Partnership & Possibilities: A Podcast on Leadership in Organizations
EPISODE 2: REVISITING INFLUENCE
How do you observe yourself or your colleagues influencing each other? What kinds of influence do you see as critical for lasting positive changes?
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[1:40] Sharon is working with the leadership of a large non-profit with an enormous number of volunteers, who do the real work of the organization.
[4:00] Working with volunteers is all about building a sense of community and purpose to motivate people to do what needs to be done – all through “influence”.
[6:15] Power and influence are orthogonal.
[8:05] Compliance and influence are also different things.
[10:20] Motivation comes from within – it doesn’t get applied from outside. You can’t inoculate people with it.
[15:55] The model Sharon’s looking at currently looks at 6 types of influence.
[20:20] Convincing, selling, and so on, is also not influence. And influence will get you more mileage.
[22:23] Benefit must accrue on both sides for change to last – this is real influence.
[24:30] You can give feedback if you can do it with caring and respect. If you don’t care and respect the other person, don’t bother. The same is true of influencing – do I care about this person?
[28:00] An important element of influence is creating an environment that supports what you want to have happen.
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The Weekend Edition is a list of some interesting links found on the web to catch up with over the weekend. It is generated automatically, so I can’t vouch for any particular link but I’ve found the results are generally interesting and useful.
The Kanban Litmus Test is our new guidance to help you assess "are we doing Kanban or not?" and to evaluate whether other who claim to be doing have actually reached a stage that would reflect the sort of impact that we saw in early implementations almost a decade ago.
For a corporation setting out on a large scale Kanban implementation, there is the inevitable question of, where to start? Typically, clients want to run a pilot on a single service delivery workflow but which one to choose? Firstly, we must find a service delivery workflow that is appropriate for a kanban system. [See the first post in this series on appropriateness of kanban systems]. To do this, we might view the organization through The Kanban Lens in order to identify suitable services. Secondly, we must assess whether this service is a good choice for a place to start Kanban.
In the Kanban Coaching Professional Masterclass, I teach coaches and those leading Kanban initiatives how to assess the appropriateness of the Kanban Method and the appropriateness of applying a kanban system within an organization. This is the first of a series of blog posts on appropriateness and getting started with an enterprise scale Kanban initiative.
I was asked the other day, “Do you use Scrum at home?” It’s not the first time that I’ve been asked this question. The honest answer is: no. Oh, I’ve used bits and pieces here and there. I’ve put together a taskboard to track work on the occasional big household project. I’ve even built a backlog from time to time. But that is about the extent of it. I’ve been married for nearly twenty years – I’m not about to screw it up with Scrum or any other method for that matter.
You won’t find me standing around with the kids doing a daily standup. There is no weekly planning meeting on my family calendar. And the only retrospective that I do is after getting caught leaving the toilet seat up (“Doh!”). Nope, I’ve got to be honest, my household isn’t very agile.
You might ask, “Why not?”
Dang, that’s a really good question. I’m not sure that I have a good answer. Maybe I just want to leave all that stuff at work. But if that were the case, then why do I go home and write this blog? No, that’s not it. Maybe there really has been no structure modelled in my family life before. In fact, the very idea of doing that kind of “work” at home makes me cringe a little bit. I guess I feel like we have things under control. Maybe I don’t even want that control. It’s really hard to say.
I think there is value in sharing the practical time management techniques that I use at work with my kids. I didn’t hesitate to introduce them to pomodoros when my daughter was struggling to stay focused on her homework. It felt really good to be able to introduce her to a tool that would help her be successful. She loves pomodoros! The kids like all the fooling around that I do with self-experiments around the house (“Hey! Look at Daddy!”). They always want to know what kind of nutty thing Dad is doing this week.
However, I’ve never felt a compelling need to have any kind of formal family meeting at all. Call me a bit waterfall. I guess when it comes to my family I only want to give them the techniques that they need for the problems they have. I don’t want to burden them with a framework. Got a problem with focus? Use pomodoros. Does the problem seem too large? Break it down into stories. No progress? Try iterating.
When I can provide a helpful technique that solves their problems (agile or not), I feel like Superman. Seriously folks, there is no better feeling in the world. There is no preaching. I don’t lecture them on the perils of waterfall. To my kids a waterfall is something you ride a log down at Disneyland. I aim to keep it that way as long as possible.
I guess, in retrospect it’s not such a bad approach for introducing agile practices for anyone, regardless of whether they are in your family or not. In fact, why would you treat a team any differently than your family? Aren’t they just that – your extended family? Can we use this to inform how we approach introducing Agile Practices to our teams?
