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Innovate, adapt and deliver through lasting cultural change.

 

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The new competitive advantage is the ability to anticipate, respond and adapt to change.

Stop and Watch – Coaching for behaviour

By | Agile, coaching, Development | No Comments

 

Attending the Melbourne Lean Coffee meet up a couple of weeks ago I picked up a little coaching gem from an attendee that I’m keen to try out, despite it hinging on a sporting metaphor for work, which I’m usually strongly opposed to – teams working together is rarely akin to a game of two halves.

The story in question came from Lean Coffee attendee  Daniel Ploeg, who was amongst a whole bunch of parents being coached on how to coach a junior soccer team by observing an expert coach and the example goes like this:

The kids were milling about playing and the expert coach noticed one kid running into ‘open space’ this is something you apparently want to encourage in your soccer players as it creates opportunities to collect passes.

Daniel’s instinct was to encourage the good tactics by shouting out ‘Well done Tommy!’ to the player while play continued however the expert coach did something else. He stopped the whole practice game, and explained to all the players what Tommy was doing and why it was good, he then restarted the game telling the players to watch how Tommy was running into open space.

This created more ‘level up’ opportunities in the following ways:

– Tommy was positively rewarded for his behaviour as all players had stopped to focus on his good tactics

– All players were able to see the ‘ideal’ tactics in action and could therefore mimic the same behaviour themselves

– When the game re-started all players started to running into ‘open space’ themselves; the entire team’s level up opportunity was increased in this moment

– And the final kicker – pun intended – all players saw that trying aspirational tactics is rewarded with positive recognition in this team

 

Applying this model to the world of work as a coach of delivery teams really got me thinking. How could we implement that ‘stop and watch’ behaviour when coaching teams of people and how could we use this approach to encourage the modelling of positive behaviours at work?

I can think of a few scenarios:

– At your daily stand up you could mention a behavior that you saw the previous day, and ask the person to talk or show the team right after the stand up.

– In any of the team sessions you run you can be looking out for contributions that are desired behaviour, stop the action to acknowledge the contribution or even ask for the contribution be repeated for the group so everyone picks up that behaviour

–  If you’re a person that likes to mix approaches to your Retrospectives, you could ask the team to identify good behaviours (coding, planning approaches, work practices or collaborating) that they have seen during the sprint and spotlight those individuals asking them to elaborate on that behaviour for the team.

– And what about stopping everyone in the middle of their day to spotlight something great?  “Hey! Great thing happening over here everyone! Come and check out what your team member is doing!” Perhaps that would be a bit disruptive, but maybe not? I can imagine a lot of teams I work with mentioning  this kind of thing in a Slack channel as a somewhat quieter alternative.

Do we shy away from stopping the action in order to focus and amplify great behaviours at work? How might that be preventing the team from building on desired behaviours? Will that stop a team dare to achieve aspirational goals? Are you brave enough to stop the flow of output in order to create a learning opportunity?

As a coach and a leader it can feel counter intuitive to single out individuals, I often hold back not wanting to create competition that I feel can be detrimental to team gel, but the expert soccer coach example illustrated more positive ways to achieve this and level up the whole team in the same moment.

Since then I have set my radar to observing positive behaviours in team settings, why not try it, and go one step further; Stop and Watch those behaviours with your team?

My final take-away from the session was how ‘levelled up’ I felt attending the Melbourne Lean Coffee and how I increased my knowledge both by observing and listening, and also by contributing my ideas, that were formed into new ideas, and built upon on the spot. I highly recommend you add these kind of sessions to your own curriculum of learning.

Melbourne Lean coffee meet-up https://www.meetup.com/Melbourne-Lean-Coffee/

Just like Bruce Lee

By | Agile, Food for thought, Organisation | No Comments

Just finished reading Dan Olsen’s book “The Lean Product Playbook”, after hearing him speak at the Leading the Product conference in Melbourne last week (his book is now firmly on our Luna Tractor MBA and available to borrow if you’re that way inclined). Other than being a damn fine guide on how to do “good product”, he made a good point early on in the book about learning a process and then customising it to make it your own.

