Saturday, 28 October 2017

My Latest SMART Acronym Update

So I've been using SMART for quite a while ( to help everyone understand the specific Task / Action / Goal / Objective clearly, so that success can be pursued by several people committed to achieving it together!

And along the way, I've come across Tom Gilb, and his 4 foundation rules for improving Specification Quality:

  1. Every word, phrase, sentence and paragraph is clear to intended readers (RB: and lowest common denominator MUST be considered here: the newly joined member of the team)
  2. Every word, phrase, sentence and paragraph is unambiguous (RB: so a glossary is a darn good idea, especially in abstract knowledge work, aka software delivery; note glossaries / data definitions / configuration libraries were a big thing in software since the 1960's at least)
  3. All qualities are quantified (RB: so not faster/cheaper/better/blah...instead: Unit of Measure clearly defined, the meter clearly defined, the current state or measurement clearly noted, and then the future state survival and/or target and/or stretch and/or wish thresholds are expressed)
  4. No solution language unless the document is specifying the solution (RB: keep the language in the problem domain/space ie common business layman's terminology)

And through Tom's teaching, Lord Kelvin's "To Measure Is To Know".

Thinking about all the lessons learned, and helping many individuals and teams move towards their desired future states, I've been modifying the SMART I use to mean the following these days:

    S - Specific (following Tom Gilb's #1 and #2 rules)
    M - Measured By (following Tom Gilb's #3 rule)
    A - Achievable (as a sanity check of the S&M against the R and T coming soon)
    R - Responsible person to agitate that this SMART is delivered is <...> (a single person is a must, if only to remind those who have to do the work, or even better, the person who is going to get the Task / Action / Story / Work Done!)
    T - Timebound on or before  

For Retrospectives

If this is a SMART Action that a team is generating from their Sprint or other Retrospective, as facilitator I encourage the Timebound to be on or before the next Retrospective (which the team commits to knowing and understanding what dd-mmm-yyyy that is!)

For Management Tactical or Strategic Objectives

Again the management team commits to the next planning date dd-mmm-yyyy for the Timebound element and we block out the calendars to ensure that happens! Nothing drains morale and energy than constant slipping of important - especially Strategically agreed important - Tasks/Actions/Objectives.

For Individuals or Delivery/Product Teams I'm Coaching

Exactly the same as Retrospectives or Management: we're all talking about changing the Current Reality to the Future Reality. Usually though, individuals are setting target states for the end of the current or next month - ie shorter windows in which to achieve shifts of consciousness and/or behaviours that impact or lead to the outcome they're trying to achieve.

Friday, 7 April 2017

My favourite coaching tools: The Evening Review

The Evening Review is a great technique for increasing self awareness. 

It is deceptively simple – but it is very powerful. The evening review puts the spotlight on all the kinds of vague impressions about how one's life is going so that one can encounter and understand more fully what is actually happening. 


I suggest keeping a diary/journal next to your bed.

The review method:

  1. At the end of the day, preferably about 10 minutes before going to sleep, find a quiet place free from outer distractions.
  2. Close your eyes, give attention to relaxing your body, quieting your feelings, and as much as possible stilling the activity of your thoughts - aka calm your "mind monkey". Your mind should be quiet and receptive, but remain alert.
  3. Now, review your day in your mind, playing it back like a movie, but backwards, beginning with where you are right now, then the time of late evening, then early evening, then the dinner hour, and the late afternoon and so on until morning when you woke up - and even any disturbances of your previous night's "sleep".
  4. Throughout the experience it is important to maintain as much as possible the attitude of an objective, detached, non-critical observer, calmly and clearly registering the events of the day, neither becoming elated at a success, nor depressed and unhappy about a failure. The aim is not to relive the experience, but to notice without emotion in your consciousness what were the patterns and their meaning for this day.
  5. Finally, write down your general impressions of what happened and anything particular that you have learned.

There are many variations of the Evening Review. In the above form, it is very effective for gaining a greater sense of the whole of one's life.

After you have captured a few days (or many days, weeks, months or years) read through your notes and observe how they affect you. Usually people are surprised by what patterns they discover for themselves, once they just start to collect "the evidence".

And that's really what's required - once you have brought the unconscious into the conscious, suddenly you have greater awareness and from there, you have more choice about how you wish to proceed or act or behave differently - if you so choose. And hence you have more freedom!

Thank your for reading and your support!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

My favourite coaching tools: Mindset Evaluation

For sure I was aware of, and thought I understood the meaning of the term "mindset" for a long time. It's only when I went a bit deeper, and upon a great reflective mediation, that I documented all (that I knew of in that moment) of mine. And there were quite a few...over 30.

Then, the hard, but most rewarding work really began.

Evaluating each of them on their merits and on their consequences...which is the first step towards freeing oneself from mindsets that no longer serve the intended positive outcome, but instead have become restrictive to the life that could be led.

As our facilitator told us, before proceeding with the mindset evaluation, look with kind eyes, and be gentle with your self and your mindset. It began its existence to serve a purpose - to protect you and guide you to the future. And it has done its job really well - hence you are alive today, and, if you are reading this and looking at your own mindsets, then it has somehow also guided you to this point where you are given permission to free yourself from this restraining pattern of being.

The 9 simple questions I use to use to evaluate a mindset:

  1. How strong (on a scale of 1 to 10) is this mindset?
  2. How long have I (or the coachee) had the mindset?
  3. What behaviour does the mindset drive?
  4. What feelings are behind the mindset?
  5. How has this mindset served me (or the coachee) in the past?
  6. How has this mindset limited me (or the coachee) in the past?
  7. How does this mindset serve me (or the coachee) now?
  8. How does this mindset limit me (or the coachee) now?
  9. How would I (or the coachee) like it to be?
These question seem simple and innocent enough, but "Oh wow!" do they open up some serious thought and feeling provocations...and these of course lead to deeper realisations.

Interestingly I found some mindsets were much fresher due to a significant later life event, than most of mine which stemmed from childhood and teenage years, and in the fresher ones, I found limits, but I was happy with them as they appear to be healthy boundaries.

Also significantly I found this work incredibly exhausting - mentally and emotionally I was drained after evaluating sometimes just 1, but often no more than 3 in 1 sitting. Simple and innocent questions - I am just amazed what the right framed question does at the right time and place!

Also interestingly, several of my answers to number 7 were - "it does not!", and several answers to number 9 also converged on a similar pattern. I believe these patterns in number 9 were more indicative of my true self trying to be authentic - and hence I am doing this work, so there is quite a bit of synchronicity I believe in this exercise, if it is performed as intended: open heart, open mind, quietly and extensively.

Thank you for reading and your support!