Why your company will in fail in 2020: a ORGANIC agility webinar

I want to thank everyone who attended the webinar about “Why your company will fail in 2020” together with us. We had a very positive feeling afterward, and especially happy for all the good questions you provided us with!

Here you can find the recording of the session, feel free to have a look at it again, sharing it around with friends and colleagues.

When global challenges arise, markets become volatile and change cycles shorter, different companies react in different ways in order to preserve their status and survive these adverse conditions. Unfortunately, driven by high pressure and risk, many organizations revert to what they have been doing in the past, even though there is no guarantee that it will work in the present. Meanwhile, the slow response of decision processes and hierarchies in organizations makes the whole system more vulnerable to sudden change.

In this webinar, we discussed how and why market cycles are getting shorter and posing an ever growing challenge to your organization. We talked about how decision making works and why an organization needs to shift from managing processes and structures to creating the right context for fast and coherent responses to happen. We explained why you need to build an organization that can organically grow and adapt to the challenges of the future.

If there is anything we can help you with regarding this topic, feel free to contact us.

Remember to sign up to the upcoming webinar, continuing on the same ORGANIC agility pattern. The upcoming webinar takes place on 23 April. More details and signing up from here: https://agile42.zoom.us/webinar/register/2315850633814/WN_Zp2B68DxSDmV3A5rKGV8vA

To learn more about ORGANIC agility, you can have a look at the website please keep in mind that we can keep intro sessions and the first Foundation training also remotely, so get in touch if you think this would be something for you and your organization!

Active Listening

So, I kept my second webinar last Friday with the topic about “Active Listening”. And despite the internet connection over 5G cutting off, we did no panic, but restored things over another connection and resumed the webinar :-)

A summary about what I talked about can be found here.

Active Listening

Active listening is an important skill for all people who work with other people, as this helps avoid misunderstandings and helps develop great ideas further. Coaches need this during the time they observe teams to get a better hypothesis of what could be improved and also in better interacting with and engaging the people.

The importance of listening was studied by Virginia Satir in 1964 who first identified the following four stages of reception:

  • intake – thus taking in the sounds and signals the other person provides us
  • meaning – understanding the meaning of the information we get
  • significance – processing the information and identifying important parts and getting insights out of it
  • response – responding based own understanding, insights and developed ideas

There are 3 phases for active listening:

  • comprehending – hearing & understanding the words, the sentences and the context
  • retaining – keeping in memory what we hear. Science says the brain can handle only seven things in one time. So with a flush of information we are overwhelmed if we do not develop techniques for it.
  • responding – the way we respond in the communication in both verbal and non-verbal ways.

To my understanding there are five different levels of listening that also indicate the quality of listening.

  • Level 0, aka fake listening – when someone really does not pay attention to what is being said, but has a subconscious reflex reaction reply.
  • Level 1, aka internal listening – when the listener reflects what is heard on the own  experiences and then gets stuck there, does not listen more and waits his turn to share his ideas and experiences
  • Level 2, aka focused listening – When the listener pays full attention to what is being said and trying to learn about the other person. Also in observing VIBE (Voice, Information, Body language, Emotions)
  • Level 3, aka global listening – listening with empathy and curiosity and co-creating the topic of the discussion to a further level
  • Level 4, aka listening for potential – includes the previous level, but also encouraging to other person in reaching his full potential

Keeping the listening on high levels

But how to keep up the quality of listening high? One thing is to be curious and interested in the topic and the person you communicate with. If there is no interest it is hard to stay focused. Something that helps is to pick out the keywords from the things you listen. Those can be ideas, concepts, etc the main things you hear. One option is to ask questions about the keywords and then open those into more detail. Keywords can this way reveal more keywords. You can pay attention to repeated items and patterns that might appear. Combining keywords and the relationship among them can also be an option to better understand and keep track of things.

