A "People First" Blog.

Monday, May 11, 2015

7 Hidden Impediments of Great People

7 Hidden Impediments of Great Minds

We all have them and when we are working toward achievement, they can be a source of great willingness and capability. As you may have guessed here; in a collaborative environment, these may erode our very efforts if we aren’t aware and clear when they’re present.

  1. Objective vs. Subjective Chosen Reality
    1. Subjective reality is a choice to evaluate the entire world around us                                             Allows for comparison and averts the value discussion
Bigger, Faster, More, Less, Better, Worse
    1. The Case of the Mondays
                                              i.     Monday is only an idea, albeit an idea we agree to share.
1.     Even the Gregorian calendar must be updated to maintain its relevance every year. As a society we are conditioned by this to think about time as a fixed linear method in which “life goes on”. In fact, it is merely a perspective (lens) we agree to perceive a cycle life through. (Note: we also tend to agree that it is “a cycle of life”). We call this a cognitive dissonance and it is hidden in our everyday language and thought patterns.
2.     So why are Monday’s bad?
a.     This is a choice. We plan our projects and our work around a 5-day workweek, then we may spend Friday not working as diligently and we planned. As a result, Monday is overwhelmed with everyone coming back to work or extra things to get done and become very busy days.
3.     Another perspective: Imagine for a moment you are on a delivery team that deploys product every Tuesday. How would your days be affected by the co-workers that leave early on Friday, take Monday off, and the people that did come in are all having a ‘bad’ Monday?

    1. In an objective reality, things are more importantly true or false, not right and wrong. In our day we have approx. 70,000 thoughts and work with hundreds if not thousands of creative minds all around us. Accepting things as not a problem, but only a problem we perceive is the beginning of an objective perspective about any situation.
  1. Expectations
    1. How many times are “setting expectations?”
    2. How well do you respond when someone sets expectations on you? As leadership thinkers we have an alternative response. Acceptance. Do you want others to accept when you fail and allow you to grow as a result of that failure? Of course you do, me too.
    3. Michael J. Fox said – “My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.”
    4. When teams make agreements and practice integrity (doing what you say), then acceptance of failure is our contribution to this culture or ecosystem. Can you accept that things will go wrong? Can you respond differently to the world around you without abandoning responsibility through blame and obligation? Of course we can!
  2. Competition and Leadership ARE mutually exclusive
    1. Competition as a mind-set not a behavior is the impediment
    2. Perceiving that someone must lose for us to win may sound like a harsh way of putting it. I might offer that’s because it is how the thought works
    3. Whether a company, a project, or a co-worker; competition is not what we want. It may appear that way to us when trying to get a client, or pay raise, or a job promotion, but great leaders are looking for cooperation.
    4. When cooperation (leadership behavior) is observed the natural response in observers is to ‘covet’ or want more of what we see. This response creates and abundance in circumstance and the Law of Attraction does the rest. Eventually there is more work going on that any one of us can handle and the objective truth sets in. There is more than enough for everyone to have what he or she wants and want what he or she has. Are you willing to help anyone be successful for the sake of everyone being successful? This will get returned to you.
    5. When competition is perceived, our quality goes down, the customer/boss/observer will see the tension and resistance. This creates a scarcity event and then you are right, there is now only one opportunity and if you don’t get it someone else will.
    6. When it comes to all things, if you think it, you’re right so why not think win!? This is to say if I see there is only one opportunity, others will see that I see it and there will only be this one opportunity. But if I can look upon it without memory and see it for the first time everytime, we can get it done together!
  3. Context
    1. Context is everything!  We’ve all heard this one before, but does it mean we must share context in all that we do? Of course not. We are valued for our specialization and skills.
    2. Consider the expertise we value in an implementation coordinator and the quality that this role provides to the organization based on the expertise. Losing this passion would remove the capability we have at implementation. In our newly collaborative methodologies, this individual is now in the divergent (planning and visioning) phases of our products. We may hear things like, “that won’t work” or “here is why we shouldn’t”
    3. In a context sharing agreement, I would ask “Just for now” can we share context so that we may leverage your expertise in the output of this phase of the process. This creates a quality event that builds the team and allows for a shared reality while still acknowledging the value of the expertise.
  4. Advocacy (and Inquiry)
    1. How sure are you that you “know” something?
    2. Observation of a situation begins with questions. Asking these questions aloud gives the other team members the opportunity to dispel any unseen or unconscious assumptions you made have made.
    3. Listen for phrases like, “All I know is…”  or “Here is what I know” are signs that inference has occurred. This is not to say what is about to be declared is inaccurate. It IS is a voice inside your head that asks, Are you sure you actually KNOW this?
  5. Worry
    1. Safety First Culture
    2. When we perceive things have gone wrong, we’ve been taught to revert to past “safe” behaviors. These are not necessarily the behaviors that work, but behaviors we have associated “acceptable outcomes” with.
    3. CYA responses erode trust, abandon ownership
  6. Status Quo Value Thinking
    1. “That’s the way we’ve always done it here” is not a value statement.
    2. Team Member evaluations based on metrics that are no longer of business value become only valuable to the evaluator.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Leadership and Teams in Denver, CO

Just an update on the travel and a very successful PMI® event hosted by PMI Mile High Chapter! Congrats to the board and the keynotes that really pumped up this event from start to finish. #pmimilehisym As you can see from the twitter feed and the hashtag follow Jim Collins brought real power to choice in tactical ways to engage the team from this personal mindset. It was an honor to be present as he facilitated the 12 questions. If you've not had the opportunity to read his book or use the questions, I highly recommend you visit his website at http://jimcollins.com or click the links provided and start your journey!

