"How can you recover trust inside a team that has lost it?"
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
“Can everybody work in teams?”
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
- The workshop is NOT mandatory. Accordingly, the people who attend are only those who want to be there; hence, want to be part of the team
- By participating in the session attendees are immersed in the Core Protocols – the Simple Rules and Tools. This helps everyone involved get to experience and practice these foundational behaviours for great teamwork, and some will invest energy in this learning and thrive in it, and some may choose not to
- During the session, the team members develop a Shared Vision for that team. If someone doesn't wish to share that vision they are free to follow their own dream and so move out of the original team
- The team members that find that the Core Protocols as used by the team deliver on the promise of high band-with communication, fast decision making, the development of trust, a focus on results of high quality, etc. become their own self organized team. Any attendees who don't are again free to not participate, possibly forming their own team working in other ways
Friday, November 4, 2011
“Does the boss belong to the team, or he just must work for it?” (I believe for the last part Jose meant “or does the team just work for the boss?”)
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
“Can everybody work in teams?”
“Which is the best road to high performance teams?”
“Does the boss belong to the team, or he just must work for it?”
"How can you recover trust inside a team that has lost it?"
“How to select members for a great team?”
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
It's always interesting to see a tidal wave of articles about a phenomenon where the terminology or jargon is readily waved about, positions are staked out, bets placed, opinions posited before we even come to terms with what the topic actually is about.
From “CIOs lack adequate cloud computing knowledge"
By: Stephanie Overby - 02 Aug 2011
A survey of cloud providers and outsourcers returns some embarrassing scores on the cloud skills of IT executives.
Traditional IT outsourcing customers are struggling with cloud computing, according to IT service providers and outsourcing advisors surveyed by KPMG Sourcing Advisory. IT service providers and advisors rated their IT executive customers' facility with various aspects of cloud computing on a scale of one to five, where one represented "very unskilled" and five represented "very skilled." IT executives earned embarrassing scores from their providers and advisors: None garnered even a middling score of three.
When it comes to managing and governing cloud initiatives, IT leaders earned their lowest scores from respondents: 1.69 from advisors and 2.19 from providers.(Note the precision in the scores of two places of decimal – very scientific indeed! Unfortunately we aren't given the sample size or information on the demographics.)
The article continues to point out that it is the pace of technology change, including the development of the Cloud environment, that is a big difficulty, and that the IT management skills required need to be learned and practiced more.
Hmmm. Smells like a framework of best practices in this area could be helpful.
A framework like, say, ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library)?
And how could that learning and increased used of the best practices help?
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the U.S. the Cloud has
Compared to that list of essential characteristics, ITIL practices can be applied
- five essential characteristics (On-demand self-service, Broad network access, Resource pooling, Rapid elasticity, Measured Service)
- three service models (Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS), Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS), Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS))
- and, four deployment models (Private cloud, Community cloud, Public cloud, Hybrid cloud)
- key enabling technologies include: (1) fast wide-area networks, (2) powerful, inexpensive server computers, and (3) high-performance virtualization for commodity hardware
- in understanding the customer demand for self-service, profiling the IT Service Provider's resources and capabilities to meet that demand, managing the customer & supplier interface
- in determining the network access policies, procedures, security requirements, contingency planning
- in managing capacity and availability not just of the technical infrastructure but of all the resources and capabilities of the organization
- in ensuring changing customer requirements are well managed through responsive change management and deployment
- in determining and monitoring service levels and performance to those targets
With respect to Service models, ITIL is all about IT Services – understanding all the customer's interests and requirements, and the corresponding capabilities of the IT Service Provider.
Finally, ITIL doesn't speak to enabling technology choices because the IT Service Management thinking isn't altered by the choice of technology.
And all of the ITIL practices apply to whichever side of the Cloud edge one is on – Customer buying Cloud services or Cloud Provider delivering services. We just have to sort out who does what for whom in the steps of each process. Which is pretty darn important in any business deal whatever model one uses.
So if your score was in the 1.69 range, don't despair. Help is available!
For more about ITIL and IT Leadership please contact me via http://www.BusinessImprovementResults.com
Sunday, August 14, 2011
In part one I introduced the notion that taking advantage of good business practice in all its forms like ITIL just makes sense, and even more so as one considers operating in, or with, the Cloud.
But when we talk about “the Cloud” what the heck do we mean?
How about this definition from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the U.S.:
“Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.”
Aha! We are talking about a model for the use of computing resources.
How does that fit with the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)? Well, on a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 is best probably about a 10.
Why so high?