Myself, and I guess many other people, are quite visual and get help by visualising things. A picture can tell more than a thousand words. It helps me see drawings or simply things written down. Even though I do not consider myself as skilled  in drawing, those help me put things in relation to each other and in context. In meetings I tend to go to the whiteboard or flipchart and try to visualise what I am hearing. The benefit of this is also that the people will correct me if I hear something wrong. It might even help themselves understand things better and then even the whole idea and concept is evolving through the discussion. I find also just keeping notes even in textual form helps me focus and understand things better – of course listening and writing at the same time is challenging, but I still am more focused when I also write things down than just listening.

One other thing that helps in listening is to be aware of your own state. This mindfulness and self-awareness helps someone consciously understand how good the own listening is. Then someone can self-reflect and realise how good the listening is, what works for him-/herself and what not and what could be improved.

Empathy & Listening

I also see empathy as an important aspect that can help to improve listening. The three types of empathy (see Brené Brown’s articles and https://compassionatecoding.com/) are directly linked to three types of listening.

  • Cognitive empathy is linked to the brain. We listen about concepts and ideas.
  • Emotional empathy is linked to the heart. We listen to emotions and feelings.
  • Compassionate empathy is linked to the social situation. We listen about how things fit into the social context.

Personally I think that there is one type of empathy and also one type of listening missing. The empathy for someone itself (could perhaps call it self empathy, as Lutz suggested in the webinar chat) where one person is listening to him- or herself, the own needs, emotions and practicing self awareness.

Listening in NVC

Also Nonviolent Communication (shortly NVC, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolent_Communication) made me think of other aspects of active listening. In NVC there are four steps needed for the communication:

  1. Observe – When I see/hear …,
  2. Feelings – I feel …
  3. Needs – because I need … .
  4. Requests – Please could you now … .

Here I recognise the listening in the various steps

  • in the 1st step: hear what the other person says,
  • in the 2nd step: listening to the own feelings,
  • in the 3rd step: listening to the own needs and
  • overall also listening to the feelings and needs of the other person (even if the person might directly mention those).

Tips

Some tips on how to improve the skills of active listening

  • Most important conscious practice
  • Write down keywords
  • Note your own ideas
  • Ask neutral clarifying questions
  • In your mind repeat what the other person is saying
  • Just don’t talk, use non-verbal signals as sounds, expressions, grunts, body language
  • Reply only with 1-2 syllables
  • Admin you are lost and ask the person to repeat
  • Repeat back
  • Adjust your own postures
  • Mirror the other persons body language and movements
  • Apply mindfulness
  • Check the environment
  • Drawing what you hear

Working remotely

In the current times when everybody is forced to work remotely over the network active listening has a special role. We cannot see the non-verbal communication and the body language, also it is harder to interpret the emotions the other person has. The tone of voice might also not come through very well. The screen size is limited to a small square, we might only be able to see one person at a time. Social situations are more difficult to interpret. And of course we might have on top of this all kinds of sound problems. Active listening becomes more challenging. It requires us to focus more and process more the things we hear, thus a higher degree of using our prefrontal cortex in our brain in order to achieve the same results than in a physical meeting. This will use more energy and make us more tired. It is thus really important to have breaks, drink something, move a bit to get the blood circulating back to our brain and to set good working agreements for working remotely in a team.

Q&As

Q: Will you share the material and the recording of the webinar?

A: Yes, you can find both at the bottom of the page.

 

Q: 4 levels – or not listening is level 0 and does it count as a level?

A: For me in level 0 the situation is so that there is happening a subconscious reflex reaction with an answer indicates that something is listened, even though it is an “autopilot” listening and not conscious.

 

Q: As we are working remotely now due to the situation around the world, we are now communicating virtually.  What is one thing to do around active listening? How to workaround the limitations of non-face to face communication? E.g. no body language…

A: First to be aware that the non-verbal communication is missing. Then have the courage to ask questions or admin that you missed a point. Work together with your team for getting the working agreements updated to the new needs.

