Author: Alexis

OKRs! OK What?

OKRs! OK What?

OKRs! OK, What? Joseph Contreras, Scrum Master at Fidelity, proposed this Open Space session on the third day of Agile Games 2019.

Joseph invited the participants to contribute to a short presentation of what Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are.

In a nutshell, Objectives are where we want to go, and Key Results tell us when we get there. Key Results are aspirational and not reaching 100% is not a problem.

I really liked the first example he used, and the invitation he made to the participant to challenge the formulation.

The example was:

  • Objective: I want to be healthy
    • Key Result: I eat less sugar

We challenged the Objective by pushing to have it stated the destination. Something like: I am healthy.

We challenged the Key Result by saying that eating less sugar is an activity. Yes, it is a healthy one because as human beings we store the excess sugar as fat. So maybe the Key Results should be a measure of the proportion of fat in our body.

Joseph then shared is own personal OKRs, and invited us the same way to challenge them. He told us that the previous version of his OKRs where really bad, and that we can expect to fail the first time, and improve the next one. I think it gave freedom to people in the room to challenge that second version.

The result was a great social learning experience. It was the perfect way to have all the participants think about measuring the impact of activities, and not the activities themselves.

The participants were able to build upon what the others just said and proposed better objectives and better key results in just a few minutes.

Does this inspire you to invite your peers to challenge your OKRs?

 

 

More about OKRs in the Chapter 12 of Changing Your Team From The Inside!

 

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The worst presentation ever

The worst presentation ever

Last week, I attended Agile Games New England. The last day of the conference uses Open Space Technology which is the best way to organize and run a conference.

With an Open Space, all attendees are active participants. They define the program and choose which sessions to contribute. They also have the freedom to leave a session when they think they are not learning or contributing. This is known as “The law of 2 feet” or “The law of mobility.”

I chose to propose two sessions for the Open Space:

One with Isabel Monville, to play a game with the participants: Kanjis. This one went great and I will come back to that session in a future post.

One by myself to discuss my book: Changing Your Team From The Inside. This one was the worst presentation I ever made.

What happened?

I picked the first time available, and so it was one of the first sessions of the day. When you attend an open space, and especially for the first time, you are confronted to a last minute choice of your first session. At the same time, you just heard about the law of two feet, and the roles of bees and butterfly.

  • A bee is a person that goes from breakout session to breakout session, maybe collaborating with some groups and cross-fertilizing ideas that come from another group.
  • A butterfly is a person that does not take part in any breakout at the moment to fulfill her own needs. Sometimes butterflies cluster in impromptu sessions and make groundbreaking insights.

You can choose not to attend any session and be a bee or a butterfly whenever you want. The freedom of choice brings some people to select late and to switch room frenetically hoping to find the best possible spot. All people also need to discover the space. After one session, it seems that everybody adjusts, and the last minute’s changes at the beginning of the next sessions are less disruptive.

I chose a small room with a triangle-shaped table so we could have a good conversation.

I started 2 or 3 minutes after 10. And just after I started people entered the room, and left the room for the next 5 minutes. Each time they tried to open the door they were pulling the handle instead of pushing. A bad design choice, if the door needs to be pushed, it should be a plate, not a vertical handle that suggests the door should be pulled.

Do you see what is going on there? I blame the circumstances. I try to justify what happens. If I continue down that path, I will learn nothing. A quick look at the Responsibility Process can help in that situation. It works this way:

  • Responsibility Owning your ability and power to create, choose, and attract
  • Quit Giving up to avoid the pain of Shame and Obligation
  • Obligation Doing what you have to instead of what you want to
  • Shame Laying blame onto oneself (often felt as guilt)
  • Justify Using excuses for things being the way they are
  • Lay Blame Holding others at fault for causing something
  • Denial Ignoring the existence of something

What really happened?

I started my presentation, and two sentences after the start, I was confused and changed my initial plan, tried to mumble through all the chapters without giving any airtime to the participants.

