“The single biggest failure of leadership is to treat adaptive challenges like technical problems.” -Ron Heifetz
We live and work in an increasingly interconnected and rapidly changing world. New business models are shifting duties to teams instead of individuals, which means people are now working more closely together. It also means leaders at all levels have to begin to adapt their leadership style to guide the intricacies of human dynamics and channel the collective knowledge of the groups they interact with.
In this workshop, we will explore how leaders create environments that navigate the complexity of interpersonal relationships, overcome the human element of barriers to change, and support the growth and engagement of their employees. Attendees will walk out of the room with a clearer idea of their own leadership style and a list of action items they can use (tomorrow!) to move their teams one step closer to higher performance.
Learners will leave:
- Knowing the difference between technical solutions and adaptive solutions.
- Understanding where the most typical leadership interventions fall on the adaptive/technical map.
- With a clearer picture of their own leadership style and a list of action items they can use to move themselves more toward the adaptive realm.
About The Speakers
Bryan Miles MY BELIEFS: I believe that successful teams rely on peak performing individuals. As a coach my passion is helping people and
teams discover and maximize their potential to become the foundation for high performance.
MY SKILLS: My experiences as an ORSC trained coach, agile-lean practitioner, agile coach, facilitator, and educator allow me to seamlessly combine coaching, facilitating, teaching, and mentoring, bringing teams to full empowerment. My skill set enables me to recognize the need for and serve as a catalyst of change in organizations of all types.
SPECIALTIES: Leadership Coaching, Leadership Development, Agile Coaching, Individual Coaching, Team Coaching and Facilitation, Training, Workshop Development, Engagement, Organizational Change.
Brian Miles Sure, thank you so much Cherie. Can you guys see my screen alright?
Cherie Silas Yes.
Brian Miles All right. So we’ll introduce ourselves in just a minute but you’re here for content. So we’d love to like jump right in and just kind of go for it and then we’ll introduce ourselves in just a few minutes if that’s–if that’s okay. Alright, so we’re here to talk about adaptive leadership. And I think, you know, as I was reflecting on this, and kinda get, you know — part of the great things about doing presentations is you get to really dive deep, think about them a lot, and continue to think about them and as you present stuff, revise it, and think about it some more and — so I was–I was just thinking about this, before jumping on the call, I was like, you know, why are we really talking about this and why is it important and–and so, I just wanted to start off by just, you know, covering that just a little bit and talk through that and then we’ll sort of jump in. I think for us, as we’re, as we,
Darren and I, um, you know, doing our work with client solutions, as we start to look at what’s going on in the world and looking at the companies that we’re working with, you know, what we’re finding is that, you know, leadership is…is absent in a lot of places, or the leaders are addressing the wrong things. They’re addressing what they think they should be addressing and if we take a step back, using this stuff that we’re going to talk about today, what we’re actually finding is that they’re addressing the wrong things for lots of different reasons and so we wanted to present this and throw it out there to the world and start talking about it because, uh, it’s really impactful work and I think it starts to shift a perspective a little bit, and that’s the goal today is; shift your perspective a little bit on what leadership is and what the role of leadership is, and what we should be looking at as leaders, because we’re all leaders no matter what our role is, right, um, and so that’s why we wanted to–we find this work, super interesting and this content valuable for us. So we hope you feel the same. Darren, do you have anything you want to add in there?
Darren Hoevel Yeah, and I think my only piece here is everything what Brian said, but also is, we’re pulling from a lot of different sources, and you know, between Brian ICF Certified Agile Coaching Certifications, Scaled Agile Frameworks, not just SAFe but others, as well, some of the dare to lead work, Brene Brown, and then just other things we’ve picked up along the way. So it’s, it’s sort of a culmination for lack of a better term, a lot of different things coming together. So the language may be a little different in different areas, but your, the, the intent is the same. So I think we’re happy to share it with you.
Brian Miles Okay, as soon as I can figure out how to change slides. Alright, so the first thing we want to start off with is just in the chat, just type, what kind of leader do you want to be? Just put it in the chat and I’ll see if I can open
Darren Hoevel I got the chat Brian.
Brian Miles Okay. What kind of leader do you want to be?
Darren Hoevel Alright, so I’m seeing ‘Transpor–Transformational’, ‘Impactful’, ‘Empowering.’ you know, a couple of ones, and, ‘Servant leader to others’, ‘Inspiring’, ‘Influential’, ‘Courageous’, motivator.
Brian Miles Awesome. Sounds like good things.
Darren Hoevel Intent based leadership.
