A Brompton Ride, Putney Bridge, Coffee and a Coaching Insight

Coaching, a relationship, in which to facilitate, support and grow the performance, confidence and resilience of another.

The coaching relationship enables the emergence of a purpose, and the desire to be who you need to be.

Whether you are an individual, leader, executive, a team, we are all human – we all have dreams, hopes, desire and ambition.

Why do I coach? What is my purpose in coaching? My ‘purpose‘ – to realise something more that exists within a person or a team, to work with their confidence, blockers, issues, baggage, old habits and not to dismiss the negative, as they cannot exist in isolation. It’s a starting point in which to recognise, appreciate and build upon – it has a quality, a need that is trying to express itself.

Whatever is holding you back, from moving forward, that sense of ‘stuckness‘; our coaching relationship will find the traction to move. It will find the voice inside of you that will give you the permission to change.

Do you need to find your voice?

Coaching – Checking understanding

Are you a coach? maybe a manager or leader?

Here’s some ways of checking understanding:

  1. Reflecting – playing back the words of the coach – word for word
  2. Summarising – synthesising the coach’s words into a series of bullet points
  3. Paraphrasing – putting the coach’s words into my words
  4. Pre-framing – maintaining rapport and giving choice – ‘I heard you say / I think you said / to summarise / These are my words…’

Give it a go the next time you are checking what’s been said and the understanding around it.

The Challenge of Change

I am changing my coaching focus – Personal & Team Development Coach – with my attention on:

  • Confidence | Leadership | Motivation | Energy

As a Personal & Team Development Coach, I will:

  • Ask questions in order to guide you to an answer
  • Encourage deep reflections about how you are living your life and the changes you desire to make
  • Challenge your thoughts by identifying inconsistencies
  • Support you through difficult decisions

I coach face-to-face, over Skype or on the phone.For ‘face-to-face’ sessions, then my location is in central London.

In between coaching sessions, my clients have email support. My aim is to reply in 24 hours.

I look forward to hearing from you.

agile enlightenment…

It’s not really about Agile or agile enlightenment, although this has formed a substantial part in my various agile roles.

‘The ‘Ten Bulls of Zen’ (or alternatively the ‘Ten Ox-herding Pictures of Zen’) is a metaphoric depiction of stages of self-realization’ but for Bull, read: Agile, agile, lean, kanban, coaching, mindfulness, people, purpose – that continual search for ‘…a new way‘.

What ‘new way‘ are you looking for?

The Agile frameworks out in the market are just frameworks or methodologies or…whatever you want to call them? DaD, SAFe, LeSS, SoS, Lexus, Slim, SCARE, FAST Agile…and they all consume bandwidth, not just on websites, LinkedIn but our time in their pros & cons.

However, for any of these ways of working to be successful, there’s a fundamental need for people, teams, leaders, managers or the organisation itself to shift it’s thinking – to change.

I like the ‘Ten Bulls of Zen’ because it allows us (me) to see ‘change‘ as a story and we know, from a very early age, that stories are engaging – good stories attract and take you on a journey. The realising and releasing of an individual’s or team’s performance can start with ‘the Bull’ or ‘the new way’.

Keith Johnstone’s book – Impro for Storytellers, is an excellent book and its application can enable people to be more ‘active, spontaneous and flexible’. Again, looking to the world of Improv, with a large dash of Zen, daily meditation and mindfulness and a focus on people forms part of who I am as a Coach (oh, and frameworks) – splitting soft vs hard skills, with soft skills being 80-90% of who I am.

Budgeting, planning, frameworks etc are all hard skills that can be taught, learnt (certified) and can be ‘doing’ but the softer skills is more about ‘being’.

Product development – team development – leadership development – startup journey: whatever ‘way’ you are looking for, let go of what you think you might know, to absorb the stuff that could make up more of what you might need to know. 

  1. The Search for the Bull – the seeker searches for a new way, it’s just the beginning
  2. Discovering the Footprints – the first footprints are spotted: Scrum maybe and the reality, with a possibility there are better ways.
  3. First sight of the Bull – visual confirmation and speaking with others marks the first glimpse of the underlying principle of agile
  4. Catching the Bull – you do the CSM but your relationship with it and your first team is rocky; the mind is putting up its natural resistance to change.
  5. Taming the Bull – you start to apply focus, commitment and courage (recognise these three?) and with realisation, ‘our mind begins to settle and to work with us, rather than against us’.
  6. Riding the Bull Home – here there’s a deepening of understanding
  7. The Bull Transcended (Bull Forgotten, Self Alone) – our journey, my journey to Enlightenment is simply the direct recognition of our true nature
  8. Both Bull and Self Transcended (or Forgotten) – deepening and maturing of knowledge and the sense of ‘being awake’
  9. Reaching the Source – here lies our recognition of the Source (agile) as ‘consciousness without an object’.
  10. In the World (Entering the Marketplace with Helping Hands) – here the seeker becomes the ‘finder’ and that realisation must ultimately be shared in some way with the world for it to have lasting value and meaning.

