Tag Archives: team

Inclusion: diversity from a strategic perspective to get to high performing teams

InclusionIs diversity in a team really contributing to your results? Or is your team composed out of differing individuals for the sake of statistics. Get a high performing team by thinking about the composition of the different profiles. They named it inclusion and it will lead to challenging solutions, vibrant discussions and high performing teams. Read further to see what’s the difference between diversity and inclusion.

Today we had an interesting discussion about the difference between diversity and inclusion. If you don’t know the latter yet, don’t worry: we’ll explain it shortly and I’m convinced that you’ll hear it more in the coming year as it’s becoming a buzz word.

The fact that diversity is needed at the work floor (and anywhere else) is probably not so surprising to you. But diversity only looks at the numbers and combination of different individuals. You probably understand that combining different individuals can lead to sparks at the work floor, both in a good and less good way. Much diversity on the work floor does not guarantee a high performing organization.

Inclusion goes one step further though. As with diversity you would combine an unplanned mixed of individuals, inclusion looks at it from a strategic point of view: which combination of different profiles do you need in your team to be successful? For diversity to be successful, the leader must team carefully when composing his/her team.

Next to making a team high performing, inclusion is also about respecting each other as a person. A different person with underlying beliefs and values that might seem strange to us, but which are an enrichment to the team.

Leaders that are aware and self-conscious of the need for a diverse team, probably have been using inclusion before by thoroughly combining different profiles via screenings like Myers-Brigss Type Indicator (MBTI)the Big 5 personality traits, Belbin team roles, etc.

According to “Beyonders”, leading a diverse team can make an average leader insecure. Having this specific mix of individuals implies a guarantee for healthy conflicts and (more) heated discussions. In a successful team, composed via inclusion, it will be harder to get to consensus which results in more diverse solutions and paths to solutions to be found.

Managing and participating in an inclusive team can require more of your energy. It’s always easier if everybody agrees with you and you don’t have to convince others and fight for your solutions.

The b

Is your team inclusive?

How do you know that your team is composed inclusive? Take these small tests to see for yourself:

  • Outsiders look strange at your team having a discussion and think you’re having an argument, while the discussion seems everyday normal to you (there’s no fight going on).
  • You have the feeling that you complement each other.
  • Do a short test and ask for 3 solutions to a stated problem. Take a look at the different answers you got from the team.
  • Ask your leader why you in particular were selected for the team.

Thanks to my colleague Isabelle for making the difference clear to me and Katleen Destobbeleir of Vlerick Business School for inspiring Isabelle!

Additional information

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Translate strategic directives into actual behavior

The FutureWhen it’s these days all about vision, mission and strategy, we tend to forget that these are only the first steps in process. When you don’t get to the level of concrete behavior, your message will stay high level and abstract. And your people will not act according to it.

So one of the challenges is how to translate strategic directives into concrete behavior that can be distributed as behavioral anchors or guidelines.

An example

Let’s say you get a new team leader at work and with him, a new vision and mission. Everybody is different and he wants to leave his mark on the team, on the work delivered.

In the kickoff meeting of your team, the team leader explains the reason why there’s need for a change and how we are going to do it. “That seems to make sense”, you think. As strategic focus he gives: empowerment and client focus.

The first question that probably raises in your mind is: “What does he mean?”. ‘Empowerment’ can be interpreted in many ways and perspective. For some it recalls positive memories, for others bad experiences or disbelief.
The same is valid for ‘client focus’. Just take a moment to reflect: do you know any organization where the client isn’t the focus, where the client isn’t important? So what does it imply? What does it mean for us in our specific situation?

Tip: take the time to reflect with your team upon the values and the strategic focus.  If the message comes from the hierarchy above, you can do two things: wait for higher management to explain it to you, or make up your own mind what it means in your situation.

The next step in your thinking process will probably self-reflexion. As we all want to do a good job, we take ourselves up for consideration and ask “What are we already doing (good) in the area of empowerment? Ah, but we’re already doing … and last time we also …”. This is normal. Even as a new team.