We started off after the key note with a packed house for discussing the 7 Hidden Impediments of Great People. Getting to speak about my own experiences is a great way for me to share what I want to keep myself aware of while allowing others to self apply. After my talk, there were many comments to the impacts made that people were allowing themselves in understanding these hard to see behaviors. I must say here how powerful it is to be reminded how many of us truly strive to create the world the way we see fit. This is passion.

As I stated yesterday, many of these behaviors are reinforced as we grow up as the "right" thing to do and what "good people do." These hidden impediments aren't "unovercomable", but are often difficult to see when you suffer from them without feedback from a trusted peer. The idea behind this talk is to focus on how we can respond when catch ourselves or when we observe these associated behaviors in someone else. In my leadership journey I can tell you, nothing is farther from the truth when wanting to stop self-limiting. Here's a list of the things I discussed with the attendees:

  1. Subjective Reality
  2. Expectations
  3. Competition vs. Leadership
  4. Context (Reality)
  5. Advocacy
  6. Worry (Present Thinking)
  7. Status Quo Value Thinking
As we broke for lunch we prepared the room to build highly effective teams while practicing this leadership thinking of ourselves. Jim said in the beginning of the keynote talk, "people aren't your greatest assets, the right people are." It was a very powerful perception for building the right team to overcome the impediments that face us.

"There is no agile or traditional 
project management; there are teams doing powerful things in any environment."

As Jessica started her workshop, the approach to the tournament of games was excellent as each activity was led through before explaining how it connected results to the other games as inputs. While listening to the crowd ask questions about ACTIONABLE insights, Jessica nailed it (as usual). A skill to see her demonstrate is the going beyond initial data gathering and helping the audience realize the critical questions around the data that unlocks the underlying innovation.

As we facilitate teams with games, or serious play, it is never about the game or the metaphor, but what we intend to do with the results that empowers people and business. Using these results coupled with a clear and present self awareness is what the new world of work is all about. 

My take away from this day is a reminder that "There is no agile or traditional project management; there are teams doing powerful things and there aren't."

Scotty Bevill

Scotty is a CSM, CSP, PMI-ACP, PMP, CELC, and accredited Leadership Gift Coach, and active public speaker. After spending more than 14 years with the military and 9 years working with team structures, he focuses his time on improving organizations and mentoring individuals in scrum, agile, and leadership coaching around continuous improvement and product delivery.

"Seize the day; pay it forward and backward."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Agile Teams: Facilitating Issues and Change

It's April 2015 and we move back into our team focus of strategy and empowerment. In today's post, let's discuss grooming a backlog with facilitation.

In our personal coaching we've discussed some of the mindsets we (product owners, scrum masters, team members, and leaders) want to sustain for approaching any problem. By using facilitation we empower the room to subtract the impediments that traditional meetings can suffer from. Invalidation, context (shared reality), and bias are of the most common we see in our work.

Let's take a scenario for context.
We are in the middle of a sprint, the team is working on an existing prioritized and healthy sprint backlog. The product owner leaves a meeting with new ideas about product direction and impacts to the release plan. We know the next step is to prevent the impact to the team and let them work. We also know that the information coming to us is VALID. So what do we do?  Facilitate it!

Years ago I created a game called, "Get it out of your head." Working with Luke Hohmann to integrate Innovation Games® into all of our practices, I knew we wanted to over come the issues associated with invalidation/validation. (At the time of course, I only understood this to be an impediment that different personality types weren't participating in our project storming sessions). So what happens next is the strategy that has served us well every time.

1. Get a clear wall and write down everything that is an issue.

  • Stickies on a wall!
  • This is a place to see cause and effect, process problem perceptions, and get the ideas out of the product owner's head so that we can get present. Some call this sharing of reality..."context". This give us a place to put all of the ideas we have in one place so that we may process them and keep moving. It is near impossible to focus on one topic while trying to remember everything else there is to discuss.
  • In more mature environments, these issues, risks, and new stories, may have an epic (theme) or bucket to reside in for discussion before the product owner comes down to discuss them at all. This I've found tends to emerge rather become the first place we start (VersionOne does this very well)
2. Affinity Group (Shape)
  • This give us a chance minimize the number of considerations into coherent groups that are relate or dependent so we are talking about whole features and not just issues. You may be thinking this has a by product later when these become stories for the team to ingest into the workflow. And you would be correct, great catch.
  • With the ideas in groups, they become "chunks" and are easier to see visibly and reduces the stress associated with so much work or impact.
3. Prioritize Quickly 
  • The product owner probably has a pretty good idea of what's most impactful from their perspective already so this should all go very quickly between even just the two of you. 
  • By this point, there should be enough information to see how these become stories for the backlog, the situation is diffused, and the team remained in their zone doing that they do best.
In this process of Get It Out of Your Head, Affinity Grouping, and Prioritizing, we have taken divergent information and removed the emotions associated with change from the workflow. The product owner has a sense of validation in what they brought, value was created, and the team will be able to respond when a time is more appropriate to consume the information. 

When the team is ready to discuss this new information there will be new details that emerge from their input and the final stories, acceptance, and consumption (release information) can be determined as single cohesive team including the PO. 

It is important that we focus on the mechanism of acknowledgement and claiming the wins. This behavior becomes repeatable as the team matures and eventually will be anticipated behavior. How have your teams overcome this interruption as an opportunity to build the team? 

Scotty Bevill

Scotty is a CSM, CSP, PMI-ACP, PMP, CELC, and accredited Leadership Gift Coach, and active public speaker. After spending more than 14 years with the military and 9 years working with team structures, he focuses his time on improving organizations and mentoring individuals in scrum, agile, and leadership coaching around continuous improvement and product delivery.

"Seize the day; pay it forward and backward."