Brian Miles Very cool. Okay, they sound like all great things and good words and, you know, the question that, you know, a good coaching question after that is, so what does that look like in practice? Right? *laughs* And that’s the hard thing to define is, all these things sound amazing but how do we actually put them into practice? And that’s what we want to talk about a little bit by introducing this concept of adaptive leadership today. We want to talk to you about a way that you can start to think about it differently and sort of put all that stuff into practice in just a little bit of a different way than you might be used to. So this is a quote from Brene Brown.
As Darren said we’re–we pull from a bunch of different sources, sort of, who our influences are, and-and who we love to learn from, and what we find interesting, and this is her definition of leadership. “A leader is anyone who takes responsible–responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.” So, we’d love to hear from some people just jump on and, you know, what does that mean to you, and, you know, I think this is a little bit different for most people. Um, and so, maybe, just talk about how that lands for you or how it’s different from a traditional notion of leadership that you might have heard from–heard about. Anyone?
Cherie Silas Yeah, I’d say that. Traditionally, I think people may hear ‘leader’ and think it’s the boss — the one in control, the one telling everyone else what to do — where this definition is more of helping others to be upfront rather than you being upfront.
Brian Miles Yeah, sure. The traditional notion of ‘I’m the–I’m carrying the bag–the-the battle flag, right, in front of the troops behind me is sort of different here. Great, thanks. What else?
Geeta Um, this–this is Geeta, um, for my personal experience, traditional leadership is–tends to be on finding fault versus the new way of leadership is more of ‘early failure is a good thing’ and basically, looking for the potential and trusting the human being to learn.
Brian Miles Yeah, awesome. Thanks so much for sharing.
Sri Hey, this is Sri. So what I would like to say is, yeah, traditionally, it’s more like a boss role but I would like to think a little beyond and say leader is, kind of, ‘leader is leading and I’m blindly following’ but from this definition, I would like to really say that a leader is not just who is always in the front and leading the people but always encouraging and motivating people, and letting the potential come out, and let them be a leader as well. Bring the potential out.
Brian Miles Yeah, thanks, Sri.
Darren Hoevel Yeah, and I think — this is Darren — I think one of the things that has sort of resonated me with the Brene Brown work is, it’s–it’s been a lot less, as a business owner, as a coach, and even as a leadership coach, is, it really takes the…you don’t have to worry about trying to fit yourself into a mold. This-this superhero/Superwoman/Superman approach to leadership that you-you got to fit into the tights, and wear the cape, and have a mask, um, is what you know, at least–you know, as I grew up, in my career, thought leadership had to be–you had to be this very, really wicked, smart person, or very inspiring person, and that’s-that’s hard to do if you’re not born with those traits or if you’re in an area in which you’re not the subject matter expert. What this quote is really saying is, you just got to show up and you got to be willing to attack a situation when the outcome is uncertain.
And so, for me, personally, it is a skill in which I can teach others to show up. I can’t teach you to be inspirational; I can maybe show you the way or-or-or, you know, hone your PowerPoint skills, or your speaking skills, or maybe even your facilitation skills, but, you know, it’s it’s definitely, those are things you can get better at. But to walk in a room like some people can and just inspire hundreds of people, like, you know, there’s very few people that can do that. So if you’re putting yourself on that pedestal, it’s-it-it’s a hard thing to sort of be willing to take a–to take on. However, saying, “I’m willing to see the best of others. I’m willing to walk into a situation and try to figure it out, not because I know the answer but because I believe we all can build a solution to this problem or for this need.” And so for me, that was a huge breath of fresh air. It was a great way to articulate what I had sort of been feeling and thinking, um, and, you know, you bel–it’s also, what doesn’t say here is–what it doesn’t say here is, you know, your-you believe in humanity and those around you that we can figure this out.
Brian Miles So, we want to introduce our concept. Um, it’s from a book, Good to Great, and it’s a concept of windows and mirrors, right? And I think a lot of times what we see leaders doing, and this is the hard work, right, we see leaders looking out the window and saying, “Oh, well, they’re doing everything wrong and it’s my job to fix everything and to solve all the problems for them” and, you know, the new notion of leadership is sort of rather than looking out the window, it’s really looking in the mirror and saying, you know, “What am I doing that’s impacting the people out there?” Right? “How do I need to show up differently, in order to impact my company?” You know, “How do I need to do my work, so that they can do their work?” and…it kind of sucks. *laughs* Like, it’s really–it’s hard, you know, it’s hard to look in the mirror and realize that, ‘man, I got some work to do.’ *laughs* Like, you know? And it’s tough as leaders, it’s easy to look out the window and put the blame out there and it’s, it’s hard to look in the mirror and see that reflection back and know that you have to do something differently in order to show up.
