Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

This is a video I think all change agents should see.
Quote= “Once you have a rigid way of thinking in your heard, you can’t change that, even if you want that.

What is even more interesting, is when he was able, oh well just watch the video….

I just got back from the first edition of GentM 2015. Today the topic was Social Togetherness.
A topic that I expected to be close to my heart because of one of the speakers Frank Van Massenhove.

I don’t know Frank personally, yet I have heard his story many times and it keep inspiring me.
For those who who don’t know Frank, he turned (one of the) worst FOD (ministries – is that an English word?) around to become one of the hottest places in Belgium to work for.
Inspired by semco, the new working etc…

Many people felt inspired by the talk, yet what also happened was that a few people wondered yeah but would it also work (fill in anything you want…)

Now I have been working as an agile coach for ten years, and more specifically the last 5 years helping large to huge organisations in that role. And then my role is partly a change agent.
Helping to turn an organisation into a new way of working, with a big mindset shift.

I helped companies around EMEA and at the same time I spoke at conferences in many different countries.

Two of the most common reactions I get are:

– yes this is fine in (name another country/company ), but this would not work in (the country /company of the speaker)
– yes this is all nice in theory, but in the real world...

And yes, I have to admit, when I read some books, blogs or hear about company x or y, that I think mm this would not work here.
Well, that never is about the other people, that is me being scared of trying.
And so when you think, what I heard at GentM, or what I read about Semco, or saw in the video of spotify, stop thinking it won’t work here. But look for the smallest step you (not your company, you), can make in that direction.

Thus this mean, I’m never frustrated about where my clients are and the speed they go?
No, I’m always frustrated. I always want to go faster. And that is good because that is my job. The moment I’m happy with where a client is, that means I stayed too long.

The story that Frank told today, is where he is now, and yes it’s the good part. I’m sure there were moments he was frustrated, I’m sure that he still has things he wants to improve and he might even feel they just started. That is not the point.

The first big change assignment I took in a large organisation, I felt frustrated about the speed. I felt frustrated about how little we achieved. I thought I was frustrated because I compared them to what I knew in other companies. It took me a few years to realise that was not really the case.

I compared my clients with:

a imaginary team existing of  
– the best developers from the best teams I worked with
– the best tester from a great team I worked with
– a great scrummaster (who is now working as an agile coach)
– a Product owner that is a combination of two great PO’s I worked with, mixed with the person who taught my PO training and wrote one of the best books on user stories.
– …

mixed with stories I heard at conferences, read online, and hopes I have build up over the years.

so really that is not fair to anyone. None of the teams I have worked with or any of my colleague coaches, will win this comparison. All teams will look pale compare to this imaginary team.

What I started to do instead, is compare my clients to how they were when I joined.
F ex: at my current client, we now have the support of the CIO. That is something that I consider necessary for the kind of change we are trying to achieve now. And I have to admit, one year ago, I did not think we would have this already now. That is a huge achievement.

I can choose to complain about all the possible roadblocks and thing that go slower then I want, and yes I sometimes do that, because I need to let go of my frustration.

yet I love my job, because I am asked to help people to find a better working world.

Just as Frank, I meet a lot of good people that are capable of doing extraordinary things, if we allow them to think. And I know they are capable, because they do it. Unfortunately some of them don’t do it at work, but do it in some kind of volunteer work. And I’m totally not against volunteer work (I’m a coach for coderdojo, and I love helping kids discovering technology), yet I don’t like it when people do voluntary work because they can’t do what they would love to do at work.

 

Ask people their values, give them a why and trust they will figure out the how. (After all you hired them because you thought they were smart.)
Basically treat them as adults.

PS If you think they are behaving as children, ask me at the next GentM, about some of the times I treated my children as adults and what that resulted in… (Thanks Lamazone to ask me the questions that reminded me of these stories…)

Last week I spoke at Failing.FWD
Although I speak regular at many events around the world, this was a special one for me.

Partly because it was about failing. Dealing with failure and seeing failure as something positive has been one of my favourite topics since I burned down my parents house in 1991.

Yet that was not the main reason why this presentation was special.
I had a co-presentor. Now for those who follow me, know I make a lot of publicity for PairCoaching, so having a PairPresentor is also nothing new. What made it special, was it was my 12 year old son who joined me on stage.
And we did the presentation in English. A language he did not learn at school yet. So his English is mainly “television & music” English. Ah, it’s wonderful to live in a country where most television has subtitles and is not dubbed.

During the day and the weeks before I received a lot of questions from friends about this presentation, I wanted to group some of the answers here.

How were you invited to this conference?
As Greet De Keyser said in her presentation, people should ask what they want.
When I saw the program of the Failing.FWD conference, I tweeted something like: Damned this is a conference I would have wanted to talk. And then Karen one of the organizers replied: oh you were on our list and we still have an open spot.
Getting what you want, is that simple!

