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!


Theory X and Theory Y

I had the great pleasure to deliver the closing keynote of Voxxed Days Singapore. During the talk, Going Open, I introduced Douglas McGregor theories on human motivation and management that he developed at the MIT Sloan School of Management  in 1957.

The assumption in Theory X is that workers are lazy; they dislike and don’t want to work and do all they can to avoid it. As a consequence, if you agree with that assumption, your way of managing people, who have no intrinsic motivation and no ambition, the system needs to be “command and control.”

The assumption in Theory Y is that work could be as natural as play and rest; people seek responsibility and are able to direct themselves to deliver on their commitments. As a consequence, if you agree with that assumption, your management style is radically different, and the system could tend toward self-organization.

Theory X and Theory Y are self-fulfilling prophecies. Acting accordingly to the theory causes it to come true.

Reconsidering the way we are managing people in an organization is an essential ongoing exercise.

As an example, our actual reward system might perfectly fit the Theory X assumption, while we would prefer our whole team to live under Theory Y.

What about you?

What type is your organization?

What type are you?

Could I behave like X, because my organization is X?

Do you think my organization could change if I change my behavior?

It could be really interesting because X organizations suffer from a centralization flaw. And like spiders, if you cut the head, the organization dies.

By contrast, Y organizations are resilient like starfishes, if you cut an arm, the starfish will regrow it, and even more interesting the arm will regrow a whole new starfish, as all the knowledge needed is available to do exactly that.

Y organization are really like Open Organization.

Open Organization is the term coined by Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat for his eponym book published in  2015. The book written primarily for organizational leaders, demonstrates how open source principles are changing the nature of working and managing in the 21st century.

There are five characteristics of Open Organization:

  • Transparency. Transparency by default as a foundation.
  • Inclusivity. Inclusivity of all perspectives.
  • Adaptability. Feedback mechanism to continuously learn.
  • Collaboration. Collaboration to produce better outcomes.
  • Community. Shared values and purpose.

How can we adopt those characteristics in our organizations?

I then proposed some of the approaches that you can find in the book, Changing Your Team From The Inside, to foster the change in your team and organization.


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!


Featured image is by


The Great Dinner Party

You are hosting a dinner party in 8 weeks from now, and you wonder how to make it a great dinner party for you and your guests.

First, what is the meaning of “great” for you in that context? If the party is a success what will happen? The answer could be: the guests will be relaxed, they will enjoy tasty and original food and drink while making or renewing connections with people from various backgrounds.

Answering that first question define the vision that you have of your party. How will you measure that it has been a success? It is a dinner party, so surveying your guests after the reception is probably not a viable option, maybe you could try to remember what your guest will say about it, or perhaps you will receive “thank you” cards. Yes in this exercise, you remember the future! What will your guests say or write after the party if it’s success? They could state that they felt welcomed, that they enjoyed the food, that it was a pleasure for all senses. They could elaborate on the decoration, and specific small attention to details, on the relationship they built or renewed during the event.

Imagining, how your guests will remember the event will help you to empathize in advance with each of your guests, and refine your success criteria. It will help you to remember who has specific needs, or to remember to ask in the case that you realize that you don’t know enough about some of your guests.

Of course, you understand that the dinner party is a pretext to learn how to work on delivering any products or services. The product owner would probably indeed conduct and survey “users” to understand what are their success criteria. Empathy map could help to get what they see, hear, smell, feel, taste, say, think.

Now, that you have a refined vision and have a better understanding of your success criteria, what needs to come next? There are only seven weeks left. What is your backlog?

Your backlog is not a list of activities or a list of things to do. Each item of your backlog is a story in which the personas (your guests or yourself) are the hero.

To define the backlog, you will use your vision and imagine what your guests will experience from beginning to end. It is convenient to use post-it notes for this exercise and to record one story per note. You are building a map (a story map) of their experience.

Let’s try to capture some of the stories from a guest perspective!
– As a guest, I receive a formal invitation to the party, so I know about the specific details,
– I know how to dress, and what to bring,
– I know how to get there and where to park, so I am relaxed and confident,
– I switch in a party mindset from the moment I arrive,
– I know where to sit,
– I enjoy a variety of delicious appetizers, and I can choose and adjust the quantity I eat according to my preferences,
– I appreciate the pairing of the drinks and food.

