Change Artist Super Powers: Patience

“It shouldn’t take this long!” John, the VP of Development, snapped. “Its just not that hard!” The “it” John referred to was a set of measures and metrics. He believed that if all the teams reported these, everyone would be better able to plan releases. He’d be better able to build trust with customers. He…

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The Risks of Anonymous Feedback

In one of the online forums I participate in, someone declared that feedback between peers must be anonymous. His rationale was that people won’t be honest without anonymity. I have found that it is possible to be honest and not anonymous.  I’ve also found that anonymous feedback backfires in number of ways: People veer into…

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Change Artist Super Powers: Empathy

Some people seem to think that empathy has no place at work…that work requires a hard-nose, logic, and checking your emotions at the door. But, in periods of change, emotions—which are always present, whether we choose to acknowledge them or not—surge to the surface. Ignoring the emotional impact of change doesn’t make it go away.…

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Jobs don’t fit in neat little boxes.

Most job descriptions decompose work into discrete chunks, clearly defining what each position must do. Competency models list required behaviors, seeking standardization across contexts. In essence, these models are akin to specifications for machine parts. Complex knowledge work isn’t like that. I prefer to think about jobs in terms of the work, impact on the organization, context,…

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Change Artist Super Powers: Experimentation

In my previous two posts, I wrote about curiosity and observation. In this one, I’ll share some ideas about experimentation— my third Change Artist Super Power.   Tiny changes, done as experiments, may feel like you’re dancing around the real issue instead of facing it head-on. But many big problems cannot be addressed directly. The…

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Change Artist Super Powers: Observation

When I was a kid, there was a party game called Pin the Tail on the Donkey. The game involved a large wall poster of a sad-looking, tailless donkey. Armed with a replacement tail and a pin, each child attempted to give the donkey a new tail—while blind-folded and a bit dizzy from being spun…

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Change Artist Super Powers: Curiosity

In my work, I draw on models, frameworks, and years of experience. Yet, one of my most valuable tools is a simple one: Curiosity. In an early meeting with a client, a senior manager expressed his frustration that development teams weren’t meeting his schedule. “Those teams made a commitment, but didn’t deliver! Why aren’t those…

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Forgotten Questions of Change

I’ve been thinking about and observing organizational change for a very long time. It seems to me that –in their enthusiasm for efficiency, planning, “managing” change– people often overlook some critical questions. A handful of questions that could lead to more effective action, but seldom get asked: What is working well now, that we can learn…

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Seven Ps for Profound Change

Captured from my keynote at Big Apple Scrum Day, May 17, 2016.

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Using Data in Problem-Solving

Several years ago, I was called to help an organization that was experiencing system outages in their call center. After months of outages and no effective action, they appointed an Operations Analyst to collect data and get to the bottom of the problem. Once they had data, the managers met monthly to review it. At…

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