Bruce Lee, philosopher and butt kicker

Bruce Lee, philosopher and butt kicker (from: goodwp.com)

He used the words of Bruce Lee to make his point:

“Obey the principles without being bound by them.” and “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”

Firstly, quoting Bruce Lee is super cool. But beyond that, who’d have thought that us 21st century worker-bees could gain wisdom from a man most of us only know as a butt-kicking, strong and silent, hero type?

Olsen likened the learning of the process he had created to be similar to karate drills that students learn and practice on their path to a black belt. Once learned, it’s possible to move things around, “mix, match, and modify” to create something more your own.

The idea of learning something and then building on and improving it to make it your own resonates for me when introducing methodologies like Agile or Lean into an organisation.

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A nuclear submarine without orders

By | Communication, Organisation, People | No Comments
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A visit to Baum Cycles – Darren Baum, fellow bicycle fan David Marquet and JP.

We know innovation often happens in unlikely places and creativity thrives on constraints. Last year one of the great people we spent some time with was retired nuclear submarine captain David Marquet. I don’t want to spoil the whole story, for that you need to read the book. But … within the confines of a long metal tube full of people and a nuclear reactor which stays underwater for 3 months at a time he ended up learning a bunch of really important stuff about people, models of leadership and how we move on from command and control.

“Leadership has changed from command and control to engage and enrol” — Steve Denning

Convincing leaders that we need to move on from command and control is the first step. Sometimes that’s easy, sometimes it’s hard. The next part, the changing part is always hard. If our people and organisations are conditioned to work in a strict heirachy then it’s not as simple as just giving that structure up and ’empowering’ everyone to make their own decisions. Like any new skill we need to learn how to work in a new way a little bit at a time.

David describes this challenge for leaders as slowly giving up control as you build capability and context in your teams. One of the practical approaches they developed was a model of communication called the ladder of leadership. We don’t start by trying to take the other person we’re communicating with (boss or subordinate) the whole way, but just to step one run up the ladder.

the-ladder-of-leadership-capt-marquetI ask my boss – “Tell me what to do about the problem with marketing ?” – instead of telling me what to do my boss says “Tell me what you think about the problem with marketing ?” … And so-on up the ladder over time and interactions until I’ve built up the capability and context to make a good decision independently. Engaged and enrolled.

Perspective Matters

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When we study physics one of the interesting concepts to get your head around is the concept that your frame of reference, often referred to as just the reference frame, changes things a lot.

If we are zooming through space next to the Voyager II probe as it exits the solar system from our frame of reference Voyager would appear stationary and the sun and planets would appear to be zooming away at 17.5km per second.  The question is, which is moving, Voyager II or the Solar System ?

Voyager II

The answer ? Well it’s all relative.

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Human Factors Courses

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Throughout the year we run a series of invite only Human Factors Courses using the PCM methodology developed at NASA.  Please get in touch if you would like to know more and book a place.

What is the Process Communication Model (PCM) ?

PCM is a scientifically-validated toolset developed in partnership with NASA to help individuals better manage themselves and others, translating potential in to performance. PCM is accredited by the Australian Colleges of Surgeons and Anaesthetists, Paediatricians, and General Practitioners.

We use PCM as a foundation of our Human Factors practice at Luna Tractor by teaching skills and not rules so that you can:

  • Decode behaviour and assess personality traits.
  • Even better connect and communicate by winning motivation and co-operation.
  • Prevent, manage and resolve conflict.

Our personal experience working with a range of organisations is that it’s a potent multiplier for the Agile, Lean and Systems Thinking approaches we also teach — the other side of the coin if you like.  We need to solve for People AND Systems.

