Want Change? Start with yourself!

[This is a follow-up of my post about three crucial books.]

Starting with the (wo)man in the mirror The title really says it all: If you want change, you have to take some sort of action, to make it happen. It won’t happen by itself, with you just sitting around hoping for it. Today that seems blatantly obvious to me, but it wasn’t, when I first read it (in either “Crucial Conversations” or “Crucial Confrontations”).

I used to waste hours, thinking about how things would be different at work if only other people changed. I had a team that wasted several retrospectives with talking about other teams and how they should change. Looking back it’s almost funny: Continue reading “Want Change? Start with yourself!”

Talk About What Matters: Content, Pattern, Relationship

[This is a follow-up to my post about three crucial books.]

“I talked to him, about his lapse. But he had a valid reason. Just like last time.”

Sounds familiar? Do you keep talking to someone about the same rule violations? Or worse, did you stop, because nothing ever changed?

Cover: Crucial Confrontation “Crucial Confrontations” suggests that you may have held the wrong conversation. After the first violation, that incident – the content – is the right thing to talk about.

“Yesterday you’ve made changes in the live branch, that you did not discuss with anyone. We have rules against this. Live changes are always risky and we want to minimize risk by requiring two sets of eyes to check for errors.”

If violations happened before, you can get you sidetracked, if you talk about the individual incidents. People tend to come up with good reasons for the single occurrences. “Sure, you’re right, but I had little choice, because of $extenuating_circumstance.” One of our scrum trainers used to counter strings of extenuating circumstances with “Excuses, excuses, excuses.” And he’s right. You’ve seen this before, multiple times. It’s about a pattern. Continue reading “Talk About What Matters: Content, Pattern, Relationship”

Three Crucial Books

As I’m constantly reading, this is the first of probably quite a few book recommendations. Ye have been warned 😉

Up first is not one, but a set of three books by the same authors:

Cover: Crucial Conversations Cover: Crucial Confrontations Cover: Influencer

You’ve probably heard of them, but if you haven’t read them yet, let me give you a nudge. More of a  shove, really. Given, my knowledge of difficult conversations was limited to “I-messages, not You-messages” before reading these, but I found them highly insightful. The “Now that you point it out, it’s so obvious. Why haven’t I realized this before?” kind of insightful. Continue reading “Three Crucial Books”

Eliminate Waste: Caretaker of the Week

Apparently I’m stuck on the topic of decisions, but whereas the last post was about manifesting decisions, this one is about avoiding them. Well, at least a certain kind of decisions: The kind where teams need to do something regularly, but it doesn’t matter which team member does it, as long as it gets done. Let me give you some examples:

  • Who takes care of ad-hoc support requests in a team of admins doing kanban
  • Which scrum master writes the weekly “What are the scrum masters doing, anyway”-email
  • Which team member attends the SoS. (In my workplace the SoS is a stand up of team members, not the scrum masters.)

Because each of these decisions is tiny and not very significant on its own, people are sometimes reluctant to agree on a long-term arrangement that eliminates the string of tiny decisions. They figure, they’ll just take them each time they present themselves, because, hey, tiny, right? What ill could possibly happen?

Turns out, a variety of ills: Continue reading “Eliminate Waste: Caretaker of the Week”

“Was that a Decision?”

That awkward moment, when you ask “Shall we try that?” and the most response you get is mumbling… You’re not quite sure what to make of it. It usually means that nobody is opposed to the idea, but does anyone want it? So you end up hanging in the air with a non-decision and just continue with other stuff. Sounds familiar?

Well, you can kiss that good bye. A colleague of mine introduced an extremely simple, yet effective, technique in our company: In such situations everyone is encouraged to loudly ask “Was that a decision?” That one question gets enough silent or mumbling people to voice a “yes” (albeit not resounding) to make it clear to everyone, that a decision has indeed been taken. I see a definite improvement although only about 5 out of 35 people picked up the habit of asking that question.

PS: If you’re not interested in just a “yes”, but degrees of support, try Fist-of-Five (in German).

That “New Blog”-smell!

Ah, the promise of a new blog… Isn’t it wonderful?

Funny enough, it took me a long time to decide that all my agile-related thoughts deserve a dedicated place. I published a few of those thoughts on my shared computer-related blog, but that blog has a nerdy, non-business vibe to it, and Scrum just didn’t fit well.

So here I go, hoping to post something worthwhile at least every 14 days. I’m currently a scrum master for 2 teams and member in a 3rd team. Said 3rd team is using Kanban and we’re creating the UX. So the occasional UX-related post might slip in…