Stories are full of metaphors and similes.

Many of us spend at least a plurality of our day in meetings or talking with people. The give and take of conversation is core to software development. Ron Jefferies stated that user stories included a card, conversation, and confirmation. The problem is immediately apparent to anyone that has been involved with getting work done; language is imprecise. Metaphors are one of the culprits. Clean Language, borrowed from psychotherapy, is one of the tools that can be used to shine a light on what a speaker means when they use a phrase. In Clean Language – Basic Concepts it was noted that clean language can be used to establish the underlying meaning of a metaphor. It turns out that identifying metaphors is not as easy as the literature suggests. Exploring metaphors and why we care is an important digression. (more…)

Clean Language is a technique for shaping a discussion. The questions at the heart of this approach are designed to discover and explore a person’s personal metaphor. Clean language is a very useful tool for a wide range of roles from coaching to exploring requirements and needs. Before we explore how to use this approach for developing requirements and breaking user stories down we need to cover some basic concepts.  (more…)

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SPaMCAST 556 features our essay on Socratic Questioning.  Questions are a critical tool that every coach, mentor or leader uses to help shape and improve the performance of those they interact with — I don’t think this statement should surprise anyone.  That said, pushing past the concept of just asking questions, Socratic questioning is a formal and disciplined approach to getting the person answering the questions to synthesize and answer based on knowledge and logic.

We also have a visit from Susan Parente.  Susan brings her Not A Scrumdamentalist column to the SPaMCAST. In this installment, Professor Parente discusses being agile in name only. Being agile in name only is not an enviable place to be! (more…)

 

Coach of the ducks?

A short time ago I participated in a Meet-Up featuring Craig Larman.  As with most Meet-Ups, this session was engaging and thought-provoking. One of the takeaways was that when you ask someone to solve a problem or change how they are working, they need to own not rent the solution. When you give someone the answer they can’t or won’t own the solution. As soon as your influence is not focused on them, they will revert. The role of a coach often centers on diagnosing problems and helping people come to an understanding of how their behavior or feelings are affecting their team and organization. Rarely is an issue so obvious that observing a specific behavior and then sharing observations generates a real organizational or self-awareness solution. Questions are one of the most potent tools coaches have to help someone identify an issue and then find their own answer. The term ‘questions’ represent a mega category (similar to the term automobile).  Because the category is so large there are many ways to use questions to help solve problems. Socratic questions are an approach to using questions. Socratic questions when used is a formal structured approach to questioning that ALL coaches need to understand because it gets the person answering the question to own the solution. (more…)

Is chain link transparent

Working in teams or teams of teams is a fact of life in today’s corporate environment.  Gone are the days when software developers were relegated to the basement to labor away in solitary cubes.  Today’s work environment requires collaboration between team members, other groups and sometimes even the business. Collaboration requires three prerequisites; time, transparency and trust.  Each of these areas is complex in its own right. Transparency, the middle component in the prerequisites, is the sharing of all relevant information, including motives. In order to collaborate effectively, people need to know what they are working on, why they are working on it, the background of what they are working on, and more. Unpacking the concept of transparency exposes six important attributes that further refine and contribute to the concept of transparency. (more…)

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SPaMCAST 518 features our interview with Rebecca Staton-Reinstein.  We discussed leadership, the difference between leadership and management, coaching versus mentoring and who should own your improvement program.  Rebecca and I have known each other for years and I have always enjoyed her wisdom and pragmatic advice. She really delivers the goods.

Rebecca’s bio:

REBECCA STATON-REINSTEIN, Ph.D. is the president of Advantage Leadership, Inc.

Where she works with companies around the world that want strategic leaders and engaged employees to increase bottom- and top-line results and delight customers. Clients achieve their goals through strategic planning and leadership, management, team, and organizational development. Rebecca’s team works with clients to craft customized, successful solutions to their complex business issues in all economic sectors. Rebecca’s says, “Our mission is your success.”

For over 25 years, Rebecca has contributed improved organizational value as a leader, manager, technologist, keynoter, educator, and consultant honored by organizations on four continents. She is a Ph.D. in organizational development, MBTI® Master Practitioner, a National Speakers Association Professional Member, St. Petersburg Engineering Academy Foreign Member, and Board of Directors Chairperson-Elect, Davie-Cooper City Chamber of Commerce.

Contact Information:

Rebecca Staton-Reinstein, Ph.D., President

Advantage Leadership, Inc.

320 S Flamingo Road, Suite 291, Pembroke Pines, FL 33027

Rebecca@AdvantageLeadership.com

Phone: +305-606-9312  

Web:  http://www.AdvantageLeadership.com  

Amazon Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/RSRpage

Join me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebeccastatonreinstein


Re-Read Saturday News
We continue our journey through Bad Blood, Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou (published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2018).  Today based on the advice of Stephen Adams we tackle chapters three, four and five. The chapters  are titled, “Apple Envy”, “Goodbye East Paly” and “Childhood Neighbors.” The chapters we cover this week paint a picture of a toxic culture full of deceit, naiveté, and vindictiveness; this will be a blockbuster movie someday. While Theranos sounds extraordinary, it isn’t hard to find similar corporate train wrecks. Bad Blood needs to be read as a cautionary tale.