Did they agree on bringing your son?
This is a nice example of “asking for forgiveness instead of begging for permission“.  I’m a professional speaker. It’s my responsibility to make a great talk. I don’t need to ask people if the content or style of my talk is ok.
yes, I did tell Karen I wanted to bring my son and I told her it was possible that he would be on stage with me. I guess, she trusted me. A BIG THANK YOU to Karen, Ann and the full Failing.FWD team for trusting me.

How did you prepare?
The million dollar question.
After I got accepted and before I started to prepare my talk, I received an e-mail from Joppe’s school that the school would be on strike.  So I asked Joppe  if he wanted to join me in going to a conference -that was in English-. I assumed his English would have been good enough to follow a few sessions. He said yes. And he said yes with an enthusiasm, that triggered me in asking him if he wanted to join me on stage. Without blinking he said yes. I replied, you realise we will talk in English, he looked at me and said yes with a big smile on his face. Ah, the youth and it’s innocents enthusiasm.

I prepared this talk like I prepared all my talks.

– I created the draft of the presentation on index cards. (alone)
– Then I rehearsed the presentation using cards (alone) a first time. (And adjusted the cards.)

I did these steps alone, not because I did not trust him.

In 2011 he helped a lot in creating our joined presentation about our life in Bordeaux, I knew having helping me to create the presentation would be a great asset. I did it alone because he still had some large tests at school and my partner did not want that I distracted him. (WorkLife balance is also challenge for him…)

Then I created slides from my cards. I had +40 slides for a 20 minute presentation. Although that scared a few presenters around me, it’s part of my presentation style, which uses a mix of presentation Zen, Pecha Kucha and training from the back of the room.

I tried it a few times alone and then talked with Joppe about it. Just like last time, he had some great idea’s and the presentation grew. And then last Friday we rehearsed a few times & some more on Saturday. The first time saturday morning, was one of the first times the rest of the family joined in watching and he froze. he stopped after 5 minutes and refused to continue.
We talked a little bit about what to do when this would happen at the conference.
I still don’t know exactly what happened, yet I don’t want to pressure him in sharing something that scared him. I did tell him to not worry, if it would happen on stage, I would take over.

Next time we rehearsed the whole family was out. Although they came home while we were halfway, this time he continued and everything was fine.
In the meanwhile I was a more worried about the nr of slides (we had already 50 by now.) I got worried because a lama listening to the name Sofie (or is it a Sofie listen to the name Lama?) asked me about the speed of the presentation.
Sofie is the kind of women that with just a few words turns my world up side down (no, not that kind of upside down.)
I’m the kind of man that has a big EGO, yet I also know that I need to listen to women smarter then me. (I live with two of these)
In the dry-runs with Joppe, I realised that Sofie was right. In some places the speed was wrong.

So on Sunday, me and Joppe we worked on the pace and the order of one part of the presentation. Joppe’s help was crucial here, although at first I thought he did not well remember some of his lines, he made me realise that I got some parts mixed up.
So I went back to my walking desk and started to type out that part of the presentation. It was hard, now Joppe & Sofie were independently of each other partnering up “against me”, yet more importantly in favour of a great presentation.

It was already 15:00 and we needed to leave. I had agreed with the people from Failing.FWd we could do a try out on the real stage.
And then everything fell together, yet when we tried it out, I noticed again it was hard to remember the correct order (remember we had already been practising this talk a dozen times.)
And then I did the probably the opposite of what Sofie would have done, I added 3 more slides. And boom, it felt right. No time to rehearse the full presentation. I uploaded the slides to Slideshare, loaded the luggage in the car while dropbox synced and of we left for Genk. We were half an hour late, yet the lovely Ann Dries from Failing.FWD came out to let us practise on the real stage.

I wanted to do this, so Joppe could feel the stage and I hoped that feeling this he would talk louder. Joppe is rather introvert and when he talks to me, while other adults are in the room, I can hardly understand him. Ok, this is probably partly due to hearing loss as a DJ and some other ear damage, yet he talks rather quite. We practised a full Dry Run, without microphones and with my computer in front of us. I asked him to talk louder then he did and probably wanted.
We agreed with An that we would practise another time Monday morning , now with microphones etc etc..

Although lots of things went wrong (I’ll blog about these in the next days), we had a blast on stage.
Joppe spoke loud enough and it felt to me that the audience loved his style, right from the start.

So it was no surprise to me he got a standing ovation of the full audience.

Thank you Filip Bunker from Pitslamp for the great pictures

 

These are the slides fro my GrowthHacking presentation about hacking my eduction.

 

you want to build cool thing: you don’t give them a cool environment.
you give them less time…

One of the things that had a big impact on me and the relations (love, friendship and children) I had, was the aspect of an Emotional bank account. (Not to be confused with emotional accounting)

Gradually I used that idea in more parts of my life. I started to pay more attention to positive messages and ignored the negativity around me. When I was at a party and people around me, went into complaining mode (I’m sure you know people like that) I zoom out, loose attention and eventually go to the bathroom.

