agile journeys

...rants by Asheesh Mehdiratta on Transformation and Change

Tag: behaviour

Are you learning from your failures?

failureIf you are a Star Wars fan, and have watched the latest movie The Last Jedi, you would have been struck by the sudden appearance of Yoda, the ‘Grandmaster’ of the Jedi order, and talking to Luke Skywalker about failures.

Yoda explains to Luke, the Last Jedi, that failure is a good teacher, and we must learn from our mistakes!

“The greatest teacher, failure is.”  – Yoda

In the real world,  some teams will fail at various stages in their transformation journey, and others may falter multiples times, before they finally succeed. It is never an easy straight line from point A to point B.

But as a Leader of teams, how do you treat these failures?

Do you reflect on the failures with the team and have an open discussion without any blame?

or Do you punish them for the failure?

Do you ask the question – What have we learnt from this failure?”

If you are aiming to build self managed teams, who can truly recognize their weaknesses and strengths, then it is important to let them fail and learn from their mistakes. It is important that they can do safe experiments, and design a better outcome, and solutions that delights the users.

To help, it would be good to look at Etsy’s culture of running ‘Blameless postmortems’, which talk about “what” happened? and how we can systematically remove the constraints so that human error can be reduced, instead of ‘blaming’ the person.  This is a powerful shift in the mindset and triggers a behavioral change in your teams.

But if as a Leader, you continue down the path of measuring failures, and then punishing the team, the organization culture becomes risk-averse. Teams will then not be ready to take risks, think outside the box, or have crazy ideas, and it would dampen the innovative mindset and creativity that we all humans possess.  You will never learn from your failures.

Conclusion:

To learn from failures is a key trait for successful teams. Even the famed Luke Skywalker had to be reminded by the Yoda, that failure is the greatest teacher!

So, if you can change your behaviors and are ready to take risks, with known constraints, then you will start looking at failures as learning opportunities and of course Yoda would be really proud of you!

So go ahead and ask your teams to share – what has been their biggest learning opportunity in the projects/products that you develop and support? go ahead and conduct the ‘Blameless postmortems’ and you would be surprised pleasantly.

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How much time do you allow for Improvements?

This is a common question from many Scrum teams, as they embark on their continuous improvement journey. Multiple teams struggle and then look to the higher powers or just ram through their way. As a Change Agent, to answer this, here is what you can ask them –

Do you allow ‘any’ time currently for Improvements?
  • You would typically hear the team saying as 0% ! and then a good response is to then START Small, with the emphasis on START.
  • You could alternatively talk about doing  10% more than what they are currently doing
  • or simply follow the 1% daily improvement paradigm (aggregation of marginal gains)
  • or you could ask the team about their Pain Index as discussed earlier, and then review from 10-90% of the sprint
So what has been your advice to your teams?

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Wanna jump start your Transformation?

change rewardsIn my previous post, we talked about Changing our Habits, to be able to successfully make any real impact with your transformation change initiatives.

Let us review how we can make these habit changes really possible and sticky.

In his book, The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg, talks about why habits exist and how they can be changed. He talks about how changing our habits can be done and how we can start to think scientifically, which would help us  in our large scale transformations.

Critical steps for Changing our Habits

As a first step, the author talks about looking for the Cues which are the starting point for the Routine/Habit, that you wish to change.

But possibly the habits that you need to change, are mostly the KEY Habits, which are really required for your Transformation.

But this is where most transformations are stuck ! as you and your teams cannot seem to change these Habits. So you need to identify these routines/habits.

Then you would need to find out what is the Reward that you are getting from this routine/habit. The reward can take various forms and you may need to be able to articulate the same very clearly.

Here’s a Common Scenario to reflect –

Are you asking for Status reports – because you have to simply share information with your boss or you are not confident about your teams capability or you need to take an executive decision, etc.?

Discovering your Triggers and Rewards is the KEY to changing your Habits!

So if you can see that your team is not doing peer reviews, not running unit tests, or not merging their code base continuously,  and you want to CHANGE this Habit. It would be goo to now reflect and introspect and see what are the cues, rewards which lead them to forming these habits.

Sometimes it helps to facilitate this conversation in the team retrospectives and trigger the difficult dialogues, to make a lasting impact on your transformation journey.

So what has been your experience in breaking team habits? 

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CHANGE ? Are you Missing this jigsaw?

change habitsChange is hard for everyone and though the 70% failure rate is quoted and busted as a myth, but this does not make the problem of change management go away!

 The change management discipline is itself now challenging (source) the traditional change model, towards a more inclusive, invited, and organic model. It is acknowledged that focus on “People” is an integral part of any Change initiative!

So why do most change initiatives fail? what really are you missing in your Change initiative journey?

Try pondering on this quote –

“Change is not always easy when patterns in our lives have existed so long.”

-Lolly Daskal, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

If you look at your change initiatives, they will typically be aimed at uprooting our patterns, at changing our interactions, changing our containers or simply making those interactions disappear.

Sometimes you may simply need to simply break down the wall, and sometimes you try something different?, but with every change initiative asking us –

Can you Break your Old Habits, and start adopting NEW Habits?

So if you can start to change people’s habits, you would in my view have successfully moved the needle, and possible achieve some success in your change initiatives.

So what is the biggest Habit that you have been able to Change with your teams? Do share how you introduced the New Habit and got rid of the old one?

If you like what you read here, then do subscribe to my blog , and feel free to share your feedback in the comments below.

 

ALL Metrics are Useless except what you need !

metrics

For a large number of enterprise shenanigans, Metric creation, collection and measurement can sometimes become a way of life ! They do not really care what the metric destroys, the impact on the human behavior and how these Metrics are simply USELESS ! The typical story line has been made famous by the myth around –

WHAT YOU MEASURE IS WHAT YOU GET !

(chasing the WYSWIG rainbow made popular from Wintel era)

and then this is supported by, You can Measure ANYTHING, which simply simmers the already hot embers.

But we need to watch for Albert Einstein’s quote – “Not everything that counts can be counted. And not everything that can be counted counts

But the real question to ask is

Do you really need to measure <fill in your favourite metric here>?

Have you ever wondered how the intelligent folks will react when they hear that they are being measured on this metric ?

What will you do as a sane individual ?

Will you ignore this metric if you know someone is tracking and watching this metric? especially if you are caught in the day job cycle, and your promotion depends upon improving this metric?

The answers can range from subservient YES to timid agreement mostly.

But what we are really looking for when thinking of a metric is changing behavior, so that it provides feedback to ignite the FIRE within the individual, within our organization.

So if you are thinking about introducing a new metric, think Twice !! Even if you still insist that you really need this metric, then don’t make THE Metric your GOD, which needs to be fed, but instead make it a Servant for yourself, for your team ! and use the metric as a feedback to improve your condition, your team’s current state and move towards your target state.

Do share your stories on  – What has been your most scary metric?  Which metric you hated ? Which metric made you do the opposite ?

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