Have you ever been asked to work with a team, then observed team members interacting with each other, well… never?
The desire to transform an organizational culture to one inspired by teams is understandable. There is no shortage of evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, which suggests teams (and teamwork) are a competitive advantage. The desire for such results through the use of self-organizing teams has led to the popularization of teams as a common organizational design.
What I’ve found in my career, however, is a tendency for organizations to both manage and incentivize teams like a “matrix” (of individuals) despite the assumption or label of “team”. The net effect is predictable: silos within teams. Research has shown my experience to be prevalent and related to inattention of cause-effect relationships between people and their environment, plus absent knowledge of base conditions which invite teamwork (Devine et al., 1999). Continue reading
About two years ago, I met a marketing professional at an Agile conference and we had a lengthy conversation about creativity and ways to encourage innovation. After sharing with him the Cognitive Network Model taught to me by Dr. Robert Briggs, he responded that his firm was using “a drinking game“–sans drinking–before every major client presentation. In his opinion, the mechanisms of the game seemed to align perfectly with Dr. Briggs’ theory: as images are called forth in working memory, particularly in new combinations, people generate thoughts they didn’t have prior – leading to new ideas.
A drinking game for creativity? I had to know more! As he explained the game, I realized this short, twenty-minute activity had all the elements of a good Agile activity: fun, collaboration, and useful lessons. Continue reading
Earlier this month, Jason Kerney–a team member at Hunter Industries and practitioner of mob programming–wrote an article detailing the interview process his team uses for bringing new people into “the Mob”.
This post dives into Jason’s narrative covering the principles that challenge the convention of hiring and seemingly radical tactics that answer a simple question: what is the difference between hiring a person and filling a position? Continue reading
Recently, I had a very enjoyable conversation with a group of successful, talented software leaders regarding Agile. More specifically, many of the topics shared underlying assumptions about the role of Agile to create structure in the place of chaos and align people towards a common goal.
As part of the conversation, we eventually reached a point where a question was posed (in my best paraphrase): “How can we measure a person’s effectiveness in changing people’s minds?”
I felt that all-too-familiar sense of discomfort and asked if “changing peoples’ minds” is a responsibility or requirement of a job, whether it be a change management role, team coach (e.g., a ScrumMaster), or anything in-between. Some in the group expressed the validity and importance of such a measurement; thus, I’ll explore a question within: should it be our job to change peoples’ minds? Continue reading
I recently hosted a learning event for Agile in the San Diego area and had an interesting conversation with an energetic young woman looking to find a ScrumMaster job. During our chat, among other concerns, she lamented on the number of companies that have asked her to justify the role as a full time position.
She’s certainly not the first person to run into this question: many popular Scrum practitioners have posted their thoughts and insights to this query. A common sense line of thought points to the prescribed role defined in the Scrum guide, while further highlighting the need to be economically pragmatic. These seem like safe, surface level thoughts to me. I’d like to try something different: a ScrumMaster is a team coach, and like all coaches (in an Agile work system, not just Scrum), no — the role must not be a permanent position. Continue reading
In a management article titled “Radical Candor – The Surprising Secret to Being a Good Boss“, I discovered a quote from the person at the center of the article’s focus, Kim Scott:
“I would argue that criticizing your employees when they screw up is not just your job, it’s actually your moral obligation.”
(If you’d like to take a moment to re-read this quote, or pause to recover from shock, I understand – please take as long as you need.) Continue reading