It’s not that I want to ignore reality, I prefer to focus on either the good parts or see what I can change about the negative situation. “just complaining” make me sad. Oh yes I know that complaining is part of the responsibility process and we can’t prevent it. It’s just that I want to move of that island as fast as possible.

When I was young, my default reaction was to play the devils advocate, and on social media I still have the same tendency. Problem with that, is that this gives too much attention to negativity. (And yes I am well aware that playing the devils advocate is creating negativity on its own)

Recently I have started playing a different game.

Let me introduce to you, the social media bank account.
Everytime I like, share or post, a message that talks about how bad or negative the world around me is, that bank account goes lower.

Everytime I like, share or post a message that talks about how great the people around me are, my bank account goes up.

yes, I know that most people have the tendency to mostly positive statuses on their FaceBook acocunts. I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about these repost about politics, about how screwed up our enterprises are, or how …..

From now on:

  • everytime I see someone posting about yet another nutcase beating up some lovely gay person, I’m going to post a message similar to the Dad who wrote a letter to his son.
  • Everytime someone send a message that she has a rough day, I’ll send some energy & hugs or connect that person to a Gandhi Hugger

 

I’m sure you can come up with better idea’s then this, so please join me, in creating a positive social media bank account

Because you and I got what it takes to make it, …

 

THANK you

 

To not always look for these video’s & stories, when I need them, I started a Tag on delicious.
It’s called PositiveSocialMediaBankAccount 

 

When comparing building software and building houses: the designing of the house, is like the creating of the code. The difference between building software and houses, is that the actual building of software, is the compiling. You can redesign software and recompile: cheap changes. Now, we can do the same with houses.

This presentation about open sources houses, puts architecture back where it belongs, for all the people and not 1% of the world. Lots of crazy idea’s, yet as Steve Jobs used to say, the world is not going to change by doing what everyone else does.

 

Update: This video about printing a house in 20 hours is also incredible.

This our my slides for My presentation on the Microsoft Webcafe today at PHL.

– Did you recently joined a new team?
– Do you plan to join a new team in the next years?
– Do you plan to welcome a new team member in your team, in the comming year?
If you said yes to one (or more) of these questions, you should watch these slides and you will learn about the power that a junior team member has.
A power that that senior’s don’t have. A power that will help you to grow yourself and your team.
During the preparation of this talk, with all the feedback I have received, I decide that I should turn this into a book.
If you are interested, please go to the leanpub website and tell me about it..

A few years back one of the multiple Belgium agile community organisations invited Bjarte to talk about his book Beyond Budgeting. Unfortunately Yves could not go. As a kind of consolation Yves bought the book. Bjarte is not working in IT and you could say that he is not an agilist. But remember that agile is about the mindset and Bjarte clearly has an agile mindset.

With Beyond Budgeting, Bjarte and his friends from BBRT have done the same to accounting as we are doing to IT and project management. When our friends at ALE2011 were looking for outsiders to invite to the conference, Yves was really happy Bjarte was among the names proposed. And when the conference organisers approached Bjarte, he did not hesitate to accept the invitation and fit a flight to Berlin into his tight schedule to share his message and experience with a bunch of enthusiast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

Although I am a finance guy with some HR experience, I actually have a short “IT career”. In the late eighties I headed up Statoil’s implementation of a new accounting system (Horisonten, a great Swedish system which lasted almost ten years before it was SAPs turn…). We spent half a year fighting IT on how to run the project. We had a few words for what we didn’t want, one being “waterfall”. But we had no name for what we wanted to do instead. But we “won”, and we delivered, our way. Today, what we did has a name and is about to become the new way… It is fantastic to see all the great stuff bubbling in the agile movement. There are so many similarities with Beyond Budgeting, both on what we are rebelling against and what we aspire to become.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

I would probably have ended up in teaching, where my entire family was/is. In this respect I am the black sheep, but I was forgiven by marrying a teacher! I actually feel my job is a lot about teaching, although the biggest part is fortunately still about learning.

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

Complacency. We get so much positive feedback on what we have done at Statoil that we might think we have “done it”. Very, very dangerous. And not very good for anything, I guess.

What drives you?

Making a difference, and a positive difference, as my Irish neighbour always reminds me about. There is always a better way (and so many stupid ways – so no fear of running dry!)

What is your biggest achievement?

Not mine, but our, and still ahead of us, the day when Statoil has taken full advantage of all the great stuff we have decided and are implementing. Beyond that; being a happy and still relatively healthy guy with a great job. What more can you ask for?

What is the last book you have read?

Let me rather go for the first one instead, the first one relevant for my agile journey. Maverick by Ricardo Semler, many, many years ago. I was blown away!

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

Why vinyl is king and digital sucks. The list is too long!

Who do you think I should ask next?

Henrik Mårtensson

If you like these answers you might want to check out our book: who is agile