- ITIL is indifferent to the device technology used because it is concerned with the strategic, design, transition, operations, and improvement levels or layers working above the technology. ITIL deals with the thinking, organizing, and procedural aspects of running the IT business.
- It recognizes the most critical resource left out of the above definition – the people involved, as both a resource and a source of capability.
- Rapid provision of services depends on strong design, controlled transition, sound operations, continual improvement (particularly keeping in mind that fewer lifecycle errors leads to higher overall speed of provision).
- Being able to release with minimal management effort / service provider interaction hinges on sound, well executed process as encouraged by ITIL.
- And, availability (as well as the other warranty areas of capacity, contingency, and security) are well covered in the ITIL practices
In general, the more complicated the situation, the more benefit can be derived from other's experiences and best practices. Why make all their mistakes – again?
So then if an organization has a solid foundation of ITIL practices and processes, their various roles and responsibilities across the organization figured out, their IT Services catalogued, change and deployment activities under control, etc. then everything is perfect?
“Perfect” is a stretch (unless I am their Advisor). :-)
But I think the question boils down to:
Would you like to take advantage of the terminology, common understanding, thoroughness of checklists and process steps, clarity of roles and responsibilities, and structure of the lifecycle perspective that the best practices from ITIL have to offer, or be mediocre on purpose?
And that can be the difference between seeing the sun above the Cloud or getting rained on.
For more about ITIL and IT Leadership please contact me via http://www.BusinessImprovementResults.com
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
At the risk of sounding like one of the Four Yorkshiremen in the Monty Python sketch talking about how rough their childhoods were...
When I was a lad I had to get up before going to bed, walk barefoot through ten foot snowdrifts, and write Assembler code and such for mainframes such as the IBM 360, DEC PDP-10, and Xerox Data Systems Sigma 7. (Yes; Xerox Corporation was briefly in the mainframe business after buying Scientific Data Systems. And their research facility really did inaugurate desktop networked Personal Computers etc. long before anyone else. All fascinating stories for another time.)
And in those days of mainframes closeted in well protected data centres we had to play by the rules – for access, usage privileges, changes, etc. - because the strict governance of these million dollar babies was crucial to the owning organization, and careers.
Today we have, ta-da, the Cloud.
So as we begin to operate “in the Cloud” should we toss away everything we learned fifty years ago, including solid business practice for managing computing resources and services such as the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)?
A business associate, Will Shook, writes as he starts up another information technology and services company [Accelerence, LLC]:
The issue at hand for me is this: we built a model around computing many years ago and very good practices were developed in the glass house. Then we went to client / server computing and everybody forgot everything about controls and processes. Skip forward to the cloud and it seems everyone has forgot about good governance once again as they get focused on the technology, but not predictable results from the technology. Good governance is more important than ever now, given the sharing of workloads, the mixed model of asset ownership and operation, and the preponderance of devices, data, and access methods. ITIL should be a huge win in the world of the cloud.Absolutely should be!
As the technology gets more complicated, and the management of it gets more complicated, and the difficulty of understanding what is done for whom, by whom, and under what circumstances increases, doesn't it make sense to take advantage of good business practice?
In fact, for those organizations who have developed thorough IT Service Management processes with ARCI tables, Service Portfolios and Catalogues, strong Operating Level Agreements and Service Level Agreements (just to note a few) moving to the use of Cloud services is easier. At least they know what services they are talking about, can plug in new roles and responsibilities readily, and pinpoint service level requirements and dependencies.
If you are about to change some or all of your computing model isn't it nice to know in detail what you do today, how you do it, and have insightful and directed questions for your new Cloud suppliers?
Beats walking barefoot through ten foot snowdrifts!
For more about ITIL and IT Leadership please contact me via http://www.BusinessImprovementResults.com
Sunday, May 29, 2011
- it wasn't higher than the reach of our standard ladder
- it was above the deck at the back of the house so the footing for the ladder was solid
- the blockage was ordinary – just some accumulated leaves
- and the spot requiring attention was self evident because that's where the water was overflowing the lip of the trough on to my feet on the deck
So why did I go out in the rain, in a rain slicker and boots, scramble up a wet ladder with the slicker's hood blocking my vision, reach over backwards to grope blindly in the eves-trough, in very cold water, to find the blockage of soggy leaves, to deal with this problem?
Well; the point of the eves-trough is to direct water away from the basement wall so it doesn't end up in the cellar, and that clearly wasn't working very well. And the waterfall from the trough onto the deck made this disconcerting “water-is-running-into-the-house-and-all-is-lost” sound.
