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Sunday, March 2, 2014

An incomplete manifesto of growth

An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

  1. Allow events to change you. You have to  be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
  2. Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.
  3. Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.
  4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
  5. Go deep. The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.
  6. Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.
  7. Study. A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.
  8. Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.
  9. Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.
  10. Everyone is a leader. Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.
  11. Harvest ideas. Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.
  12. Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.
  13. Slow down. Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.
  14. Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.
  15. Ask stupid questions. Growth is fuelled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.
  16. Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.
  17. ____________________. Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.
  18. Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.
  19. Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.
  20. Be careful to take risks. Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.
  21. Repeat yourself. If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.
  22. Make your own tools. Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.
  23. Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.
  24. Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone has it.
  25. Don’t clean your desk. You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.
  26. Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you.
  27. Read only left–hand pages. Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our ‘noodle’.
  28. Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.
  29. Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device–dependent.
  30. Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between ‘creatives’ and ‘suits’ is what Leonard Cohen calls a “charming artifact of the past.”
  31. Don’t borrow money. Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.
  32. Listen carefully. Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.
  33. Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object–oriented, real–time, computer graphic–simulated environment.
  34. Make mistakes faster. This isn’t my idea—I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.
  35. Imitate. Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.
  36. Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else… but not words.
  37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.
  38. Explore the other edge. Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old–tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.
  39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces—what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference—the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals—but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.
  40. Avoid fields. Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.
  41. Laugh. People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.
  42. Remember. Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.
  43. Power to the people. Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A reminder that nothing is impossible

When something seems to be impossible, I like to watch Kenchi Ebina's audition for American 's Got Talent. 

He makes things I thought were impossible look easy.
It reminds me that almost nothing actually is impossible.

What appears undoable might be an invitation to show your talent.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

How to grow 'Responsibility'

Interesting model on Responsibility.
  • Responsibility is not just a character trait/flaw. It's a mental process operating identically in everyone
  • The process can be observed, learned, taught, studied, developed, modeled, and practiced
  • Any willing individual, team, or organization can practice responsibility at ever higher levels 
  • The Responsibility Process is most useful when self-applied. It backfires when used to Lay Blame on others.
 To recognize behavior of yourself and others in the stages of this model can be very helpfull to start improving.

See Christopher for the complete model and more details.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Back to the 40 hour workweek

This article by Sara Robinson inspired me.

It's interesting to read how the 40 hour workweek was generally accepted right up to the 1950's.
And then, along with the success of the Silicon Valley came the idea that workers need to have passion for their work, and with passion come long working weeks.

According to Sara it's proven that working more then 40 hours a week has a great cost in health, fun and productivity.  With every week of working more then 40 hours productivity decreases.  When working 60 hours a week for a period of 8 weeks the total outcome of this 8 weeks is equal to the outcome that would have been acheived when working 40 hours a week during these 8 weeks. And in the case of working 60 hours a week, after 8 weeks productivity keeps on decreasing so you end up delivering less then what you would deliver when working a steady 40 hours a week.
( If you're working 80 hours a week, the tipping point is after 3 weeks!)

Very interesting !!

To go back to a 40 hour work week, the big challenge for modern knowledge workers is not that they have too much work to do.  It's that we want to show ourselves, our family, our colleagues and others that we have passion. That we are committed to taking care of our family and the company we work for.  We demonstrate our commitment by working hard.

So to go back to the healthier 40 hours a week, we have to convince ourselves that working long hours is not related to commitment. It's an easy way out to convince others and ourself that we are doing the best we can.  In fact, we're not doing the best we can!   We could do better by being evenly committed but spending no more then 40 hours at work.

A challenge I'm definitely taking on!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Leaderless organizations by Olav Maassen

Olav Maassen on leadership:

I dream of a leaderless organizations,
however, I dream of societies and organizations where everyone has leadership skills.
We need more leadership, less leaders

 Let’s use managers to accelerate change. They need to guard the whole process of making the change happen. As a manager it's your role to make sure that the right person leads at the right time.

Look around you… who are the managers? Who are the leaders?
And ask yourself, what process is the manager guarding?
And where to is the leader taking you ?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Another great example of story telling

A wonderful example of how telling people of personal experience is so much more powerful then sharing insight from a scientific perspective.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Precision walking

Very slow first 2 minutes, but some spectacular action after that. How can you reach such a level of coordination within a group? This is amazing. I would imagine life long friendships come from working together as close as this group.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

If you never failed, you never lived

Success comes from falling and standing up again. Time after time after time. Some great examples of very successful people and how they could have easily given up.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Some short funny videos with great illustrations of what you can acheive as a team

Sometimes a good illustration says more than a 1000 words. These are illustrations of the extra added value of real collaborating team.

