Success Archive

2

Operating Outside Your Comfort Zone

Operate Outside Your Comfort ZoneLast week, I facilitated an Agile game, with the goal to increase product delivery throughput.  At the beginning of each iteration, I would remind the team “The seven rules of the game are…“.  Upon completion of the third iteration and only seeing modest gains, one of the team members questioned the need for one of the rules and proposed a change in the delivery process.  She asked me, “Is it ok if we do that?”  My response didn’t give her much solace.  Though I knew she was concerned with potentially lowering delivery throughput, I said “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission. Just do it.”  The team then changed their process, resulting in a dramatic increase in delivery throughput.

Though I know success isn’t always the outcome, if you don’t go outside your comfort zone and do something different, you’re never going to see dramatic results.  This applies on both organizational and personal levels.  Within the game, I allowed the team to pilot the new processes so they would either fail quickly or prove their theories.  Over the course of a few iterations, they figured out what worked and what did not, while adhering (directly and indirectly) to the original seven rules.

Within an organization, I recognize things can be much more complicated.  We have regulatory compliance, mandates, and policies to contend with.  I do challenge you to question if they all apply to your current situation.  As with the game, the team just assumed if the rule was listed then it must apply to them.  Without questioning the rules, the results are heavy and burdensome processes.

On a personal level, we litter our lives with artificial constraints.  We accumulate a lifetime of unnecessary rules, rarely stopping to ask ourselves why we do things that prevent us from excelling in the areas we desire.  I’m not promoting living or working recklessly or unethically. Uphold a few guiding principles and reteach yourself to intentionally go outside your comfort zone.  Stop asking permission and let the magic happen.

You can also read this post at LeadingAgile

4

Measuring Success in NYC

When you have a project, you need to find out from the customer how they will judge the success of the project.  Don’t go off giving the team high 5′s and leave the customer scratching their head looking at the bill.  At the inception of the project and at the identification of each deliverable, get agreement from the customer as to success criteria.

I just returned from a trip to New York.  Let’s use that trip to illustrate my point.  My wife and I will represent the customers.  Both of us had a different measurement of success.

For my wife, the trip would be a success if we made it to the Gershwin on time to see Wicked.  For me, the trip would be a success if I got to have dinner at John’s Pizzeria.

We identified contingency plans, so we could have different levels of success.  [1] Drive almost an hour and a half to Union Station in Washington DC.

Milestone 1 – Success

[2] Take the train to Penn Station in New York.

Milestone 2 – Success

[3] Get to the W Hotel in Time Square and check in.

Milestone 3 – Success

[4] Get to the Gershwin Theater

Milestone 4 – Success (Customer #1 is 100% satisfied)

The show was really good.  If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend it.  It was odd seeing some people not dressed up.  Call me old fashioned but if you’re going to the theater, it wouldn’t hurt you to dress up.

[5] The next milestone was get to John’s Pizzeria.  I just wanted a pie and a beer.

Milestone 5 – Success (Customer #2 is 100% satisfied)

After dinner, we returned to the hotel and then spent the evening in Time Square.  Last time we were in there, I proposed.  Not a coincidence, our hotel room was right over the spot where I popped the question. Since I take everything so seriously, we then went to a toy store, where I was promptly attacked by a Transformer.  Needless to say, that was not on my risk register.

Thank you to my wife for allowing me to check in via Foursquare and Gowalla.  I didn’t do it a lot.

How was your weekend?

0

Passion + Commitment + Skill = Success

I just read an intriguing post on Dan Schawbel’s blog.  It was titled The Excellence Equation: Passion and Commitment.

For several years, I’ve been promoting a similar “success” equation. The only component not listed in his blog post was skill. I think ANYTHING is possible if you have passion, commitment, and skill. Passion Commitment SkillIf you’re short in one area, you can make up for it in another. I’ve worked with people that lacked a specific skill, but were so passionate and so committed, there was no way they were not going to succeed. When building teams for a project, I like to find individuals who excel in each area. I don’t want an overly-skilled team as much as I don’t want an overly-passionate team. But, when there is balance in all three areas, I’ve seen magic happen.