But, of course, the underlying reason is that I hadn't cleared the leaves away during the lovely warm sunny weather this past weekend. In fact I hadn't even checked to see if there might be leaves in the trough, even though I have to do that for my Mum almost every time I visit her at her house.
Aren't humans fascinating? We have the capability and resources to plan in advance the most outrageously complicated stuff, but we still wait until its raining to fix the roof – or eves-trough.
We see this effect when it comes to Asking for Help. It's startling clear when there's a problem and a solution is needed that asking someone else for thoughts or advice is a good idea. In our Simple Rules and Tools for Great Teams Immersion session that becomes obvious, particularly when we tell folks at the start of the session that the tool “Ask for Help” is the single most important and valuable one to learn.
But it's trickier to appreciate that Asking for Help is even more valuable when it is not raining problems. Because the steps in the tool aren't simply ones to get answers, but are also ways to open oneself to others – their knowledge, insights, experience, and contributions. And that helps us to put our own knowledge into perspective, take ourselves a little less seriously perhaps, and forge a stronger more meaningful connection with that other person.
And you don't have to wait until it's raining to do that.
Find out more about the Simple Rules and Tools for Great Teams at http://www.BusinessImprovementResults.com/news.html and get a free copy of all the rules and tools known as The Core Protocols at http://www.BusinessImprovementResults.com/whatresults.html
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
To the casual bystander this approach can seem odd. If I am learning to spin my opponent around me almost horizontally, force them to the mat, and then secure them immobile, why should I spend time practicing having them grab my wrist over and over... and over?
Where's the cool drag them one way, clothes line them across the neck in the other direction, take them off their feet using their own momentum, and have them slam down on the mat, all with a flick of the wrist, twist of the hips, hardly needing a deep breath?
Well, of course, Aikido isn't about being “cool”, or slamming your opponent, who is actually more your partner in an intricate dance than a real threat. At least in the dojo.
And the whole development of these intricate moves occurs step by step, just like learning to fly an aircraft, or any other criteria-based instruction. When one can demonstrate satisfactory performance of one task or movement, then one can progress to the next step.
In particular, at each step one can review, evaluate, and improve to develop a firmer foundation for the next step.
This continuous building and adding to achieve a startling amazing result is one thing Great Teams practice doing during the the Simple Rules and Tools of Great Teams Immersion. The Tool is called the Perfection Game. The initial “movement” is simply whatever idea or proposal is suggested for the team to consider from one of the team members. That person asks one or more of the others to “Perfect” it, and the protocol begins.
It's a very special, structured, and positive form of feedback:
- it only occurs at the requestor's asking
- it indicates how much value the responder is hoping to provide to improve the suggestion
- it covers the aspects of the suggestion the responder likes with only positive comments
- it indicates any improvements the responder would like to see to make the suggestion as close to perfect for them as it might be – the value the responder is adding
So if you like the opportunity for continuous improvement – kaizen – in your martial art, your flying, driving,... whatever, or are just looking to make an idea better in any situation the simple tool the Perfection Game protocol is ideal.
Find out more about the Simple Rules and Tools for Great Teams at http://www.BusinessImprovementResults.com/news.html
Get a free copy of all the rules and tools known as The Core Protocols at http://www.BusinessImprovementResults.com/whatresults.html
See our example of the Perfection Game at
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
As with all these discussions – in this forum or any other medium – a lot of the debate revolves around the meaning, and the implications, of the words used. For example, from Peter A.:
I think we're getting caught up on multiple interpretations of "effort". On the one hand effort refers to "the number of hours spent doing something", which is how it's being used in the results/effort ratio. On the other hand, I think the article is primarily using effort in the sense of "applied oneself diligently against a defined standard with realtime feedback" (i.e. Deliberate practice). While more is better in some sense here, the key point is that this kind of practice is a good thing vs. not practicing or ineffective practice.and:
... there are multiple interpretations of what "results" mean. If results include the ability of the individual/team to produce more/better output in the future at less cost, the strategy/math for optimizing results/effort is different than if you only value output for the current time interval.The “article” referred to above is The words that could unlock your child (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13128701) which has the punch line
This reveals a radical new approach to the way we engage with children - that we should praise effort, never talent; that we should teach kids to see challenges as learning opportunities rather than threats; and that we should emphasize how abilities can be transformed.and even a comment left on behalf of Einstein!:
This from Einstein:
"I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent; curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas."Since my operating slogan is “It's not about effort – it's about results”, I can't avoid weighing in on this issue.
