...rants by Asheesh Mehdiratta on Coaching, Transformation and Change

Category: culture

Do you ‘Attach to Detach’ in your coaching?

attachment detachment

Change agents (read Agile / DevOps / Lean coach’s etc.) are always interviewing, observing and empathizing with the teams and individuals. Attachment and Detachment – are part of every change agents personal journey.

Attach-Detach cycle

As part of the transformation journeys, we perform Coaching Kata’s and tend to enter the space of ‘attachment’ and then start to expect our teams to behave in the way we think they should. We get really attached to our teams and sometimes individuals, who look upon us as we start to show them the new ways of thinking.

5 Coaching Kata Questions

Sometimes we are able to help them see the new ways and other times we may not succeed, but finally at some point we have to ‘detach’ ourselves from the engagement for various reasons (sustainable model built, benefit-costs ratio achieved etc.)

But this engage-disengage cycle takes a heavy toll on the change agents, who have to be able to maintain a high level of stability, calm composure to the external world, though internally they might be facing anger, frustration or sometimes loss of the relationships built. Therefore, this detachment is never easy and the below quote summarizes it beautifully.

” The root of suffering is attachment “

the buddha

Dilemma – Solution ?

It is always a constant dilemma on how much ‘attachment’ you bring to your coaching engagement (empathizing with the team/individuals), and maintaining your inner peace and scorecard, which honors the inherent change inertia (read – you cannot really change any one!), and then be bold enough to detach with a smile on your face.

” The cessation of suffering is attainable through detachment”

The buddha

The solution is always within us, and each one of us have to learn to detach ourselves. We should let the team/individual chart their journeys at their pace, while we can only enable them and if possible show them the new ways.

So here’s wishing you ‘detachment’ from your ‘attachments’, as part of your coaching and transformation journeys, in the new year.

You can subscribe via RSS to this blog , and would encourage you to share your stories and your feedback in the Comments below

5 Step Recipe for building Communities of Practice

As part of organizational transformation journey, CIOs today need to move from hierarchical models to self organizing communities to deliver IT, and there is an even greater need to build and sustain “Communities of Practices” for achieving the same. If you are an internal change agent responsible for building these communities, you can learn about the 5 step recipe to building and nurturing these communities in your organization:

But before we kick-start, let us try to understand what really is a Community of Practice?

Communities of practice (CoP) are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.

Typically these groups have a shared domain of interest, shared competence, and learn regularly from each other. They engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information; they are practitioners who share experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems — in short a shared practice

Below is a simple 5 step strategy to kick start and nurture your Community of Practice:

1. Establish a Sense of Urgency and leverage the Strategic objectives

Corporate honchos will typically lay down the current / future areas of focus for the organization. These are typically called as the Strategic Capabilities or future growth areas or similar sounding terms. 

The key to starting a community is to leverage these strategic objectives with an inbuilt sense of urgency, and find a key sponsor (read as TOP DOWN Support), and identify the contributions with this sponsor, as to how the community can add Value, and then focus the discussion and activities around these.

The BOTTOM UP support is always easy to find, once the Sponsor has been identified, who can then help in spreading the message across the enterprise. It is never a question of how to find the bottom up interest, but more a question of ‘how to engage and guide’ the early adopters and steer their passion.


2. Gather ‘early’ Adopters and “Run”

Start with whoever shows up and accept that there will be passionate people (few initially), but always encourage and accept different levels of participation. You will realise that the strength of participation varies from each individual. The ‘core’ (most active members) are those who participate regularly. There are others who follow the discussions or activities but do not take a leading role in making active contributions. 

Then there are those (likely the majority) who are on the periphery of the community but may become more active participants if the activities or discussions start to engage them more fully. All these levels of participation should be accepted and encouraged within the community.

There is never a critical mass required to start a community. So RUN with whoever shows up!


3. Partner with the internal and external Ecosystem

As a community guide, you will/shall/need to partner with the internal and external ecosystem for your organization.

The internal ecosystem would include your Support functions – typically Human Resources – Learning / Training departments, and the internal facilities, who can provide the required logistics, marketing muscle, sometimes manpower too and really make your community endeavours as a key part of their learning offerings. It is best to create this win-win combination to sustain your communities. 