Current Week:  Week 3 — Apple Envy, Goodbye East Paly and Childhood Neighbors – https://bit.ly/2zbOTeO

Week 1 – Approach and Introductionhttps://bit.ly/2J1pY2t    (more…)

Sunset over Lake Erie

A sunset is a gift with no strings!

While there are many leadership types and models, one commonality is that the really great leaders have the ability to give and take feedback. The free flow of feedback is a form of reciprocity in which the gift is honest and well-meaning knowledge, advice, or guidance. Servant leadership requires this type of reciprocity. The servant leader works to empower and serve the people he or she leads while the free flow of feedback generates engagement and brings teams and organizations together. Generating reciprocity is an important skill that needs to be carefully cultivated by a leader. Servant leaders at the team level often use two basic tools to generate reciprocity: gift giving and content marketing. (more…)

Are we being manipulated?

Reciprocity is a social norm that helps shape relationships.  Reciprocity happens where a recipient responds to a positive or negative action with another positive or negative action (we peel back the covers on negative reciprocity soon). Reciprocity is a tool agile coaches, just like salespeople, use to generate agreements amongst teams and stakeholders. The word “use” screams control and negative types of manipulation, so coaches need to be able to recognize when they are generating a scenario of reciprocity due to generosity or a scenario where they are trying to manipulate others for their own gratification.  Every coach needs to pause to reflect before they take an action that they believe is part of the flow of reciprocity.  Here is a simple checklist comprised of seven questions to help a coach consider their actions: (more…)

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SPaMCAST 505 features our recent essay titled, Coaching: Six Modes of OperationOn the surface, coaching is a fairly simple role. A coach has six basic modes of operation.  But…if you peel back the layers just a little bit you will find that coaching is part art and part science.

In the second spot of this week’s magazine have the penultimate session of our read of Steve Tendon and Wolfram Müller’s Hyper-Productive Knowledge Work Performance, The TameFlow Approach.  

I have moved things around a bit and complete this edition of the SPaMCAST with an essay on servant leadership from the Software Sensei, Kim Pries.  Regardless of how you define servant leadership, I think we would all agree that good leadership is critical.

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we begin the read of The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along). The version of the book we are reading is published by Metropolitan Books, 2009 and is the 22nd printing. The book has nine chapters and with acknowledgments has 209 pages. My reading plan is one chapter per week, therefore, the re-read will span 11 weeks.  

 

Current Installment:

Week 1 – Approach and Introductionhttps://bit.ly/2LYi9Lv

 

Next SPaMCAST

SPaMCAST 506 will feature our interview with Mark Kilby.  Mark and I discussed agile in distributed environments. Agile in distributed environments is doable but it isn’t easy, Mark provides guidance and advice.

 

Standard poodle on yoga mat

Jax voted to take over my yoga mat!

One of the primary decision-making techniques used in teams is consensus decision making. The power of consensus decision making is that it yields decisions that are the output of a process in which a team or group finds a solution that everyone can either actively support or live with.  The process of getting to a decision or solution that the whole team can at least live will make sure that every that everyone on the team has a seat at the table and that team builds both majority and minority views into the deliberation process. Generating a consensus requires a number of skills that teams and team members need to learn.  These skills include the ability to:

  •       Communicate options and ideas
  •       Synthesize options and ideas
  •       Listen to team members effectively
  •       Discuss and identify similarities and differences
  •       Compromise
  •       Recognize the needs of others.

Diverse teams rarely have a single monolithic thought process. That means that consensus decisions are a synthesis of ideas in which no one got exactly what they wanted but the result is that the team broadly agrees on the specific issues and the overall direction.  When a team has generated a consensus everyone accepts the decision, will support the decision and understands the reason for making it. A consensus decision represents a team’s collective acceptance of the responsibility for enacting the decision and following through.

Despite the crisp definition of consensus, every team operationalizes the concept of consensus decision making differently.  Some bad consensus decision making processes include:

  • Voting –Teams often feel that they have achieved consensus when they have achieved a unanimous vote.  Voting per se is not bad in certain circumstances. Voting can be a way to test the broad position of a team and identify groups that hold different positions but rarely is it a tool to generate a synthesis or to expose nuances in position.  Voting is most often used to force a majority decision.
  • Majority or minority rule – By definition, consensus decisions represent a synthesis of ideas and concepts to generate support from the whole team.  Majority or minority rule scenarios by definition do not reflect a synthesis.
  • One-person rule – Decisions generated and enforced by a single leader do not represent a consensus decision – duh.
  • Bargaining – Bargaining shifts consensus decision making into a process where the participants agree on what each side gives or receives as payment to support the ideas or concepts of others.  Reducing decision making to a legalistic transaction reduces the need to create a synthesis of ideas.

None of the activities that aren’t good for consensus decision making are bad when used in different situations.  I have bargained with my family when deciding on a restaurant. Many a time have I negotiated visiting a place with good chicken wings one night and the vegan salad place the next (we are complicated).  One-person rule decision making can be very effective in an emergency. Captain Sully Sullenberger, who landed a crippled airliner in the Hudson River, did not use consensus decision making. Combining bad practices with consensus decision making is a problem.

Next:

Techniques for Consensus Decision Making

Techniques for Testing Consensus Decisions