Monday, February 4, 2013

African wisdom

Hilarious presentation full of wisdom.

The presentation requires a good understanding of French.

The presenter shares african proverbes and translates them to french.
Some of them I can't translate, some of them I could:
  • If you don't know where you're going, make sure you know where you come from.
  • If you know you don't know, you will know. But if you don't know you don't know, you will never know.  If you know, share knowledge.
  • Never bend over to look in someones behind, because if you do, someone else will look in yours.
  • If you talk to someone and he's not listening; Stop talking!  Listen to him!  While listening you might find out why he wasn't listening to you.
  • If someone tells you he can eat a whole cocon in one piece, let him do.  Apparantly he's fully confident about his ass.
  • Women are like coffee.  First they excite you, afterwards they work on your nerves.   Men are like melons.  You have to touch many to find the right one.
  •  All men are equal, white, black, yellow, poor, rich.  And between us live a few who are bad.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Perspective matters

Depending the perspective you have a completely different understanding.

Change is scary

Hilarious prank.   A car with no driver comes up to the drive-in window.

Look at the reactions of people.  They close the window, run away, ....

What about change?  Is our prime reaction to run away as well?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Innovation process at IDEO

Very interesting 8 minutes on Innovation.
  • With hierarchy creativity is lost
  • The more different thinking brains, the more creativity
  • Stay focused!  Build on the ideas of others.  Use a bell to signal critisism.
  • Build a prototype for the ideas that are brilliant AND buildable.  ( They're all brilliant)
  • Enlighted trial and error succeeds over the planting of the lone genious
  • Fail often in order to succeed sooner.

What's right?

Tony Schwarz writes on HBR about an easy way to have more joy.

Start asking yourself 'What's right in my life?' and you'll feel great because of all the beautifull things you'll start seeing.

Begin it!

Would be nice to try this on the job :-)  Stop it!

I consider to make a version with 'Begin it'.   Most fears lead to not being able to start something new.
"Begin it!" would be great advice.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The other person is never the problem. The problem is our reaction.

When you're angry, offended, hurt, disappointed with someone, the other is not the problem.

The other person is never the problem.

The problem is our reaction.

To react peacefully:

  1. Take a breath.
  2. Don’t act.
  3. Examine the idea you have about how they should act.
  4. Toss your expectation into the ocean.
  5. Smile.
  6. Act with compassion. 

From Zenhabits

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Great goals for great results

I've done some research to the effect of setting a goal and it's impact on the actual result achieved.

I've come up with a mnemonic to remember the essence:

In order to make a Goal really  effective, remember BEACHPARTY.

  • B - Beleivable
    • Can people really beleive in the achieving of this goal?
  • E - Exciting
    • Do people get really excited about it?  Is there intrinsic motivation to obtain the goal?
  • A - Active
    • Not thinking or beleiving, but activities lead to results.   Is the goal formulated in an active way?  Does it contain a verb?
  • C - Changeabe
    • The world changes rapidly; Can the goal be easily adapted to a new reality?
  • H - Harmonious
    • Does this goal fits in with your other goals?
  • P - Precise
    • Is the goal written down unambiguously?
  • A - Attitude
    • The main goal of having a goal is to trigger a certain attitude that will lead towards the achieving af the goal.  What's the attitude you have in mind ?
  • R - Results
    • What results will be obtained when the goal is achieved?
  • T - Team
    • Who shares this goal with you?
  • Y - Why
    • Is it clear why this goal is meaningful?
    • How will you celebrate your success when achieving this goal?
Good luck with this!
Feel free to share your goals in comment.
*Very interested *

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mob programming

All the brilliant people
            working on the same problem
                                at the same time
                                                    on the same computer !

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Agile is natural behaviour. It's not a management theory

The word 'Agile' is not worth protecting.  
On the other side, I believe you're missing an important point here;
Agile is different; it's not a complex management theory like the balanced scorecard, shareholder value or management by objectives.  Agile is simple, easy to understand and for everyone. 

Before 2001, a lot of people were already working 'Agile' for years.  They just did things like that because, to them,  it's the only sensible  way of doing things.   Then in 2001 all of a sudden thousands of people recognized their own ideas in the Agile Manifesto.

It's natural behaviour for a huge amount of super intelligent, super motivated knowledge workers.  Look around you!  Talk to developers & testers instead of managers, consultants and coaches.   Many of these guys -who do the actual work- truly don't care about the word 'Agile', but they have no choice but acting 'Agile' because it's their natural behaviour. 
It's just that behaviour, that mindset, which will last because this generation has no choice; it's in their genes.

