What I learned – February 2011 Edition

Even though February was a short month, the learning didn’t slow down!

  1. Visualizing your waste: I attended an intro to Kanban session and the presenter had an example task board showing a garbage can on it.  What a great idea to see how much waste you are creating!  Could be as simple as calculating the story points of waste vs story points delivered.  I haven’t implemented it but I see this as a really neat tool to spark conversations about why wasteful work is being done.  Could be cancelled work, could be work done too soon or wasted work for other reasons.    I haven’t tried this yet but really like the idea.
  2. Stating My Personal Bias: Being an “SP” I’m a free-thinker/feeler.  I don’t like process and am fine with chaos and generally think that most things business do to run their businesses is bullshit.  For example, I’m working on a project that “cannot start” until the BRD/SOW and other documents/processes are completed.  We’ve been working on it for a month already.  At another job I remember the Senior Manager of development freaking out to halt all work because their was no budget according to the Excel he was looking at.  Needless to say, we kept working because “we had to“.  I learned is that when I get on my soapbox I sound like an ass sometimes so I learned to state my personal bias about my disdain with this BS and communicate the fact I understand why these seemingly un-important items to me are important to others.  I actually mentioned to our CEO that I would do a better job of not taking jabs at these process things I don’t see any value in.  It’s just a downer.
  3. Low-touch coaching?  I don’t know what to call this one.  I learned from Alisson Weiss (who’s in my coaching circle) how to coach in real-time without saying a word.  Here’s an example, as a coach sometimes you notice that people in a position of power can deflate team members without even realizing it.  I’ve never felt I was good at handling those scenarios.  So Alison mentioned that I can talk to that person privately and work out a physical or visual clue to let them know I am observing the behaviour we talked about so they can self-correct while feeling safe.    For example, our CTO’s personality is direct which can cause team members to retract simply because the delivery of the message can come across as micro-managing.  We talked about this and agreed that during meetings, conversations if I was beside him, I’d simply touch his arm to let him know I’m observing that reaction from the team.

Happy to report I continued to ‘shut my mouth’ and remember people’s names so apparently when I learn new stuff most of the old stuff doesn’t fall out of my brain.  Plus I find blogging about this quite therapeutic.  I had a follow-up meeting with people I had meetings with in January and I was pleased that I remembered their names.  I also hosted a couple of lunch and learns, and I always do some type of simulation, so I remembered to shut up when co-workers came to conclusions I didn’t agree with.  Example, we did a session on Kanban and limited WIP and some people mentioned they didn’t get customer feedback fast enough.  A good point, however not the point I was trying to get across.  I wanted to get across the danger of having 38 projects in progress!  Some did get that message though, unfortunately we haven’t done anything about that yet.