Maybe we just introduce them to the tools they need to solve the problem that they have in the moment. Perhaps that’s how we start. That’s how we demonstrate value and earn trust. Not by dumping some framework they must comply with on their heads.
Hmmm….I think I’ve been doing it wrong.
Introduce agile practices to your team like you would to your family. Give them only what they need and let them figure out the rest.
Filed under: Agile, Coaching, Teams Tagged: Agile, family, practices, Scrum
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As some of you may know, I’m building a boat in my brother’s garage. We had a big milestone the other day: we finished painting the bottom and rolled the boat over to finish the topsides. From a distance it looks great!
Up close is another story though. Up close you can find ripples in the paint from where the fiberglass wasn’t sufficiently well sanded. There are other places where you can see fine lines in the paint due to underlying patterns in the filler compound. Add to that the fact that the paint has rough areas where the roller left a pattern. And don’t even get me started about that flat spot.
I see all of these imperfections and more. It’s pretty rough.
I’ve worked with teams like that too. From a distance, everything looks great. You are hitting your milestones and everyone is pleased.
But get close and you find all sorts of flaws. They’re not using story points. They won’t keep their burn down chart up to date. They don’t even know what an acceptance test is. They’re pretty rough. Maybe we should just keep them in the garage…
But around this time, along comes my brother. He takes one look at the boat and says, “Damn! That’s beautiful!” So I point out a flaw. He waves it off and says, “The only boat without scrapes and dents is in the showroom. This boat is going to sail!” Not to be dissuaded, I point out another flaw. He looks at me and says, “Will it float?”
My answer, “Yes.”
“OK then. Let’s get this thing in the water.”
And so we go back to work, and somehow it is OK. I stop worrying and focus on what remains to be done.
Sometimes someone visits the office. Someone I really respect and admire. I show them around and they say, “Wow, what a great team!” So I walk them over to the story board and point out that it’s out of date. They look at me and say, “That’s cool. Not many people even use physical dashboards.” I tell them that the team doesn’t use story points. They look at me and say, “Does the team deliver?”
My answer, “Yes.”
“OK then. Let’s sling some code.”
And so I’m reminded not to be such a damn perfectionist.
Love your boat.
Love your team.
Filed under: Agile, Coaching, Teams Tagged: perfection, Teams
An vielen Ecken hört man es: die “Generation Y” will anders arbeiten. Die jungen, gut ausgebildeten Menschen zwischen 20 und 30 wollen einfach nicht mehr so hart rackern wie die Generation vor ihnen, heißt es. Und andererseits wissen die Vertreter der “Generation Me” (auch als Baby Boomer bezeichnet) nicht, wie sie im Job mit dieser Generation umgehen sollen. Nähern wir uns dem Thema Work-Life-Balance mit der Brille der “Generation Me”, dann verfällt man schnell der Idee, dass es neben der Arbeit noch etwas anderes geben sollte. Neben der Arbeit. Mich hat diese Trennung von Arbeit und Freitzeit immer gewundert. So als hätte man zwei Leben, als könne man jede Minute zweimal ausgeben: privat und beruflich.Generation Me: erfolgreich krank
Woher kommt das Bedürfnis bei Menschen der Generation, der auch ich angehöre, nach dieser Work-Life-Balance? Vielleicht weil wir den Wohlstand, das zweite und das dritte Auto, damit erkauft haben. Wir haben sehr viel und sehr hart gearbeitet, denn harte Arbeit ist unser Statussymbol. Gleichzeitig haben wir nicht nur finanzielle Erfolge und Wohlstand erarbeitet: viele von uns haben sich im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes krank gearbeitet. Ich gebe es zu, auch ich bin bei zwei bis vier Flügen pro Woche und durch das ständige Schlafen in Hotels nicht so fit und gesund, wie ich es sein könnte. Auch die Zeitungen und Magazine sind voll von Berichten über unsere schwer erarbeiteten Zivilisationskrankheiten. Wäre ich, so wie viele andere, auch mit 30 Vater geworden, wäre meine Tochter oder mein Sohn jetzt schon 15 und würde sich zu Recht fragen, ob dieses Kaputtarbeiten irgendeinen Sinn hat und ob er oder sie das will. Ihre Antwort wäre natürlich: “Nein!” Und die Vertreter der Generation Y haben natürlich recht, sie müssen es auch gar nicht mehr.Langweilige Paradiese
Ihre Eltern haben in vielen Unternehmen bereits die vollkommenen Paradiese geschaffen. Dort sind die Arbeitszeiten festgezogen, alles ist geregelt und wer freiwillig mehr leisten will, wird schief angeschaut (natürlich gilt das nicht in jedem Unternehmen). Gleichzeitig wird die Alterspyramide die Gehälter steigen lassen. Bei einer momentanen Geburtenrate von 1,34 in Österreich und der Tatsache, dass die Baby Boomer allmählich in Massen in Rente gehen, wächst der Wert der Arbeitskraft ins Gigantische.
