Job descriptions and conveyor belts

Job descriptions to specialize tasks were perfectly suited for industrial conveyor belt work. Productivity was the direct result of job description enforcement and compliance. 

They have no relevance in work that is complex, dynamic or shared. These contexts require real time coordination by the whole.

Extrinsic pressure to intrinsic motivation

Work performance and growth is more possible in intrinsic motivation rather than external pressure. Pressure implies that people don't need a personal, relevant and compelling sense of purpose in their work. When people lack this kind of purpose, they minimally engage their goodness in their work.

 

The 217 year gender pay equity problem

Estimates for when women will have pay equity at work are at around 217 years from now. It's an insane probability, and an opportunity to search for ways to accelerate this possibility. I would argue that it will have to do with rethinking how we value everyone's contributions at work. 

There continues in many workplaces the braggdocio of the bro culture that obscures the multiplicity and nuances of value.

 

Forget email and meetings

When it comes to fluency in team alignment, two ways to prevent alignment are emails and meetings. They are the source of all manner of delays and disconnects when compared to team boards like Trello and team texting like Slack. 

After years of using and observing all these methods, I would argue that team alignment is only possible with the free, easy to use tools like Trello and Slack. No team had communication skill deficiencies. There are only three dimensions in communicatiom: listening, asking and telling. Everyone knows how to do these. Communication thrives when we get the tools right.

2 ways to sustain day to day team alignment

Alignment is velocity. Two simple ways to sustain alignment are sprint huddles and daily standups.

Sprint huddles are weekly planning sessions for the next two weeks out. We define together what success, progress and momentum looks like. We identify where help, collaboration and syncing up will be most important. 

Daily standups are brief checkins to identify work in progress that needs confirmation of completion, requests and offers for help and making adjustments to the timing of responsiveness.

 

4 Ways to Learn from Experience

There are at least four ways to learn from experience: experimenting, reflective critique, feedback and learning questions.

Experimenting is trying new things and common things in new ways. Experimenting yields far more learning than analysis paralysis and death by discussion.

Reflective critique extracts learning forward from any experiences on the success-failure continuum. Experience is only a teacher when we reflect back from it.

Feedback is discovering how useful or not useful our efforts are for others. It is particularly helpful when it's based on our learning questions.

Learning questions are what we are most curious about, what we want to explore, discover or master. They make us more attuned to new learning from any experiences going forward.

 

Good listening

I find that a simple way to assess for listening skillfulness is asking people whether they think they're good listeners. The more eager or adamant the yes, the more curiosity needs to be applied. For any response, it's interesting to ask how they know. 

This inquiry gets particularly interesting when we talk about listening as unfolding and discovering the unspoken context for the content shared. That someone says they hear the content of everything said in no way guarantees they are also aware of the context of everything unsaid. Good listening is contextualized listening. Good listening is complete listening.

The power of good work

People feel trusted to do good work when everyone shares a sense of what good work is. Definitions of good should be actionable, context specific and adaptable.  Reflective critique sessions are probably the most useful ways to build and grow this shared sense. The more people do good work, the more they are trusted to do good work.

Goals and fixed mindsets

Unless we translate goals into new questions, they can lead to fixed mindsets. Our commitment to  specific, predictable, near view outcomes can preclude mindful and agile attention to new possibilities to get to the same longer view outcomes. The further out we go in defining the long view good we seek, the richer our potential for a growth mindset. The more we translate direction into new questions, the more growth mindset we engage.

Non-local learning

There people, teams, organizations, networks and communities all over the world thinking and doing differently than we are. The more we pay attention to this ever-churning diversity, the more we feed our creative capacity. This is what seasoned artists do. The opposite of starring at empty canvases, lumps of clay or talking things to death.

Learning at high levels of performance

The more people perform in work with mastery, the more they are performing in territories untravelled. They are pioneers and explorers carving out new opportunity landscapes. Much of their learning is not going to happen by consuming courses or searching for mentors or coaches. It's going to happen through expriments and critiques. Learning how to expriment and critique is vital to their growth potentials. 

 

The purpose of senior leadership vision

Most senior leadership teams still believe it's their duty to create and communicate a top-down vision to the rest of the organization. 

Realistic leadership teams don't assume the rest of the organization lacks a sense of the future they want to see. They don't assume people will support what they don't create. With this perspective, they see their vision as a way to inspire others into their own and shared vision for the growth and success of the organization. 

2 month momentum

In the Agile Canvas, the easiest way to create 2 week sprint momentum toward 2 quarter projects is translating these projects into 2 month actions, which can be projects, decisions, research, experiments and initiatives.

This implies 2 month refreshes in the content and sequencing of items.

Invention on the floor, not just in space

These days, Elon Musk finds himself sleeping on his factory floor. He's in the midst of a manufacturing crisis for his latest challenge and disruption.

His engineers massively misestimated the utility of robots on production lines. Now in a move very uncharacteristic of this industry, he is in Agile reinvention of the line, featuring replacing robots with humans, which is paying off. Interesting lessons for leaders. 

The right questions

Because questions on the table feel urgent, important, personal or anxiety-provoking doesn't in any way mean it's a good question to spend time on. That's why it's important to get all the live questions on the table and sequence them. Then we see the best order possible. 

Career conversations

Are there more risks or benefits to leaders engaging people in career conversations? There are benefits when they engage everyone and when they focus on multiple pathway possibilities. People feel  a red for. It also gives many unique opportunities, not afforded by those in their personal lives, to explore what calls them and what can be stepping stones to more complex possibilities. 

Another way to get at strengths, beliefs and values

The ongoing awareness of strengths is possible when people share items on their list of "What I need to remember." These typically reflect strengths, beliefs and values. In the context of the next  timeframe, they become personal and shared inspiration for upcoming work. They also provide shared proactive focus for our efforts.

Belonging, the real deal

I've seen as many people lack a sense of belonging in completely homogeneous groups. It doesn't take a diverse group to challenge a culture of connection. 

Belonging is a function of conversation. People feel a sense of belonging when they feel like their stories are appreciated, ideas and efforts valued, learning shared and feedback useful. This can happen in any constellations of generating and color, background and foreground. None of these are the exclusive domain of any demographic. They are possible for any human being with even a minimal growth mindset.

The power of the closed mind

Showing up with a closed mind can take a myriad of expressions. It can show up as authority, expert superiority, bullying, narcissism, zero sum competitiveness, adolescent indolence, parental rigidity, dogmatic intractability.

The last thing we should assume is that it is an indication of intelligence and competence. This frees us up to show up in ways that cause them to feel understood. Only in this space could they possibly venture out into the vast unknown.