Darren Hoevel And I think the thing that, you know, if you get hired into a company to be a leader of… whatever that is — an Agile transformation, a personal development, some sort of, you know, executive coaching — a lot of times those folks are hiring you to sit there and w–using this window concept, and make observations, and provide guidance based on those observations. Um. If you are internal to that company, a lot of times it means you show up every day, you know, sort of with-with what you want the leader that you want to see within that organization, and you don’t lead that way because you want others to follow, you lead that way, because you want those behaviors to be contagious; and so one of the other Brene Brown quotes is, “Courage is contagious.” So if you choose, that is what you want this organization to represent, then you have to make the effort or intent to be that way on a very consistent and regular basis, or at least try your your darndest to do so. Um, and so that’s where we have this contrasting of–it’s also a good reflection tool, as you walk into a situation or after a situation to say, “Was I that person saying, ‘You coulda, you shoulda, you woulda'”, um, which aren’t bad reflection tools, um, “or is this a situation in which my intent did not match our impact and I need to sort of reflect on how did I show up in this particular situation?” which leads right into our next–our next slide of one of the key concepts that Brian and I have really, I think globbed on to is, “What is your intent?” and then “What is the impact of your intent on others?” and what I like to talk to people about is, what how big is the gap between the two?
Because very rarely do we get the chance to have an intent, something we really want to do, you know, servant leadership, a great one, right? Our intent in a scrum team, for those that–I think most of us are in the Agile community, is to have a you know, servant leadership rather at the Agile coaching level or the Scrum Master level. Okay? That’s our intent but how is that showing up in the organization? How are we, rather, modeling that behavior, preaching that behavior, teaching that behavior? And so between what we want to happen and how we’re landing with our audience, you need self-awareness, you need feedback, you need constant communication with the groups to truly understand how close or how wide that gap is. And-and it’s not to shame you or to feel bad about it, it’s just to show you how much work needs to be done in that area…and-and leadership is a great one, right? We need a good leader. All right.
So our intent is to be a good leader for this organization. However, when we get into situations, and production is down, and we need to get the systems back up and running, do we start shouting, you know, “We need to do this, we need to do that, and we need to do that”, or are we inviting the team to find a solution, rather, on their own or as a group. And the goal from a self reflection tool, going back to that mirror, is to be able to see it in the moment, the better we get at understanding our abilities and our impact. The more we can adjust in the middle of a situation, even a tense situation. The less mature or capable we are in that area, the more we’re going to be using reflective tools after the fact, which is still good, but it doesn’t change what just happened. And that’s where you evol–how you evolve and you’re, you know–I’m s–I hate the word maturity–but just how you evolve as a leader and who you are, how strong is your leadership foundation and your self-awareness as a part of that will be a key factor in making those adjustments. And the more trust you have within your team that you’re working with, the more forgiveness or slack you get when when maybe you missed that mark; and the opposite is true, the less trust you have, the less forgiveness and the more it takes to recover from those chasms between intent and impact.
Brian Miles So for us at Pliant Solutions, you know, as we built out and grew–have grown the company, you know, one of the things that really has stood out to us is, what is our intent? You know, what is our intent as a company? What is our intent, as, you know, people who work for an organization, who form an organization, and, you know, how do we want to show up? And so, you know, we kind of came up with our core values about, you know, what was important to us and I think our values helped define our intent and, you know, in some ways, values are very overused.
And when we hear everyone and every, you know, every company talk about values and what their values are, and, um, you know, and–but if we look at the larger purpose of that, right, the purpose of that is trying to set their intent and, you know, sometimes we, speaking from personal perspective, sometimes I do, you know, really well at this stuff, and then sometimes I just go completely off the rails, and *laughs* I’m really bad at this stuff too, and so–but knowing that it’s there to serve as a guidepost is really is really helpful, because it helps me realize when I go off the rails.
Darren Hoevel Yeah. Yeah and I think the interesting part about this is, you know, as the President of Pliant Solutions, and co-founder with–with my wife, who’s the managing member, like, we had to figure it out between–as a relationship and spouses, uh, what this looked like, and then Brian’s been one of our-our longest tenured e–uh–em–em, uh, employees, but also as part of the leadership team is, you know, you had a married couple, and then, you know, and then Brian, leading this organization, and we realized, like, we had to come up with, what are those guideposts that lead lead us as an organization?
