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More About Community

Building community may be easier than you think. This is the 3rd article I've written about Community. It's a recurring theme in coaching leaders and the entire enterprise. Community is actually the reason why the best coaches use 'Whole Group Process', also known as 'Socio-Technical Systems', also known as 'Large Scale Interventions' also known as 'Dialogical Organizational Design' to help many people in an organization find their way to the state they want to be in. Open Space Technology driven events have been called all those names already. (Incidentally, I invite you to make 3 letter acronyms for all 4 of the buzzwords above. It's a great way to signal that yeah, it's a thing. And you've done your homework on this one.)In the book, Trillion Dollar Coach, the authors…
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What causes Community?

Holding an Open Space event inside an organization, such as a for-profit corporation may strike some executive leaders as counter-intuitive. Most likely, to someone struggling to see the commercial benefits of holding an Open Space event (which I place in 3 categories below), the mechanisms giving rise to the benefits would be even further elusive to conjure up, at least at first blush. So, today I will borrow the insightful writings of Anthony De Mello to unveil the underpinnings of Community, in particular.Open Space, when held correctly, can:1) Solve wicked, intractable, complex problems in record time.2) Boost the levels of employees' engagement, leadership, ownership and sense of fulfillment with work.3) Generate a sense of belonging to a work community.If the requisite elements of freedom, respect, safety, and purpose are all…
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The Crux of Leadership StoryTelling: Poets, Politicians & The Muse

Wrapping up an executive leadership coaching engagement, I am reflecting on the professional growth of my client CIO. I notice that most of their daily activities fall into 2 large buckets. The first bucket is what I would classify as executing on tasks belonging to a "Poet" role. The second bucket is filled with tasks arising from a "Politician" role. This article is about the former, not the later.As I think back about how I've observed the activities that fill up the day of CXOs (my generic term for any C-level executive) I recall them spending a large amount of energy and probably time, creating a deck of PowerPoint slides. That deck may be what they will present to the Board of Directors, their entire department, industry counter-parts in trade…
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The Cloud & The Pyramid: Variable & Virtual Organizational Models for the VUCA World

For all the handwringing before board meetings, answers have emerged that could bring peace of mind and real hope for those beleaguered by the task of achieving dramatic transformation in business results, not just nudges to lines and boxes in an organizational chart, or tiny bumps in profitability. Much to the consternation of proponents of self-organization and Agile transformation consultants around the world, the Fortune 500 C-Level executives and private equity corporate heads do not always have the option of completely flattening their organization by fiat or even slowly building consensus.So, are they dinosaurs destined for extinction? That is a question I've never heard uttered out loud in the boardroom. However, it is a question that plays on loop-track in the minds of senior management and executive leaders into the…
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Leveled Engagement: A New Mob Programming Pattern

Mob Programming can be an excellent way for teams to create high quality code and also facilitate for collaboration of teams. Mob Programming is done with the driver-navigator model. The Navigator dictates for the Driver what to type and the Driver executes the actions specified by the Navigator. In short, it’s much like going on a road trip with friend where you work together to arrive at the destination. However, keep in mind when mobbing the role rotates based on a timer. The key difference between mobbing and pairing is that it is more than 2 people. Although this may seem like a minor distinction it is not. The addition of an individual shifts the social dynamic of the interaction between team members. Group dynamics makes it easier to bring…
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Working at the Correct Level of Abstraction at the Right Time: All the Time.

Today I observed a mob of programmers self-organize into 3 concurrent levels of abstraction. They were developing a computer game.  If Whole Team Programming or Mob Working is a new phrase to you, the basics are here.Roles and Levels in MobbingAt the lowest level (1) of abstraction was the Driver. They operate the keyboard and mouse to manipulate the IDE, version control, and code base.  The least experienced developers went on a 3 way rotation in the Diver role. The next abstraction level up (2) was the Navigator & Researchers roles. Three more developers who had their own laptop computers, occupied these roles. They were switching between conversation, searching the web for code samples, design patterns, and the suite of test scripts. They were making code alterations and commenting with Teletype. …
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Governing Transparently

Have you ever seen an organization that lacks any semblance of focus, or prioritization at the program portfolio portfolio level, and cannot find any way to improve beyond operating in power politics wherein the highest ranking officer, or person with greatest social currency (aka. pecking order) calls all the shots with no real accountability for the final outcomes? I have.I also knew of no simple alternative governance models...until today. There's at least one. It's called the "Money Pile Game." I'm going to explain why this could be a boon for very serious Agile Executive Coaches, Intrapreneurs, and start-up founders everywhere looking for a simple, effective, and rapid governance model. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUV79U8RszQ&feature=youtu.be So, let's start picking MPG apart with Good Game Mechanics. (a construct established by Jane McGonigal in her book entiteld,…
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But Why Communitas?

Civilization seems so obsessed with individualism, personal performance, and distinctly partitioned acknowledgement with rewards these days. Why Community, and why now? Many are asking. There is an excellent source of answers from a book published as many as 27 years ago, as of the time of this writing. Multiple extractions from the same book follows:"Responsibility for the WholeThe freedoms in the first column of our chart - truth and rights, empowered teams, and freedom of enterprise - liberate the power of the individual and of teams and focus attention on the customers. These freedoms can themselves transform bureaucracy, but the transformation will be neither balanced nor complete. Other complementary forces and institutions are needed for people to connect, collaborate, and give each other community support - especially to get complex…
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Empowerment vs. Autonomy

There is much conversation in the Agile world and about the Agile world involving terms such as "Self-Management" and "Empowerment" and "Autonomy."  Agreeing to the definition of each of these terms, and making a distinction between what they signify or don't signify is vitally important to preventing the mistaken impression or misapplication of mandate, freedom, support, and guidance.  Or any mixture of the 4 concepts. Empowerment is a throttle of conveying decision-making authority to an individual or group who is closer to the work than the centralized, elevated tier in an organization which otherwise exclusively retains this decision-making authority. Autonomy is the state of holding all the decision-making authority for oneself, and inescapably owning all the effects of wielding or failing to wield that same totality of authority. I am…
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The Best Books In Life Are Free

Before Agile was actually named 'Agile' or described in any kind of coherent document, there were people doing research into social technology who wanted to uncover predictable ways to lower the drama that makes life less than great for everyone, at work, in school, or at home.   -Anywhere that interaction is bound to happen or be sabotaged by misunderstanding. The people I'm talking about are Jim and Michele McCarthy, and they compiled the very best learning into a book called "Software For Your Head." (Pay full-freight here if you want a paper copy.) And as if that wasn't enough, they made their book free to the world because social technology wants to be free. If you want to have a Great life, and accomplish Great things, then this is the…
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