Tip: start with the things you already do well. Appreciative inquiry taught us that starting with a positive mind will improve your creativity and lead to better and more creative results. Also confirming that some behavior is already good will have a positive effect on the feelings of the group.

The next logic step would be thinking the other way around: “What can we do to get better?”. People that are not convinced by the need of the change will not make it to this step.  They will be in resistance and rather reluctant to take their own behavior into consideration.

Tip: Asking these questions will generate a lot of feedback & output, so your need will need to set focus. Which items are most important and will get priority? You cannot take up everything at once.

After you acquired the goods and the bads, the actual work still needs to start! It’s time to assign tasks and setup workgroups for the bigger ones.

Let’s do it in a workshop

If you work out these steps into a process, you got yourself a workshop:

  1. What does (eg.) empowerment mean in your specific situation?
  2. What are you doing good in this area? (what doesn’t change?)
  3. What can be (even more) improved?
  4. Set priorities in the ideas gathered.
  5. Create an action plan and assign owners and target dates.


  • Make sure you communicate the desired output/result in the beginning of the workshop. To quote Steven Covey: “Begin with the end in mind”. It will increase your chances of actually getting to this output.
  • When there are many strategic directives to discuss, pick your Must Win Battle.
  • If it’s appropriate, you can let the group choose which strategic directive to focus on. It will increase their involvement.
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Maak ambassadeurs van je klanten (NL)

De unieke aanpak van het telecombedrijf Mobile Vikings maakt van hun klanten geen promotors, maar ware ambassadeurs. Mobile Vikings evangelist, Hans Similion, kwam met passie hun speciale aanpak uit de doeken doen.

Mobile Vikings

Mobile Vikings

Tijdens een change agent event kwam Mobile Vikings evangelist, Hans Similon, spreken over de unieke aanpak van Mobile Vikings. Mobile Vikings is een klein bedrijfje met grote ambities, namelijk gratis mobiel Internet aanbieden voor iedereen. Ze zijn opgestart na enkele ambitieuze pogingen van Frank Bekkers en Hans om gratis mobiel Internet te verkrijgen via onderhandelingen met de bekende Belgische telecom operatoren, Proximus, Mobistar en Base. Omdat de bekende telecomreuzen geen heil zagen in gratis mobiel Internet voor iedereen zagen Frank en Hans als enige oplossing om zelf een bedrijfje op te starten.

Mobile Vikings is geen gewoon bedrijf op gebied van klantenwerving, marketing en management. Het heeft zich ontdaan (onthouden) van de gladde verkopers, flashship stores en grote marketing budgetten.

Mobile Vikings zet minder in op marketing en verkoop, maar meer op het helpen van klanten en klantenretentie. Zo is hun helpdesk een echte HELPdesk en wordt er niet stiekem aan verkoop gedaan. Ze proberen alle klanten binnen de 24u een antwoord te bieden, ongeacht het gebruikte communicatiekanaal (telefoon, email, Twitter, Facebook, …). Ze zetten hiervoor ook hun hele team in; in het weekend durft Hans ook wel eens achter het keyboard te kruipen.

De werving van nieuwe klanten wordt voor vooral gedaan door hun klanten zelf, als ambassadeur. Elke nieuwe klant krijgt extra belkrediet als ze een andere klant aanbrengen. Ze waren hiermee de eersten op de markt die er een werkend business model mee maakten en het heeft hun geen windeieren gelegd nu ze tussen de 2 en 5% marktaandeel hebben. Trouwe klanten worden verder extra beloond op events zoals een BBQ voor het Pukkelpop festival. Dat Mobile Vikings een ware aanhang heeft, bewijzen de statistieken op Facebook: het bedrijf bevindt zich in de top van de meest besproken bedrijven naast grote multinationals. Dat deze aanhang werkelijk trouwe volgers zijn uit zich in real life events die ze regelmatig organiseren.