And the bigger you get the, the more complicated it gets because you have differing opinions, styles, educational histories, approaches, etc. and I think it was great, because it forced us to come together, talk about our intense, how did we want to show up, and-and we, you know, as a leadership team, we work together and said, you know, going back to Dan Siegel’s work, you know, if you can–if you can name it, you can tame it, or in this instance, like, how do you visualize what our values are? So we sat down and created–I know, this is just a PowerPoint slide. But for us, it is a, I say a Northstar on how we want to drive this organization in the within it.
Brian Miles So we haven’t really introduced ourselves yet. So we’ll do that now. We call us the goofballs who make all of this happen and it’s really who make all this happen sometimes when we’re at our best *laughs* not all the time, but at least we try. So this is just a little bit about us, and, and you know, our values. You know, we try to bring our whole selves to work, and that phrase is also overused all the time, but, um, you know, if you take the that stuff out of it and just, you know, show up; and that’s what we talked about.
Um I think we’ve tried to create an organization with really diverse backgrounds, and, you know, people who have different skill sets, because we’ve realized that the broader we are, you know, the better we are, and so it’s been really fun to, um, jump into that, and, you know, as we’re hiring, you know, learning about people’s backgrounds, and learning about what makes them tick, and we’re saying, “Oh, w–you know, we don’t have someone who has this background.” Like, it’s really cool to bring them in and hear what they have to say and, you know, they’re coming from a completely different spot. I mean, my background has nothing to do with IT, or Agile, it’s actually in music, you know, and so I love people who can, you know, bring themselves into the organization and-and really create that-that difference in that discussion.
Darren Hoevel Yeah, I’ll just add in one little comment to that is, the more capabilities or the more diverse the folks that you bring in, and, as a leader, I realized that someone who is an expert in social media marketing–social media and marketing, I-I cannot get in the way of that, because they will probably have more knowledge than I. So it definitely sends you–puts you in a, in a position where you have to lead; you can’t manage because they know more than you and for me, that’s been a great situation. You know, Brian leads one of our federal programs. He knows more about it than I do.
So even if I wanted to be an overpowering, micromanaging, you know, person…like, I can’t, because I’ve given him so much ownership and respect for that particular program, at least I hope Brian feels this way, that I don’t get in the way. So the empowerment and trust then enables me to be a better leader, because I don’t really have any other choices. I can’t control something I don’t know about, right? At least not for a very long time, not for Brian to stick around very long. Um–but creating that environment has really helped and I think we’ve tried to do that with each one of our employees to the best of our ability.
Brian Miles So, all of that was a big setup, basically, for talking about this concept of Adaptive Leadership. I think, you know, what’s important to us is just sort of set a little bit of a basis there and set – sort of – the groundwork, and now that you know a little bit about where we’re coming from, and sort of the-the baseline that we’re working with, we can sort of jumped into the weeds a little bit deeper.
So this is a quote from Ron Heifetz. Ron Heifetz teaches a famous leadership class at Harvard and he says this: “The single biggest failure of leadership is to treat adaptive challenges like technical problems.” So of course, you’re like, ‘Well, that sounds awesome but what the heck are adaptive challenges?’ All right. So technical, technical challenges, right? These are things where the solution is already known. Right? It can be solved by an expert or authority, or some tested procedures or norms or systems, right? We have something that’s already known, we know how to solve this problem. It’s not too difficult, right? You have high blood pressure, you take the medication to lower your high blood pressure, done; no problem.
Adaptive challenges are challenges where there’s no known solution, outside the current knowledge and typically, these things can only be addressed through changes in people’s priorities, their beliefs, their habits, and their loyalties. This is the hard stuff. Right? So I talked about high blood pressure, it’s easy to give someone with high blood pressure medication to lower their blood pressure. Right? Not difficult. It’s harder to get them to change their lifestyle to you know, not need blood pressure medication to, you know, lose weight, and cut down, and change their diet and exercise, right? And so the technical solution is giving medication, the adaptive or the technical challenge is solved by giving medication, the adaptive challenge is, how do we motivate this someone to change their lifestyle, their habits, their beliefs, right? That’s much more challenging.
Darren Hoevel Yeah, I just–I-I, without getting political, COVID is a key example of this. You know, I have a 10 year old daughter who wants to go rock climbing in an indoor rock climbing place. It is both a techni–the technical solution is to hand sanitizer, mask up, and, you know, change your clothes before you you leave the rock gym. However, I don’t feel comfortable with that-that simple solution, because it really is the behaviors and habits of others that have to change in order for it to be a safe environment; not just how do you prevent it on yourself? I said it’s a fairly simple but sometimes sensitive area that has, you know, it produces definitely some challenges, but knowing that most most, most problems or challenges are not simply solved by a technical solution.
