The Evolution of Trust

When forming a team, or starting to work with a team, I usually start with the foundation of a team: Trust.

I even used several times, the book from Patrick Lencioni: The Five Dysfunction of a Team, obviously because the “Absence of Trust” is the base of the pyramid.

I remember playing 2 times, with large teams, a game based on the game theory, and a variant of the prisoner’s dilemma. The effects with one of the team were really great, for the one, where one of the participants betrayed not only the other team but also his own team, the results were not so good, for him and for his relationship with others in the larger team.

So I am always struggling with the idea of bringing that game to build trust, because we could have someone in the group that will betray the others, and after that, it is difficult to deal with it. One of the participants told me one time: “at least, now, we all know”.

The idea of the article has been triggered by the brilliant work from Nicky Case: The Evolution of Trust.

The recommendation (The ask?) is for you to play with it, and to get other people to play with it.

This could help you and others to better grasp how we build or destroy trust.

Ready to play?

It’s here: http://ncase.me/trust/

Managing Time

When I searched for “time management” on google this morning, there were 238,000,000 results. So, we could consider that it’s not necessarily useful to add one more.

A quick look at the first page of results, and we can already see divergent opinions. From the rigid daily structure to the statement that time management is ruining our life.

Let’s start with the most important first: why do we want to manage the time we have?

The common answer is: “To get things done”.

What are those “things” we want to be done? and why it’s important?

Because those things contribute to the accomplishment of a greater goal.

All that sounds really great! So, why do people are saying, from time to time, that they don’t have the time to do what they want?

As I fall myself into that kind of trap, I can try to list a few potential causes:

  • Knowing what you want and why you want it: if you don’t, the lack of time could be just a nice excuse? Writing down your vision of where you will be in the next 5 to 10 years on the different aspect of your life could be a good exercise.
  • Knowing what is the most important thing right now in order to make it happens: if you don’t, you want something, but you did not do your homework yet in order to make it happen, and so the question you need to answer is: What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
  • Driving yourself: Maybe your calendar or your inbox are driving what you are doing? If this is the case, you know what is the most important thing, but you are not doing it. One way to solve that could be to block some time, at the beginning of the day for the most important thing, and then only after that, choosing to invest time working on your inbox. Another important one is to empty your calendar, you will not be able to participate in everything and contribute to everything. Choose where your contribution is valuable.
  • Interruptions: multitasking is a myth, and so you want to limit the interruption during the block of time you are working on the most important things. The number of decisions we are able to make in a day is limited, so you don’t want to make decisions at each new notifications, new mail, new message on social media…
  • Care for yourself: you should have a block of time to care for your body, to exercise, to meditate…
  • Invest in social interactions: you are not alone, and you need, as a human being, social interactions, so you probably want to invest in interactions that will have a positive effect on yourself, so you can have a positive effect on others.

I practiced the Pomodoro Technique in the past, and that definitely helped me to increase my focus on ONE thing at a time, and not to be fooled by my own estimates.

Maybe something to start with?

 

 

The header picture is from Ryan McGuire.

Team Identity

The sense of belonging is an important experience to have. Belonging means that we are accepted as part of, as a member of the group, the team, the company.

We want to be part of a team because what defines the team identity is appealing to us. The team is defined by its vision and its working agreements.

When you are building software the open source way, you can identify 3 main categories of team identity:

  1. Upstream project
  2. Downstream product
  3. Jobs to be done

1- Upstream project

The team members belong first to the upstream project. They will tend to prioritize what they think is the best for the upstream project. They will be progressively disconnected from the people that are using the technology they build. They could even miss new needs and be surprised that people switch to another technology that is not so different/better/other qualifiers…

2- Downstream product

The team members belong first to the product they build. They will tend to prioritize what they think is the best for the product. They will tend to forget that building the open source way is a great way to understand why people want to use the technology by confronting your point of view and requirements with those of the other members of the community. The extreme is that they will end up being alone, and disrupted by another product.

3- Jobs to be done

The Jobs to be done theory has been described by Christensen and his colleagues. I wrote an article about one of his book: How to measure our life and I will probably write another one about Competing Against Luck.

In short, the Jobs to be done theory explains why people are making choices, hiring or firing a product or service, by focusing on the understanding of the jobs, the problem they are trying to solve.