The external ecosystem is key and would include partnership with the industry forums, and speakers, wherein the community members interact, broaden their expertise, and learn and share their stories, new learnings and upcoming trends. The key is to provide an engagement channel with your Community SPONSOR, on how to funnel the participation and share these learnings internally without getting sucked into the legal and compliance partners.  The culture of your organization may aid/resist this step-up.


4. Scale –  Horizontally 

In order to generate initial buy-in across a wider spectrum, it always makes sense to scale horizontally first, so that you can achieve critical mass for your community. This allows the members to contribute and break the ice, and helps in the initial stages in collaboration for the ‘core’ team, as each member brings some additional value to the conversation. We call this strategy as the – Go Wide move

It always helps to create a rhythm for the community with regular schedule of activities that brings the participants together on a regular basis, and combining familiarity and excitement, by focusing both on shared, common concerns and perspectives, but also by introducing radical or challenging perspectives for discussion or action.

5. Scale –  Vertically

Post the initial buy-in, and few first steps, there are always challenges of – What next? Who runs? When? How?

Try Vertical Scaling! – which means going deeper into the sub-topics of interest / work streams within a common umbrella, focusing on multiple aspects: roles/functions/location/on-line/offline medium

As the community needs to be refreshed every few seasons and undergoes an ownership transition, which will happens as you scale vertically now, it is OK to disengage the earlier passionate core and let a new ‘core’ emerge. Other options include introducing Game mechanics in the community, and allowing for non monetary rewards and publicity for the passionate volunteers.

In the end it is the Passion that always rules!

The key to building successful communities is to provide an enabling platform and a safe environment for people to share their stories without any judgement or fear of failure.

I would definitely be interested to hear if you have used these or additional steps to make your communities a success !!


Photo Source: http://bit.ly/2d39F6R

Top 3 challenges in your DevOps journey

The 2014 State of Devops survey report clearly shows higher organizational performance linked to the performance of the IT group and it’s DevOps practices. But most organizations are still struggling in their IT-DevOps journey  – “only 21% of those familiar with it are using it“. In the DevOps journey the main objective of “Collaboration between the Dev and Ops” faces many challenges! Let me attempt to highlight the Top 3 challenges faced by most organizations.



TOP 3 CHALLENGES 

  • No Shared Ownership


Most programs typically have Development and Operations as separate teams, with conflicting goals.

The top down goals for development teams are to build features (potentially shippable increments) at short regular intervals so that they can be deployed, with all incentives promoting ‘faster’ build cycle, versus the operations team goals favor operational stability with changes minimized, in order to maintain existing system reliability and high availability, with incentives for reducing operational costs.


These conflicting goals setting lead to development teams “handing off” the code to operations after development, and operations “pushing back” almost every time.

The overall impact is that the feature ‘go live’ date is delayed, with both the groups lacking “shared ownership” for reducing the overall feature delivery cycle time from an end customer view point.


  • Physical separation


Development and Operations teams are separated by distance, and mostly do not share the same physical location or work area. Most organizations will have centralized operations teams, possibly across time zones for larger enterprises.


The silo’d physical structure is also carried in the silo’d organizational structures with different reporting heads for both the teams, thus ensuring that local optimizations rule the day, with the Operations team members managing and running multiple applications, in closely guarded areas, with restricted access or interaction opportunities with the Development teams.  


How can you relate to someone whom you have never met face to face and never talked? bye bye collaboration !!


  • Cultural differences


Cultural differences are visible in the behavior and actions of both the development team and the operations teams. 

The lack of trust and transparency on both sides is what manifest in the communication gaps on both sides, with the development team having minimal visibility on deployment activities and feedback on production systems (read  infrastructure metrics), and the Real business metrics and similarly the operations teams having minimal visibility on what is the expectations on the features wrt.  scalability, run books, or reliability that they should care about to maximize the applications potential and operate as expected by the development team. 

The lack of shared evidence and the missing Shared ownership clearly comes out and creates a sense of mistrust and results in overall delivery delays.


“The developer and operations divide in IT is almost like humidity at times. You can’t see it, but you feel it,” – This quote from the Starabucks devops post sums the challenges….  

what are the challenges do you see in your devops journey?


Look out for my next post which will try to address possible solutions for these challenges…

© 2020 agile journeys

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