Ik zag in een uurtje een sneak preview van een ondernemer die met passie zijn werkwijze kwam uitleggen aan een geïnteresseerd publiek. Het werd zo overtuigend gebracht dat het aanstekelijk werkte: op het eind van de sessie hadden we allemaal een viking helm op. Mobile Vikings is een modern bedrijfje dat van de meest moderne technieken gebruikt maakt: crowdsourcing, co-creation, pop-up stores en conversation management. De andere telecomoperatoren hebben ondertussen al door dat ze er ook voordeel uit halen een deel van de Mobile Vikings aanpak te kopiëren.

De ambitie van Mobile Vikings is 2 tot 5% van de markt te halen … maar dan wereldwijd, grapt Hans nog even.

To be continued!

Meer weten



Boek: The Conversation Manager

Boek: The Conversation Company

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Team barometer – some examples

Do you know if everybody in your team is happy? How would you measure team satisfaction? 

I get a lot of questions and search hits for team barometers and to my opinion there are several options. But before you read further, I must warn you: there is no one solution for measuring team member satisfaction. Go through the list and pick the one that’s most likely to be successful in your current situation. After a while evaluate and see which one might suit better. This is no attempt for an all-encompassing list!

Please mind: all team barometers are just ways to get your team talking, to get them to start sharing their feelings. Only when this happens you can expect team relations to improve. At first the team members might be reluctant to share this (rather personal) information, but you can start and give the example. If they see everyone doing it, they’ll come loose. Make sure you discuss team mood at least once in every week (eg. during your daily huddles) to be proactive, rather than reactive.

The barometers are split up in high and low frequent measurements: not every measurement is useful every day or week.

High frequent

Team member feelings barometer – Simple

Let’s start simple with a barometer that expresses the mood of the team. Every member picks a smiley or avatar that expresses his/her mood. Team members are free to use the smiley they want. I’ve also seen teams that use an avatar instead of the names, which can be fun and also removes a tip of the (personal) cover.

On the work floor, I’ve seen genuine interest of team members when one team members picks a sad smiley.

Team barometer simple

Team barometer simple

Team member feelings barometer – Advanced

This barometer is just a little more advanced, but adds one important aspect to it: explanation, but more important: action! OK,  they are not feeling fine, but what are they going to DO about it? It make your team members reflect and not just report. We used this team barometer in my previous team at work and must say it was a real added value!

You might react: “But why don’t they just tell each other and ask for help?”, but I must say: even though you’re sitting next to each other almost every day, you cannot take if for granted.

Team barometer advanced

Team barometer advanced


A moodbox are actually two boxes where you let people “vote” on how their day or week was. Every day/week the team members get one vote (which could be a ball, a red or green card, etc) and which they can put in a box.

The advantage is that the mood is anonymous, and visible to other teams and management. The disadvantage is that you cannot help the team members which posted, nor can anyone else. I’ve also heard of a digital version of this: sort of a “Did you had a good day? Yes/No” question when you log off your PC. Don’t give anything eatable as voting items. They will eat it instead 🙂

The big question remains: what will you do with the results? Certainly if the “bad” box is growing, there a call for action needed and you need to open the discussion.



Move work

This team barometer is based on the moodbox (see above) and gives an idea about how much work is “moved” that they. You can use as a task accomplishment follow-up tool (like eg. the kanban board), but you can also use it as stimulus for idea generation (eg. we needs 10 improvement ideas each week which lead to efficiency).

A team compass

Recently I saw a team compass which uses the theory of the “4 rooms of change”. While it’s best used in big change projects, it expresses how team members feel about the current situation there in: happy, confused, busy, … You can use a pawn or pushpin to express where in the house you’re currently are. Again, the goal here is to discover and discuss non-expressed feelings of team members and help them (and the team) through it.

The Change House

The Change House

A team barometer for customer interaction

What do you get when you combine visual management and a team barometer applied to your internal customers? An opportunity to improve your team member’s and customer’s experience!

We already described this barometer in following blog: “A team barometer for customer interaction“.

Team customer barometer

Team customer barometer

Low frequent

Team dysfunction assessment

With a question list of only 15 questions with answers on a scale of three you can assess your team effect-ability on  the five characteristics of highly effective teams (trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and attention to results).  The process is described in blog “Team dysfunction assessment“.

