Empowering Leadership II

Every team needs leadership, even self-organizing teams. When I make this statement, some people assume I mean that every team needs a designated leader.  I can’t blame them, most people are accustomed to thinking of leadership residing in a role or a charismatic...

Promoting Double Loop Learning in Retrospectives

“The thinking that got us here isn’t the thinking that’s going to get us where we need to be.”  attributed to Albert Einstein I have  this niggling concern about retrospectives. I have no doubt that retrospectives that are too short,...

Empowering Leadership

Some pundits proclaim that leadership rests on charisma, the ability to create a vision, or “presence.” Teams do need a vision and a compelling goal.  But do teams need one charismatic leader? No.Teams need leaders of a different sort. Teams need leaders...

Yours, Mine, Ours: Clarifying Decision Boundaries

I recently talked to a group that’s forming a new “change leadership” team.  Part of the work of the team is improving the organization, and part is capacity building. Four of the people on the team are folks with technical backgrounds who are viewed as having...

Best at argument != Best ideas

I was talking to my friend Penny the other day about a team she coaches. There’s a really smart guy on the team. I’ll call him Bob. Most of the time Bob is an asset to the team. But when the team needs to decide on a technical solution under time pressure,...

Building Trust, One Iteration at a Time

A while back I talked to a CEO of a contract development shop.  He wondered how Agile could help him with fixed price, fixed scope contracts to deliver software. Of course, the requirements that come with these contracts are never complete or completely accurate. The...

Team Values, Team Norms, Working Agreements, and Rules

Bob Sutton posted a piece on Team Guidelines that got me thinking how team values can be shaped and influenced. The guidelines–all Mom and Apple Pie–were handed down by a new boss for the team to follow. The list starts with “Show Respect.”...

Pendulum Swings and Oscillating Systems

An effective hierarchy provides enough central control for coordinated action in achieving the aim of the organization. At the same time, the hierarchy must provides enough autonomy for subsystems to function, self-organize, flourish. Yes.  But how to do that? Let me...

Team Trap #3: Failing to Navigate Conflict

“The absence of conflict is not harmony, it’s apathy .” Eisenhardt,  Kahwajy and Bourgeois “(….or acquiescing, or avoiding).” Esther Derby Conflict is inevitable at work. Sooner or later, people will disagree about what to test, how to implement a feature, what...

Entering Groups

Most of the time, people integrate into groups well enough that we don’t really notice how it happens.  But a recent rocky experience got me noticing. Looking back over several teams I’ve observed and groups I’ve been part of, here are three (rather...

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