The teams that identify themselves to the jobs to be done are stronger because they can work on technologies in the open, curate technologies that they need, invest in new technologies that could replace their current core technologies, without losing their identity. They can envision their solution as a sole product, or integrated into other products knowing that the most important thing is the jobs to be done. They can partner with other knowing precisely what they are partnering on without feeling that they could lose/win something in the partnership. They can focus on their users and solve a specific problem, a specific “jobs to be done” without the temptation to expand the scope of what they are doing.

I guess that the jobs to be done should be the first thing you want a team to agree upon.

Thoughts? Please comment, tweet, email…

 

 

 

The header picture is from Ryan McGuire.

Town Hall Meeting

The term Town Hall Meeting is often used inside a company to characterize a meeting organized by a highly ranked executive and gathering a large part of the company employees, or even all of them.

Usually, the meeting is meant to give a short status on what the executives are working on for the future of the company and to answer some of the burning questions that have been heard in the hall way. Some of those questions have not been heard directly by the executives, but have been reported to them by some people. I have used two times the word “some” in the last sentence to give a sense of fuzziness, and uncertainty of what are the real concerns of people.

Let’s imagine that you are this executive, you have organized the meeting, you are ready for your speech, everybody is there. So now, you delivered your speech and you are ready for questions.

And, there’s no question.

Or, if there are questions, there are pushed by some manager, that want you to repeat what you already said, something that will reinforce their own beliefs, or positions.

In your speech, you have even gone further than what was planned to be said with your management team, and you have said that.

But still, there’s no question.

And, you know that there are unspoken questions. But the time is over, and there’s no way to know what are the real questions.

What is the problem?

Maybe the problem lies in the format itself. The Town Hall is not giving the sense to people that they can contribute to the thinking, that they can disagree. The Town Hall presents yourself in a position of power, with the authority to say yes or no.

Now, let’s say that you are a participant of the Town Hall Meeting.

At some point during the speech, you had one question. It was not really a question, in reality, it was more a slight disagreement. Maybe you wanted a clarification.

During the course of the speech, you have seen that effect reproduced 2 or 3 times. But that was not the time for questions.

And when the time for questions came, you cannot find a way to formulate all this in a meaningful way.

You even heard some of your coworkers said at the end of the meeting: “I bite my tongue because I really not agree with what Mr. Z said on this topic”.

Another option?

Maybe, If we want more interactions, if we want people to ask for clarifications when it’s time to do that, we need to use another format of meetings.

One of those formats could be a Fish Bowl.

In a fish bowl, the executive will not be alone in the center, so he can be joined in the fishbowl by some people in his or her management team. And it’s a moderated conversation, so topics can flow more freely from one or the other.

In addition, there’s an empty chair in the middle, and any person in the audience can sit on that chair to join the conversation at any time. When this occurs, an existing member of the fishbowl must leave the fishbowl and free a chair.

This way the clarifications questions and the slight disagreement could be covered at the moment they arise, and more questions and concerns can be covered.

Are you ready to try this?

 

 

 

The header picture is from Ryan McGuire.

Why Transformation Efforts Fail?

Thanks to a push email from Harvard Business Review, and discussions around ongoing transformation efforts, I read again an old article from John Kotter: Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail.

The first lesson is that change is not an event, it’s a process. The second lesson is that change takes time, and not following the change process could create an illusion of speed, but will result in failure.

If we study successful or unsuccessful changes attempt using the 8 steps proposed by Kotter, we could learn a lot on what we could improve in the future.

One aspect that is not directly covered in the 8 steps is what is called “Your organization”.

I learned from successful (and unsuccessful) changes, that defining “The Organization” is crucial. It will define who is part of the core group, and more importantly, who is part of the core group from the start.

Let’s say that in your organization, you have several teams that need to work together to deliver a product or a service, and you observe that they are struggling to deliver, they could even engage in politics and blame game.

If you engage with team A and team B. That could be, for example, because they are at the beginning of the production process, or for other reason, as you will always find great justification for what you did and cannot undo. I am smiling there, at myself, please don’t be offended.

You could work with those teams on step 1, and establish a sense of urgency. You could work on step 2, and form a group that will lead the change.

Now that you learned more on the production process, you can clearly see that team C, plays a crucial role, and needs to be involved.

As you are yourself driven by the sense of urgency, you could decide to involve team C for step 3. You could rationalize this shortcut as much as you can, but it will cause you a lot of troubles.

