A "People First" Blog.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Everyone Has a Story

"Everyone you meet knows at least one thing you do not."

I started a journey with this premise and remind myself this most when I think about my day starting. Each morning I look out a hotel window or balcony focused on the air. The smell, the density, the clarity. Every city has its own air just as every person as their own story. 

There are so many perspectives on experiences and we all go through. The day starts and I walk down a hallway hearing the children of parents hurrying to prepare for their vacation day and mentally I visit what it may be like in their shoes and the flow of their morning. Turning the corner and, "Excuse me." as I bumped into a cart belonging to someone cleaning a room. A local most likely working the hotel, starting their morning through the back door and then bringing the linens to all of us to start our day.

As the elevator opens and the sounds of plates and silverware clinking I think about the hours that have passed for the people preparing this buffet from cutting fruit to filling coffee and there they are...the people like me that are discussing strategy, sales, and planning for the clients or co-workers they will meet soon. 

As I drink my coffee and juice I scan the room each person talking about their ideas about circumstances and how it relates to their own experiences. To visit everyone isn't a possibility, but to realize that every one answer and every idea is a right one. I feel part of cycle that is larger than my own plans for the morning. I am glad to be here. 

I've heard it called "People Watching" and it reminds me how silent I've been all morning. As I think about how aware of my surroundings I am I realize how many times I was caught up in a conversation in this same situation unaware of all that buzzed around me. Taking time to think about my coaching and my interactions with the world is a moment I intend more and more often. 

As a coach, the more I learn the less I have to say. I realize most answers come right from the source if the story is spoken long enough. In my coaching calls this listening becomes comfort zone and an opportunity to be as present as possible without seeing "where this is going" or "knowing where it has been." The message I wanted to send today was one of story. My story, your story, and their story. Listen. Many of the stories around us just pass by on a city street or a busy hotel lobby and if you're willing to listen, you may be surprised what you learn about yourself. 

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.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Distinctions: Qualified and Capable

I had the pleasure of discussing the importance of distinctions in business and working environments. Lately I found on the web more and more discussions about coaches and consultants discussing distinctions with their clients successfully navigating things like: market confusion, vocabulary, philosophy, and approach. I want to say, I couldn't agree more. I too have now put some focus on making distinctions for the sake of sharing reality and truly communicating with one another in our context.

I know that last sentence sounds familiar to many of you, but what exactly does it say?
(that's another post -> here)

One distinction that came up recently for us in our coaching circle was that of being qualified or capable. In fact they are different things.

Here were our agreements:

- Qualified is meeting the pre-requisites for the environment, the job, the culture, and the intentions of the hiring authority.

- Capable is the ability to perform the requirements of the work necessary to reach a relative degree of satisfaction. "Good Enough Business" we called it jokingly.

Qualified discusses certifications, degrees, accreditations, and other "third party validations." In my years as a professional I see things like "Bachelor's Degree" as a minimum requirement only to see the person hired not satisfying this constraint. As of late we see more and more the companies are listing some credentials as a "plus" or "preferred". Being of an agile mind and spending my life mentoring tomorrow's leaders, I concur with this trend of making the exception in the face of demonstration. As leaders our qualifications also include integrity, responsibility, personal accountability, and ethics.

Capability is more difficult in hiring decisions and comes back to experience, representation, and demonstration. It is here we find enough empirical evidence and results focused questions. It may start in the initial interview and follow on to our references or examples of deliverables in past work.

Let's take this example: One can't be the President of the United States unless h/she is at least 35 years of age and born in the United States. While a 28 yr. old may be capable of being a great president, he/she is simply not qualified for the position.

Note: The slippery slope for all of us is temptation. It may be here that representation becomes the consideration as résumés are produced for the sake of being recognized above the other candidates. While the best of intentions are at play, the integrity and trust become the most important guide posts. Advice: Stay the course here, you are perfect exactly as you are.

The last topic that came up was one that we seem to find ourselves faced with at every juncture. Risk. The risk of hiring the right person that may not be qualified over the false comfort we may find in simply following the letter of the  job description.

It seems even in the most open of spaces, there are still considerations of risk and mitigation for the safety of the company, its officer, its employees, and its customers. The question for the company is how much risk can we assume to get the right person in the right job without limiting our own ability to succeed.