This is a measurement what you can only every once in a while (eg. every quarter) because to get to the results it takes more action than the previous barometers. Eg. you cannot build trust in a week.

Team dysfunction assessment

Team dysfunction assessment

Key Performance Indicators

Key Performance Indicators can of course also be used as team barometer, but they mostly aimed at what the team needs to accomplish. If you have a KPI that expresses team feeling/mood, well, than you have your barometer, I’d say 🙂

Examples are number of positive vs negative compliments or feelings for that week.

Team motivation barometer

If you know which behaviour is expected from the team lead, but also of the team members, you can create a team motivation barometer. Create several main topics which matter, like eg. coaching, feeling of purpose and empowerment. Describe the expected behaviour in questions which the team members can score on a scale of one to five (with five being the ideal state). When team members fill in the survey, you get an idea of the hot spots in your team. Compare it with a team survey.

An example:

Rate on a scale of one to five with one being bad and five good.

Coaching – My team leader invests time in really listening to me and helping me find out a solution myself.

Empowerment – I feel empowered to take the decision needed in the project I’m accountable for.

The output of the assessment can be grouped like in the example in the “Team dysfunction” barometer (see above).

If you don’t know how to start, you can use a generalized (leadership) assessment like Hay or Barrett, but a custom made assessment is easier to align with the strategy of your organization.

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Community building at work

Community building

Community building

After online social communities have almost taken over our real life social network, the community concept starts gaining success on the work floor. Companies are less reluctant to open up their networks for networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

If we look back five to ten years ago, thinking that we would use chat clients to work with colleagues abroad but also next to us was impossible.The idea that we have a intracompany social network with liberty to participate in communities of various kinds was unthinkable.

And yet we still have to grow in community building at work.

Since community building is not new and is also a topic in real life, it has been studies by many scientists and psychologists. Pecker describes an interesting four step community development process which can be compared the Tuckman’s stages of group development (forming, norming, storming, performing).

1. Pseudocommunity stage

A pseudocommunity is a freshly produced community. It’s actually just a group people placed together. We see the same with new communities started up at work (eg. when a new change effort is launched): it’s all new, everyone wants to join, but there’s no real community yet. The main characteristic of this stage is that people pretend to be a community: stories are shared, but everything is very correct and polite. There’s no real discussion taken place and the participation is more passive and one-way oriented.

Although it seems artificial, this stage is needed to build safety, trust and respect. (remember: no healthy conflict without conflict!)

Some tips:

  • Don’t invite all participants at once: people are drawn to you over time if you provide good, valuable and authentic information.
  • Think dialog and not pushing information.

2. Chaos stage

In the second stage, chaos, the participants learn they are different and start to explore the differences. In chaos people let go of their manners and blurt out their prejudices, opinions and judgments. The group boundaries and norms are explored: what can be discussed, what can be questioned?

We transition to the next stage when participants start to learn that healthy conflict is natural.

Some tips:

  • It starts with the first conversation.
  • Set boundaries without killing the enthusiasm.

3. Emptiness stage

The word emptiness here is used as in “freeing up his thoughts” and “sharing real experiences and emotions”. The community starts to share authentic stories. Interactions become deeper and more meaningful, the participation of the community goes beyond clicking the “like” button and only challenging.

Some tips for acquiring this in online communities at work:

  • Build in a reputation model (eg. member of the week, most active member, profile badges, …).
  • Create an environment where everybody is a respected leader, and a dedicated follower.
  • Don’t try to create passion, but find passionate participants.
  • Make participants aware that the group can benefit from the information you as participant hold.
  • Encourage users to reinforce their feelings of belonging to the community by identifying themselves actively as a member.

4. Community

In this stage, participants are sharing success and failure stories. They exchange experiences. Differences are appreciated. Co-creation is possible and rewarded.

Some tips:

  • Keep rewarding all members in the community. Keep the connection alive.
  • Keep the interaction alive. Find a community manager who tracks community usage, identifies opportunities and initiates conversations.
  • Avoid saturating your audience with irrelevant updates.

