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General

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful is a book by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter published in 2007.

The trouble with successful people is that they tend to believe that their “bad” habits are not so “bad.” They have proof of that. They are successful. So, what could they do, or more precisely, what could they stop doing to be more successful?

The book presents The Twenty Habits That Hold You Back From The Top:

  1. Winning too much: The need to win at all costs and in all situations – when it matters, when it doesn’t, and when it’s totally beside the point.
  2. Adding too much value: The overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion.
  3. Passing judgment: The need to rate others and impose our standards on them
  4. Making destructive comments: The needless sarcasm and cutting remarks that we think make us sound sharp and witty.
  5. Starting with “No,” “But,” or “However”: The overuse of these negative qualifiers which secretly say to everyone, “I’m right. You’re wrong.”
  6. Telling the world how smart we are: The need to show people we’re smarter than they think we are.
  7. Speaking when angry: Using emotional volatility as a management tool.
  8. Negativity, or “Let me explain why that won’t work”: The need to share our negative thoughts even when we weren’t asked.
  9. Withholding information: The refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others.
  10. Failing to give proper recognition: The inability to praise and reward.
  11. Claiming credit that we don’t deserve: The most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success.
  12. Making excuses: The need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it.
  13. Clinging to the past: The need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto events and people from our past; a subset of blaming everyone else.
  14. Playing favorites: Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly.
  15. Refusing to express regret: The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit when we’re wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.
  16. Not listening: The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues.
  17. Failing to express gratitude: The most basic form of bad manners.
  18. Punishing the messenger: The misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually trying to help us.
  19. Passing the buck: The need to blame everyone but ourselves.
  20. An excessive need to be “me”: Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they’re who we are.

The “twenty-first” habit is goal obsession.

The idea that being obsessed with a high-level goal makes you forget the hear and now. The present in which you are, indeed, destroying all your chances of reaching your goals.

I love to use books with people I work with. I used The Five Dysfunctions of A Team or The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni. I also used Radical Candor by Kim Scott.

I decided to use the twenty habits with a leadership team I just met.

The first part of the session was reviewing and discussing the habits. Listening to the questions and discussions can teach a lot about the people in the room.

The second part was for the team members to identify for each other, through an anonymous survey, what habit they thought the others in the team should focus on removing.

The third part was for the team members to discover the results, and pick the habit they will want to work on during the next quarter.

The last part was to select their accountability partner to work with to achieve the goal.

I am happy with the results so far. If you try the practice, let me know through the usual means: email, Twitter, or Linkedin.

Categories
Le Podcast

Grow your Software Engineering Career with Emilien

Emilien Macchi is a Senior Principal Software Engineer at Red Hat. He is French and lives in Canada. He contributes to OpenStack nearly since the inception of the open-source project.

I had the pleasure to get Emilien on Le Podcast to discuss how learning and sharing were essential ways of growing his career in Software Engineering.

We covered many topics: peer reviews, pair programming, remote work (he thinks that collaboration is easier and better remotely). Of course, I also asked what he thinks are the most important things to develop as a coder (spoiler, it is not only technical skills).

As Emilien is also one of the first people who let a text review on Goodreads, I asked him what he thought of I am a Software Engineer and I am in Charge: The book that helps increase your impact and satisfaction at work.

I hope you will enjoy the episode! In any case let me know email, Twitter, or Linkedin.

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Le Podcast

Jason’s Thirteen Rules of a Team

In this episode of Le Podcast, I had the great pleasure to receive Jason McKerr. Jason is the Engineering leader for Management and Automation at Red Hat (great things like Ansible, Insights, Satellite…)

My objective was to have Jason explained his Thirteen Rules of a Team which I discovered during one mentoring session with one member of his team.

Here are the 13 Rules for Team Members and Team Leaders.

  1. Have Fun
  2. Do Good Work. Make some money.
  3. Take care of the people who work for/with you. The Team comes first.
  4. Take care of the user/customer.
  5. Take care of the people you work for. Rules 3 and 4 will do most of the work on rule 5, but the boss always comes last.
  6. It is the team’s obligation to challenge its leader. You won’t get smacked down, you’ll get MORE respect. However, do it appropriately and respectfully. In private.
  7. Once the team lead has made up his mind, even if a team member disagreed before, it is now his/her responsibility to push that decision to the outside world as though it was his or her own.
  8. THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A BAD TEAM, ONLY BAD TEAM LEADERS! If the team is bad, it’s still the leader’s responsibility to make it good.
  9. It is the team leader’s job to protect the team from the outside so that they can do their jobs.
  10. Don’t ever say, “That’s not my job.”
  11. It is a core component of every leader’s job on this team to pass their knowledge onto others in the team. So pass it on…
  12. It is a team leader’s job to push power and loyalty down, not up.
  13. See Rule 1

Listen to the podcast to learn about this framework for leaders to make good decisions. And learn how Jason review the rules with the new people he onboard to the team.

I hope you will enjoy the podcast! Share what you think the usual means: email, Twitter, or Linkedin.

