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

Tag: change management (Page 1 of 2)

What are the ‘common’ barriers to Coaching ?

common barriers to coaching
Flickr photo – heat13hr

As a Coach, you will always face challenges working with teams or individuals (read as Coachee’s) and Sponsors. You are always trying best to Break down the Walls, brick by brick. So this post is a starter list for some of the most common barriers to coaching with the Sponsors and the Coachee.

For a SPONSOR, some of the common barriers to Coaching are –

  • Coaching in any form starts with the basic premise that you have – Permission to Coach the coachee, but if coaching is ‘imposed’ on the Coachee by eager Sponsors, then there is no permission really between the coachee and the coach. The relationship then simply becomes an ORDER = “Thy shall be coach’d or else !!
  • On the opposite end, there is simply a lack of Sponsorship for coaching, where the Sponsors see Coaching as only a add-on and not really a strategic investment ! In these scenarios, we find that the the coaching is ineffective or if the money simply runs out and thus fizzles out over a period of time.
  • Sometimes Coaching is seen as a fancy ‘buzzword’ reserved only for few select high potential (hipots ūüėź ) as an ‘accelerated career’ move / higher promotion to take up leadership responsibility or on the flip side for the ‘bottom percentile’, who are often ‘told’ to get coaching as a ‘development’ or ”remedial’ activity, thus falling prey to – are you Rewarded or Punished ? and the majority in the middle are thus not offered any coaching.

For a Coachee, some of the common barriers to Coaching are –

  • Coachee’s suffer the common syndrome of ‘I don’t have time’ for coaching or the coaching followup actions. The coachee’s other priorities (personal / professional) overpower the coaching conversations / and actions for followup.
  • Lack of peers, and senior executives (Role Models) – who come out openly and speak about their ‘personal’ coaching and the benefits gained. As coaching is often seen as ‘remedial’, since the Coachee’s are reluctant to appear as vulnerable and acknowledge that they are possibly not fulfilling their full potential. The coachee’s do not wish to appear weak in public, especially in the corporate jungle.
  • Coachee’s are not aware of the possible benefits of coaching for personal growth of individuals, or the benefits of coaching teams and how coaching can directly impact the enterprise results and business outcomes. This lack of awareness is a primary reason for under investment by Coachee’s or enterprises on their coach-ing *team.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of common barriers, and the list is surely much longer, and would be happy to hear your thoughts. Do you have any stories to share about your coaching barriers ?

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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.

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5 Step Recipe for building Communities of Practice

building communities of practiceAs 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 of practice 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 ‚ÄĒ 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

2. Gather ‘early’ Adopters and “Run”

3. Partner with the internal and external Ecosystem

4. Scale Р Horizontally 

5. Scale Р Vertically


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 ‚Äėcore‚Äô (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 communities

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

The internal communities 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 endeavors as a key part of their learning offerings. It is best to create this win-win combination to sustain your communities.

The external communities 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 learning’s internally without getting sucked into the legal and compliance partners. ¬†The culture of your organization may aid/resist this step-up.

4. Scale Р 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 Р 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. You may need to watch out for the Success Patterns and Failure Patterns for your CoPs.

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 !! So what’s your success story building and nurturing Communities of Practice ?

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

p.s. This post was originally published here

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 –

‚ÄúChange is not always easy when patterns in our lives have existed so long.‚ÄĚ

-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?

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Breaking down the Walls, brick by brick !

brick by On your transformation journey, sometimes you meet the bright sparks who simply GET IT, and sometimes you are faced with the hard rock faced bozos, who are simply DEAD! They build a WALL around themselves. They simply have no desire to CHANGE!

What do you feel?

Do you get mixed feelings, mixed emotions ?  Do you ignore this dead stock ? or do you try to turn them around ? 

What if they are a critical piece to the overall transformation? with all the right authority and are riding the right power pedestal? and you simply cannot ignore them.

What is your next step?

For me, sometimes it helps to simply listen to them and give them your ear !

The act of empathizing with the hard rock faces sometimes melts them ~slowly~ one day at a time and then another day and so on.
It helps if you understand what are their Drivers? which may be in conflict with the transformation agenda! Sometimes their ego simply needs a massage.

By listening to them and all the other nay-sayers, you just break down one brick at a time and suddenly one day you find that the wall no longer exists, and they simple GET IT!

Time to move to the next wall to break !

Do you have any stories to share of your hard rock faces, who you were able to turn around? brick by brick ? what was your strategy?


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Blockers are sometimes good for your Transformation

Does your transformation suffer from ‘blocker’ souls?