The best option is to go back to step 1, and work with team A, B, and C on establishing a sense of urgency, and continue the process from there. Until that restart, Team C will not see the same crises or potential crises, they will not see the same causes, and they will not want their future to be dictated by other teams.

 

The header picture is from Ryan McGuire.

Fight Club Retrospective

You probably remember the first 2 rules of Fight Club, right?

Let’s review the rules:

“Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club! Third rule of Fight Club: if someone yells “stop!”, goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over. Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule: one fight at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: the fights are bare knuckle. No shirt, no shoes, no weapons. Seventh rule: fights will go on as long as they have to. And the eighth and final rule: if this is your first time at Fight Club, you have to fight.”

― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Let’s now define what a retrospective is. A retrospective, is a specific session, in which a team reflects on what happened during the previous iteration. This reflection will lead the team to decisions, either to reinforce positive behaviors, or to invest time to improve what is preventing the members to achieve their goals.

There’s a lot of ways to facilitate retrospective, you could go here and there to find out more.

Isabel, my amazing wife, had the idea to create an “all-in-one” retrospective plan based on the Fight Club rules. You will learn more about this plan in her book to come.

In the meantime, I would like to present how I used the idea to foster productive conversations in a team that is scared of conflict. This is the second of the 5 dysfunctions of a team.

Maybe you think that using fight is too violent in the workplace. And at the same time, what happens in us, during a discussion could be felt as fight.

 

The meeting will start with the explanation of the goal, and how the Fight Club rules are transposed in our work environment.

The first 2 rules are useful, because, as stated by a manager in the team, the children don’t want to hear that “mum and dad are fighting”. I could argue that this statement in itself says a lot about the current state of trust in the organization, and that in an effective organization, the manager will probably not consider himself or herself as the parent of the team members. If we put that aside, the first 2 rules are useful to create a secured space in which conflicts are allowed, and nobody knows that we could have conflict in this team.

So we are saying there, that during this specific meeting, we will not seek artificial harmony, we will accept to start the conversation on topics that we are not in agreement (yet).

Third rule, we need to be able to stop the conversation. Fourth rule, only two people involved, everybody fighting at the same time against one is not a smart idea, right?

Fifth rule: one fight at a time. Let’s not mix all the topics in the conversation.

Sixth rule: no protection and no weapon. Is referring to your boss a weapon? Let’s discuss what it means for the team.

Seventh rule: … as long as they have too… We need the conversation to end with a decision.

Eighth rule: first timer have to speak up. In fact, every team member will have to bring a topic on the table.

 

What is missing there, is a way to bring topics that is non judgmental. So we could have a productive conversation. Isabel proposed to use Non Violent Communication, to encourage people to observe, express their feelings (and not their thoughts), to express their unsatisfied needs, and their requests.

 

This explanation of the 4 part of the NVC process could help 🙂

 

How to measure our life?

A colleague recommended me to look at the work of Clayton Christensen. This is an article to encourage you to do the same.

We are living in a nested system. In the world, there are nations, and in nations, there are corporations. In corporations, there are business unit, in which there are teams. And in teams, there are individuals, and individual there are brains…

The way we are looking at the world because our brains need to simplify things to understand those, is mainly by using causal effect. Something happens, because of some characteristics.

And Often, there’s in fact a correlation between the characteristic and the effect we are looking at, people who are buying a newspaper for example, but that’s not the cause.

The cause is that there’s a job to be done, and people will hire a newspaper to do that job.

The job to be done is the cause that will drive the behavior of people, teams, business unit, corporations, and nations.

If you understand the job to be done, and you are selling to big people at high margin, you will sooner or later face the disruption, of people that could deliver the job to be done, to small people at low margin… (and that will then come to the big people that will not pay you anymore). The disruptors are not competing against you at the beginning, they are competing against non consumption by making an affordable product.

The problem we will face is how we will measure success. If our way to measure success leads to short term profitability decision, that will kill long term success.

For corporations, that could be when you are measuring return on net assets for example, and that you are taking the easy way of outsourcing to reduce the assets, instead of finding ways to increase the return.

For individuals, that could be to mobilize all energy on work, because we could measure success with the money we earn, or the position on a corporate ladder, and as a consequence losing family and friends.

The way we will choose to measure our life, will have a consequence on the long term.

What is the impact of our actions on people?

 

 

Header photo by Olu Eletu.