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Le Podcast

All about OKRs with Bart

In this episode of Le Podcast, I had the pleasure to discuss Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Bart den Haak. Bart is a Software Engineer who fell in love with OKRs at a startup more than 10 years ago. He continues to use OKRs since then and he is now advising companies on how to use them.

In a previous episode, I shared an approach to creating great goals using OKRs and Impact Mapping. Get ready to learn more!

In this episode, we covered:

  • What are OKRs?
  • What are the main differences with other goals approaches (balanced scorecard, Hoshin Kanri, MBOs, 4DX…)?
  • Who can use OKRs? (organizations, teams, or individuals?)
  • Where to start?
  • What are the critical aspects of pushing you out of your comfort zone in your learning zone while avoiding the danger zone?
  • What are the common pitfalls?

Bart’s approach resonates really well with me, you will easily make the connection if you read Changing Your Team From The Inside, or my next book I am a Software Engineer and I am in Charge: The book that helps increase your impact and satisfaction at work.

Speaking about books, Bart is currently working on a book, I will keep you updated on that!

More about Bart:

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Le Podcast

Do you want 10x Engineers?

In this episode of Le Podcast, I had the pleasure of discussing with Julien Danjou. Julien has more than 20 years of experience as an open source software hacker. Julien wrote two books about Python.

I wanted to ask him about the myth of 10x Engineers and what advice he could have for Engineers who want to grow their skills.

According to Julien, above the technical aspect that everybody think of, two other aspects are essential to grow as a software engineer: understanding the business, and understanding the social component.

I loved all the examples Julien gave and that could be put into practice immediately. It resonates a lot with me and I think it aligns very well with Michael and I shared in our new book I am a Software Engineer and I am in Charge. I hope that I will have the opportunity to discuss the book with Julien soon!

References:

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Le Podcast

The Anatomy of Peace

In this episode of Le Podcast, John Poelstra and I had a conversation about the book The Anatomy of Peace.

John recommended the book in our previous conversation on how (not) to provide feedback. I read it twice and fell in love with it. John mentioned that in Changing Your Team From The Inside, I said that Change starts with you, it seems The Anatomy of Peace pushes it further: change starts with who you are.

The highlights of the conversations:

  • When your heart is at peace or your heart is at war,
  • When people are doing the right thing, a good opportunity for positive reinforcement,
  • Our body gives us signals to listen to when our heart is at war,
  • What about those times when we consider people as objects, obstacles, or considering them as people, other human beings,
  • The idea of being stuck in a box (I deserve, better than, the need to be seen as, the worse than) and how it could map with the responsibility process of Christopher Avery,
  • We have the choice to honor or betray our senses and desires,
  • The idea of judging others and judging ourselves,
  • The practice of Hoʻoponopono,
  • The connection with the practice of meditation.

Find more information and resources about The Anatomy of Peace on the Arbinger Institute website.

Please feedback, comments by the usual means: email, Twitter, Linkedin!

Categories
General

April’s Fool

Michael Doyle and I are launching a new book in May 2020. The book is I am a Software Engineer and I am in Charge: The book that helps increase your impact and satisfaction at work.

Some people told us that it was not the perfect timing as people surely have other things on their minds. Others told us it was the right timing because people will want something to read. As a result, I think I don’t really know if it is good or bad. I only hope that the book will find its audience and have the impact we wished for when we wrote it.

For April’s fool, we thought about what kind of joke we could make. We opted for a merch store with announces on Twitter using quotes from movies. We thought everybody would guess the joke and laugh with us.

I don’t think it worked. The products were named, the first, the of, and the month. Maybe people did not even get to the page and saw that?

Let’s not all of them, because someone ask it was for real, and if it was possible to order something 🙂 Yes, it is for real and we updated the page with real product names!

Here are two links for if you want to learn more about the book and why we decided to write it.

Categories
General

Chief of Staff in the Tech Industry

In this article, I would like to provide information and pointers to information on the Chief of Staff’s role in the tech industry. As a member of the Engineering Leadership Team at Red Hat, I have been in that kind of role for almost three years for the SVP of Engineering.

People instantly connect the role to the one that John R. Steelman was the first to hold in 1946: White House Chief of Staff. The definition of the role varies immensely between every presidency. Even more, as Chris Whipple states in the subtitle of his book The Gatekeepers, “The White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency.”

As for the White House, the job depends on the company and executive the Chiefs of Staff serve. The general acceleration of the pace of business is the main reason mentioned for the emergence of the role in tech companies. CEO and Executive tend to shift their focus from inside their organization to outside. They need someone trusted to cover for them. Mark Organ, the CEO of Influitive, describes the Chief of Staff job as making him a superhero.

Rob Dickins, who served as Chief of Staff for several executives at Autodesk, describes the role using three orientations. I find the framework useful to structure the conversations with other Chief of Staffs, or with executives looking for Chief of Staffs (CoS).

The first orientation focuses on the executive the CoS reports. How do we make the executive operate at the highest level of performance?

The second orientation includes, in addition, the executive’s leadership team. I love that aspect of the job, transforming a group of people reporting to an executive into a true team leading the company or the business unit. Being part of a team, each member levels up his game and benefits from the diversity of the group.