Gleichzeitig sind die großen Betriebe so durchgestylt, dass die Folge nur noch verwöhnte Langeweile sein kann. Wieso ich das sage?
Ein Beispiel: Ich hatte einen Bewerber zum Interviewtermin, der aus der Automobilwirtschaft kommt. Heute 30 Jahre alt, Doktor der Soziologie, entscheidet er sich bewusst gegen die 35-Stunden-Arbeitswoche in einem großen deutschen Automobilkonzern. Die Arbeit dort ist nicht etwa zu anstrengend, sondern zu langweilig. Dort sind die Arbeitsabläufe geklärt, die Projektmanager verbringen ihre Zeit in stundenlangen Meetings, in denen doch nichts Wesentliches passiert, und der Effekt, also ihr Beitrag, ist gleich Null. Die Arbeit wird in Großunternehmen bzw. -konzernen sowieso von Dienstleistern erledigt – wie es Putzerfische bei einem Wal tun. Etwas bewegen, Sinn stiften und sich beweisen, dabei vielleicht auch scheitern und lernen, ist in diesen Unternehmen schwer geworden.
Doch schauen wir mal dorthin, wo die eigentlichen Veränderungen derzeit passieren – nein, nicht bei Goolge und Co. Ganz ehrlich, eine Übermutter als Arbeitgeber, die mit ständig verfügbarem Essen, Massage und 1000 anderen Annehmlichkeiten aufwartet, wo Geld keine Rolle spielt und man machen kann, was man will, erzeugt kein Umfeld, in dem Innovation aufkommen kann. Der Spieltrieb wird angefacht, sicher, und es ist bestimmt ultracool, bei Google zu arbeiten. Aber mal ehrlich, welche Innovationen kamen von Google? Eine einzige! Ihre geniale Suche. Alles andere ist nachgebaut und bestenfalls optimiert. Google geht gerade den Weg der meisten großen Unternehmen: die Kreativität ist dahin, man beginnt, die Konkurrenz und die neuen Ideen zuzukaufen, statt selbst tolle Dinge zu machen.Neuer Realismus in der Arbeitswelt
Wo ist also das Neue für die Arbeitswelt? Es beginnt immer am Rand. Da ist etwas Neues zu beobachten. Wahrscheinlich werden jetzt viele Trendforscher sagen: “alter Kaffee”, aber ich nehme gerade etwas vollkommen Neues wahr. Kleine Firmen, die weltweit verteilt sind und dank neuer Kommunikations- und Arbeitsinfrastrukturen wie Google Hangout, Skype und GitHub Bedingungen geschaffen haben, mit denen man als kleines Team weltweit miteinander arbeiten kann, beginnen tatsächlich ganz anders zu arbeiten.
Da erzählen dann diese merkwürdigen Menschen aus der Generation Y, dass sie zuhause in ihren Wohnzimmern oder kleinen Arbeitszimmern sitzen, und gleichzeitig bei ihrer Familie sein können (Beispiele für diese Firmen sind: WordPress.com oder Bufferapp). Die Firmenmitglieder treffen sich ab und zu, um sich auch mal zu sehen, aber die Arbeit wird remote, verteilt und dezentralisiert gesteuert. Es entstehen dabei sogar neue Taskmanagement-Systeme, die tatsächlich ein neues Konzept verfolgen: IDoneThis. Sie zeigen, was gelungen ist, und nicht das, was man hätte tun sollen. Das ist eines der ersten Systeme, das mit einer vollkommen anderen Sicht entwickelt wurde. Hier ist es nicht vorgesehen, jemand anderem zu sagen, was er zu tun hat. Jeder sagt – offen – etwas darüber, was er getan hat. Ziemlich verrückt aus der Sicht der Generation ME. Work-Life-Balance spielt für die Generation Y keine Rolle mehr. Sie haben schon lange einen Weg gefunden, freier und viel realistischer mit ihrem Leben umzugehen.
