We made a public commitment to share what we had done on the book each day, starting on Wednesday March 7. Here are this week’s updates, in reverse date order.
Friday, May 4
Michele & Michael – Change Readiness & Vulnerability
The professionals who work with change for a living — organization development (OD) folks — spend a lot of their focus on determining whether a client system is ready for change. We in the Agile world would do well to follow their lead. There are many components to change readiness. For instance, are the players in the system sufficiently aligned to do what it takes to drive the change? Is the vision for the changed state sufficiently compelling to overcome the natural inertia that stops most changes from happening in a system? Is there a commitment from senior leadership to actually lead (not delegate) the change? Are key players in the system willing to be vulnerable enough to get whatever help they need to make the change happen?
This last point is critical, and often primary. Any change that we go through requires information from outside our own boundary — data from the marketplace, seeing the failure of a process to perform as needed, being confronted with our lack of a skill or insight, getting feedback on our leadership — all require a certain humility, a willingness to see what we are lacking, where we need outside information or insight. Seeing this ‘lack’ in us requires that we be vulnerable; we must acknowledge — mentally, emotionally, viscerally — that we do not have the answers, that we need help. When we stubbornly refuse to surrender to this vulnerability, we continue to try what we’ve always tried, only perhaps ‘harder’ or ‘smarter.’
We are all subject to this phenomenon. As change coaches, we have to work with it in ourselves. When we are the ‘client,’ we must work with what it means to us to be vulnerable – it may trigger the reactive in us, where we believe that our need for help means we are somehow defective, rather than merely that we are an interdependent human being. When instead we are the coach or consultant, it requires us to not feel inwardly superior to our client, giving them the subtle impression that we are somehow better than they since we may be in a position to help them. When we unconsciously take this position, we make it harder for the client to accept help, as they now may feel one-down. Successfully working with this vulnerability on both sides may be the thing that unblocks us and makes us ready for change. Any change can always start with us.
Thursday, May 3
Michael & Michele – Alignment
Clients can be confusing. One minute they choose you to work with, the next they’re finding excuses not to; one they want what you have, the next they are thinking of something (or someone) else. This could be purely an issue of integrity, or it could be one of alignment. They are not aligned within their inner group, or within themselves. Some voices say this, others say that. As the consultants, we feel pulled in different directions, or like we want to strengthen our arguments, to somehow convince them, if only they would listen to reason.
The challenge for us, as we go through a situation like this in our practice, is to stay aligned within ourselves. Alignment may look like letting our disparate voices each go in their own direction: “they would have been a perfect client, if only they would listen;” or “they are clearly not ready, best we not engage with them now.” This seeming misalignment in us is actually perfectly aligned with reality. Both (or all) voices are true, but partial; they each have their merit, their accuracy. When the voices inside us come into alignment, with the passage of time, the gaining of insight, and in our inner stillness, we can let the client go. They will return if they are truly our client; meantime, we will be at peace.
Wednesday, May 2
Michele & Michael – The Leadership Cohort 2
Today, during our T4Pod Community of Practice session, we focused on our own Leadership effectiveness and developmental plans as Agile Transformational Leaders and coaches. Our message to organizations wishing to embark on an Agile Transformation is that the leaders must lead with their own personal transformation – they must understand what transformation asks of us, as individuals, as teams, as organizations and even as society. As messengers of this message, so must we also understand that our personal transformation is critical to the success of the organizations we are working with. When I say that to participants in our Workshop or to a client, sometimes it just doesn’t hit the mark – where people truly GET what that means. Okay, we understand Leaders need to lead transformation not delegate. But it’s more than what ‘lead’ might mean to some. It means, leading from a place of experiencing and doing and being – so that you can truly LEAD people through the journey of transformation. It means getting yourself and your own reactive tendencies out of the way so that you don’t actually block progress. We don’t realize that we are blocking someone else’s development due to our own state, but when you pay attention, when you more fully understand your reactive tendencies and the assumptions and beliefs that are driving your behavior, it becomes ever so painfully clear.
To give you an example, today one of the coaches in our T4Pod shared an experience recently of how his ‘complying’ reactive tendency showed up in a client coaching Leadership Circle Profile debrief. His attention to self-awareness, knowledge of his leadership effectiveness based on feedback – in the moment – led him to notice his own inability to move beyond his self-limiting beliefs about himself and speak in a courageous and authentic way to his client. And this is exactly the reason we must go through our own personal transformation. To become aware of our limitations, to move off of ‘auto-pilot’ and notice in the moment our patterns and thus have the ability to make a choice to show up differently, in an outcome-creating way.
Tuesday, May 1
Michael & Michele – The Leadership Cohort
When we want to evolve the practice of leadership, to move into a more Agile mindset, we need to have a proper structure. One useful structure we have found is the leadership cohort, adapted from our friends at The Leadership Circle. A leadership cohort is not just a meeting of managers to talk about Agile-related issues. Instead, it is oriented towards growing the capability of individual leaders, based on specific feedback, valid leadership effectiveness data, mutual social accountability, and a willingness to look at our own weaknesses. A leadership cohort employs peer coaching to focus on real business issues within the context of concrete leadership development goals. It is very personal. There is no way in a leadership cohort to hide behind blaming other people, or the system, or the culture; it is about you and your development goal, your feedback from those you work with and from the fellow leaders in your cohort. Leadership cohorts meet periodically – perhaps every month or 6 weeks – and are a sacred commitment to take a time out from normal work activities. You don’t drop in to a cohort – you show up, or you’re called out. You are committing ultimately to your self and your own development. A leadership cohort is like Agile for leaders.
Monday, April 30
Michele & Michael – Do We Know Who We Are?
How is it that organizations are not evolving at the same rate people are – and yet – it’s people that make up organizations. Everywhere we look, organizations are attempting to go through a Transformation, very few are successful. The forces that are at play with globalization, innovation and complexity require a different type of leadership, what we call ‘conscious integral leadership’. Leaders cannot motivate change as they have in the past, using the same approaches and tactics. We have to address the pervasive leadership failures in transformations. We have to begin to see, sense and act from the emerging whole. The emerging whole is made up of many stakeholders who must begin to span the boundaries by acting from a place of shared awareness in order to re-imagine and co-create with the future. That place of co-creating together is a place where each of the systems players have a new shared state of awareness. Without this, organizations will remain the same and eventually die out.
In order to re-imagine a new state, a new way of coordinating work together, a new set of values, a new product and purpose – a Transformation – we have to start within our own selves understanding who we are first. When we know who we are, we will know what to do. When can get still, we can begin to hear above all the mental chatter in our heads pushing us to react using the same strategies we’ve used in the past, leaving us at status-quo. When we forget who we are, we forget what we are supposed to do. When we forget what we are supposed to do, we default back to the same behavior that has been driving us and we end up getting the same results. As Transformational Leaders, do we know who we are? Do we know our Purpose? We must LEAD Transformation, not delegate it. Leading means we are showing others by our behavior and it takes out-come creating leadership not reactive leadership, for Transformation to take place.