The three days cover not only an introduction to PCM but active skills development to ensure you leave with ability to better connect and communicate with others.  Lots of time for questions, practice and understanding.  Contact Luna Tractor with questions or for more information.

Strategy, forecasting and human factors.

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There’s not a lot of room for a fixed mindset in problem solving or innovation.

With that in mind, the LT team tend to view ourselves as specialist generalists, and over the last 9 months one of the things that has continually surprised me is the similarity of the processes we apply in our various specialties. I’ve found documents we’ve worked on where I could substitute ways of working terms for human factors terms and not change a thing more. It’s validated my belief that in times of change and innovation, it’s not content of your knowledge, but your ability to process and apply it to novel opportunity.

Scientific research is in a similar transition,and it’s exciting to see a lot of robust science being published supporting that approach, and the methods we’ve been using in projects, which I discussed a little back here. Read More

Technical and Non-Technical Capability: which lever are you reaching for?

By | Communication, People | No Comments

If you’ve read the news recently, you may well have been struck by the tragic absurdity of TransAsia flight GE235, which crashed shortly after take off.

42 people died after Captain Liao Jian-Zong accidentally shut down the plane’s sole remaining engine after the other engine failed on take off – an occurrence common enough to be specifically trained and tested for at regular pilot certification. Black box records reveal the pilot’s last words to have been: ‘Wow. I pulled back the wrong side of the throttle’.

Contrast this with 2009’s flight US1549, where Captain ‘Sully’ Sullenberger successfully ditched a much larger aircraft in the Hudson River, with no loss of life.

View YouTube clip

Both pilots had extensive military experience and technical training in the skills to safely respond to the emergencies facing them – so what went wrong?

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Perspective

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June 3, 1965, Edward H. White II became the first American to step outside his spacecraft. (via NASA)

Today NASA is celebrating 50 years of space walks and has published this beautiful gallery of images – One reason we love Space so much here at Luna HQ is the sense of scale and perspective it provides.  Imagine how it must have felt for Edward White to float in space, outside the cramped confines of a Gemini capsule for the first time.

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Apollo 15 lunar roving with Mount Hadley in the background.

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Almost 20 years later on Feb 12, 1984, astronaut Bruce McCandless, ventured further away from the confines and safety of his ship than any previous astronaut had ever been using a nitrogen jet propelled backpack.

Now imagine being Bruce McCandleuss floating in space, untethered, further away from safety than any human in history looking down at the whole earth.  How do we dig ourselves out of the every day details and find this kinda of perspective for ourselves, for our projects and for our world ?

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” – Einstein

Hasten Slowly

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“Hasten Slowly.”

Early in my life someone told me this, and I wish I could remember who — I’ve always been naturally impatient. When we teach people who want to mountain bike fast we give them a  similar paradox: “Slow down, slow is smooth and smooth is fast”. You get faster by first learning to go slow.

This week the Luna HQ has been rather enraptured by the ESA Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Seeing live images (well only delayed by 28 mins; speed of light reality) of Philae detaching and then eventually landing with a couple of bounces on a comet 500,000,000km away from Earth is genuinely remarkable. Sending back images, taking samples and drilling on a comet! It was hard not to feel some emotion when the little guy’s batteries ran out last night.

Rosetta_Philae_Artist_Impression_Close_595w

A few glorious days of science experiments which took over 20 years to prepare for. The mission had been discussed since the late 70s and was formally kicked off in 1993; 11 years later it launched in 2004. One of the great joys for me watching the footage was seeing a number of old men sitting the background at the ESA watching the separation and landing live just like us. I like to think they made or designed parts perhaps some 20 years earlier and were finally seeing the fruits of their labour. Many great and hard problems are like this — contributions from many people, often world class in their own particular field, building up to remarkable achievements as a whole. Read More

We go to the source of the problem. So that we understand the problem.

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The new competitive advantage is the ability to anticipate, respond and adapt to change.

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