And we can imagine a lot more of those stories. We will keep some of those, while we will just ignore, delete, rewrite or put at the bottom of the backlog others.

If we look at the first one about the invitation, we can define the conditions of satisfaction for the card. What are those details? Why are you organizing the party? Where? When? Does the guest need to reply? Can the guest come with someone else?

You can already see that a story card is a way to capture the conversation that will clarify it. The conditions of satisfaction are a way to carry the details and to ensure that the solution we will choose, will satisfy the story. At this stage, we know why we want this story, we know what it is, but we still don’t know how to realize it. Is the invitation printed and mailed? Is the invitation sent via email? Is it texted?

This distinction between why and how is crucial to enable creativity and innovation. Let’s illustrate that with another example. Let’s imagine now that as a host you want to delegate the realization of this story to a team:
– I want a sweet and original dessert with season fruit, so my guests can finish the meal on a sweet note.
When the team clarified the story with the host, the team learned that individual portions are a must, different textures are essential, and so team presented the results of their work during the demo of that week: a strawberry rhubarb meringue tartlet. Yes, me too, now I want one 😉 As a host, you tasted the tartlet, loved it, asked for slightly smaller size. So now, the team just need to get ready to prepare the tartlets for the event. On that day, the team is not able to find the fresh strawberry that will compensate the acidity of the rhubarb. The team tastes raspberry that appears to be delicious, and so as it will still satisfy the conditions of satisfaction, the team can make the decision. Remember, the dinner party is a pretext to learn, the primary point here is by knowing “why” we are doing something we can adjust the “how” to the circumstances and find more creative solutions.

If we look back at this dessert story, during the grooming of the backlog, we first decided to conduct a spike for one sprint, demoed it to the user, and got some feedback. Then, during planning, we were able to decompose that story into more specific tasks that the team will do to realize the story. And we have been able to adjust to the circumstances by switching to raspberry at the last minute.

Grooming your backlog at the “story” level, and then planning for the sprint and decomposing into tasks only when you will work on a story is a compelling approach.

Let’s recap the approach. We started with a high-level vision. We refined the concept by identifying the different personas and empathize with each of them from the beginning to the end of their involvement in the project. In our case, we probably have the host, the host family members, the guests, the children of the guest.

We captured the stories for all the personas in our backlog. We refined and sorted the stories during grooming sessions. The conversations enabled us to define the conditions of satisfaction for the stories at the top of our backlog.

We continued our work during our weekly sprints, starting with a planning session, in which we checked our understanding of each story, decomposed into tasks if it was possible, or choose to conduct an experiment or a spike in the case of more significant uncertainty or our ability to meet the conditions of satisfaction.

We reviewed and demoed our work at the end of the sprint. We welcomed the feedback and adjusted our plans accordingly.

We now need to invest some time in a retrospective to improve our way of working as a team, so we will be more efficient and enjoy the weeks to come approaching the great dinner party.

What do you think about using a dinner party to explain practices?

I am refining the use of this analogy, among others, in the book to come during Spring 2018, Changing Your Team From The Inside. I am looking for reviewers, let me know if you would be interested.



The header picture is our Thanksgiving table created by my spouse Isabel 🙂

Général International livre

Changer le monde ?

how-to-change-the-worldJ’avais cet ouvrage dans ma liste de lecture depuis assez longtemps, mais…
Bref, j’ai profité qu’il soit disponible sur le stand des goodies de DARE13 (j’en profite que l’idée du stand commun pour tous les goodies de la conférence, ou chaque participant peut venir choisir les goodies qu’il ramènera chez lui est une excellente idée !).

Cet ouvrage est rapide et facile à lire. Il pointe vers de nombreux ouvrages plus complet, complexe et surement moins facilement actionnable.

Jurgen Appelo propose ici sa méthode Mojito appliquée à la conduite du changement :

  • Danser avec le système
  • Prêter attention aux personnes
  • Stimuler le réseau
  • Changer l’environnement

L’ouvrage est disponible ici en plusieurs langues (dont le français) :

A lire et à recommander autour de vous !