The third orientation is the organization itself aiming at answering the question: How do we best set the organization to accomplish its objectives. One aspect of that is why I love using Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to establish a continuous two-way street dialog between the people in the organization and their leadership team. The dialogue helps to clarify the strategy and to evaluate what are the right things to do to implement it.

Julia DeWhal, Chief of Staff to the CEO at Opendoor, describes the role as the right-hand person and the force multiplier. Brian Rumao, Chief of Staff to the CEO at LinkedIn, uses the same description in the short course he made available, and adds, that the CoS have to stand in for their executive as needed. Mark Organ even says that the CoS is his stunt double.

As Ben Casnocha, who was the Chief of Staff for Reid Hoffman, surfaces very well, the more connected the Chief of Staff is with the executive he or she served, enable better decision making and better tradeoffs.

What are the attributes you will want as or for a Chief of Staff:

  • Expert Facilitator: you manage conversations, synthesize multiple points of view, align on strategic orientation, either in-person or remotely,
  • Trusted Organizer: you bring order to things, you get things done, and you manage sensitive information in confidence and discretion.
  • Strategic Thinker: you can see the big picture, evaluate importance and urgency, and provide context for decisions.

I often wondered how Elon Musk was managing his time between his three main companies: SpaceX, Tesla, and The Boring Company. Surprisingly, Sam Teller was the Director of the Office of the CEO for the three companies.

It seems that the “Alter Egos” were doing well together. Jonah Bromwich used the term in his New York Time article, Hail to the Chief of Staff, The title is suddenly everywhere. It can mean almost anything.

Can it mean almost anything? Yes. So it means that you can define a role so that your contribution has the most significant impact on your organization.

To find out more about the Chief of Staff role in tech, follow the CoS Tech Forum.

Edit on April 20: Here is another article to add to the references. This is from the Harvard Business Review: The Case for a Chief of Staff. The three-level model makes a lot of sense to refine the role.

Categories
General Le Podcast

Psychological Safety

Psychological Safety is the term coined by Amy Edmondson, the author of The Fearless Organization.

I already talked about Psychological Safety, when I presented the work of Google on the project Aristotle, and how it was a very good conversation starter for my team.

The two other books I mentioned in that episode of Le Podcast are:

  • The Coddling of the American Mind
  • In Great Company

The questions we asked to assess psychological safety are:

  • When someone makes a mistake on my team, it is often held against him or her
  • In my team, it is easy to discuss difficult issues and problems
  • In my team, people are sometimes rejected for being different
  • It is completely safe to take a risk on my team
  • It is difficult to ask other members of my team for help
  • Members of my team value and respect each others’ contributions

The scale to answer the questions ranges from “Strongly disagree” to “Strongly agree”.

Tell me what you think!

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General

A very special dinner

In May 2011, Isabel and I had the pleasure of organizing the first edition of TEDxBordeaux. The theme we chose was Together. The underlying idea was, as I said in my introduction to the event, We can rediscover our power to change things. Together.

When I read about 15 Toasts in Priya Parker’s book, The Art of Gathering, it reminded me of the dinner we organized with the speakers and organizers the night before the event.

The 15 Toasts dinners aim at creating safe spaces that give the “15 guests the permission to be vulnerable, engage as human beings in an open and genuine conversation, and surprise one another and themselves.”

I hadn’t thought of that this way, but when I read that sentence, I thought: “Yes, exactly that!”

Side conversations are not necessarily the ones you plan for…

Our goal was that the speakers connect, learn more about each other so that they support each other on the big day on which they will give the best talk of their lives. We thought that the audience would feel the connection between the speakers, the organizers, and that will contribute to the overall perception of the event, and help make the connection between the theme, and each of the topics the speakers will cover: Education, Healthcare, Technology, Art, Universal Basic Income, Open Source…

We were lucky enough to find the best possible location to do that: a big round table in a private room at the back of a good and reasonably priced restaurant. Unfortunately, that space does not exist anymore, the restaurant moved to another location, and the people who took over chose to remove the big round table and replaced with too many small tables of four.

As Isabel coached all the speakers, she was the connection point between all of them. We worked on assigning the seats so that the people can be comfortable to engage in side conversations. But we wanted more. The dinner participants all knew that they would have to introduce themselves, answering three questions that Isabel had shared in advance. We don’t remember the questions but it was something to push them out of delivering their usual pitch.

And it worked! It worked during the dinner. It also worked during the rehearsals the morning of the event. It worked during the event itself on that Saturday afternoon. The speakers and the organizers all behaved kindly, supporting each other, overcoming the obvious growing pressure, and contributing to the magic of the event.

The next time you organize an event, you can start to think of using the necessity of food to accomplish something more. I don’t believe large dinners in conference centers can accomplish that, and this is the reason I love so much the Dinner with a Stranger idea.

I will cover that next time.

What are your best ideas to foster that sense of connectedness that definitely gets things done? Please share through the usual means: comments, Linkedin, Twitter, or direct email. Thank you!