4 Questions for Evaluating Experiments

When you try something new, when to you expect to see results? How do you evaluate an experiment decided on in a retro to know whether your hypothesis was correct? This week I read a post that described a situation I see too often.The poster described a retrospective...

Steering Signals: Signs Along the Way

When making a change or fixing a problem, we consider the outcome we want to achieve—what will be different. People usually consider how to measure  those outcomes. Will cycle time go down? Retention go up? Customer satisfaction improve? Clicks go through the...

Where to Fix a Problem

When there’s an issue in an organization, people have a tendency to focus on fixing the person(s). But there may be other—more effective—ways to fix the problem.  People are easy to see, and easy to criticize. That’s where we’ve been taught to focus. Performance...

Adapting to Change

The idea that we must set personal goals and work relentlessly to achieve them, bothers me. There’s an implicit valuing of perseverance over flexibility, adaptability, ingenuity. Sort of like following the plan–no matter what!–rather than adapting to...

Supporting People Through Change

We are all experiencing change right now. Minor blips and stunning upheavals. Routines at home and work. Expectations, assumptions, institutions—all are up for grabs. People ask, “As a leader in my organization, what can I do? How can I support people through change?...

Explicit and Implicit Knowledge

Baking may not seem related to the work we do. However, my experience teaching a friend how to bake bread highlighted explicit and implicit knowledge. And that has everything thing to do with learning new ways of working and organizational change.  We...

They Need to Change (But Might Not Know It)

Sometimes I meet teams who’ve adjusted or even embraced a change initiated by company leadership. They tell me how much benefit they’ve experienced. But, then say, “We’ve made all these changes, but our managers need to change, too....

Systems and Patterns of Thought

Systems drive behavior. They also influence patterns of thought. When we enter a system—a company for example—we unconsciously slip into the assumptions of the system. The values and beliefs behind structures seep into practices and policies. Truths that we hold as...

When I Feel Empowered, I Can…

I asked a group to complete this sentence: “When I feel empowered, I can__________.” Here’s how they filled in the blank. When I feel empowered, I can… do better thingshave trust get to flowfocusfeel in controleffect changebe excited about...

Work on the System

When I say “work on system,” I mean influencing factors that contribute to patterns of events and interactions in your organization. Making work work better.  So, how do you work on the system? Attend to creating an environment where great work is a...

Introducing Collaboration Tools

Like many people, I’m staying home during a pandemic, trying to work, using collaboration tools. I’m having many Zoom meetings. In one such meeting, I was on a panel regarding remote retrospectives. One of the panelists posited that people from earlier...

When Management by Walking Around Isn’t Possible

Management by walking around isn’t possible right now. You can’t walk by the team room, sense the buzz, see what’s on the task wall, engage in conversation, ask questions. Casual conversations don’t happen naturally.  So how do you, as a dev manager (or line...

WFH: At Home, Trying to Work

At the start of the great wave of WFH, a comment about using PTO for child care during the day scrolled by. No one can seriously be expecting people to switch to PTO each time their kid needed some attention, can they?  How could that possibly work? 7 minutes here, 22...

But are they working hard?

I visited an organization making an Agile transformation. It looked like the teams were making great progress. But the managers asked, “How can we tell they are working hard?” Team members seemed happy with their cross-functional teams. They solved...

The Future May Be Remote. Must It Include Surveillance?

I’ve been hearing various people speculate about how work will look after things get back to normal. (First, they aren’t going to go “back” to normal. There will be a normal, but I doubt it will be what existed pre-pandemic.) It does seem likely that remote work will...

Expectations for Remote Work

On the first day of widespread work from home brought about by the pandemic, I heard a workplace “expert” talking about the new reality of remote work. “Performance expectations and standards must remain the same as in the office,” he declared. There is so much wrong...

Tips for Better Remote Meetings

Many people who are accustomed to going to the office are now working from home, including me. That means more remote meetings, working sessions, and social catch ups. What can we do to make the best of remote meetings? I advocate having a lightweight structure for...

Hiding Bad News

Trouble can’t hide when information is public. Trouble is, some managers, are unable or unwilling to hear bad news, or let others hear it. Why is this? I have some theories. Fear of Failure Many people–managers included–fear failure. Deeply ingrained...

Rethinking Middle Management

Middle management gets a bad rap. The comic strip, Dilbert, depicts middle managers as clueless micro-managers. Obviously, Dilbert is a caricature. But something in it rings true enough that those cartoons show up in offices all over the world.  It is not just...

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...

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