I knew it was not going well. During the previous days, I had the opportunity to sit next to a person who was taking beautiful notes in her notebook. Before the beginning of the session, I nudge her to be our notetaker for the session. During the session, I had her notes in front of me reflecting the growing confusion in which all people in the room were probably.

Someone tried to save the session. She found her way to interrupt me and the notetaker, asked questions, and put the session on a better track. Thank you!

What did I want to say initially?

This book equips you to make a positive change in your organization starting from the one place you can guarantee success – you.

The book is structured in three parts: The Individual, The Team, and The Organization.

Each chapter turns insight into actions that you can use straight away to build momentum and create lasting change from yourself to your team, from your team to other teams, and from other teams to the entire organization.

If you’re looking to make a change in your organization but don’t know where to begin, worried that nobody will listen to you, or fear you’ll burn bridges along the way then Changing Your Team From The Inside will give you a plan, increase your influence, and help you build high impact, sustainable relationships in the process.

This book has everything you need to build high impact, sustainable teams.

Jim Kwik said:

If an egg is broken by outside force, life ends. If broken by inside force, life begins. Great things always begin from inside.

I shared this belief that great things always begin from inside.

After that introduction, my goal was to open the floor to questions and facilitate the conversation from there, bringing more details of what you can find in each part of the book.

It seems that I was not ready to say just that. And as I was not prepared enough to deliver the message. I failed to deliver it.

Interestingly, even if I knew that it was not going well, I was not able to stop myself and ask to start over.

Something that I want to be sure to work on.

Version 2 of the book is available

Version 2 of the book is available

It took a few month to get to the second version of the book, Changing Your Team From The Inside.

The paperback version is available on Lulu and the electronic version is on Leanpub. The new version of the book will be available on Amazon in a few days, keep in mind that Amazon takes a 70% cut on books over $9.99 🙂

A big thank you to all the readers who provided feedback during the last months. It helped me to make that second version much better!

I want also to address a very special thank you to John Poelstra and Michael Doyle, two amazing coaches who helped me in the revision process. Learn more about them and how a coaching session works by listening to this episode of the podcast.

 

Team Agreements

Team Agreements

In the book, Changing Your Team From The Inside, I touched several times the notion of Team Agreements.

Team Agreements are critical to the success of a team. By writing your team agreements, you define your standard. You set the baseline that you will improve in the future.

In the team agreements, you answer the question: How do we behave?

What aspects do you want to cover in your team agreements?

How do the team handle information?

  • What kind of information do we need to achieve your work?
  • How do we share the information inside and outside of the team?
  • How do we know what everybody is doing?

How do the team communicate.

  • What are the tools the team uses to communicate?
    • Phone or video conference: why do we prefer phone calls or video conference for some conversations?
    • Instant messaging: for what kind of message, what time of the day…
    • Email: do we use emails inside the team or do we communicate using the tool we use to track our work?
  • When do we want not to be interrupted? How do we signal that to others? How do we handle external interruptions? Do we nominate an interruption handler?

How do we collaborate.

  • How do we produce documents, code…
  • When do we use pair programming or mob programming?
  • Why do we have meetings? What are their purposes?
  • How do we behave in meetings? How do we handle devices? How strict are we on time? On attendance?

How do we provide or receive feedback.

  • Do we have a specific time, setup, tools… to provide or receive feedback?

How do we handle conflict?

How do we manage performance?

How do we hire new team members?

The list of questions could be infinite. The practice is beneficial when you start small and when you review your agreements regularly. This is a place for the team to experiment with various approaches and to improve.

For example, with a team in which half the people are collocated and the other half distributed all over the world, we change our way of handling meetings. The agreement is now that we behave as if everybody was remote and join the video-conference from our offices. Why are we doing that? Because we noticed that when the conversation become passionate in the meeting room, we were ignoring the “remotees” that were enabled to have a say in the discussion.

It is also very useful to define team agreements for meetings that will gather people from different teams or organizations. To do that, try the Social Contract, shared on the Open Practice Library.

 

 

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Can we be offended by change?

Can we be offended by change?