'Agile' as a management theory might be a fad, as you say; But hey,... it never was a management theory after all so who cares.
'Agile' as a brand might not survive.  All those making a lot of money while they take a ride on the success of this brand, will find a new cool word to make their marketing stick.  So who cares? 

But 'Agile' as a concept will survive in the behaviour and culture of millions of knowledge workers all over the world.

[ This post is a reaction this post of Jurgen Appelo ]

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Our deepest fear - Marianne Williamson

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.   Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

From A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Lollipop moment - Drew Dudley on Leadership

A great call for action from Drew Dudley:

How much of you are confident to call yourself a real leader?
Only few people put up their hand when this question is asked.  Drew Dudley tells a story about why we should not put leadership outside ourselves like something you have to earn, but acknowledge the real power we have inside us.
As long as we make leadership something bigger than us, something beyond us, something that has to do with changing the world, we give ourselves reasons why it is ok not to be the leader we can be.  

Our greatestfear is not that we are inadequate; our greatest fear is that we are powerfulbeyond measure.  It is our light and not our darkness that frightensus.  (Marianne Williamsen)
Call for action!  We need to redefine leadership as being about Lollipop moments; 

A LOLLIPOP moment = A moment where somebody did something or said something that maid your life fundamentally better. 
How many we create? 
How many we acknowledge? 
How many we say thank you for it.

Leadership is not about changing the world.  It's about changing life right around you.
Leadership is in all of us!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Get ALL the work on the board

Get ALL the work on the board 
Make sure it all is visible in your burndown chart.

When using a Scrum board or a Kanban board, one of the big challenges is to get ALL the work on the board.

For me the key feature of the board is just that; That all the work that's done is on the board.  So not just the work the Team is doing for the Product Owner, but also all the other things the Team does.

So things like production issues, non sprint tasks like for your line manager or for another team, training, meetings, ....  Put it all on the board.

In the burndown, I like to make a difference between the work the Team does directly for the Product Owner and the other work that's done.

In this example Team Green has commited 50 points to the Product Owner and 10 more points of work.   Commitment on 60 points.
At the end of the sprint, the Team has burned 69 points.  47 of 50 points for the Product Owner, and 22 instead of 10 points of other work.

This kind of outcome is exactly why I think it is so important to have all the work on the board, and make sure it all is represented in your burndown.
Based on the above burndown
  • It is clear that the Team has worked hard.  No discussion on that.
  • The 12 points of extra work are an interesting candidate for retrospectives
  • Product Owner can challenge the Team on their priorities
  • It's visible for everybody what the Team does.
Bottom line, .... it's an invitation to conversation and that's exactly what you want it to be.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Beyond Budgeting in 50 words

The essence of Beyond Budgeting is to...
... work in small value-adding teams with a clear responsibility, in a value driven culture and with a strong focus on the whole (and not just some part of it) knowing that this system changes every day and everyone will have to act according to this change.  

This summary comes from my blogpost The essence of Beyond Budgeting

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The essence of Beyond Budgeting

I hear more and more fuzz about Beyond Budgeting.  Time to make up my own mind :-)

Is Beyond Budgeting the answer to a complex problem?
That's an interesting question; so here's my quest for an answer:

To get an interesting view on Beyond Budgeting I want to answer the following questions:
- Why is it called Beyond Budgeting?
- What's the problem it tries to fix?
- Where does Beyond Budgeting comes from?
- What's the essence of Beyond Budgeting?
- How easy can I start with Beyond Budgeting?

1.  Why is it called Beyond Budgeting?
Budgeting is considered one of the key instruments that determine the 'command & control' management style often used these days.   'Budgeting' is used metaphorically here, and Beyond Budgeting refers to a management model that goes further than the current, conservative, management models.   It's not just beyond budgeting, but also beyond targeting, beyond central management, beyond Command and Control...
From my point of view, they could have easily chosen a different name like 'continuous budgeting' or 'beyond command and control' or 'Collaborative management' or 'Trust driven organisations' or...

Off course, you say, they could have given it a different name, that goes for everything.
True, but in this case, I believe it's important to see some other potential names because it took me quite a while to understand the essence of Beyond Budgeting and I can conclude no different than to conclude that it's not about going beyond budgeting.   It's much more than that.