Some resources:

Why focus on 5 Gaps?

The gaps that I will note below are those things not mentioned in the Scrum Guide.

An extract from this recent post –

The 2016 Scrum Guide doesn’t mention:

  • Jenkins, Git,
  • leadership
  • mindfulness
  • JIRA
  • Rally
  • Scaling
  • Senior Scrum Master
  • XP
  • Gluten free food types…

I could add more ‘things’ that the scrum guide doesn’t contain. What’s the point?

I have an issue with this post, as I probably do with SAFe and other scaling approaches that have ‘certification’ sitting behind them, with c$900 yearly renewal fees.

From the Guide – Scrum is ‘…framework within which you can employ various processes…’. Scrum can address ‘complex adaptive problems’ and uses empirical process control to allow for:

  • Transparency,
  • Inspection, and
  • Adaption

Scrum is – Lightweight, Simple to understand BUT Difficult to master. What makes it Difficult? From my perspective and from what I’ve experienced within organisations; it is holding on to old mindsets, habits and ways of knowing that builds judgement, cynicism and fear in to this simple process – amongst other things.

Something that is so simple, is complicated and made difficult by people, teams and organisations that want to NOT be responsible, NOT be accountable, NOT self-manage and NOT trust ‘them’ – it’s them, not us, that’s why it failed!

The post says that Scrum has 5 Gaps; Clarity, Commitment, Ritual, Progress, and Habit.

Clarity within Scrum is gained by people talking and sharing information through it’s founding principle of Transparency and having a shared common understanding of what ‘Done’ is.

Commitment (an objective set) and this can be a tricky word and value for sprint teams to adopt – we are NOT committing, we are setting the expectation and objective?

So, Commitment and Progress can be measured (if you want to measure, rather than look at business / user value being delivered) by the four formal events for inspection and adaptation, as described in the Guide:

  • Sprint Planning
  • Daily Scrum
  • Sprint Review
  • Sprint Retrospective

What gaps are left: Ritual and Habit. These two ‘gaps’ can be associated and embodied by teams (inside and outside of product or software development) who live the Scrum Values of: commitment, courage, focus, openness and respect.

Consistently having action (a ritual) to embody these values and mindsets that hold on to positive, life affirming, appreciative habits will build teams that deliver, trust each other and bring about a sense of collective purpose.

Personally, I don’t see how you can not apply the Scrum framework (and values) to not just the project or team sprint level but across the organisation at the programme and / or portfolio level.

Shared from Lyssa Adkins:

And not just for IT or product work, contextual use and ‘what’s good enough’ flexible, adaptive approaches, with aspects of Lean / Kanban can play substantially to the systemic organisational ‘whole’, without the need for more complicated, process, artefact heavy frameworks and keeping the focus on ‘people‘.

I am a Coach and I work with people, teams and organisations to help them be curious about their potential to self-manage, be whole and share their collective purpose.

I am not technical – I cannot code – I cannot build continuous integration deployment platforms. I will display humility and be humble in this professional, skilled domain and will trust those that know, to know.

However, if they lack the belief or confidence to know that they know or how that might take the first steps, then I can coach them.

If the Product Owner is not sure about telling the user journey – together we can explore that journey through a coaching relationship.

If the team want to explore greater trust and to challenge (management or each other) – then together we can explore what ‘trust & challenge’ would feel like.

I am a Coach – I work with: relationships, identity, ambiguity, confusion, uncertainty, dilemmas, visioning, creativity and innovation.

I explore the curious, and hold the potential for you, to a point when that potential can be held by you to achieve greater performance.

Thank you for reading.

Inspired by many things but for this post – Reinventing Organisations / Theory-U / Lyssa Adkins / The Scrum Guide.

Ambiguity & Complexity

As a leader, newly appointed CEO or manager, do you find it difficult to work with ambiguity and complexity? Teams new to Agile or agile or agility (mindset or practices or being), with a hint of VUCA sauce.

You’ve done very well in your old job or you’ve transitioned to a new role but still things are constantly changing – nothing stands still. The team have transitioned to ‘stand-ups’:

  • the dynamics of a new role
  • the disruptive dynamics of competition
  • relationship conflicts
  • organisational dilemmas
  • agile / digital transformation – over and beyond stand-ups (even though that’s a major shift in some cases)

As a coach and coachee (team), can you hold the dynamic when the issue brought to the relationship is open-ended, ambiguous and undefined.