Let's set aside the unanswered questions from the article about how we encourage children versus adults, and whether or not we praise talent, or ability, or hard work, etc., and the words we choose in each situation, and with each personality – all complex adaptive systems!
My slogan is to make the point that in any enterprise, effort that doesn't finally produce a satisfactory result isn't truly effective and hence worthwhile. We can't get distracted by claims of hard work, and even true hard work, if it doesn't deliver. And please note I added the word “finally” to cover the obvious examples of practicing, failing, recovering, trying again which are all necessary efforts for most of us to build skills and competence to achieve a goal.
The real point is that effort all by itself with no achievement except fatigue is not a valuable commodity. At least in the exercise gym fatigue is an indicator of potential muscle development.
Nonetheless, when did you last go to the store to buy “effort”?
Well, Mr. Reeves, our company employees worked night and day to design, fabricate, and ship this product. We didn't actually get it operational, but we worked really hard at it. How many would you like?
Jeez, boss, I was here till midnight working on that analysis for you and I know you needed the answer for that important client sale this morning. Although I didn't get it done, I really worked hard at it.
You know I haven't taken a vacation in 3 years!It is certainly NOT that effort isn't required. We don't go to the “Results Tree” and pick results off the low hanging branches. But if we praise effort without results, or in place of the required results, then we are not being smart. At the worst we are deluding ourselves that somehow hard work (and what is truly hard?) is an acceptable alternative to an actual achievement. (Scan all the news reporting from the United Nations, and governments in general, to see examples.)
And if we are in business, and only concentrating on effort, then there will definitely be a final result and that will be failure.
Monday, April 4, 2011
In the Core Protocols Group forum (http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/TheCoreProtocols) Jose Ramón Diaz started an interesting thread on the question of leadership on a team using the Simple Rules and Tools of Great Teams – the Core Protocols.
His question is:
“What's the role of leader on a team of this kind [one using the Core Protocols]? I am thinking that a true team using ... the Core Protocols, doesn't need a leader, but on the road to perfection, it will be needed, I suppose.”
After some answers from other forum members, Jose Ramón continues:
“The work of a leader in this kind of situations, is to not be necessary. I agree, but I find much resistance to this idea.
For you, that I suppose have experience with *great teams*, is it negative to have a leader? If there is a leader, is the team in pursuit of a shared vision, or could it be that some people follow the leader instead of their own (shared) vision?"
Since the Simple Rules and Tools of Great Teams – the Core Protocols – provide for dynamic leadership behaviour from any team member, the issue of the boss / manager / leader role can be a sticky one.
Particularly before one attends the Immersion session and learns the Simple Rules and Tools.
Particularly for the team leader!
To answer Jose Ramón, I find it helpful to be more precise and explicit about the use of the term "leader". We often use the word to mean a role in a hierarchy, and also to mean a behaviour with outcomes, such as people following.
In the Simple Rules and Tools of Great Teams Immersion (aka. BootCamp) the Managers in the simulation play the role of leader in that they assemble the team, hire consultants to help, provide the team the assignment, and monitor progress and quality of the product. At the same time, anyone on the team can behave as a leader by, for instance, proposing a course of action in a Decider (the Tool used by Great Teams to make unanimous team decisions) which the team decides to follow or not.
So the first is a leader position in an organization chart sense, the second is dynamic, changing, emergent behaviour.
The resistance Jose speaks of is usually organizational position protection. For example: I declare myself the team leader, or I have been appointed the team leader, and am going to protect my position and resist being declared unnecessary. And usually with good reason, since in most organizations teams want and wait for the leader to tell them what to do. Or at least are expected to – by the leaders!
In the Great Teams Immersion session, it is ideal to have the organizational leader present. This lets them realize that they can share the leadership behaviours with the team and be an equal with the team members in matters of developing and improving the vision, ideas, product quality, etc. It's like getting the leader's paycheque without having to do all the work.
The hard part is often getting the leader to accept that meritocracy (starting with them learning to listen well, and not get in the way), and sometimes just as hard, getting other team members to step up to the responsibilities and accountabilities of the Core Commitments to let their leadership behaviours emerge.
So having the leadership behaviours in the team is wonderful; they just don't have to come from the organizational leader on the team.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
- the design meeting specifications,
- that all of this can be confirmed by tests,
- and that Operations staff need to be able to provide input to Design to ensure the systems are operable, robust, and maintainable.
- continuous deployment is of course possible, even if one, incorrectly, took ITIL as prescriptive.
- even the so called "ITIL experts" argue about "implementing" ITIL word for word from the book which is not the intent
- ITIL recommends using - adopting - the best practices, as they suit the organization and its needs. Again it is not law, it is a Framework. One uses the best practices as they make sense, just as you do in Agile. And where an ITIL practice can make an improvement one should use it, just as in Agile.