Does your transformation really need those ‘blocker’ souls?

Have you tried to ‘unblock’ those ‘blocker’ souls? and FAILED !

Sometimes it may be better to let the transformation efforts be BLOCKED (for some time at least)

and let the ‘blocker’ souls rejoice ~silently ~

But this can be your ally in most cases, as  the BLOCKED transformation now suddenly gives you the SPACE and Time to re-evaluate your OPTIONS, your EXPERIMENTS.

It gives you the time to think and rethink your change management strategy. 

  • Does your message needs a refresh ?
  • Should your medium be changed ?
  • Are you under estimating your Impact Radius?
  • Is your staff aware of the overall strategy and why this change is coming?

Sometimes the BLOCKERS are useful to take a pause and reset your clock!

So go ahead and let those ‘blocker’ souls not derail you from your journey!

Feel free to¬†share your ‘blocker’ stories in the comment and¬†keep on listening and subscribe¬†to my blog.

5 Tips to integrate Change management in DevOps


TalkIn order to reduce operational risks, organizations put in CONTROLS, typically via Change Management processes, which satisfy audit and compliance requirements. These CONTROLS create friction among the team. To minimize this friction,  let us look at 5 Tips to integrate Change management in your DevOps journey.


START a conversation¬†with your Audit/Compliance team members now, and try to understand their needs. These conversations will help your team to empathize and see the world from the ‘audit’/’security’ lens. You can then move forward to provide the ‘solution’ instead of jumping in with precooked notions. Read more here¬†on how to start these conversations and ASK the right questions.


START providing the traceability and context for your change set to the operations teams. The goal for your team should be to provide evidence of quality test results for the proposed change set, which will provide the required CONFIDENCE for the Operations team. Read more here on how to start providing this traceability and have a deeper engagement with your Operations teams.


Start to reclassify your change sets, and build agreements, which allow you to auto-deploy to production. Building “standard” change sets, with pre-defined risk profile (low risk first!), you can move towards building a culture of trust with change and operations teams. Read more here¬†on how to reclassify your change sets and increase transparency across the team.


Start to build out your telemetry systems. These systems allow capturing error, warnings, events, trigger points, and logging this data to central\distributed stores. Use this evidence to show the CONTROLS required for the audit, change management processes. Read more here on how to build these telemetry systems in your DevOps journey.


Stop doing manual steps in your change management teams, STOP ! Start to¬†automate¬†your¬†workflows¬†–build-automated¬†tests¬†–¬†deployments¬†–reports.¬†Read more here¬†on how to increase the automation across the life cycle and increase transparency across the team

So go ahead, kick start and integrate the change management in your DevOps with these tips. Subscribe to my blog for more, and feel free to share your feedback here.

Tip #5: Effective Change management in DevOps

TalkIn order to reduce operational risks, organizations put in CONTROLS, typically via Change Management processes. To minimize the frictions in your DevOps journey, and building on my previous Tip#4, let us look below for the Tip#5 for effective change management.

TIP #5 – Automate, Automate, and AGAIN Automate !

Change management typically includes a CAB (Change Advisory Board) meeting. This CAB meeting reviews the list of change sets, which the operations team filters and can either accept or reject,  to move the change-set into production.

The "Advisory" Board just became the "Gate Keeper", if you noticed!

Large enterprises will work with a traditional mindset. This traditional mindset assumes a Large Batch of changes, which may have been suited in the past for a BIG CAB meeting. But now with smaller change-sets (read as micro services) becoming the norm, imagine going through the rigor of a 2 hour CAB meeting. It will not be a very pleasant experience !!

Therefore we need to re-imagine the CAB meeting and ask the simple but difficult question - WHY DO I NEED A CAB ? 
Purpose of the CAB

Typically the purpose of the CAB meeting is to verify all the artifacts, as below-

  • Have you tested your changes?
  • Have you integrated the security practices?
  • Have you tested the migration, rollback and can provide evidence?
  • Is the change-set linked to the business need and do you have approvals?
  • and the list can go on and on…..
Good news?

But there is good news now !  All these questions can be answered easily by automating your change management workflows. This is now supported by the convergence of the tooling across the application development life cycle and all the evidence required along with the artifacts can be easily built into your automated build and deployment pipelines and integrating with the change management workflows.

Thus the elimination of CAB is done by Automation of our workflows!

These automated workflow makes it possible for the Operations teams to trace the requirements as they become implemented, and improves the ability to see changes, the effects of changes, approvals, and gather the evidence in a self service model using telemetry.

