, leaders can see the practical benefits of adopting slicing work techniques.

The Future of Work with Full Adoption

“By turning Agile up to 11, micromanagement becomes obsolete, and teams are empowered to focus on transparent, result-driven discussions.”

Anton envisions a future where complete adoption of slicing work principles leads to a significant transformation in how teams and stakeholders interact. With a focus on frequent, tangible results and pragmatic discussions, organizations can achieve greater transparency and reduce the need for micromanagement.

About Anton Skornyakov

Anton Skornyakov is the co-founder and managing director of Agile.Coach. He has coached nearly a hundred organizations and thousands of people in the art of slicing work. His insights are distilled in his latest book, “The Art of Slicing Work,” which encapsulates a wealth of stories, lessons, and principles from his extensive experience. For more information, visit slicingwork.com.

You can link with Anton Skornyakov on LinkedIn.

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