I woke up one morning, and there was a heated conversation on my favorite mailing-list. Someone had made a point that for the annual donation, and among other possible charities, we should pick Sandy Hook Promise.

Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) trains students and adults to know the signs of gun violence. SHP develops and delivers community programs that help identify, intervene and help at-risk individuals; promotes gun safety practices that ensure firearms are kept safe and secure; and advocates for state and federal laws and policies in the areas of mental health & wellness and gun safety that result in the reduction of gun-related death and injury.

The foundation is named after the elementary school in which in 2012, a 20-year-old man shot 20 children between six and seven years old, and six adult staff members.

If you don’t live in the US, it is hard to understand why the topic is controversial. I think I still don’t really understand.

The basic reasoning for people outside the US could be summed up as:

  • Guns are designed to kill people,
  • So if we want to avoid people to be killed,
  • We need to control the possession of guns strictly.

Those kinds of policies are adopted all over the world.

We adopted similar kinds of policies for other technologies that could be harmful to others.

We adopt strict policies and regulations for cars. You need to learn how to drive, pass an exam to get a license to drive, contract an insurance to be able to drive a car. The car has to respect certain norms to be allowed on public roads and needs to be registered in the state where you live.

This sounds really simple. And you could say that we could adopt exactly the same mechanism for guns.

But it is not what happens.

 

Why was the conversation heated?

Because someone said, he was offended by the proposal to have someone advocating for something that was going against his values.

Offended? Really?

My first reaction was to say that you cannot be offended! You can disagree with financing that foundation, but you cannot be offended! By the way, that foundation is not advocating for gun control, even if it is true that a second Sandy Hook foundation is doing precisely that. But even if it was a foundation advocating for gun control, you cannot be offended. You can disagree and not vote for that choice. You can even advocate for people to give money to the NRA. But I still don’t see how you can be offended.

 

I reflected on that notion of being offended when a suggested change conflicts with what you consider is who you are.

I realized that I found myself in situations similar where the conversation became suddenly emotional because I was trying to explain to managers that our goal was to aim toward self-organization. Of course, it was less dramatic, and no lives were at risk in that context. But it seems the mechanism was similar.

From my perspective, it was a progressive change in which managers and employees will have to learn to work differently. I had presented all the rationale to support the idea. It will be better on all the aspects that we cared about: for people, for innovation, for the quality of our delivery and so on.

For some managers, the proposal attacked who they were. The proposal attacked how they defined themselves.

They did not say it that way, but I guess they were offended.

 

To overcome that, we worked with the whole team on defining the roles that people adopt. Our goal was to separate the people from the role or roles they could play in the organization. You can achieve your goal with other means.

What is your goal as a manager? What are your motivations? There were multiple goals and multiple motivations expressed. We used the Moving Motivators to surface the differences between people. Globally they wanted to have an impact on the success of their teams to generate success for the company.

The proposal was made to achieve exactly that. They could achieve exactly that by changing the mean, their way of working, their way of managing and still achieve their goals.

Some managers were already operating in the proposed way, some embraced the change immediately, some were skeptical and took more time, and unfortunately, some left the company. It was not possible for them at that time to accept that change.

You can read more about how their roles could evolve in that post: Could your team be managing itself?

(and you will be able to read much more in the upcoming second version of the Chapter 10 of Changing Your Team From The Inside)

When we are exposed to opinions, propositions, ideas, that are conflicting with our current set of knowledge, it is difficult to take a step back and exercise our critical thinking in a rational way.

Why should we continue to do something the same way?

Can we change the mean and still achieve our goal?

 

Can we apply that approach to the more dramatic problem of guns?

Maybe. The Legal Information Institute of the Cornell Law School explains:

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Such language has created considerable debate regarding the Amendment’s intended scope.

The goal is the security of free State.

Can we ensure that without guns? Or does treating guns like we treat cars change anything in achieving that goal?

The warning of the existence of “considerable debate” is speaking loud about other underlying goals. I know that I will not solve that massive problem in a single blog post.

 

I hope that I will have helped you consider not only the rationale aspect of a proposed change but how the proposed change can trigger reactions that could be difficult to understand, and even to express for the people involved. As an agent of change, you want to consider that.