It’s important to have the emotional resilience that out of what is happening in the present, outcomes and shaping of solutions can naturally emerge.

The incremental development of innovative and creative visioning will master a solution that resonates with the coachee, allowing fluid movement from the abstract.

Issues that define a present context at work are ambiguous and holding onto a notion that you must have a fixed goal or outcome, when you haven’t fully immersed yourself in the issues ambiguity.

Sometimes goal setting in a coaching relationship allows an easy path for the coach and an illusion of moving forward for the coachee. Holding an issue for all that it is and to let that issue run its own, natural path.

Look at the ambiguity and think of the issues as it sets a compass with possible directions – from and to, and sideways. Staying with the frustration and how it manifests in your thoughts, emotion, intuition and embodied sense.

Coaching is not always about goal setting, with pushing forward because it seems that’s what is expected. Work with unstructured and unfocused activity but having an awareness of what form, shape, colour, sense is being surfaced.

Where nobody has ever been

We unconsciously make an assumption that we have all the time in the world and therefore don’t feel a sense of urgency of making the very most of the here and now.

An unconscious assumption that things, diets, goals, quit smoking, new business, new venture, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, can be put off till tomorrow, next week, the New Year.

Then we wake up and our whole life has passed us by.

Become mindful and aware, reflecting on your existence and an understanding of using your precious human life to the fullest.

Additional motivation from Marina Abramovic – marinaabramovicinstitute.org
– cultivating inner-awareness
– Being present, gaining consciousness to disentangle ourselves from the artificial structures of society
– ‘Where nobody has ever been…’

Coaching can do this – take you to where you’ve never been before; to take a team where they have never been before. The idea and creative journey that is a ‘transition’ – to move from one place to another. To give all you have to move, to find that place where you will be noticed and you will belong.

Change is hard but it’s possible. If you think it’s hard, then it is – give in and go home. Sit in front of your TV thinking about all the things that could have been; if only… I did this, did that, didn’t do that. Switch on to other people’s lives and live those. Immerse yourself in the TV-soapdom from the comfort and distorted illusion of your life.

‘People to have realise we can create change by changing ourselves’ – Marina Abramovic

I see you…

Just reading my new Xmas book – If I Could Tell You Just One Thing…: Encounters with Remarkable People and Their Most Valuable Advice by Richard Reed.

I’ve learnt something new from the first encounter; “Sawubona“, a Zulu greeting to mean – I see you.

It comes from a chapter in the book about Bill Clinton and his quote –

‘One of the most important things is to see people.

The person who opens the door for you, the person who pours 

your coffee. Acknowledge them. Show them respect’

– Bill Clinton

For 2017, for the rest of 2016 make an effort and ‘see the person’ that you encounter, meet, work with, whether the bus driver, your manager, your partner, your developers, your postman or the barista that serves you your daily coffee.

Look up from your Smartphone, end your call and see the person – acknowledge them.

The same could be said for you. See you and who you are – acknowledge you for who you are and let yourself be heard and be present.

Thanks for reading

Imagery

Do you work with projects, products, services? Do you get excited about bringing them to life and enabling them to be who they need to be?

Help bring about a transformative change to your perception on working in the delivery space. Create an image of what you product or offering will look like, what shape will it take, how will it be perceived and who will engage with it. 

Does it have a sound or a voice? If you product or service offering had a voice – what would it want to say to you, its users. If it had a personality…

If it was a colour, what colour would it be – vibrant, evocative red or a delicious, sumptuous deep purple. Maybe it’s a bright, energy sun blasting yellow, with a gold halo, radiating warmth and love.

Bringing about a different perspective to your product or service offerings allows to engage at a more personal, emotive, intuitive and embodied approach, rather than just relying on a typical, cognitive style.

Have fun, let go of previously held assumptions and feel free to fail.

Work with imagery and engaging visual language to create a desire around your vision.

Imagery

Do you work with projects, products, services? Do you get excited about bringing them to life and enabling them to be who they need to be?

Help bring about a transformative change to your perception on working in the delivery space. Create an image of what you product or offering will look like, what shape will it take, how will it be perceived and who will engage with it. 

Does it have a sound or a voice? If you product or service offering had a voice – what would it want to say to you, it’s users. If it had a personality…

If it was a colour, what colour would it be – vibrant, evocative red or a delicious, sumptuous deep purple. Maybe it’s a bright, energy sun blasting yellow, with a gold halo, radiating warmth and love.

Bringing about a different perspective to your product or service offerings allows to engage at a more personal, emotive, intuitive and embodied approach, rather than just relying on a typical, cognitive style.

Have fun, let go of previously held assumptions and feel free to fail.

Work with imagery and engaging visual language to create a desire around your vision.

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