Musings about Coaching

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Letting go to lead

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Gino Marckx
May 31, 2021

Whenever the weather allows for it, we like to eat outside. At dinner time in our little courtyard in the city of Toronto, mother nature treated us to a beautiful scene. A few days later it turned into an invaluable lesson...

Two doves and a chick

A mourning dove landed on the fence, looking us straight in the eye. "What a wonderful sight," I thought, "I bet it's eyeing something on our plate." Without breaking the line of sight, the dove flew over to the side of the deck, even closer, testing the boundaries of its comfort zone.

"Roocoo! Roocoo!" A few minutes later mommy dove arrives, a little chick trailing inches behind her. The family reunited, they waggled to an open space a bit further away, while we watched the scene unfold at a safe distance. By now we realized that daddy had scouted the environment, checking our reactions to his proximity. He must have considered us safe, the little one would not be harmed.

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To our surprise, the adults took off, leaving the little one alone. Stunne...

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In previous posts, we discussed what you can learn about your team from tracking a minimum of data. We introduced throughput as the most meaningful metric you can get from only the completion time of a work item. In a subsequent post, we explained how you can calculate cycle time and work in progress by tracking the start time of a work item. In this post, we focus solely on how to calculate failure demand and what it tells you about the true delivery capacity of your team.

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Recently I was on a call chatting with a group of senior leaders and the topic of work-life balance came up. More explicitly, how “now he seemed to have so much less time at the weekends”. Asking a few questions of the gentleman who brought this up identified that he had been newly promoted to a VP role.

Which got me thinking about the challenges as you move between roles in larger organizations. Expectations change as you move from an IC to manager to director to VP or above.

So I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts on the matter.

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Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Most transformations do not deliver upon their intended results. Many of these transformations use sound agile methodologies, yet they fail to deliver on the expected results. DevOps came along and refocused the effort, but still, we run into difficulty with transformations stalling or even failing.

Current thinking puts the development (aka. delivery) team front and center in the transformation to rapidly enable the delivery of value to customers. For a team, they need to be able to have all the right skills and capabilities at the disposal so they can own their delivery processes. In complex environments with multiple architectural principles at play, this can be difficult to achieve. To cope with this, we create another team, the platform team, to enable the delivery team.

The question is, do I need a platform team?

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As the world goes into lockdown due to COVID-19 and organizations are asking their employees to work from home, new problems arise. Not least of which being whether the organizations we work for can handle the implications of everybody suddenly working from home.

The majority of my work is predominantly done remotely with the exception being when I am directly involved in team coaching or running workshops. I’ve also worked with and coached international teams and can understand the difficulties it raises. This is not a new problem, but it is one that is certainly front of mind as we scramble to deal with this crisis. Not everybody will thrive in a home environment, and at the very least, there is a period of adjustment. First, we need the necessities of internet connection, workspace setup and ensuring they can access the organizational system they need. Beyond that, for those people who usually do not to work-from-home, how do you handle coaching your suddenly distributed teams?

So, wi...

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Your organization is changing and undergoing transformation. You’ve rolled out Agile (Scrum and Kanban), you’ve scaled it (SAFe, LeSS, etc.) and even applied DevOps practices (you’re using Kubernetes right? Isn’t that DevOps?) Yet still, millions later, the purported value has yet to materialize.

So how come, after all this work, we still have not realized the value?

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, perhaps we are still stuck in old ways of thinking. Real transformation requires new ways of thinking about the problems and in the case of the examples above, have we really changed? (Kubernetes is an orchestration framework for containers and does not equate to having adopted DevOps).

With millions spent already, what are we missing?

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Importance of Criticism

February 14, 2019

The past couple of weeks my children had to prepare and present short speeches at school. I encouraged them to practice and provided them some, what I considered to be, constructive feedback. However well meaning and positively framed, it didn’t go over too well. Watching my children learn to cope with constructive criticism reminded me about how we struggle so much with this in other settings.

It also got me thinking about one of the tools I’ve used quite effectively in both individual and team coaching. Sometimes known as the Disney Method but called by the course I learned it at, Tri-Position planning, the tool presents a useful way to help develop a vision and a plan to get there.

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