The Forest Succession Principle

In ecology, the process through which rocky ground becomes a forest is referred to as forest succession. I’m married to an ecologist, so I hear a lot about such things, and it occurred to me that we can learn about how to create sustainable change in our organizations...

Filling a Team Position

Many job descriptions focus on skills—usually technical skills. Interpersonal skills may get a passing mention—“strong communication skills,” “collaboration,” or “teamwork.”  But when you are filling a team position, you have to think both more...

Experiencing Change

In early 2020, we experienced one hell of a change when Covid-19 swept the planet.  On March 13, I flew home from a workshop on the west coast. For the next three months, I only left my house to buy groceries. My status quo shattered, along with everyone else’s. The...

For Happy Employees, Explore Needs Fit

At one point in my life, I dreamed of owning a book store. I loved the idea of working in a book store, but the actual job was a poor fit. I had the skills to do the work. But it didn’t fulfill what I wanted out of the job. Here’s what I wanted: I loved...

Re-Teaming, Not Churn

In response to a tweet on the benefits of stable teams, someone asked whether I’m against changing teams (aka re-teaming) in response to business needs. I am not.  I’m against churn.  There are plenty of good reasons to re-form teams to meet organizational...

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?...

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