A hat tip to Tyler Jennings for the title of this post. He and I were in a meeting some time ago, along with a lot of other interesting people from Groupon Engineering. We were sharing our thoughts on team leadership and the role of managers. There was talk about how decisions need to be made close to the work and how managers need to not just seek advice, but actually provide others the opportunity to make decisions.
I was recently contacted by a colleague looking for a bit of advice.
C: "We are thinking about merging two teams together and we're not sure how to message the change."
D: "What do you think will be your biggest challenges?"
C: "Well, for one, we're not sure how the funnel flow team will respond to being folded into the purchase page team."
I think I saw Daniel Pink's TED Talk on "The Puzzle of Motivation" for the first time in 2011. I'd been reading some about leadership, management, and organizational psychology up to that point, but Pink's talk and his distillation of these complex concepts into a simple framework (Autonomy, Connection, and Excellence) inspired me to read more on the topics. Over the course of the next couple of years, I consumed a decent amount of material. You can view my Goodreads account to see what books I was reading. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to share all of the scientific articles and other sources I also consumed.
We have an application internal to Groupon called the "Love Monster". It was written, in large part by Devin Breen. There are other contributors, but Devin is the one that made it happen. He didn't do it because it was on a roadmap or because it's part of our quarterly objectives. He did it because he and others wanted something like this to exist. So he willed it into existence.
Back in May of 2014, I attended ALM Chicago. I had the privilege of closing out the conference with my "Let's Start an Epidemic" talk. The second speaker of the day was Venkatesh Rao. This was his third time speaking at the conference and I quickly came to understand why they kept inviting him back. His talk was daring, extemporaneous, and insightful. There were many pearls in his presentation, but one thing he said in particular struck me.
In 5 Tips for Building Trust | Globoforce Blog, Darcy Jacobsen suggests the following steps for building trust within your organization:
Fist to Five (a.k.a. Fist of Five) is a simple tool for measuring level of agreement in a team. Often, this is far more expedient than discourse, even among those in agreement. Secondarily, it helps to overcome “silence means consent” for teams where this may be an issue. This is not a replacement for discussion, merely a way of getting a quick check to determine if more discussion is actually warranted.
About 15 years ago, I started a simple practice with my fellow co-workers and employees. Every so often, we'd meet to discuss stuff and things. Nothing too formal, just a touch-point to make sure we were staying connected. I called the sessions "touch-point meetings". Over time, I made adjustments to the format of the meeting as various structures proved more or less valuable.
Back in April, I wrote about a practice we were experimenting with at LeanDog. I called it Collaboration 8. The intent is to figure out who are the right people to have involved in a discussion. Rather than the boss making the decision, Collaboration 8 provides a way for the team to self-select and get clarity around levels of engagement and responsibility in the decision making process. I've found coupling Collaboration 8 with Six Thinking Hats has been a tremendous boon to the self-organizing teams to whom I've introduced the concepts.
For an update on this process, be sure to read Collaboration Contract.
In January of 2012, we at LeanDog were honored to host Jurgen Appelo for his first Management 3.0 course in the US. If you've not read Jurgen's book on "Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders", I recommend it. The book is full of good advice and simple techniques for improving the way you manage. Among the items Jurgen shares in his class, I was intrigued by The Seven Levels of Authority and his Delegation Poker game.
Earlier this week, Bob Marshall (@flowchainsensei) retweeted an article by Dan McCarthy on The Meaning of Respect, where he discussed respect as a value. I then saw a blog post from Seth Godin entitled "Seven Questions for Leaders" where he asks if you would walk away from a client or employee whose values don't match yours. This weekend, at Agile and Beyond, I got into a conversation with several others about company values and walking away from clients when there is a mis-match. At LeanDog, we proudly display our company values and we often refer to the XP values of Simplicity, Communication, Feedback, Respect, and Courage.