This is part three of the continuing series of articles. In the first article of this series, I outlined three fundamental characteristics of waterfall system. In the previous article (part 2), I explained Phase-Gates and the unintended consequences when phase-gates encounter agile transformation efforts. In this article I will dive into Large [...]
Cesar Abeid interviewed me, Project Management for You with Johanna Rothman. We talked about my tools for project management, whether you are managing a project for yourself or managing projects for others.
We talked about how to use timeboxes in the large and small, project charters, influence, servant leadership, a whole ton of topics.
I hope you listen. Also, check out Cesar’s kickstarter campaign, Project Management for You.
We have already had User Story as most popular tool. But this is not the end. Today about Iterations: the small and big ones, these that are completed and those that are never stopped.
Iteration is a period of 1 to 4 weeks. During this time Customer needs to decide what is the most important at this moment. 4 weeks is also called the Sprint but we prefer Iteration as it’s stronger option.
Iteration is not only about programming but also about tests and more. Actually tests are run before the programming phase.
We also have to mention about infinite period. In this case Iteration is one, only User Story has to be completed in some period of time and then disappears. In this place another User Story appears. Customer tells about that User Story and if it’s good we start with the new one.
And what do you think about this?
Coaching can make the difference between an organisation’s success or failure. In this month’s blog, Peter Hundermark outlines why effective coaching allows companies to admit their weaknesses and move towards a happier and more effective workplace. Read the full article here.Kanban Training We have FOUR seats remaining on the upcoming Applying Kanban (Foundation) course taking place on the 20-21 Oct 2014 in Sandton. Be sure to book your place before these are snapped up. Should these dates not work for you, we will be running the course again on the 04-05 May 2015.
We also still have a few spaces available on our upcoming Improving & Scaling Kanban (Advanced) course which will be taking place in Sandton on the 23-24 Oct 2014. We are running a 3-for-2 special offer on both the certified Foundation and Advanced courses, so be sure to secure your place!
InfoQ have published the remaining two articles in the series from the short book “Leading Self-Organising Teams” written by Dr. Sigi Kaltenecker & Peter Hundermark. Have a read of these articles: “why do we need self-organising teams?” and “what is Leading Self-Organising Teams all about?”
Q&A TeleconferencesEsther Derby is offering free Q&A teleconferencing sessions. Each month Esther chooses a topic which will be of interest to people who coach, manage, or work on software teams. Follow this link to sign up. Upcoming Courses Applying Kanban (Foundation) – (JHB) – Only 4 seats left!
20-21 Oct 2014
FNB Conference & Learning Centre, Sandton
Improving & Scaling Kanban (Advanced) – (JHB)
23-24 Oct 2014
FNB Conference & Learning Centre, Sandton
Certified Scrum Product Owner (JHB) – Fully booked!
04 – 05 Nov 2014
FNB Conference & Learning Centre, Sandton
Certified Scrum Master (JHB)
01-02 Dec 2014
FNB Conference & Learning Centre, Sandton
Course schedule and Book Online
I’m a little down on the notion of continuous improvement these days. It’s not that it doesn’t happen – it does…sometimes. I simply fear that it promises too much. I think part of it is the terminology. You see in the real world continuous improvement is neither truly continuous or necessarily an improvement.
To begin with, I’ve critiqued the notion of continuously improving before from the point of view that keeping any process happening full time is ludicrous. Certainly once every sprint is nowhere near continuous. I guess maybe it is continuous when you compare it to other more plan driven methods, but that’s far from continuous in my book.
No, the part that I find most objectionable is the improving part. You see, it’s misleading. It suggests to me that every change is an improvement. That every effort is a step forward, not back. And that is simply not how it works. It would be better labelled periodic experimentation, or punctuated mutation. You see, in the real world, when we change something, we never really know if it’s going to work out or not. There are 50/50 odds that the change will actually make things worse!
Of course that’s a good thing. We learn a little either way. Hopefully.
The problem I have with continuous improvement is that it sets up an unreasonable expectation in those we sell it to. To restate the sales pitch: every change will be an improvement and they happen all the time.
If every change were really an improvement, I would be worried that I had been transported to an alternative universe. That I was being monitored by aliens. That there was a black helicopter hovering over my house. I’d be making a tin foil bunny suit. Fortunately I know what universe I’m in, that there aren’t any black helicopters over my house, and tin foil tends to chafe in the damnedest places. Not too sure about the aliens…
Fortunately, many of my efforts at improvement fail. And that’s the way it should be.
