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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Team Tips - 7 {I, Robot}

Here's a challenge from some who have heard about, but not fully experienced, the Core Protocols in action:
Using protocols of behaviour turns us into robots.
And the use of best practices in our work puts us in process hell, building quality into our results is expensive, rules inhibit creativity, great results require huge effort, and the earth is flat.

Just in case you haven't guessed yet, I have a bias. Yes, I am a fan of the Simple Rules and Tools for great teams – the Core Protocols from McCarthy Technologies.

And my bias is toward action, getting the best results with the least effort, being clear and explicit in communications, using standards of process to provide consistency of quality wherever possible, and promoting creativity and excellence.

If you have an uncontrollable urge to “roll your own” and be as free as bird with no constraints in developing and providing your particular product or service, then fill your boots.

I trust you won't be offended if I don't get into your car for the next trip across town, or get into the aircraft your company provides for travel. I'm just not that comfortable in blowing through stop signs and red lights because they are too constraining. Nor would I be thrilled if the pilots for my next flight didn't care to check the aircraft, do any pre-flight cockpit work, ignore air traffic control, and attempt the take-off from the taxiway with only fumes in the fuel tanks.

Yup; those dang protocols do inhibit things.

  • using all the comfortable legacy behaviours that aren't productive and deliver low quality results
  • having low bandwidth communication full of blather and unspoken assumptions
  • spending more time on project management than on producing product
  • getting tangled up in whining, complaining, and the Drama Triangle
  • producing mediocre products or services so we don't achieve too much revenue

So if you are getting your very best results already, if you are sure there is nothing you can gain by trying a different approach, if you are completely, outrageously happy, financially secure, and have absolutely nothing else to offer the world, then please ignore the Core Protocols. Instead, please send me your own protocols.

The commitments from the Simple Rules and Tools include using the Tools – the Protocols – or something better. So I'm serious. If you have something better I need to know.

But in the meantime give the Simple Rules and Tools a try. How does any idea become a reality except by eventually trying it out and looking at the results?

Mainframe computers, became mini computers, became personal computers, became laptops, became hand held devices, etc. Computer assembly languages fostered compilers and interpreters, etc. Waterfall project management became more agile with – you know.

If you feel that protocols would turn you into a robot, then perhaps you need to be the one to show how they don't have to.

Of course you can also persist in ignoring the success of the Simple Rules and Tools, and sail your boat off the edge of the world.

Your call. :-)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Team Tips - 6 {Ouch - that hurts!}

Here's a team challenge from Christophe T:
I noticed we perform better as a team once we shared our fears, hopes, prides, etc. How can we go vulnerable to our team ?
Contrary to popular belief, and certainly my corporate training, we can't leave our emotions out of the workplace. As human beings it is not possible, as hard as we might try. Nor should we. Both Spocks in the latest Star Trek movie (2009) validate that learning.

We ask, for example, for people to leave their egos at the door as they enter the boardroom meeting. What we truly want is to reduce as much as possible the drama associated with our personal agendas. Irrational behaviour driven by extreme emotion often leads to behaviour well described by the Drama Triangle. In the Drama Triangle the roles of Persecutor, Victim, and Rescuer are assumed by those involved in the drama often moving between people as the emotional energy escalates. And that is not productive.

Nor is the emotion attached to grasping for our personal agendas, persisting to have things our way. This easily happens when each individual involved has their own vision of success as opposed to a shared vision among the members of a team. If I am stuck with “My way, or the highway” then we have a dictatorship instead of collaboration.

In fact we could say that without a shared vision a group of people is not a team; certainly not according to our definition in Team Tips - 1. More precisely we can say that such a group might have a common objective but no shared concept of what that actually looks like: what is the picture of the future once that shared vision is achieved.

Accordingly, to attempt to leave emotion out of the equation doesn't work. And you may have guessed already that we have observed that emotion plays an important role in team behaviour. For example, how did Christophe make the observation above? He knows that individuals on Great Teams use the Check In protocol – from the simple tools – to share their emotional state with their team.

Why do the best teams do this? 

  • first: simply in order to provide that information – to make explicit what is implicit in my attitude at that moment
  • second: to give the team some insight into what is driving my behaviours and actions
  • third: to remove the energy from a dramatic scene of possible accusations and rebuttals inherent in the Drama Triangle
  • finally: to declare to the team that in spite of, or along with, or because of that emotional energy, I am still ready to adhere to the Core Commitments and so be fully engaged in the team's activities.

OK?      Are you kidding? !!

At least that is often our instinctive reaction to such a foolish suggestion. I'm not about to be vulnerable to others that way, nor vulnerable in any other way, we say. I'm not interested in having the sharks smell my blood and attack.

But, I'm not talking about swimming with Great Whites. I'm talking about working with your associates, your team, who are all sharing their “vulnerabilities” to some degree as the level of trust between members grows.

If one is courageous enough to share emotion, to open the kimono, to expose his or her thoughts and then does get attacked – obviously or subtly – then, of course, that ends that, and a “team” allowing attacks should be left behind to feed on someone else. Sooner or later they will eat themselves.

Being vulnerable on a Great Team means being open to sharing and receiving information of any type, being willing to listen and learn, being willing to risk being wrong, being willing to change.

And that kind of vulnerability comes from great strength and power.