 

Q: When should you do notes? only at meetings or seminars?

A: This depends highly on the person. Each person is different. I often visualise and categorise things. I do it in many meetings, seminars, lectures etc. Often I use different tools. For meetings and ideas I have my notebook where I write with  a thin rollerball pen. In conferences I take notes on my iPad using the app notability as I can then combine them with pictures.

 

Q: What is the tool that Pascal is using – very effective!

A: I did the drawings on an iPad using the notability app and a stylus. The iPad screen is shared over zoom airplay to my laptop where zoom runs.

 

Q: Any recommended reading to further know about Listening from a Coach pov

A: Besides the book Hitchhiker’s Guide To Coaching (available online here https://www.agile42.com/en/blog/2017/07/11/hitchhikers-guide-agile-coaching/) I would google around for active listening, three types of empathy and NVC.

 

Q: What if you realise that the other person is not listening? Shall we continue or nudge them towards active listening?

A: There can be several reasons for this. I would try to understand why my communication is not engaging. It can be simply a bad day, where the person is just tired or out of energy. Then taking it at another time might be better than going on. It can also be that the own style is not good, so perhaps changing the way you say things take into use different tools of storytelling or eg. Visualisation might help. Also it might be that the other person is simply not interested in the topic when it might be better to accept the fact and end the discussion.

 

Q: what is a good way to practice listening and note taking at the same time. Are there specific tips or good reads about this?

A: For visual note taking I would try to read something about sketchnoting. For normal notes in text form I personally liked keeping notes and focusing on the keywords in bullet lists.

Material

More reading on active listening can be done from the book the Hitchhiker’s Guide To Coaching (available online here https://www.agile42.com/en/blog/2017/07/11/hitchhikers-guide-agile-coaching/).

Webinar recording:

Webinar presentation: Active Listening 20.03.2020 Webinar presentation

Leadership

Leadership Behaviours

Introducing Leadership

Leadership can mean different things. Most people assume that leadership is a quality that some people have and others do not, or a role they are put into. Today we will be referring to leadership as a capability of both an individual and an organisation which manifests itself through a variety of behaviours and interactions in different contexts and relationships. In our era, which is characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (in short VUCA), effective leadership can be supporting, role-modeling, encouraging, guiding or coaching our followers, among many other things. Leadership behaviours will co-evolve with an organisation and depend not only on personal attitude but also on context, expectations and relationships.

Dimensions of Leadership Behaviour

As human beings, we develop multiple identities that are associated with different relationships. You might be a daughter, a mother, a friend and a business owner. Your role in a certain context will catalyse certain behaviours while your beliefs and values are shared by your multiple identities. The cultural disposition of the organisation you’re interacting with is another important dimension to be aware of. What are the values that hold people together? What leadership behaviour are they expecting? Lastly, the context or situation plays a big role in determining whether a particular behaviour is appropriate. For instance, in our current worldwide crisis it is probably a bad idea to foster democratic decision-making and consensus-building because it is simply too time-consuming. Instead, decisive action is required to prevent catastrophic consequences.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman demonstrated evidence on the relationship between emotional intelligence and effective leadership, stating that the emotional state of a leader drives their behaviour which affects the people around them. Becoming aware of your emotions and what triggers these emotions is the first important step to growing your leadership capabilities. In order to make decisions and perform actions that have a positive impact on our followers, we need to be able to control ourselves. The next important step is to develop empathy to understand the emotions of others, and to grow social skills to interact effectively with others. The effectiveness and appropriateness of our leadership behaviour depend heavily on the relationships with our followers and their individual expectations.

Getting to Results

How do organisations produce the right results? Partners in Leadership have come up with ‘The Results Pyramid’ to illustrate the connections between experiences, beliefs, actions and results. As the pyramid suggests, experiences is the largest level. These experiences cluster to shape fewer beliefs. The beliefs of what is right and what is wrong inform even fewer actions. These actions drive results. Some results can be measured financially, others might represent goals the organisation is setting out to achieve. Usually such goals would represent stepping stones in the direction of an organisational vision.