The answer is consistently: People First. Give 'em the chance to surprise you and they usually will.

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 private 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."

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.

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."

Monday, April 13, 2015

Coaching Life: A Thought Experiment

Awareness. Integration. Contribution. 

We start everyday anew. Born again. As coaches, lovers, family members, peers, and friends we have an opportunity today to catalyze change by our own contribution. This, of course, starts with awareness and closes the cycle with contribution.

The other day was National Siblings Day and I got time to think about my family. My blood family
as born and my extended family as made from those I care the about most. As some of you know I am fortunate to work with young and old minds. People new to their career and those of us that have worked for many years. I also work with teams, families, and my own relationships.  The more I study the more I learn there are many things we share regardless of our age and other things that are learned through life experience. The limitations and conditioning we learn from life experience, time after time, become opportunities to NOT let them become part of you. The moment you can see it in someone else, it's a memory in your mind playing out and yet again, another opportunity to clean it and let it go. This becomes a place where resentment and blame are left to emerge within yourself if you are not doing your own work; and the cycle continues.

But what about the people that mean the most to us? What about when we are the person that loves someone else? What can we do to help? Stop expecting and start catalyzingAnd this brings me to today's point.

"When we form expectations of someone's behavior, we become active 
in not allowing their change and growth."

This is akin to "everyone deserves a second chance" or the other quotes about getting what you give. When I believe someone will always be one way I find myself moving away from them regardless of whether or not I notice changes and effort on their part. In hindsight this leaves me vulnerable to losing someone that may mean a great deal to me. Conscious choice is where I can self-limit with good intentions. This can be seen as a problem and is counter intuitive to my intention and desires to be a part of a life. We might say that family and friends are harder to walk away from, however, in working environments we must work together everyday. So will we changes jobs every time we have difficult situations? Probably not. This becomes a time to stop labeling our relationships and see the people beyond our own perceptions and preconceptions. Personally, I want to be a champion in all of my relationships. A champion in my own mind and able to confront anything, not just for me, but for those I'm fortunate to have in my life.

There are some things we can do and other things we want to be sure we don't do. You may be asking what we can do to apply this? There are always options, always. First know what you want. As a coach I want to contribute to growth. I want to see people break the ceilings they've created for themselves. So first I look for effort. Without effort on their part, the relationship may be toxic. When there is no effort (after a certain amount of time) the choice becomes easy to simply allow them their own existence and move on. However, in the presence of effort, there is ownership. When I see ownership I see hope for all of us:

I Can Do
  • Make shared agreements
  • Assist in Raising Awareness (feedback)
  • Ask questions (raise the inquiry)
  • Give positive feedback
  • Acknowledge the changes in them that helped you (feedback)
  • Show gratitude for the changes that help them that you observe (feedback)
  • Encourage and reward their behavior with additional trust (feedback)
  • Offer your own success experiences for relation (feedback)
  • Affirmation - know they can do it (feedback)
See a trend above? - the absence of feedback leaves no options. This is still a contribution and probably not helpful to anyone. Feedback is the mechanism.
When helping someone build confidence each step of the way you give a little more as the trust builds and the team/relationship/family grows:

I Won't Do Negative Feedback
  • Make negative comments
  • Blame
  • Operate from a deficit
  • Make doubtful accusations
  • Obligate the change
  • Abandon or Quit
Provocative Thought:
"Every person on the planet is part of us and contributing to the overall health of us."

The more we positively contribute and allow others to be exactly who they are the more rewarding our own existence becomes. Some call it Karma, some do not label it at all. Regardless of your belief systems and labels, the good of all of us depends upon each of us taking responsibility for everything. Clearing and releasing from ourselves allows those around us to do the same. Catalyzing change and being a coach leaves us in places where our own awareness is challenged and becomes part of our own growth. Standing by our mothers, fathers, brothers, lovers, bosses, teams, and peers is what makes us great, all of us.

I'll close this thought experiment with this: I want to be sure what each relationship means to me and what effort I put into it. No one is responsible for my happiness, but me. No one can make me feel but me. My decisions and choices have long term impacts on what I want in my life. This is my purpose and I leave no one behind. Their reality isn't my own. This is the only reason I can help.

Awareness. Integration. Contribution.

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."