Thursday, 5 May 2016

My favourite coaching tools: No Time To Improve Agile Retrospective Cartoon

This is a short and sweet one that always brings a little smile to my lips (and some or many team members) when I bring it up in front of the "we're too busy with important stuff" teams during agile retrospectives, or preceding an agile retrospective due to too much resistance because "we are too busy"!

No Time To Improve Retrospective Cartoon
It seems no one is currently sure where the original is, or who created it. For more modern updates there have been plenty, just search Google!

Once we all get past the uncomfortable "Gulp" moment after this cartoon is presented, the team discusses what things are keeping the team members too busy to think about or to reflect or to introduce improvements to the way(s) they are working.

I might even throw in the original Albert Einstein quote: “If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
And/or I might put this one in front of the team to reflect upon: "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." - Abraham Lincoln

If there are still some people needing deeper understanding of the situation they are in, I would introduce them to, and request them to, complete the Covey Time Management Usage Matrix (also known as self-study lightweight time and motion study). After this step is complete, especially including the lunch breaks, random web surfing, tea breaks, urgent phone calls and all the other really important things everyone does with intention or with serendipity at work as normal Business-as-Usual, then people are open to the message, and a humble inquiry!

Always respect the people you are introducing this too, and respect it is THEIR context and THEIR experience that matters, not yours, as external coach / observer / non-invested in the focussed business outcome! And remember why you are introducing this to them - something they are doing must be wasting energy in YOUR ?humble? opinion. Be careful and go gently!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

My favourite coaching tools: The CIA Of Any Situation

This was taught to me a few years back by one of the team leaders I was coaching in agile mindset and approach to team and delivery. I am not sure where it originated as a consequence and searches on Google have been non-satisfactory.

Essentially, as the C-I-A was explained to me, every situation that one finds oneself in (as I explain to coachees), one asks upto 3 questions:

Question 1: Can I Control this situation?

If yes, then Control it (by using your management position or leadership)!
If no, then ask the next question,

Question 2: Can I Influence this situation?

If yes, then Influence it (by working with your network, expanding your network, orchestrating and asking your network for assistance in changing the situation)
If no, then ask the next question,

Question 3: Can I Accept this situation?

If yes, then Accept it (by opening your heart and open your mind and embracing it, so that your new personal reality becomes your new personality)
If no, then you have only 1 healthy choice - to leave the situation.

Failure to Accept the situation, and not leave this situation will cause you stress and all the negative consequences that stress brings. It will lead to negative behaviours and cynical comments leaking out, causing you to be mis-labelled further deepening the pygmalion effect and negative vicious reinforcement cycles. (see my post on labels being applied to people and more importantly how you can help the team "fix" the problem)

So you can use the CIA for personal coaching, and you can use it for team coaching quite effectively as well. I typically use it for helping teams understand if the potentially SMART-ifiable productivity improvement and/or happiness improvement actions they have proposed within the team's periodic Retrospectives are actually Achievable.

I did see several parallels in Stephen R Covey's excellent The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People where he discussed the 3 spheres that we live and work within as concentric circles. The Control Sphere is the smallest space, followed by the Influence Sphere, followed by the Accept Sphere. Basically we need to realise how little in life we do control, versus how much we think we control. An example he uses is the common illusion of control when driving in our carefully selected vehicle...and getting stuck in a traffic jam. We think because we can control our music selection, volume, air temperature and fan speed, we have control, but actually we have to accept that the dynamic system of the traffic on the roads is in control, we have very very little in reality.

I am planning on adding another 2 posts to extend the conversation and observations I've had about this CIA over the past 5+ years, so keep an eye out for the followups!