Fake It Until You Become It

January 30, 2013

Small changes – tiny tweaks – can lead to big changes. How would you like to make a two-minute change that greatly improves your odds of success in a job interview? Or strengthens your ability to actively participate on the job or in the classroom? An interesting TED Talk by Amy Cuddy reveals how.

As a social psychologist Amy Cuddy became interested in how nonverbal expressions played a role in power dynamics. After conducting studies, Cuddy found that certain body postures – “high-power poses” – lead to hormonal changes that configure our brains to be assertive, confident and comfortable. Likewise, “low-power poses” can do the opposite, making us fell stress-reactive and shut down.

In other words, our own non-verbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves. As Cuddy says, “Our bodies can change our minds.” She found that power posing for just a few minutes can change our lives in meaningful ways.

Become a Learning Organization, Not a Copycat

January 23, 2013

It’s not uncommon that companies copy tools and techniques used by other companies, hoping to duplicate the other company’s results that they have observed or learned about. Unfortunately, this copying is too superficial to provide transformational results. Something is left behind.

When it comes to agility, it is more accurate to say that there are interrelated somethings that are left behind. And those are the key leverage point: the mindset and behaviors of being agile.

Our behaviors are driven by our beliefs and values – our mindset – that Dan Mezick has articulated very nicely in his book The Culture Game: Tools for the Agile Manager. (Read more about the Results Pyramid in my post, Adopting Agile: Seeing is Believing.) As I stated in the close of my last post, transitioning to being agile places a focus on changing existing patterns of thinking and behavior that, little by little, change an organization’s culture.

The Challenge in Becoming Agile

January 16, 2013

Agility “…is a quality of the organization and its people to be adaptive, responsive, continually learning and evolving.”Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Thinking and Organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde
I used this quote in a talk that I gave last year at one of our Maine Agile User Group meetings, and it captures something vitally important: Agility is a quality of the people and the organization. And herein lies the real challenge with agile adoptions.

All too often we as individuals – and as collective organizations – reach for the prescriptive fix. Tell us what process we need to follow or what plan to follow, and we’re ready for action. This translates to improving by copying the practices of others, using the same tools and techniques in the hopes that we will transform our results. But we do nothing to actually transform ourselves.

A Management Lesson from an Unusual Source

January 9, 2013

This past summer we acquired a new family pet – a dog that my wife named Sammy. (And not a popular choice with our cat, Lexie, but she adapted.) He’s a good dog, and he seems pretty smart. He picked up on how to sit and play fetch without much instruction at all.

But Sammy is an energetic little guy, and he can get carried away when people come over to the house, as in he tends to jump all over them. He eventually settles down, but we thought that it would be a good thing to take Sammy to obedience school.

The trainer started the course out by explaining some basics. As the trainer described today’s training approach in comparison to yesterday’s approach, I couldn’t help but wonder about why we haven’t been as good about managing humans.

How to Meet Our Resolutions (Commitments) in the New Year

January 1, 2013

It’s a New Year and absolutely nothing happened on Dec 21, 2012 (other than a galactic alignment that did not herald the end of the world)… Since we’re all still here, did you make a New Year’s resolution?

A New Year’s resolution is a commitment – a personal commitment – that an individual makes to do something new and constructive, like reforming a bad habit or achieving a personal goal of some sort. An interesting question to ask is: What are the success rates of New Year’s resolutions?

Not great, according to a New Year’s Resolution Experiment conducted in 2007 by British psychologist Richard Wiseman. The experiment tracked over 3,000 people with a range of resolutions, including weight loss, exercise, quitting smoking, and drinking less. Out of these 3,000+ individuals, only 12% achieved their goal.