- it all boils down to keeping the Great Teams commitment to not do anything dumb
- are the controls in place to reduce the error rate?
- was the previous situation causing buggy software to be released which impeded the business?
- has someone mis-interpreted the intent of the ITIL Framework and used it as law?
Friday, March 11, 2011
Finishing the project team kickoff meeting story from Software for Your Head by Jim & Michele McCarthy.
(from page 8):
Well, hell, if he did all that, you would consider him to be all the way checked in. Hmmm. What’s more, you think maybe, just maybe, that scenario might just do the trick for the whole damn team. Tell you what, you’d bet your bottom dollar that his teammates will at least respond with their fullest, focused attention. That’s just what people do whenever someone reveals himself a bit. If he’s talking and acting with just the least little bit of enlightenment, something new, they’re going to listen up and watch closely. As long as the person says what he says and does what he does with thoughtfulness and truth. But if it is true, you’d predict that the team, just by witnessing a more honest, genuinely new engagement level, will then be much more likely to act on questions of shared vision (which, you remind yourself, is the top-level symptom). At least, you figure, they’ll be more likely to act on things they care about, anyway, and that would be all to the good. Moreover, everybody who watched this thing unfold from just one person will have been really informed, and maybe even inspired, by the difference made by his acceptance of personal accountability for how he has been spending his own life. Really, not only for his own results, but for the results of all.
You half listen to the team struggling to cram everything in the agenda in the last few minutes. Maybe the others would also begin to experiment with the new power they are seeing and feeling (and there is tremendous power in accepting individual responsibility for achieving results together). If your guidance would help one or more of them to engage more deeply, and not to waste any time and never to do anything dumb on purpose, why, you’d have made a huge difference. Hell, the dumb quota can always be met by doing things you thought were smart to begin with. You don’t have to do anything dumb on purpose to meet the quota.
You imagine that a newly awakened team member would see a whole bunch of things, maybe all at once; the problem is not a case of a team without a shared vision, a case of just another stupid project, or another example of bad management or poor leadership. No, when he thinks it all the way through, he’ll see that the trouble is not “too few people,” or “not enough time,” or some other cockamamie story about how the mediocrity was out of his control. The crux of the thing is that he, personally, has been accepting less than he wants, and less than he deserves. What’s more, he has been doing so without making any genuine creative effort to get what he requires to efficiently create what he wants. He’ll see that the problem is his own lack of integrity and his shallow engagement. The problem is rooted somewhere near his deficient caring about his own life. To persist as it has, the problem requires his repression of passion, it mandates that he fail to accept his own wisdom, and it seduces him into daily acts of cowardice that promulgate rather than abolish the general foolishness of which he is such an important part.
But should just this one person truly check in, you think, the whole team will be moved to a better ground. Even if team members backslide, and all do,they won’t forget this vivid instance of accountable behavior and the simple, unambiguous actions that supported it.
One self-respecting person, you reflect, with even a modest degree of personal engagement, is all it takes to start this team on the path toward much greater achievement. No permission is required for the pursuit of greatness, no consensus to improve your own results. All the orgs and re-orgs in the whole damn corporate universe, all the resources consumed and processes proceeding can’t stop one honest person from making sure he spends his time wisely. And that’s all that is needed to get the ball rolling.
Why not believe, you think. Pretend. OK. So from this one moment of surpassing individual and dawning team clarity, this whole group will quicken, will revive. Of course, team members will need some new supportive structures; they’ll require whatever information there is about highly effective connection and collaboration. In particular, they’ll damn well want more moments of clarity, and will be willing to adopt whatever practices create just the right conditions for genuine checking in.
They can’t hold it, probably. And would they spread it around? You have a spike of unease, but then you reassure yourself that the team you are envisioning would of course look for any behavior patterns that would achieve its goals. If there weren’t any, team members would just figure a way to create them. And put them in a book.
But first, one of them must check all the way in. Just one. Who? All this, after one of them has decided that his life, time, and creative output really do matter. But not before.
Interrupting your reverie, your nascent vision, the meeting suddenly stops as people scatter and depart, ceasing to meet rather than finishing their work. Finishing is way different from ceasing, you muse. As you gather yourself, one of the team newbies, together with the team’s most infamous cynic, approach you. You bet they want your take on things. Your help.
So that's the kickoff meeting that we've all been to, and all have wished was better.
What have you done in this situation? Thoughts? Comments?