Using Information Radiators to Make Risk Transparent

 

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I love to walk around team spaces and identify cool things that people are doing so I can share them with the organization.  Last week while doing a Gemba Walk in one of my offices I found this!

On his metal scrum board he created “What’s at Risk” information radiator magnets in the design of a traffic light.  Red indicates that the story is at risk with a high likelihood that it will not be completed this sprint.  Yellow indicates that the story is somewhat at risk and there is a chance that it will not be completed this sprint.  Green indicates that story is not at risk and is expected to be completed this sprint.  He uses two magnet discs to cover up the extra colors and only displays the current risk state of the story.

This is a great, simple way to make risk transparent to the team so they can make appropriate decisions and adjustments as well as communicate properly to stakeholders.  Placing the information radiators on the scrum board makes it very easy for anyone walking by to know exactly what to expect this sprint.  It also gives indications that help may be needed to remove roadblocks or provide information in order to help the team move forward on that story.

Information radiators are a great way to promote transparency.  How are you using them to help your team grow and to allow others insight into how they are doing?

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The Power of Daring to be You

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This past weekend I attended CTI coach training.  For three days I was able to experience coaching from an entirely different perspective.  This experiential training in a group setting was very powerful. During this weekend I didn’t just meet a new group of people – I met myself!  It was amazing to experience the insight and deep intuition of people on a level that made me feel understood, seen, and heard.  There were times when I felt like they knew me better than I knew myself – or maybe they were willing to pull out of me what I have spent so many years burying.

During one session, we did an activity where we took turns sitting in the focus seat and others called out what they were seeing in you.  It was amazing and encouraging to hear the impressions that people had of me after just 14 hours together.  Then, they shifted and identified what they caught glimpses of but really wished would emerge.  In the next step, the class began to suggest metaphorical archetypes that captured the part of you that isn’t being fully embraced – who you really are deep inside that needs to be tapped into.

My archetype is a wild child on roller skates.  It stands for the part of me that needs to learn to let go of being responsible and selfless and fully embrace having fun, being free, and taking what I really need for myself.  This is who I never dare to be – the one who I dream of being able to become when I need her to show up.

The next part of the exercise was to coach and be coached from the perspective of that archetype.  How would that person show up as a coach?  What would they do?  How would they present themselves?  The power of this exercise was amazing.  I coached from a place that I would never dare to go with most clients.  I pushed hard.  I challenged them to go further.  I became someone on the edge.  I dared them to do things I would never suggest to a client.  I was relentless in helping them see what was possible if they just let go!

It was really interesting to be in this safe environment coaching in a way that I have never considered coaching a client.  But then, I realized that for some clients this might be exactly the coach they need to show up in a session.  The exercise wasn’t about me changing who I was as a coach; but about being able to embrace every part of who I am and bring it when the right circumstances presented.

Being coached from this perspective was a pretty powerful place to be also.  What would happen if I just got selfish in some areas and stopped giving everything I had to other people?  What would happen if I took what I really need and stop giving myself completely away?  How would my life and the lives of those in my world change if I allowed that woman to emerge?

The reality is:  I can’t be that person all the time.  But being able to see the possibilities for just 16 minutes caused a new awareness to rise up in me.  The impact that part of me had on the person I was coaching was incredible and scary.  The impact it had on me as the coachee told me that it is okay to embrace this person deep inside me when I need her to show up.  She is good for me.  And she is good for others in my life.  When I show up as my authentic self they can become who they are deep inside without me getting in the way.

On Taking Chances … and failing

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Okay, so the truth is that this picture is not me.  It’s not even Vermont – where I happen to be working and freezing right now!  It’s my cousin Theresa and it’s in Illinois.  She is standing on her Dad’s frozen pond and loving it!  When I saw her post this picture on Facebook all I could say was, “That is so cool!” But other people who viewed the picture were saying things to her like, “Get off there!” and “Are you nuts!” and “OMG you are scaring me!

Experiencing great things in life sometimes means taking risks.  Without risk we will never be as innovative as we could be because we’ll always be playing it safe.  Some people are afraid of taking risks because with risk comes the possibility of failure.  But, mature agile leaders and teams will recognize that failure doesn’t have to be bad.  We learn things through failure that we would never know if we hadn’t tried and flopped.  We learn what we never want to do again and what changes we can make to create a better team or product in the future.

I was really impressed last week when I heard the leader of a new group of people I’m working with talk about risk and failure.  He said, “No one has ever been fired here for making a mistake.  We want you to be innovative.  Sometimes that will mean failure.  If we don’t take chances we’ll never be the best.  You will make mistakes.  We all have.  Just learn from them.  If you aren’t making mistakes you aren’t trying hard enough.  Push harder.”

I heard a story about how this same leader handled a major mistake.  A brand new employee (less than a week) pressed the wrong button and brought the entire network down for the company and all of their customers.  It took them a while to figure out how to fix it but eventually they were able to get everyone up and running again.  Customers were angry and the entire ordeal was costly.

The next day this new employee was called into his office.  She was shaking in her boots because she knew that inevitably she would be fired for such a huge mistake.  When she entered his office he looked at her and said, “What did you do?”  She tried to explain and was petrified.  When he realized how scared she was he stopped her and said, “Don’t be afraid.  You aren’t in trouble.  I want to know how you figured out how to bring down the entire system with one click. You exposed a huge vulnerability that we need to address.  Great work!!  This is awesome!  Because of what you found we can make sure this will never happen again.”

You sir, are my hero.