People Archive

5

Hawthorne Effect Coaching Dilemma

The Hawthorne Effect is something I wrote about over a year ago.  Previously as a Project Management Adviser and now as an Enterprise Agile Coach, I’ve seen it numerous times.  To all those currently advising or coaching, do you tend to see clients trying to impress you? The Hawthorne Effect refers to the tendency of some people to modify their behavior, when they know they are being watched, due to the attention they are receiving from researchers, auditors, or coaches.
hawthorne effect

This effect was first discovered and named by researchers at Harvard University who were studying the relationship between productivity and work environment. Researchers conducted these experiments at the Hawthorne Works plant of Western Electric. The study was originally commissioned to determine if increasing or decreasing the amount of light workers received increased or decreased worker productivity. The researchers found that productivity temporarily increased, regardless if the light was increased or decreases. They then realized the increase in productivity was due to the attention given the workers by the research team and not because of changes to the experimental variable.  (Thanks Wikipedia)

This is one reason short term engagements can be challenging.  People are on their best behavior, until they get used to you being there.  This is also why I don’t believe in annual reviews.  How do you, as managers, leaders, coaches, or auditors get past the effect?  How do you ensure you get a true representation of individual and team behavior and not suffer from the Hawthorne Effect?

Image Source: Pictofigo

3

Judging an Agile Book

I’m in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to speak at the Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference.  If you ever imagined what an “Agile” company looked like, I think I am looking at it right now.  I’m blogging today from Atomic Object.  The exterior of the 100 year-old building is very unassuming.  Upon entering the building, I’m greeted by several dogs.  Yes, like in man’s-best-friend dogs.  They give me the once-over and allowed me to pass.  I walk past a wall with mountain bikes and walk upstairs to discover a truly Agile workspace.

The floors are a light wood and the workspace is wide open.  There is plenty of natural light.  In the middle of the room is a functioning stop light.  It’s exactly what I thought it was.  It’s an information radiator to indicate if the build is broken or not.  Fortunately, the light is green.  I’m now sipping on a freshly brewed cup of black coffee and enjoying web access.  There are almost as many whiteboards as there are approachable friendly people.

I know you should not judge a book by its cover.  But, if I’m looking for a book on Agile, I would have a few expectations.  This place and the people working here exceed those expectations.

When I return to Washington DC tomorrow night, I’ll take with me the first hand confirmation that Agile workspaces (and companies) are so much more inviting than those with cube farms or offices.