Filed under: Agile, Process Tagged: continuous, evolution, experimentation, failure, improvement
For people in 20th century organisations training was an obvious necessity. Just look at the still-classical organisation and see that it has a Training Department neatly tucked into the organisation chart just under Human Resources. (I hate that name…but I digress.)
Much changes in our post-industrial world where we think for a living, solving increasingly complex problems. Our paradigm for helping people be effective has not yet caught up.
What are the challenges?
- We are solving hard problems. This requires the brains of multiple people to be aligned and work collectively to emerge solution options.
- Failure remains stigmatised as something bad, rather than being recognised as an essential and desirable outcome of experimentation towards innovation.
- We remain stuck in authoritative command-and-control cultures that fail to unlock the potential of people.
- Employees acknowledge their own individual achievements, but less so their contribution to the result of a shared effort.
- Managers have not yet grasped their new role as enablers rather than directors.
- Most organisations reward individualism while hoping for teamwork.
- …add yours here…
Professional coaching may be described as a method for helping a person or a team to achieve specific goals in their professional lives. Paraphrasing Kaltenecker and Myllerup: the coach acknowledges that the person or team being coached already has the potential abilities required for reaching the goals and the assignment for the coach is to help unlock this hidden potential.
An “agile coach” often steps into acting as a teacher, advisor, mentor or role model. Here she applies her own expertise to lead and guide the individual or team in specific ways. Yet as soon as possible she should return to a coaching stance to return appropriate the power balance to the relationship.
The diagram depicts the difference between when the “agile” coach is relying on her own expertise of the content as distinct from the systemic coach using her own ignorance of the full organisational context and applying curiosity as a powerful helping tool to build relationship.
Ask any successful leader and she will tell you stories about the people who have helped her, formally and informally, along her journey.
In order to learn and grow we require honest feedback. Without enough trust, honest feedback is unlikely to be offered and received in a productive manner. Traditional work environments do not provide safety for trust to flourish.
And in the modern work context that requires collaboration to produce good results we need to develop new “soft” skills that we were not taught at university or technicon. Teams and individuals need to learn to be vulnerable to one another.
However it is not a given that we will ask for help. There are hard questions to answer, for example:
- How do I recognise when I or my team needs help? Am I even capable of knowing what it is I don’t know (my blind spots)?
- Why would my boss pay me a salary when I need outside help to do my job?
- How does asking for help make me feel? I have to “lose face” to accept help from another.
- …add your own…
In the South African cultural context where “cowboys don’t cry” and “boer maak ’n plan” it can be particularly hard to ask for help. And in the “controlling” and “competitive” styles of organisational cultures that still predominate worldwide it can be seen as a sign of weakness.
So many of us live with an unhealthy tension between needing help from others in order to grow, and the uncertainty about whether or when it’s okay to ask.
The coach as trusted external party is well-skilled and well-placed to facilitate the necessary conversations to help teams grow trust, deal with conflict and offer commitment that in turn lead to increased accountability and improved outcomes.An Economic View
In work over nine years with more than 100 teams we have observed a marked difference between the extent and the pace of growth of individuals and teams that have received coaching and those who have “gone it alone” after, perhaps, a two-day training class.
An analysis of our own data shows a correlation between “performing” teams and the quantum of help. The sweet spot seems to be between one and two days of coaching per team member during the first year of transition. To be clear this includes all facets such as advising and organisational development. Our data does differentiate between individual and team coaching, yet clearly there is a need for both.
Benefits we have observed during and after coaching include:
- Happier and more engaged team members
- Reduced staff turnover
- An increased sense of “we”
- An increase in self-confidence and independence
- Increases customer and stakeholder satisfaction through value delivery
- Increased throughput and decreased “time to market”
- Increased transparency and predictability
When asked how soon the benefits exceeded the costs, many clients have experienced improvement within a few weeks and the classic “J-curve” of change has not been felt. And it is not uncommon to hear “we have doubled/halved X compared with last quarter/year”.Adding Perspective
Before we conclude that coaching is some “magic elixir”, let’s be clear that contexts differ and it is hard to attribute causality to a single element. Nevertheless we have many times heard “we should have got coaching earlier and had more of it”.
As Weick and Sutcliffe remind us in their excellent book about High Reliability Organisations, it is “a sign of strength to know when you’ve reached the limits of your knowledge and know enough to ask for help”.
¹Sigi Kaltenecker (Loop Organisationsberatung) & Bent Myllerup (agile42): Agile & Systemic Coaching
²Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe: Managing the Unexpected—Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty (Second Edition, 2007, Wiley), page 80.