Training and Education

Recently, while discussing how job descriptions and evaluation criteria impact collaboration, a director commented, “Behavior. That’s what we’re after. Behavior.” Her comment struck me as both familiar and very odd. However, the director’s comment did...

Give Yourself a Gift: Reflection Time

This time of year is associated with giving gifts to others. But I think it is also a good time to think about the gifts we can give ourselves. One that we can all afford is the gift of reflection time. Let me tell you a story. I have a friend, Jen, who is a pure...

Control and Creativity

Last month, I had the privilege to study with a renowned artist, Nancy Crow. It was a wonderful experience. Of course I learned about art —design principles, use of color, figure ground tension. I also came smack up against an issue that I see in so many...

Six Ways to Build Trust

Trust may seem mysterious—something that just happens or grows through some unknowable process. The good news is there are concrete actions that tend to build trust (and concrete actions that are almost guaranteed to break down trust). First, let’s agree on a...

Interview about Change with Marcus Blankenship

I recently sat down for an interview with Marcus Blankenship of Programming Leadership. We talked about my book, 7 Rules for Positive Productive Change, and how change plays out for people and organizations. You can listen to the full interview on Marcus...

Rules of Thumb for Agile Coaches

At the end of one of my Team Coaching workshops, a participant–an agile coach with years of experience– remarked, “I had no idea there was more to coaching than asking questions.” Another coach commented, “I see now why me teaching how to write stories...

An Alternative to the Annual Review

Well, it’s that time again — time for the yearly performance review. The ritual starts with gathering feedback, proceeds to assigning rating/ranking, and drags on through doling out a raise. Do you enjoy annual review ritual? Thought not. This year I think...

Change Artist Super Powers: Patience

John was out of patience. “It shouldn’t take this long!” John, the VP of Development, snapped. “This is a simple change. It is 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...

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...

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....

Jobs Don’t Fit in Boxes

Most job descriptions break work down into discrete chunks. They define activities a person must do, list required behaviors and desired qualities. Job descriptions aim for standardization. I understand HR departments desire consistency. Yet, it seems to me, job...

Change Artist Super Powers: Experimentation

In previous Super Power posts, I wrote about the importance of curiosity and observation in change. Both of those play into the Super Power I’ll discuss in this post: experimentation.  Tiny changes, done as experiments, may feel like you’re dancing around...

Change Artist Super Powers: Observation

Why does observation matter? Let me tell you a story.When I was a kid, we played a birthday party game called Pin the Tail on the Donkey. The game involved a large wall poster of a sad-looking, tailless donkey. The parent-in-charge handed out replacement tails and...

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....

Forgotten Questions of Change

When people set out to change their organizational system, they think about the desired future state. But they don’t give sufficient attention to what is. I call this blindspot the forgotten questions of change. However, change starts from where you are. You...

Seven Ps for Profound Change

Captured from my keynote, Still No Silver Bullets, at Big Apple Scrum Day, May 17, 2016. The 7 Ps  for  Profound  Change. I’d add an 8th question: What do you want to preserve?

Using Data in Problem-Solving

Many problems are easier to solve when you have data. However, there is a difference between having data and using data. Several years ago, I worked wit an organization that was experiencing system outages. After months of outages and no effective action, they...

What Does Your Product Do?

What does your product do? When it gets dark, I turn on a light. I can work, cook, read—long after sundown. I can see where I’m going, avoid the dog toys on the floor, and not run into furniture. If I need something that’s in the house, I can find it. The simple flip...

Assessing Team Improvement

Managers who have invested effort and money in training teams in Agile methods want to see team improvement–reasonable enough. I describe a handful of measures that indicate the organization is improving over all in posts( here and here. Some of these measures...

Seven Agile Best Practices

Someone I don’t know offered to teach me Agile Best Practices recently. I tend to think there are “generally good practices,” some of which are broadly applicable.  In my experience, the search for Best Practices is often a search for Silver Bullets,...

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