Additional reading

The Community Building Process by Jerry L. Hampton
10 Community Building Tips
Community Building: How to Grow With the Power of People
How to create active online communities
Three Key Stages of Growing a Community Online
How To Build An Online Community: The Ultimate List Of Resources (2012)

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Improve team flexibility and continuity with skills matrix analysis

A skills matrix (also refered to as knowledge matrix) is a map or index of the team skills, listed by each team member and cross-referenced with the different areas or expertise.

The skills matrix is used for mapping the current skills, identifying potential harmful situations and taking action.
Uses for a skills matrix:

  • A skills matrix comes in handy when a new member joins the team and you want to get him up to speed.
  • When a team member leaves the team, the skills matrix can be used to identify possible knowledge gaps.
  • The skills matrix can be used proactively to guarantee team continuity.
  • Identify knowledge sharing and development needs between team members.
  • Installing cross-functional teams (in cross functional teams, team members have no specific speciality only, but a more generic profile).
  • Check the impact of key persons leaving the team: will it be a problem?
  • Increase team strength & flexibility, but also team spirit (eg. during the huddles team members will know each others areas better).
  • Create a RACI for the different areas of expertise: who are the SPOCs? Who are the experts to be consulted?
  • Identify which roles in the team need which skills (eg. soft skills vs. technical skills).
  • Set development targets.

Why do you need a skills matrix?

You need a skills matrix when you pick up following signals:

  • Estimations for new assignments are not made when key persons are not available.
  • Estimations for new assignments need to be approved or checked by key persons.
  • Permanence is difficult to arrange.
  • Statements like “if person X leaves, we will be in real trouble”.
  • Difficult arrangements for team continuity during the holiday periods (eg. summer vacation, Christmas).
  • Single Point of Confusion instead of Single Point of Contact.
  • Unclear responsibilities.
  • During a huddle, team members have no clue whatsoever what the other team member is talking about.

Skill matrix analysis

To score skills you can determine the criteria yourself:

  • None, insufficient, basic, good, expert
  • None, trained, coached, lead, training given, coaching given
  • Scoring on behaviour types

You can also use weights for both a horizontal and vertical analysis:

  • Horizontal: the extent to which every area is covered by different team members and expertise levels.
  • Vertical: the extent to which each team member is covering different areas and taking on different expert roles.

What can we learn form a skills matrix:

  • New team members will color red over the whole line. Use the skills matrix to set priority and focus for training purposes.
  • Identify key persons which are dominant in certain areas. Make sure these areas are also covered by more team members.
  • Identify knowledge gaps in certain areas.
  • Which team members have certain expert knowledge in areas which we don’t have (eg. Java knowledge in a .NET team).

Ready, set, go!

Setting up a skills matrix without taking further action is like creating a risk matrix without a mitigation strategy.
If you invest the time & effort to create one, don’t just hang it on the wall, but use it to take action and improve your team strength!
Next to each skill assessment you can add a target for the team member in that expertise area. Not all team members will have/need the same targets.

Further, the skills matrix is outdated from the click you use to close the file. People learn all the time.
So plan a recurrent update and action time slot in your agenda to check the progress.

Additional reading


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Change the way your team reports

TeamNot every team runs its huddles on the same way. This has some implications on the amount and type of information that is received.

Let’s focus on acquiring status information from the team.

The facilitator leads the huddle

The facilitator (not regarding if this is a hierarchical lead or not) runs a tour-de-table and ask every team member about his specific tasks.

Jane, how is it working out with assignment X?
Is assignment Y still on track?
John, how is it working out with assignment X?
Is assignment Y still on track?

This advantage of this approach is that the facilitator has control of the conversation and is able to acquire the needed information to steer upon in a fast way.

The disadvantage is that the facilitator is asking closed and specific questions. There’s no room left for non-result oriented feedback. The danger also exists that tasks that the facilitator is (becomes) not aware of other tasks the team member is working on. Underlying frustration and stress could not get to the surface and get the attention it needs. Further, the facilitator can also be experienced as controlling the work too much or checking up on people.