 

Your thoughts are welcome as usual!

Thank you!

 

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A live coaching session with John Poelstra and Michael Doyle

A live coaching session with John Poelstra and Michael Doyle

A few months back, I was on The John Poelstra Show to discuss my book Changing Your Team From The Inside. A few weeks back, I also advertised how John Poelstra and Michael Doyle, discussed Ego is the Enemy during one of the episodes of the show.

I love working with John and Michael. They are both great coaches. We are well distributed over the globe, Michael is in Brisbane, Australia, and John is in Portland, Oregon, USA. They helped me reviewing my book to prepare the version 2.0 that should be available soon. In whatever form you bought the book, you have unlimited access to the updates of the electronic version. If you don’t know how to access it, drop me a note at alexis@monville.com. A side note to say that we can do meaningful work even when we are a few timezones away (I am based in Boston).

This week John and Michael did something crazy!

Have you ever wondered how a coaching session could work? How could it be beneficial to someone?

They recorded one coaching session focused on finding your values.

The result is amazing. In the episode, you will find why value matters and how to find them.

You will also notice the value of the coaching process. When the coachee think he has a good understanding, he believes he is now ready to do some work by himself. John finds his way to go just a step further to create a commitment that will ensure that the coachee will be able to make productive work on himself after the session.

 

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I still have feedback

I still have feedback

I continued to think about feedback and had multiple discussions triggered by the article from the Harvard Business Review: The Feedback Fallacy and my post about it. Thank you, for all those discussions, they are precious.

In addition to last week post that you can find below, I would like to add that, yes you can provide improvement feedback. There is, at least, one condition. The person needs to know how to handle negative feedback.

If I can take all feedback as “inputs,” whether they are positive or negative, thank the person that gave me the feedback. And then, create a space in which I can digest the feedback, acknowledge the emotions associated with that feedback, think about it. Then, I can probably act appropriately.

I feel that it is easier when you have an existing relationship, and you trust the person.

When I receive feedback from people I don’t trust, or that I think manipulative and insincere, it is harder not to react, it is harder to create the space needed to acknowledge emotions, and to think about what is going on.

What are your thoughts about this?

As usual, comments, email, Linkedin, Twitter, or even phone, your preferred means of communication is perfect for me.

 

I have some feedback

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I have some feedback

I have some feedback

The fifth chapter of Changing Your Team From The Inside is titled: Care Personally. Why that? Because, at the time I was reviewing the book to prepare its first publication, I read Radical Candor a book by Kim Scott.

I changed the quote starting the chapter with this one from Kim Scott:

“The meaning of Radical Candor is care personally, challenge directly, and when you do both at the same time, that’s good.”

You can’t give any valuable feedback to someone you don’t care about. Furthermore, it is extremely difficult, to receive feedback and use them effectively, when they come from people with whom you are not connected enough.

The March-April 2019 issue of the Harvard Business Review displays a catchy title on its cover: Why Feedback Fails.

The article, The Feedback Fallacy, explains that focusing people on their shortcomings doesn’t enable learning; it impairs it.

Instead, the authors, Marcus Buckingham, and Ashley Goodall recommend to:

Look for outcomes.
Excellence is an outcome. When you see a colleague do something excellent, stop her or him and say it.

Replay your instinctive reactions.
Say it by expressing your personal reactions to what just happened. You are not trying to fix them, you make them realize the impact of what they just did.

Never lose sight of your highest-priority interrupt.
Looking for excellence should be your highest-priority interrupt. Mine is naturally precisely the opposite. I can see instantly what is not going well… Some personal work to catch me before reacting too fast.

Explore the present, past, and future.
If colleagues come to you with a problem, put them in the right mindset by having them state three things that are working well for them now.
Then explore the past: “When you had a problem like this in the past, what did you do that worked?”
Finally, turn to the future: “What do you already know you need to do? What do you already know works in this situation?”