What role does leadership play in getting the right results? Traditionally, we tend to focus on managing actions, the tip of the iceberg. This approach is difficult to scale, since actions are just an outcome. The sphere of influence includes the organisational structure, things like processes, tools, roles and responsibilities. While management happens at the top of the pyramid, leadership happens at the bottom. The focus of leadership is on the organisational culture, to create new experiences, which then result in new stories, bringing change along with them. At this level, leaders can change the stories that are being told, create new rituals, influence habits and behaviours.

When we shift the balance from managing actions to creating experiences, we grow the organisation’s leadership capability by nurturing the autonomy of groups who will intuitively make good decisions.

Six Distinct Leadership Behaviours

We define six leadership behaviours that can be developed and applied in different contexts and cultures.

Directing

The leader is perceived as an expert and an authority and is therefore in charge of assigning and controlling work while being held accountable for the results of the group’s work. Bilateral communication is not welcome. Instead, the leader expects compliance from their followers. This can be both frustrating and comforting. In the event of a crisis, this behaviour might be essential.

Demanding

The leader is perceived as someone with extremely high standards. They are competitive and focus primarily on performance, leading by example. The followers focus on their targets. The constant push from their leader can be motivating in the short term and stressful in the long term. Meeting targets successfully as well as the leader’s conflict-solving skills hold the group together.

Conducting

The leader coordinates and encourages collaboration, believing that collaboration is essential and increases quality. While the leader is responsible for enabling the collaboration, the followers feel responsible for their individual contribution. They can rely on help from their peers and are held together by clear roles and group dynamics.

Envisioning

The leader motivates people by providing a compelling and challenging vision of the future. They inspire collaboration and a sense of shared responsibility. They have faith in their followers’ abilities. The followers value collaboration and they are motivated by their feeling of being able to learn and achieve more together. The group is held together by a shared identity and a sense of belonging.

Coaching

The leader supports team members with their personal growth and supports the team with becoming more effective as a whole by being a servant leader. The team shares responsibility and collaborates to achieve their goals. They are motivated by mastering challenges and learning continuously. They are held together by their shared purpose and their self-direction.

Catalysing

The leader amplifies the success of the team, connects them with the rest of the organisation and ensures their contribution to strategy creation. The leader provides both praise and challenges and enables synergies. The followers are self-governing, maximise value delivery and incorporate customer feedback autonomously. They are open-minded, curious and adaptive. They are motivated by their contribution and held together by their constant search for new challenges.

Conclusion

Because of their dependence on context, culture, expectations, and relationships, there are no leadership behaviours that are negative in themselves, but rather behaviours that are not helpful within a specific situation and might be perceived negatively in a given cultural context. We can grow an organisation’s leadership capability by shifting the balance from managing actions to creating experiences which will shape people’s beliefs and help them develop their ability to make good decisions autonomously and intuitively.

You can rewatch here or on YouTube the webinar on Leadership Behaviors we run on March 13.

Upcoming webinar: Getting started as a Facilitator

Have you ever been to meetings / workshops / events that you found very unproductive? This should not be the case. Most probably the facilitation of the event was not good.

A good facilitator should be aware of what aspects are important to successfully prepare a group session and drive it to achieve its goal. A few of the most important aspects of this are the structure (rules, times, tools) and the process (flow, interactions, outcomes) that need to be used to achieve the goal.

Join us for a webinar on Friday, February 28th at 1 pm (Central European Time, check your local time) to discuss the topic as part of our “Meet the Coach” series.

Facilitating an event is not that difficult. Come and listen to how to get started with being a facilitator.

You can register from free on the Zoom platform at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4jf4LvBtScOBvi18EuV7VA you will then receive details about connecting to the webinar.