Many teams start with an intermediate manual approval step, till they start to trust the teams, and their change sets. But this manual approval step also goes away, over a period of time depending on the maturity of your teams.

As the teams look to implement pre-approved change strategy, and look for future opportunities to keep on continuously improving and widening this definition, it is a win-win for both sides.

So if you still doing manual reviews in your change management teams, STOP ! Start to automate your workflows, start to automate your build process, start to add automated tests for security into your coding, start to automate your deployments to production, start to add Telemetry and automate the production reports, start to complete the feedback loop, and in the end increase the Transparency across the team.

So go ahead – Automate, Automate and again Automate !

Subscribe¬†to my blog for more learning’s, and feel free to share your feedback here.

Tip #4: Effective Change management in DevOps

TalkIn order to reduce operational risks, organizations put in CONTROLS, typically via Change Management processes. To minimize the frictions in your DevOps journey, and building on my previous Tip#3, let us look below for the Tip#4 for effective change management.

TIP #4 – Use TELEMETRY to show evidence

Traditional thinking auditors look for evidence, and will typically ask for screenshots, configuration logs, settings etc. If you manage thousands of servers, this itself is a cumbersome activity, especially if you are launching and shutting down servers in the cloud all day.

Imagine the activities needed to manage the expectations and you would simply need an army to satisfy the audit needs!

But the auditors and compliance personnel cannot read code, and hence need all the help they can get, to satisfy the regulatory bodies. So you can help them with providing evidence using the following options.

 1. Create alternate data sources to present evidence 

Applications which are ‘operationally-aware’, will include telemetry data, including capturing error, warnings, events, trigger points, and logging this data to central\distributed stores. Typical telemetry systems (MS Insights/Kibana (logstash) ELK stack / Splunk etc.)¬†can capture all this information and present in visual dashboards. ¬†These dashboards can be customized, based on the needs of the users, and present the data at multiple levels of detail.

Auditors can slice and dice this data, and ‘self serve’ their audit needs !

2. Use Iterative approach to building CONTROLS evidence

As part of early engagement with the auditors, successful teams invite audit teams to their sprint planning and sprint reviews. This conversation can kick start rich discussions on how to build controls evidence in every sprint, instead of the end stage.

Teams can start to build controls right from the beginning! 

Sometimes the solutions to meeting the audit controls could be as simple as maintaining version control for all the artifacts. Other solutions could be simply linking all the artifacts across the complete application development life cycle. This allows traceability for each change set put in production.

To help you explore further, read up the fictitious narrative DevOps Audit Defense Toolkit. This provides some real life examples and links it all together.

So go ahead and start to build out your telemetry systems. Start doing early engagements with the change teams. Start to build out the controls iteratively, thereby building Trust and Transparency across the team.

Subscribe for more tips in my next post, and feel free to share your feedback here.

Tip #3: Effective Change management in DevOps

TalkIn order to reduce operational risks, organizations put in CONTROLS, typically via Change Management processes. To minimize the frictions in your DevOps journey, and building on my previous Tip#2, let us look below for the Tip#3 for effective change management.

TIP #3 – re-classify your change sets

Enterprises will have multiple change requests being pushed to production, of varying size, complexity and with different risk profiles. But existing change management processes today do not distinguish between these variations!

In reality, different change sets allow us to build different risk profiles.

So let us try to understand these variations in the Change sets, which can typically be classified into one of these 3 categories –

 1. STANDARD Change sets

These change sets are very low risk, and operations are familiar with these. These change sets have an established approval process in place. Examples – web style changes / data table updates etc.

2. NORMAL Change sets

These change sets are high risk, and operations are not familiar with these. These change sets typically use a CAB (Change Approval Board) process to approve/reject the changes. This process requires submitting change forms, with schedule, impacts, risks etc. Examples -New feature/product etc.

3. HIGH Urgency Change sets

These change sets are emergency changes, with potential high risk, and may need approvals from senior management. Examples -Security patch, Service fix patch etc.

Now with the above classification, we can aim to align with the operations teams and change management and ask for an agreement.
Agreement:  Can the STANDARD Change set be Pre-APPROVED?

As the standard changes sets are low risk => Operations teams do not need to approve. This agreement immediately give us the ability to define a pre- approval process. This allows us to deploy our change sets automatically (using  our automated deployment pipelines).

I am sure that this agreement itself will allow you to breathe more freely !

So go ahead and start working with your change management teams. Start to build these agreements, which allow you to auto-deploy to production, with complete Trust and Transparency across the team.

Subscribe for more tips in my next post, and feel free to share your feedback here.

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