Posts: Coaching

Coaching Distributed Teams

Mar 16, 2020

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, without further ado, and an awkward bumping of elbows, here are some thoughts on where to start.

Home Office

Read on...

Identifying the bottleneck

Mar 2, 2020

Often when we first engage with organizations, we find they enter the conversation with a clear idea of what their problems are. Sometimes they get it right and other times - more often in my experience - they are focusing on their own belief of where the problem lies.

For example, if the problem is the deployment process, why does the automated script take 5 minutes to run. Having successfully worked with development teams to automate deployments of their major platforms, being told deployment is the issue seems like the wrong place to focus. If it still takes weeks to get code into production, the problem lies elsewhere. Perhaps our test verification takes five weeks?

Ok. Well, if deployment of code isn’t the issue and testing is, let’s focus there I hear the cry! Well, let’s see…

Bottleneck

Read on...

How to scale the transformation

Feb 17, 2020

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?

Change

Read on...

Making Digital Transformation Stick

Feb 10, 2020

You have an idea, a spark, concept of how your organization could do things better. Now all you need is to work out how. A typical pattern from here is:

  1. Realize you need more information or organizational buy-in
  2. Engage consultants to show you how
  3. Consultants leave
  4. You implement and realize all your goals!

Except step 4 so often doesn’t happen. You have the report, you’ve confirmed what you thought and have a solid plan, but at execution, everything goes wrong.

So what can you do to help your idea succeed once the consultants are gone?

Sticky

Read on...

Overcoming Organizational Barriers to Change: Part 3 - Dealing with silos

Nov 20, 2019

When working with some of our larger customers, we frequently run into common barriers to change. Change is difficult and, no matter how often we say it, there is no silver bullet for how to get there. However, we can say there are commonalities in approaches, things we’d look for and actions we’d take in response to those findings. When we look at the delivery of technology within organizations, we often come across the barriers within how the teams are working, but even more frequently, how the organization is working with technology is the bigger barrier. Developing powerful roadmaps is valuable and greatly helps with generating alignment and a common vision.

In my last two posts, I spoke to blame culture and looking at the whole system. In this post, I’m going to talk through the third of three common organizational problems we encounter, dealing with silos and specialization.

Silos

Read on...

What throughput can tell you about your team

Nov 3, 2019

Last Friday I presented a session on outcome based metrics at the Lean Agile Network meetup in Toronto. Based on the popularity of the session and the questions which we didn’t have the time to address, the topic is clearly on many people’s mind. More to come on metrics in future posts, but for now we’ll focus on what you can learn from the simplest metric of them all: throughput.

Read on...

Be the change

Jun 13, 2019

In context of our attendance at Collision last month, we published a quick survey to validate some of our assumptions about Socrates. While the survey is still open for everyone to provide us with feedback, this post summarizes the results of the first respondents.

Read on...

Overcoming Organizational Barriers to Change: Part 2 - Not seeing the system as a whole

Jun 3, 2019

When working with some of our larger customers we frequently run into common barriers to change. Change is difficult and, no matter how often we say it, there is no silver bullet for how to get there. However, we can say there are commonalities in approaches, things we’d look for and actions we’d take in response to those findings. When we look at the delivery of technology within organizations we often come across the barriers within how the teams are organised but even more frequently, how the organization is working with technology is the bigger barrier. Developing powerful roadmaps is valuable and greatly helps with generating alignment and a common vision.

In my last post I spoke to blame culture. In this post I’m going to talk through the second of three common organizational problems we encounter, not looking at the entire system, and how attaining visibility will help you overcome barriers to better achieve your business outcomes.

Read on...

Collision: Day 1

May 20, 2019

During the opening presentation Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pointed out that the biggest challenge for organizations today is the access to talent. In order for companies to put great ideas right into the hands of their customers, they need talent to turns those ideas into reality, to market them and distribute them. Without access to that talent, thousands of amazing ideas can only collect dust on the shelves of neglected game changers…

Read on...

Different leadership styles

Apr 27, 2019

Teams that work efficiently and effectively together and overcome obstacles under pressure and deadlines fascinate me. I always wondered about the key factors that impact the overall collaboration and motivation of such teams: their goal, team’s product and leadership factor. In this article I will focus on different types of leadership and their impact on the team. Here are 3 different leadership styles I’m exploring.

Crossing over

Read on...

Overcoming Organizational Barriers to Change: Part 1 - Blame Culture

Apr 2, 2019

When working with some of our larger customers we frequently run into common barriers to change. Change is difficult and, no matter how often we say it, there is no silver bullet for how to get there. However, we can say there are commonalities in approaches, things we’d look for and actions we’d take in response to those findings. When we look at the delivery of IT capabilities within organizations, we often come across the barriers caused by how the teams are organized and, even more frequently, how the organization is working with technology. Developing powerful roadmaps is valuable and greatly helps with generating alignment and a common vision.

In this post I am going to talk through the first of three common organizational problems we encounter and ways to overcome them to better achieve your desired business outcomes. The first of these is called blame culture…

Culture of Blame

Read on...

The Queen's Hyperloop Design Team: a lesson in Systems Thinking

Mar 7, 2019

Last year I was invited to help the Queen’s Hyperloop Design Team improve their chances in the SpaceX competition. They had just been informed that they did not make it into the last round of the competition, so we focused on setting up the team for success going forward.

Queen's Hyperloop Design Team workshop

Read on...

Importance of Criticism

Feb 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.

Read on...

Applied Coaching

Jan 13, 2019

Beyond providing advice in order to help teams thrive, we need to help teams move along in their journey. The better we can do this the more impact we can truly have.

When the rubber hits the road, how do we execute?

Read on...