So then, why is it called Beyond Budgeting?
In de late 1990 customers all over the world became rapidly more and more demanding.  Change is happening faster every day, and many companies struggle with the rigidity of their budgeting processes.  From this frustration an organisation is born; the Beyond Budgeting Round Table (BBRT) who sets off to find steering mechanisms that could replace budgeting and help to make organizations more adaptive to change. But its members quickly realized that the answer was not about fixing a few problems. It required a new way of thinking about management. It meant designing a new coherent management model.     So they came up with a complete paradigm shift, but kept the name Beyond Budgeting :-)

2. What's the problem it tries to fix?
The problem here is not just budgeting, but the mindset and behaviour that goes with budgeting.  The real problem in this context is the 'command and control'-paradigm. Command and Control originates in the military and uses hierarchical command to gain absolute control.  As Tim Prosser puts it in his blog "when one must make 18-year-old soldiers charge, firing their weapons, across a mine field there might be a place for Command and Control. I know of no business that operates in circumstances even remotely analogous to this."  
In a business context there is no need of such rigid command and control.  Big command and control organisations excel in solving one big complex problem in an efficient way.  More and more, to survive, organisations have to excel in adapting to the market, swiftly responding to an opportunity,...  This is no longer one big complex problem.  The new challenge is to deal with an infinite amount of small complex problems. 
When young talented employees are treated as if they were soldiers, with fear, punishment and (external) reward as key motivators, a lot of knowledge, creativity and business potential is lost.
Instruments like budgeting, micro-management and hierarchical organisation structures all belong to a world that no longer exists, and are part of a problem that needs to be fixed. 

3.  Where does Beyond Budgeting comes from?
As mentioned above, Beyond Budgeting originates at the BBRT.
The BBRT has analysed multiple companies that operate completely or almost without budgets.

One of the founding examples is Svenska Handelsbanken. A Swedish bank with branches all over Northern Europe and in Great Britain. They have had no budgets, no absolute targets, and no fixed plans since 1970. Nevertheless, it is one of the most successful banks in Europe.

The outcome of this analysis is the 12 Beyond Budgeting principles.

4. What’s the essence of Beyond Budgeting?
Beyond Budgeting is a simple management model consisting of 12 principles.  By implementing these 12 principles in your organisation, Beyond Budgeting promises you more flexibility with less overhead.  This set of principles is to be applied as a whole.  You can't pick a few of them and then hope for the best.
  • Leadership principles
    • Bind people to a common cause; not a central plan
    • Govern through shared values and sound judgement; not detailed rules and regulations
    • Make information open and transparent; don't restrict and control it
    • Organize around a seamless network of accountable teams; not centralized functions
    • Trust teams to regulate their performance; don't micro-manage them
    • Base accountability on holistic criteria and peer reviews; not on hierarchical relationships
  • Process principles
    •  Set ambitious medium-term goals, not short-term fixed targets
    • Base rewards on relative performance; not on meeting fixed targets
    • Make planning a continuous and inclusive process; not a top-down annual event
    • Coordinate interactions dynamically; not through annual budgets
    • Make resources available just-in-time; not just-in-case
    • Base controls on fast, frequent feedback; not budget variances
To summarize, the essence of Beyond Budgeting is to work in small value-adding teams with a clear responsibility, in a value driven culture and with a strong focus on the whole (and not just some part of it) knowing that this system changes every day and everyone will have to act according to this change.   

5. Can I start Beyond Budgeting tomorrow?
 You could, I guess.  Read the 12 principles, understand them and implement them. It's as easy as that.  But!  It requires a lot of change.  And it's not just any change; the change towards Beyond Budgeting is a cultural change.  And that's not that easy.   So my guess is that you can start believing right now, but that it will take you some time before you can start implementing.  And after that, it'll take you some more time to make it work.

Conclusion: Does Beyond Budgeting fix the problem?
Hm....  I don't think so.  Beyond Budgeting doesn't fix anything.  It's a model, containing 12 principles that give you an alternative for standard management approaches.
It's kind of like the Agile Manifesto; Agile presents you, like Beyond Budgeting, a glimpse of how the world could be.  It inspires you!  It gives you a sensible alternative!  And maybe it motivates you to change your organisation into a better place.
In the end, as always, it comes down to 2 things: Faith and your ability to successfully change your way of working.
Personally, I like its principles and I believe many organisations would outperform their competitors if they would implement the grand idea of Beyond Budgeting.
Although I have to admit that I'm still puzzling with what’s so different between Beyond Budgeting, Agile and Lean.  It kind’a feels all the same to me.
What I’m I missing here?   Subject for a sequel blog or a comment from you …
I’m open to everything.

Some sources are worth mentioning because they give an interesting read: