Streams

Image by cowins on Pixabay

On this particular job site, each member of the team has a job to do. Each morning assignments are given. As each task is completed, the next task is assigned. The leader of this team must plan out each day, and give out the next part of the plan as every individual task is completed.

This approach has been in place for a while. Let’s call it the “wait until you complete this task before you get the next one approach” for lack of a better, more concise term.

To makes things even more interesting, certain members of the team became better at particular tasks. As the assignments were issued, those who were better at certain tasks were always assigned those tasks.

This system has revealed a few issues.

  1. Members of the team have developed skills, but a very narrow set of skills. They can do certain parts of the work, but not all of it. When someone is out or busy, work can come to a halt.
  2. Projects have become more complex. The work accomplished on day one has to connect to someone else’s work the next day, and it wasn’t matching up. There was a lot of doing work, then going back to fix it the next day.

Once identified, the leader came up with a better plan.

Streams. That is what we need.”

I paused to wait for the explanation.

Streams. A continual flow from the start to the finish on these various projects. I realize that by just assigning tasks, individual parts were completed, but there was no connection into the larger project as a whole. No real understanding of how these part fit together. No ownership of the whole.”

I paused again.

Streams. I could map out the beginning and the end, and let them flow through the entire part or project. I bet they would be happier. I recently heard some grumbling because when parts don’t fit together they have to redo work. I bet this will help them develop more well rounded skills . I have to go create these Streams.

Where have you assigned tasks instead of Streams? How could creating a flow of work from the start to finish increase satisfaction, performance, and connection to the whole?

Let’s try giving members of the team Streams instead of tasks and watch them develop and flow from the beginning to the end.

Obstacle Hunters

Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com

There are obstacles getting in the way of projects and progress. Obstacles on the job site. Obstacles in our offices, and workplace. Obstacles are those things (old processes, equipment, software, procedures, routines, traditions) that will delay and disrupt the workflow. Obstacles waste time, energy, and resources.

But obstacles are interesting beasts. They like to remain unspoken, unidentified, or undisturbed.

Obstacles like to mask themselves as something else.

Obstacles like to pretend they are just petty offensives.

Obstacles like to create divisions between us.

Obstacles will do almost anything to remain in place instead of being addressed and removed.

What if we took a different approach?

We could become Obstacle Hunters.

A collective agreement to stand together (side by side) to notice, track down, and find obstacles. A collective agreement with the freedom to bring up any obstacles that may disrupt or delay your daily progress. A collective agreement that each member of the team should be an Obstacle Hunter (even if the obstacle was created by leadership). A collective agreement that obstacles are hurting our progress and ability to deliver and there is no fear, offense, or worry when we bring obstacles forward.

What are you waiting for? You and your team face these obstacles every day. These obstacles will want to remain hidden from view and out of focus. It is time to start hunting these obstacles down and get them out of the way of your progress and team satisfaction.

Let’s go hunting today. Watch out obstacles, we are coming for you.

Taking Initiative

(Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com)

The session is about conflict and learning their preferred styles and other styles.

The session ends with some group work and a case study.

The case study provides a scenario and context to apply what they just learned.

The scenario describes being partnered with a peer to organize and work on a project together. But, when they arrive at the meeting, the peer has already started the project and assigned work to other members of the team.

Participants are asked to describe what they would do.

The response to this scenario has ALWAYS been the same.

“I would confront this peer about moving forward without me.”

“I would address this peer’s behavior and establish some structure and boundaries so we are working together on this project.”

“I would talk to my boss about this peer and make sure our roles are clear.”

The response to this scenario has ALWAYS been the same.

The response to this scenario has ALWAYS been the same, until recently.

This group surprised me.

“I would thank the peer for taking initiative and ask them how I can help moving forward.”

“I would support this peer and see if they need me to take a more active role.”

They went on to explain their response.

“You see, I am super busy. And just because it didn’t work out perfectly, or not exactly what I had in mind, that is fine with me. I appreciate when someone takes initiative and gets things moving. I don’t always have to be in charge, sometimes I can play a support role for what is already in motion.”

Wow.

Let me say that again. Wow!

A much different response and view of someone else taking initiative.

A response that rewards action and doesn’t take things personally.

How many times do we see taking initiative as a threat?

How often does our ego get in the way of movement?

How often do we see negative things when there is something positive to be appreciated?

Maybe it is time for a new response to taking initiative.

Just because that project, that dinner, that event was not exactly what you had in mind, can we learn to appreciate those taking initiative instead?

Let me know if you struggle with others taking initiative and if you try taking this alternative view in your own world, workplace, household, or lives in the comments section.

Emotional Baggage Check

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(Image courtesy of Pixabay.com)

A few of us were talking about how to best prepare for an upcoming event.

You know the type of event: the one with lots of people getting together, both family and friends.

As fun as these events can be, stress and other pressures seem to also arrive whenever lot of people gather in one place.

Half joking, we developed a plan.

“What if we created an emotional baggage check. You know, when people arrive, we could have them check their emotional baggage at the door.”

We all laughed, but then it hit us. What if we really did this? What if this emotional baggage check worked?

How could it work?

  1. When you arrive at the event, you are given a card, and numbered envelope, and a pen.
  2. You write down on the card any difficult or hard emotions that you are carrying into the event.
  3. You place the card in the envelope and exchange it for a corresponding numbered ticket.
  4. You attend the event emotional baggage free.
  5. When the event ends, you have the choice of claiming your emotional baggage, or leaving it behind. (Any envelopes left behind are burned and buried.)
  6. Repeat steps one through three as many times as needed.

We are emotional creatures. Those emotions sometimes disrupt events and relationships, even when we try to keep these emotions to ourselves.

Instead of keeping those emotions bottled up, perhaps the physical act of writing down and checking the emotional baggage is enough to give us a needed break from those challenging or difficult emotions.

And who knows? Once we experience events without those emotional responses, it may feel good enough that we won’t pick them back up.

The Weeds

(Image courtesy of Pixabay.com)

“You’ve got to stay out of the weeds.”

Leaders are told all the time to stay out of the weeds.

The more senior the position the more we hear this advice, and these words about the weeds.

“Let’s stay up at a 30,000 or 40,000 foot view on this issue.”

Then the advice switches to altitude and taking a big picture view.

Simple advice: stay out of the details and keep your distance.

This weed/altitude advice attempts to keep us from micromanaging the operation.

But over time, this weed/altitude advice keep removes us from the action.

Ironically, when we stay “out of the weeds” too long, weeds start to sprout, root, and take hold in our organizations.

Weeds of poor customer service.

Weeds of missed deadlines.

Weeds of a culture not focused on deliverables.

Weeds of excuses and justifying the lack of results.

We may need more balanced advice.

Sometimes get in the weeds and stay close to the action.

Sometimes you need to get your hands dirty. You need to get in the dirt and pluck weeds.

When should you get in the weeds?

When a pattern of customer complaints emerges?

When deadlines are missed?

When more time is spent justifying than solving?

Maybe regularly enough before patterns of complaints and lack of results can take root.

Gardens need regular weeding. Our organizations need regular weeding too.

If you don’t spend time in the weeds, those weeds may be the thing that chokes out your organization. Weeds make us vulnerable to losing market share, customers, and good employees.

Balancing time in the weeds and big picture thinking time will have to be a topic for another day. But for now, if you have been up at 30,000 or 40,000 feet and removed from the action; walk around, get close, and look for weeds. And when you find weeds, get rid of them.

Why I Don’t Like Working With Me (and how it explains why others don’t either)

I notice patterns.

Good patterns, and bad ones.

Recently I noticed a pattern of how often I can frustrate others when we work together.

I noticed a pattern of people around me defaulting to doing things my way, or pausing before taking action to see how I want it done.

I also noticed a pattern of how often I interject how I want things done a certain way when they start to take action.

And there is another pattern.

I noticed a pattern in my solitary projects.

I noticed a pattern of demanding perfection in my own work.

I noticed a pattern of self-criticism for any mistakes.

The other day while running with a close friend we talked about these patterns.

“I’m not trying to create such a high standard for those around me. I want them to be able to do things their way.”

The run continued. The next question exposed the underlying pattern.

“What is it like for You to work with You?”

A brutal pattern.

A pattern of unrealistic demand for perfection with no grace.

I had never considered what it was like for Me to work with Me.

My mind scanned the various projects over the years.

I still see the flaws, the imperfections, and the issues.

I also saw the list of unfinished projects, and those projects never started.

Working with me was so daunting that I stopped various projects and there were others that I could not bring myself to start.

“Maybe you need to learn to be kind to yourself first.”

The last pattern.

The pattern of fooling myself.

The pattern of fooling myself into believing that I could hold myself to a standard of perfections, but I could show kindness, grace, and flexibility to others.

But they saw the pattern.

They saw how I treated myself.

They knew they would be treated the same way.

It was time to be honest.

I don’t like working with me.

I’m too harsh, too demanding, too intolerant of mistakes.

I’m the reason why others are frustrated, defaulting to my way, or not taking action.

Where do I go from here?

I need a new pattern.

A new pattern of being kind to myself.

A new pattern of allowing reasonable standards, grace for mistakes, and progress over perfection.

Isn’t it funny how often we assume the pattern is outside of us?

What is it like for You to work with You?

How could a little self-kindness change your patterns?

P.S. Thanks for your patience in this long blog post drought. I’m working on a new website, but working with me as been rough and getting in the way of making progress. More details soon, but thank you again for reading and sharing these posts.

 

 

The Ownership Dilema

Commanding Driving Force

Ownership.

You hear the term in organizations.

We want people in our organizations to have more Ownership.

Ownership of their work, their deliverables, their customers.

We want Ownership of new initiatives, projects, and ideas.

Ownership means taking the responsibility and leadership to create something and move it forward.

But there is another side of Ownership.

Ownership can mean holding on so tightly that others are not allowed to participate.

Ownership can mean simple edits or suggestions cause an overreaction and are rejected.

Ownership can create narrowly crafted solutions that didn’t consider other needs and perspectives.

These two sides of Ownership create the Ownership Dilemma.

Ownership can stem from the need to control.

But Ownership will take control when needed and move the project forward.

Ownership can stem from the need for power, status, and recognition.

But Ownership is not afraid to step into positional authority and lead.

Ownership can be ego-centric, not letting others views or ideas into the mix.

But Ownership takes pride in their accomplishments and achievements.

The Ownership Dilemma can disrupt your organization, and we have a few tools that can help.

One way to measure Ownership is through an assessment of “driving forces” or what motivates us. One area measured is “Commanding.” This “Commanding” score can identify for you and your employees the healthy levels of Ownership, or if Ownership may become too overbearing and controlling. We can also learn where Ownership is under-developed and how your team can work to improve their Ownership of their work, projects, and customers.

Are you struggling with the Ownership Dilemma with your team? Are you wondering why your Ownership seems to manifest as control? Are you hiring and wrestling with getting the right fit and the right level of Ownership?

Understanding your own style, and your collective team styles can help you move past the Ownership Dilemma, to a healthy level of ownership. We are here to help, contact us today about how we can help you and your team better understand their styles, including their level of Ownership.