Archive for July, 2008

One of the things I have tried to do in all the companies I work for, is don’t talk about people not present. When I teached .NET I gave a lot of examples, sometimes examples of how things were done in a bad way at a previous client. When I gave these examples I made sure I never mentioned the company that wrote the spaghetti code.(or whatever problems I was talking about.)

I can give you as many examples about bad bosses as the next guy. I try to make sure I never mention their names nor their company names.
In fact I try to do the opposite, praise in public and give critic in private. The people I think screwed up one way or another, I tell them in private. When I like what they are doing I tell everybody about it, sometimes even blog about it. (If they like that)

One of the rules in gestalt groups is not to talk about people but directly to people. This not only means when the people are not presents (which is a rule everyone finds normal behavior, although is pretty hard to do) but also when we talk about a situation, we don’t talk to group leader but directly to the person we are talking about. If possible we also talk about a situation as it is happening now, instead of something that happens in the past. I’m not sure about all the reasons behind. One of the reasons is that it brings up the emotions much quicker and more intense. Thus helping to resolve quicker.

When I am doing consultancy with multiple clients it’s pretty hard not to talk about what is going wrong at the other client. (As they always know the other names.)And people always ask how things are going at the other client. I try to bring back the talk to their own problems. Not easy, but I notice that clients in the long run appreciate this.

Person A and Person B sit knees to knees in 2 chairs. (knees pointing toward each other)

Optionally, Person C (Coach/consultant) sits next to them and makes sure they follow the protocol.

1. Person A and Person B each state their alignments.

2. Person A begins saying what he wants to say to Person B in short chunks.

3. For each chunk Person B repeats back what he heard in his own words

(verbatim is ok).

4. Person B asks Person A “Is that right?”

5. Person A either says yes (goto 6) or no and repeats the chunk at
step 2 until Person A says Yes to the question “Is that right?’

6. Person B asks “is there more?” if Person A says yes, goes to the next chunk in step 2.
If Person A says no then the positions switch and Person B begins saying what he wants, step 2.

The positions can keep switching until both are done saying what they want to say

If you can’t keep protocol, checkout.

If you don’t understand when you are the listener, you may ask a question.

You may not argue, correct, or do anything else except ask a question (with the intention of understanding what you are hearing) when you are the listener.

Update: The first part is only important for people following the core protocols

You won’t find a lot of politics on this blog. On the day that Yves Leterme failed after 1 year to create a plan for his government, I want to use that as an example to talk about Project management.

In every project we have 4 variables:

Resources: the people

Time: The deadline when you have to deliver the project

Scope: what do you want to deliver in the project


As a customer/project manager, you can fix 3 of these. The 4the should be free for the people building the project.
Personally I think that quality is not really free. Any project with bad quality will not have a healthy life.

(Yes I know about throw away projects, this example is not one of them)

Let’s look at the project that Yves Leterme did:

Resources: Who are the resources from this project. I think that based on the elections of last year, the resources are fixed. At least the resources themselves think that.(Based on the votes they received.)

Time: If I’m not mistaken, there was twice a deadline set. The last one was 15 July 2008 (today). So that is fixed too.

Quality: like I said high quality is fixed for most projects. I think that is especially true in the case of a government.

Scope: This is the only variable that could be free to play with. Now with all that was promised during the election by all parties that really was not free also.

(On top of that some parties won the elections with almost opposite promises)

In my opinion a project with these 4 variables being fixed you are ready to go for a disaster.

On top of that I’m convinced that every project needs a shared vision state between the developers of the project. During the several bootcamp’s I organized the last year, we talked a lot about the Belgium government and their lack of shared vision. We have joked allot that we should send Yves and his team to BootCamp. Maybe we should make them a real offer.