The facilitator hosts the huddle

When the facilitator doesn’t lead, but hosts the huddle, the facilitator makes sure that everybody is heard, but the type of questions is different.

Tell me, Jane, what were your three most important things you did last week and how did it go?
What are your three most important tasks planned for this week?
Do you see any impediments? If so, how can we help?

The advantage of this approach is that the team member can reply what he wants. It could be that assignments X and Y were planned, but he didn’t have the time due to another unplanned assignment Z with higher priority. Further, there’s more room for team interaction and discussion.

Are you working on that too? I got the same request by mail!
Last week I had the same problem. Let’s discuss the solution after the huddle.
Don’t wait for a reply of John: he called in sick for this week.
Can you gives us more details about…

After the feedback from the team member, the facilitator can check upon himself to verify if the team member has the right assignments scheduled for this week. Taking into account the team priorities.

The disadvantage is that you need strong facilitation skills to make sure your huddle doesn’t last too long (because of the increased team interaction). There’s also more preparation of the (content of the) huddle needed to make sure the facilitator has the overall view on team priorities.


The first approach, leading the huddle, will feel most natural because that’s what we’re being taught all our lives: checking if everything is fine and on track.

The second approach will require the facilitator to give control more out of hand, but will make problems and priority issues surface earlier in the process.

There is no one approach, no silver bullet. Check your current situation and see what fits best.

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Team dysfunction assessment

5 dysfunctions pyramid

5 dysfunctions pyramid

In “The five dysfunctions of a team” Patrick Lencioni describes the five characteristics of highly effective teams (trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and attention to results), as ultimate competitive advantage.

The conclusion of the story is that every team needs these five characteristics and you cannot have effective teams with attention to results without a foundation of trust, conflict, commitment and accountability. Every layer needs to be build on asolid based layer below, just like with a pyramid.

While we see the image of the pyramid is regularly used in trainings, on the work floor, …, we also notice thereluctance of taking actions for improving upon it.

It all starts with a team assessment to find out where the focus areas are for your team, and an action plan for improvement.

A typical work point in teams is the lack of trust, which results in non-constructive or no conflict at all. See also blog entry “Get into conflict”.

The assessment

With a question list of only 15 questions with answers on a scale of three you can assess your team effect-ability.

You can find an example assessment here:


The Table Group also offers an automated assessment here:


Scope of the assessment

Make the first assessment your team only; without interfaces, otherwise the assessment and results will be confusing.

Determine and communicate the scope for the assessment to make sure all participants are aligned.

Why are you doing this assessment?

What do you want to reach with it?

Who is considered as a “team”? Is it including the customer? Is it including the one employee that is outsourced to another team for this quarter?

Analysis of the assessment

I have seen different ways to analyze the results of the assessment.

The Table Group even offers a full automated analysis with conclusions and tips. An example can be found here:


The most important takeaway here is not to overanalyze.

Check the average to see how your team is doing on one particular layer.

Check the highlights and lowlights. Why are they saying something so different?

What is the one thing that needs focus most?

A deeper analysis can be done by evaluating not the result of the complete analysis, but the individual questions to make some sort of top 5 of highlights and lowlights with as goal a more focused approach.

Action plan

No need for an assessment and an analysis without an action plan. Making an action plan gives also a clear signal to your team that there’s still work in progress but that you’re also willing to take up the challenge.


On what base should you reassess your team? It’s up to you to find the right frequency. There’s no need to reevaluate when there’s nothing taken up from the action plan.

Use the Deming wheel or PDCA-cycle: Plan – Do – Check – Act.

The assessment will be your “check” step. The action plan will be your “Plan” step.

Additional reading

Slide summary of the pyramid http://www.slideshare.net/rajopadhye/5dys

Management summary http://www.conequity.com/storage/resources-pdf/thefivedysfunctionsofateam.pdf

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Work fascinates me, I can watch it for hours.