Photo by Gabriel Santos Fotografia from Pexels

Webinar: What is Coaching?

There’s a lot of talk about coaching nowadays. Having a coaching approach as a leader is repeated over and over again as a highly valuable competence to have in today’s work environment. But what is Coaching and what is it not? Is it always a suitable approach or are there situations where we shouldn’t use it? How does Coaching relate to Agile Coaching?

We discussed these topics on February 4th in our live webinar. If these are questions that are puzzling you in your role as a Leader, Scrum Master, Agile Coach or in any other role, this recording may be for you.

You can watch the webinar here or on YouTube.

Slides are available on SlideShare.

 

To be informed of new webinars, subscribe to our “Meet the Coach” Meetup Group.

Upcoming Webinar: Dysfunctions and Anti-patterns in Scrum Roles

In this session, we will be exploring the misunderstandings and usages of Scrum roles using examples of what we have seen in organizations. We observe these dysfunctions not only in companies who are new to these roles but we see these anti-patterns also in organizations that are already applying Scrum for a while.

Join us for a 45-minute webinar on Feb. 18, 2020, at 1 pm CET. (check your local time)

Scrum Team flipchart

We not only want to share our observations and suggestions. In order to get some clarity on the roles, we also want to encourage the attendants to share their own experiences, ask questions and make suggestions on how they overcame these anti-patterns.

We welcome everybody who is having difficulty in clarifying the roles and their interactions within the team and organization.

Register on Zoom by using the following link: 

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Av5q3Vi3Q86VTi6omH5ZaA 

You will get a confirmation email with instructions on how to join the webinar.

Watch the webinar on the Product Backlog

Nothing can beat watching a webinar live and being able to send questions and interact. But if you missed the live show on December 18, 2019, here is the recording of my webinar when I discussed the Product Backlog. 40 minutes talking about the basics, the anti-patterns, refinements and more, including questions from the audience.

You can watch the webinar here or on YouTube.

 

The next meeting in our Meet the Coach series is on Tuesday, February 4th, titled What is Coaching? You can already register on Zoom.v

ORGANIC agility series of webinars

The ORGANIC agility community is growing, and so are the shared experiences from practitioners and experts. We are happy to be starting a series of webinars on January 31, 2020, that will cover specific ORGANIC agility topics with speakers well known in the industry.

Some of the topics include organizational culture, leadership behaviors and archetypes, connecting strategy and culture, the importance of leadership behaviors and other subjects. And of course above all, how to keep organizations resilient.

The audience will be able to interact using a text-based chat to ask questions and make comments.

You can subscribe to the Meetup group Agile Leadership & Organizational Culture to be alerted about the individual webinar details, which will also appear here closer to each webinar date.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

brown rock formation

Recording of webinar on ORGANIC agility

On April 8, Agile Gothenburg hosted me for a webinar titled Beyond the Mass Production of Agile at Scale!

The talk highlighted the problems/limitations in the approaches to scaling Agile in organizations that react to increasing complexity by mass manufacturing or mass engineering an organization’s design through cascading layers of processes and frameworks. I then moved on to exploring the holistic view of ORGANIC agility® which allows organizations to grow and evolve like a natural thing. An overview of the Cynefin framework has been given together with an overview of the principles of ORGANIC agility.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJlV7Qzu4Wo

 

The talk then illustrated two unique tools that are inspired by the principles of ORGANIC agility®, namely agile42 Organizational Scan and Agile Strategy Map.

The Organizational Scan is a tool of immense utility in revealing deeper truths about your decision-making processes, leadership style, and organizational culture. On the other hand, the Agile Strategy Map is a real visual map for guiding an organization’s strategy towards specific targets while highlighting the success factors and dependencies that are relevant to moving in the right direction.

Case studies that demonstrate ORGANIC agility® and its tools in action have been shared near the end of the talk.

Here is a list of deepening references: