Tag Archives: agile

The present war in Ukraine has reminded us how our world’s stability is all but relative and fragile. Just another sign of this BANI (Brittle, Anxious, Non-Linear, Incomprehensible) World. As if the humanitarian situation in Ukraine was not enough in itself, the rest of Europe and the world will definitely feel the earthquake aftershocks because of our ever growing interconnectedness that condemns us all to food and energy security failures and negative impact on general trade. 

The sheer size of the catastrophe is a major factor that contributes to the prevailing anxiety and adds to the confusing complexity of our nonlinear world: the multiple causes and impacts (even the yet unforeseen consequences that will or could  eventually occur). The overflow of information (information, disinformation, as well as misinformation) and the growing complexity of our world renders this situation and the whole world more difficult to comprehend, predict and control.

Jamais Cascio, the author who coined “BANI world” wrote “[a] sizable share of those of us who work in the field of imagining the future often struggle with […] a difficulty in seeing our world in anything other than an apocalyptic frame. It’s not because we want it this way, but because other framings seem inadequate or false. The danger of this urge is that it can easily become a trigger for surrender, a slipstream into despair. Through all this, we believe that we can do something to improve the situation, and if not the whole wide world’s situation, at least our own.”

According to Cascio, “for each problematic aspect of our BANI world, there is maybe not so much a solution, but a way to react, that might help us and others better manage the situation itself and our emotions and stress that ensue from it. When something is brittle, it requires capacity, and resilience. When we feel anxious, we need empathy and mindfulness. Non-linear circumstances need context and adaptivity. And what is incomprehensible calls for transparency and intuition. Everyone can do their share and extend empathy and mindfulness. As for context and transparency, we believe it is everyone’s responsibility to verify the veracity of the information they share (may it be in person or on social media). This contributes to limiting the misinformation impacting our confusion and anxiety.”

A year ago, the concept of BANI was just that. A concept. Today, it’s a reality that we all feel in our bodies. You might have woken up last week with a taste of iron in your mouth. The earth might have felt a bit shaky when you went out after you heard about the invasion in Ukraine. And now, a few days later you might be lying in your bed crying, feeling like you can’t face another day in this world. You went through all the phases of grief described by Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross in her famous book “On Death and Dying (1969).

If you have never seen a difference between something that you understand with your mind, but not with your body then this is your next leadership lesson. For example: I was able to explain “intercultural leadership” or “transactional analysis” in my late 20ies but I only experienced body sensations in my late 30ies. 

I knew for a long time that there are people who are relationship-oriented, rather than task-oriented, but I only experienced this when I went to India back in 2006. 

Last week I went from shocked to angry to crisis mode. My German default took over. I gave (friendly) orders, advice and pushed an agenda for providing psychological safety in this situation. Today I’m ready to grief and process. For most of last week I felt pain in my back and my shoulders. This is a trigger, body sensation I know too well. It’s a mix of feeling overwhelmed and anxious, feeling left alone with the burden of responsibility and having to stand up and do it anyway. Even if your voice is shaking, even if you are criticized, even if you are told to keep in your lane and despite your inner critic that tells you: “This will not end well.” and the inner Gollum (your worry monster) who also tells you “We’re all gonna die anyway, so why bother”. 

And this my friend, is when we rise.

Here are five ways to provide psychological safety and help your people stand up for what they believe in, have a voice and be heard. 

1 – The Daily Fail

My great friend Inge Nitsche, CEO and Chair of Expatise Academy is using a “memotrainer” and the way it works is that you are continuously asked questions until you get them right. The retention of this kind of training is exponentially higher than other training methods as people are told that their MISTAKES ARE GOOD

The more you get wrong, the faster you fail, the higher your improvement score and learning curve. Yes, this is frustrating, but it works. And I believe that I would like to practice that now. Because: As I recently told one of you “We’re not in high school anymore.”

I admit that I failed at giving psychological safety and it made me consider what I could do to role model the behavior behind it and how I could approach this topic with a growth mindset. I am working on an experiment I would like to share with you: Every day, I am allowing myself to admit one fail by saying or writing it down. Then I correct the mistake or I try to understand where I was wrong or on the wrong path. This is hard, because I’m used to being in an “Expert” role and it is very unusual behavior in a FEAR CULTURE but I will try it anyway, because if I allow myself to make mistakes and to correct mistakes, then others will see that it is okay to show that you are not perfect and that learning only happens in an environment where it is okay to fail even if it is just in small doses.

2 – The Broken Record 

Another experiment is the “Broken Record”. If I identify an issue that needs change, I will address the issue again and again, especially when I feel that I had not been heard in the past. This way, through repetition, I will either learn that I was wrong about my assumptions OR if I was right that maybe other people learn in a different way and that I need to give them the time to catch up. 

It’s also helpful to address the issues that you wish to flag at various angles and find friends that you trust who will help you spread the message.

3 – The Daily Agile

You probably know that this is one of my principles and for a long time one of my priorities because I am also a fan of the Agile Manifesto. So, I usually prioritize my clients over anyone else, but I also prioritize people over processes and tasks. This principle helps to focus on what is important in the moment. If you are unsure whether you should draft a contract, update your HR System or listen to an anxious colleague or team member and you apply the agile manifesto you never doubt yourself. Follow your inner guidance here.

4 – The ZEN Workspace

Without order outside there is no order within. Working from home a lot we now keep our home even cleaner than before and maintain a few ZEN practices to ensure that order is maintained on a daily basis. You can apply ZEN practices to your workspace, your desktop, your data, your filing system and your KANBAN. If you get overwhelmed by chaos, you can always work on your system and find a system or backup plan that supports you. It could even be a paper binder or a laminated checklist. Make it a habit to clean up every day. Keep order outside and clear your clutter regularly. I find this usually gives me peace and calm. Even folding the laundry or cleaning my shoes can help there.

5 – The Rollercoaster

When I get up in the morning thinking “this will be a quiet day and I can finally get a bit of admin done” there’s a high probability that the day will end up with laser swords, magic wands, and fighting the dark force. We can handle many things when we are centered and calm, but it’s better to be prepared at any time that the next crisis is just around the corner. Charge your smartphone. Pack a backpack. Wear comfortable clothes. Get fit. Be ready to run.

“Do or do not. There is no try.” 

YODA

PS: 

Join us on our journey towards becoming Jedi and sign up to get invited to the upcoming RockMeRetreat

Further Resources:

https://medium.com/@cascio/facing-the-age-of-chaos-b00687b1f51d

https://stephangrabmeier.de/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/BANI-vs-VUCA_Infographic_Stephan-Grabmeier.png

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacobmorgan8/

Do you remember the last time you actually closed down your computer only to realize how many open documents and unfinished business you have? Or do you remember the five new business books you ordered from Amazon and when you wanted to dive into them after the first few pages you got a call and then, did you follow up on that?

I laugh at myself when I look through old diaries or notes that I have taken 10 years ago or even longer. I see that my essential challenges are still the same. They boil down to finances, back pain and imposture syndrome. On a bad day, I will probably fall into the trap of telling myself the same story all over again. I also notice that nowadays when I maintain my weekly “sanity rituals” I get out of that self-talk with my inner monster Gollum a lot faster. (I decided to call my inner critic “Gollum” because deep down inside I believe that I am Bilbo Baggins’ granddaughter.)

Do you still believe that it is the agenda and influence of your manager, the loud colleague from the other end of the open plan office or your wife that stop you from completing projects?

On the surface, it is easy to blame others for what we don’t do or don’t achieve. I find it wonderful to use the “I cannot afford it” excuse in order not to invest in my education or in new clothes for example.

When you say “I do”, how can you keep yourself on track?

Here are four approaches to improve your commitment to projects that are important to you.

1) The Engineering Approach

  • Prioritize your projects with an easy classifier such as ABC.
  • Set a deadline for the overall completion.
  • Break down the projects into milestones.
  • Write a project plan that breaks down every milestone into a task and plan time for completion.
  • Do it and tick off every achievement on a daily basis.

 

2) The People Approach

  • Visualize the end result and paint a detailed picture of it.
  • Add post-it notes of people you see connected to this end vision.
  • Consider which role they will play in your end vision.
  • Reach out to them and let them know that you need their help.
  • Find two commitment buddies who will check in with you on your success and report to them on a weekly basis.

 

3) The Agile Approach

  • Focus on one project at the time
  • Pick the one that has the highest lever for you.
  • Work from the bottom up by defining what you would like to achieve in the next three weeks (“sprint”).
  • Spend 80% of your work time on this sprint.
  • Then take a week of reflection, check what worked and what didn’t and take a long weekend off.

 

4) The No-Pain, No-Gain Approach

  • Pick a skill that you would like to have and that you always avoid.
  • Invest an incredible amount of money in order to force yourself to commit (an example could be a personal trainer to follow your fitness routine, or an MBA or a course in Excel).
  • Tell your mother about it and see what happens.

 

I would suggest that you try to work with the approach that speaks to you most. Whichever approach you take you will probably notice that you are committing yourself to DOING rather than just THINKING ABOUT DOING.

What I’ve thought about before writing this was that I would like to share a secret with you. I took an important decision for next year. I’ve applied to a Masters programme in “International Human Resource Management and Global Mobility”. While the thought of spending two intensive weeks with GM Professionals from around Europe totally excites me, I also feel anxiety creeping in as I have graduated back in 97 and universities have changed a fair bit since then. It’s one thing to teach in a program and another to actually go through it yourself. I’m also considering an additional coaching education that will require funding and time. Imagine me running my business and doing a double degree in one year. I’m taking a mix of a no-pain, no-gain approach and a people approach here. Step 1 completed.

Have an inspired week!

Angie