I realized when I read the article, that the most efficient feedback I gave in the past is in fact following exactly that pattern. As I am reviewing the book for the second edition right now, I added to my list to review the chapter to take into account those findings.

What are your thoughts about this?

As usual, comments, email, Linkedin, Twitter, or even phone, your preferred means of communication is perfect for me.

 

 

 

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What Spectre and Meltdown teach us about change.

What Spectre and Meltdown teach us about change.

Spectre and Meltdown are among the famous microprocessors vulnerabilities. Researchers spend their days to find those vulnerabilities in the very complex systems we build.

The day before the micro-architecture workshop related by Hugh Brock in this post, he organized a lunch and learn with the speakers Daniel Gruss and Daniel Genkin, who are among the ones who uncovered Spectre and Meltdown.

The complexity of the systems comes from continuously adding more features. The systems become so complex that we are not able to understand fully how they work.

In the session of questions and answers, Daniel Gruss was asked if one particular processor was condemned and if it could be better to restart from scratch. I capture two important learnings from his humoristic answer.

He said first something along those lines. Just imagine that you go to see your doctor. You are sick. It is bad. Would you prefer your doctor to try to fix you or to tell your parents that they should start again from scratch?

Change is not necessarily easy or hard. It is the only reasonable thing to do.

First learning is that you should probably accept that what you build, either an organization, a product or a service, is not perfect. And so, that, you have to put the feedback mechanism in place to learn and adjust.

Second learning. It is not only one processor or one manufacturer. They are all working with the same approach of incremental optimizations. But each optimization also comes with potential flaws. They are also all conducting their work behind closed doors which prevent other pairs of eyes from detecting the problems before it is too late. A good incentive to use an Open Source Way.

I hope you will have a great month of March! Last month of winter for those in the northern hemisphere! Yeap, I am done with snow, and yeap, it is snowing right now 🙂

A friend or colleague forwarded you that email? You can subscribe to the mailing-list here.

A few more things to share:

I had the pleasure to speak at Boston Spin and UQAM in Montreal in January. I used an evolution of the talk used several times in Europe at the end of last year. I am working on the keynote talk I will use for an upcoming event. If you want to have me deliver it for your event, let’s discuss!

To make a connection between the Management 3.0 practices and the Open Practice Library, I published the practice recommended in chapter 3 of my book. What about you try that practice?

You have to listen to the latest episode of the John Poelstra Show in which he is exploring the ego with Michael Doyle.

 

 

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How to keep up with your 2019 resolutions!

How to keep up with your 2019 resolutions!

Last year, I opened a brand new gym club on January 2nd! That was an immediate success with thousands of people showing up every day! At the beginning of February, I remodeled the place into a cocktail bar to satisfy the needs of my customers…

Yes, it is a joke. But, what makes keeping up with our resolutions so hard?

Kelly McGonigal has an answer to that question. Kelly McGonigal, a Stanford University psychologist, taught the course “The Science of Willpower” for years, and she also published a book, The Willpower Instinct, that explains the science of self-control and how it can be improved.

We don’t keep up with our resolutions because we don’t pick the right ones for us. We choose things that we don’t want to do. Our “longer-term self” and our “shorter-term self” conflict the next day. We skip the day. We are then harsh our ourselves. It triggers guilt. Which in turn means that our “shorter-term self” seeks immediate comfort. The chances are that it finds it in the exact thing we want to stop doing or quit.

Her practical tip is to change the questions we ask ourselves. At the end of 2019, on January 1st, 2020, looking backward, what are you going to be grateful that you did? Is there a change you know that you’re going to be glad you made? What would that feel like?

The answers to those questions are better resolutions that you really want to keep.

As hope is not a strategy, you still need to put in place a system that will help you keep with that new habit. One good strategy is outsourcing some of the willpower by involving a friend or a family member to do the activity with you. Another one that I particularly like is to put a calendar in a visible place and tick the day each time you succeed. And remember, don’t be hard on yourself when you miss a day. Accept it with self-compassion and go for it the next day!

I wish you a Happy New Year with success in keeping up with your resolutions!

 

A few more words:

 

 

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