Werk fascineert me, ik kan er uren naar kijken

Werk fascineert me, ik kan er uren naar kijken

“Work fascinates me. I can watch it for hours.” During a gemba, I came across this statement at the back of a Hoegaarden beer mat which was attached to a whiteboard.

Sometimes we are so absorbed by our work that we forget to take a step back once in a while. A step back to observe the process, to observe the work delivered, to look for improvements, to adjust the strategy, …

The disadvantage of not being able to take a step back is that it’s perfectly possible to start working very efficient, doing non-effective (read: non-value contributing) work. Like they say: doing the wrong things in a very efficient way.


The rumor is that the ability of taking a step back is one of Toyota’s criteria for acquiring people. During the job applications they leave the job applicant waiting somewhere in the production line/hall for half an hour. Afterwards they ask him what did he see during the waiting time and what could be improved.

Step back, look forward

Step back, look forward. Start, pause, stop. Evaluation. What’s in a name? It are all initiatives to taking the time (and courage) to take a step back and evaluate the current situation and progress.

The challenge is that when times get hard, it’s extra difficult to take the time for this review moment. Nobody has time for a step back moment when shit hits the fan. However, it could help that to build in review moments into your calendar and into the process.

Let’s take a look how Agile did this.

Agile and retrospectives

Agile is an iterative and incremental method used to develop software. (More about Agile in “GAP analyse: Agile projectmanagement en de PMBok aanpak voor kennisgebieden Project Integration, Scope en Time Management”)

In contrast with the familiar waterfall approach, Agile works in bursts. Short sprints of 4 to 5 weeks after which a working piece of software is delivered.

Agile has it’s step back moments build into the process in the name of retrospectives.

After each sprint, the team and customer get together to evaluate their last team effort. What went well? What could go better? It doesn’t matter which technique they use: brainstorming, root cause analysis, … The principle of taking a pause to observe the current efforts and see how the team can improve will positive effects on results, commitment and team mood.

Plan – Do – Check – Act

There’s no use for a step back moment when you’re not taking action. So design a method for assign and follow-up on actions and progress. Use the action list in your next retrospective. See if you made any progress (see also blog entry “A daily sense of measurable accomplishment”) and act upon it when it’s not working.

So, when are you planning your next step back moment?

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Dare to disagree

Last week I was facilitating a MBTI team building exercise at a management offsite.
Before we started with the exercise, the GM showed a short video of Margaret Heffernan giving a presentation for TED on conflict.

We already had a blog entry about conflict, but when we link the theory to MBTI profiles, we can learn more.

The story Margaret tells is the one of a researcher investigating early child deaths.
The researcher works not alone, but has a sparring partner. A position solely created to prove here… wrong.
Indeed, as a researcher the scientist needed to be challenged in every possible way to take up the difficult task of statistical analysis of all possibilities.

Only with the help of healthy conflict, the researcher could be challenged into finding the right reason (remark: it proved to be X-rays on pregnant women).



What’s the link with MBTI?

Humans tend to meet and gather around people who are like them. Equal minded.
Close your eyes and think of yourself for a moment. With who do you have the best connection? With which colleagues are you talking at each reception, every time again? Great minds think alike, don’t they?

If you want to grow as a person, as a team or even as an organization, you’ll have to overcome this pitfall.
Hanging around the same people over and over again will guarantee the most comfort, but will not put you in a position where you have to go into discussion, defend your view-point, your opinion, … Prove your point.

Luckily, there’s help: there’s nothing so easy as finding your exact opposite as with MBTI profiles.
Once you know yours and the one of your colleagues, you know which colleagues think alike and which other ones will guarantee you to have a challenge.
Probably it won’t be such a great eye opener, but more an aha-erlebnis. To quote the GM: “Aha, that’s why life is so stressful when working with others”.


Some tips for you to take up the challenge:

  • Go team up with that colleague where it clashes with sometimes.
  • Find a different profile to present your findings and results to.
  • Try to understand why the other is thinking that way.
  • Ask advice from people with different profiles. For example, an SJ will look for details & order, an NP will look for story lines, threads and the bigger pictures.

Additional reading


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