Blog

Empty Emancipation Without Choice

I completed another engagement with a client 3 days ago confirming what Daniel Mezick, Author of Open Space Agility Handbook and The Culture Game has said about inviting the people who do the work into an Agile Transformation. Inspired by Participatory company forerunners, Semco and Morning Star, my client eliminated all titles (Manager, Director, Team Lead, etc.), performance reviews*, etc. Then said to his entire workforce, "There are no rules. Govern yourselves. Don't focus on Utilization rates. I emancipate you."  At least, that's the way the message landed with the knowledge workers.   Everyone freaked out. Even the Agilists in the company were stunned and despondent, because you cannot mandate freedom any more than you can abandon people to the Tyranny of Structurelessness.   Result: Workers complained. Some resigned. Profitability…
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16 Questions for Setting Up a Coaching Alliance.

As I have begun building a coaching alliance with the CEO and executive team of my clients in the past, I have found a very broad disparity of awareness, maturity of practice and level of depth in coaching needs.  So, I’d like to share some questions that I may begin conversations with, whoever may be engaging my services.  This kind of Fierce Leadership conversation (please see the book by the same title) is most useful when it is completed earlier than later in a business transformation consulting engagement. 1. Does the Enterprise Agile Coach’s activities include executive coaching? 2. Who does coach the executives? 3. How do the executives shift their mindset to become agile? 4. In what way do the executives go first in agile, to serve their constituents?…
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Size Matters! Duration Too!

If you’re reading this on my blog, then it’s safe to say I didn’t spam you.  Let’s face the facts: we live in an age where impersonations of the President of the United States start with pursed lips, hands apart mouthing “YUGE” [all caps added] with a silent ‘h’ thank you. McDonalds sells the Giga Big Mac with 4 all beef patties, and Costco shoppers nation-wide give a whole new meaning to the Conehead phrase, “let us now consume mass quantities.”  AT&T and even kids know bigger is better. So what’s up with Big Visible Charts buried deep beneath small screens, in small cubes, in small distributed offices, in small teams?  Now is no time to be small, in any way, shape or form. Go big, or go home…as they say.…
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The Team = The Product Board

When you’re blessed with a good client who made their career by building great teams, you’ll immediately find that they are easier to work with, for an external agile coach.  They just “get it.”  -No coaxing or convincing is required…even if they don’t know any more about agile than “I’m pretty sure it’s a four letter word!”  (Yeah, he really said it straight up like that.) When setting the Metrics and Milestones for the agile Transformation engagement, the good client is not preoccupied with hitting some arbitrary sprint velocity number across their organization.  Rather, they want their team members to individually and collectively focus on Value. Why? Because it creates profit.  If reliably delivering value to customers isn’t generating profits for them, then there are deeper issues to fix, which…
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When Open Space Pulls

A year or so ago I had a very heated discussion about what are the defining characteristics of Open Space Technology and how to leverage it for Agile Transformation in product development teams, technology, or the enterprise in general.  Much to my chagrin I found that the harder a looked for rules, practices and procedures, the more elusive it became to grok it.  I was prone to overlook opportunities to leverage the greater Laws of Open Space and miss out on its contributions toward feeding the human Spirit; the fuel to burn brightly: Communitas. My attempts to codify what constitutes Open Space gave false rigidity to what I understood to be necessary conditions that give rise to its effects, and my colleague grew more and more frustrated with each question…
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The “Right Framework” and Right Organizational Structure

I had a conversation with a group of managers and executives who had formed a committee to research and identify the organizational structure that would accommodate the continued adoption of “Agile | Scrum.” Resisting the temptation to launch into a conversation about what flavors of Scrum would not be agile, I asked them what their current situation was, and what their intention is. They explained that they had 1 team that had been doing Scrum for a couple of years, and was decent at doing it, but they wanted to gradually launch an additional 1 or 2 Scrum teams, before the end of the year, but they did not have any new Product Owner or Scrum Master to belong to these new teams, and they were hesitant to have Managers…
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Back To Square 1.0

Looking at the topic of Addicted Behavior, in the working world, and specifically in regards to organizations hoping to be Agile, I read an Article by Daniel Mezick. It’s funny (the tone and puns) and it smarts a lot more when I look at the date he published it, and Jeff Sutherland’s very positive reaction to it. I look inward and ask myself a ‘Why?’ question: Why am I only now getting into this, so many years into my life, so many years into agile, so many years into Core Protocols, organizational transformation, improv, coaching, facilitation, experiential learning, Open Space Technology, Prime/OS and OSA…I’m coming to a realization.  -I didn’t want to see. I didn’t want to know what I was doing, that was giving me what I have, and who…
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Stepping Out of Inner Space: Stepping Into The Future

A friend in the Open Space Agility community recently asked me: Hey all! So, I am having my second interview for an “agile catalyst” position at a bank in Pittsburgh – meeting with the Agile transformation team tomorrow afternoon. My plan, at some point, is to propose an OSA approach. Any tips? Brief info: the bank is at the early stages and is reportedly still in a very “fluid” state and open to ideas about training and approach, though some conversation has suggested that may not be the full story. Leadership is reportedly fully supportive. I don’t know how everyone else feels yet. Thanks So, I responded: How about having an “Inner Space Event?” -See if the executive leadership team is willing to gather together in Open Space to freely…
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Open Inner Space: The Want-A-Thon

The future of Open Space is not in Outer Space (aka. larger and larger self-organizing events), but in Inner Space. In an organizational transformation, an authorizing event where the corporate powers that be reach a consensus about leveraging the power of open space in general, and Open Space Agility in particular, is best served by holding a very small Open Space, or what I’m calling Inner Space, because it is represented by officially authorized players of “the inner sanctum” of the organization. Working well with the Willing in Inner Space is the ultimate destiny of any truly empowered Product Owner.  Why?  Let me explain: In order for a Product Owner to create a Product Vision, Roadmap, Go Canvas, User Story Map, Release Plan and Product Backlog (Phew!), there must be…
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