Brian Miles Right, so we need both and most, most challenges are both technical and adaptive. So we’re going to pause here for a second and we’d like to hear from some of you. Maybe think about a challenge that you’ve had at work, what was the technical part of it and then what is the most adaptive part of it? Because being able to identify this, like this — we call this like the diagnosis step — like, this is the hardest part and this is the key to this work. The diagnosis is the most important part because if you diagnose wrong, right, we’re not going to be able to move the needle and make the organization better. So just throw it out there. What are some technical and adaptive challenges you’ve seen in your work? Or at home or in society?
Darren Hoevel If you’d rather, speak up or type it into the chat. Well, we’ll take either one.
Cherie Silas Yeah, I’ll get us started. I think, technical perspective, it’s a lot of the like the process work in helping organizations adapt to Agile or adopt Agile, and then the adaptive challenge is really that cultural aspect; the way we think about the way we do work, the way we think about how we treat people in the organization, you know, the actual implementation of the principles on a practical level.
Brian Miles Yeah, thanks Cherie. It’s-it’s pretty easy to come in there and say, “I’m going to teach you Scrum. I can teach your Scrum in an hour and then you can go do it.” Right? Most of us know that that is not quite how it works. Great. What else?
Oh, sorry, I wanted to sh–I was going to share but, my bad.
Brian Miles No. Go ahead, go, go, please.
Thanks. So something I wanted, um, to share was, um, actually with my teams adopting, you know, para mob programming, which is a recent thing, and, you know, technically it’s easy to explain, and I can show them the ropes on how the activities are done, but then it’s very difficult for it to become an instilled habit for the team to really lean in and find value in terms of being, you know, developing that self initiative to form pairs and form mobs to attack problems. So that’s-that’s the uphill battle I’m facing. *laughs*
Brian Miles Yeah, right. Teaching them to do mob programming is the easy part, right? That’s the technical part and then changing their attitudes about, you know, maybe working together, or, ‘I’m not an individual anymore. I’m part of a team.’ You know, that’s the that’s the harder piece. Sure. Great, thanks.
Darren Hoevel Yeah, do you think? Sorry go ahead?
Oh, I was gonna say, yeah, it’s–and some of them are enthusiastic to be pairing but they have a hard time starting. They don’t sometimes they feel like they don’t know how to and I’m like, “Just dive right in, you guys. Just take the leap, take the jump.”, and sometimes I have to hold their hands but it’s just teaching them how to do it without me holding their hands.
Darren Hoevel Yeah, I-I equate it to, if anybody has ever, you know, just think of a two by four or piece of lumber that you’re walking across. When it’s on the ground, you don’t think anything above it, excuse me, about it but then just elevate it six inches off the ground and do the same walk across that piece of wood, which is four inches wide, but the fact that you have now a fall associated with walking across this piece of wood, then your brain sort of wraps around the axle and prevents you from wanting to try it. It’s-it’s that-that fall that people fear, the-the failure, or as we’ve talked about, um, I don’t think we’ve talked about it yet, but a lot of times they don’t resist the change, they resist the loss of knowing what to do when things go sideways. Because then–when you’re trying a new process or implementing a new process, they won’t have the same skill sets or experience to adjust in the middle of the moment because they haven’t done it before.
Brian Miles So another example that just came up for me is, uh, my partner’s grandfather, who’s 93 and, you know, is really just not in great health, but he was there a few weeks ago and he told him that he was going to take him and drive him to Florida. My–his grandfather told him this, right, and so and that he was going to drive to CVS to pick up his prescriptions. He can’t get out of bed so he can’t drive, right? So the technical solution is takeaway his key–his car keys, but the adaptive solution is, you know, it’s hard for him as he’s getting older and realizing that his, you know, he’s now has restrictions that he didn’t have before, right? That’s a–that’s more of the adaptive solution and-and working through that with him is-is the–is the harder part, right? Taking the car keys away is the easy, technical. Is this making sense as his landing?
Presentation Participant May I add something?
Brian Miles Please!
Presentation Participant I found that the most difficult thing, especially in the technology area, is when you actually find–found that you need to change the technology that you’re using for a specific product, because all you see was issues and you have understood that with a different technology, things would get better. But in that case, the adaptive methodologies…it-it’s not apparent because you are in the process of actually delivering your product, and you don’t have time to change the technology. So I haven’t found actually a solution on that part, apart from maybe working overtime to actually see what–how the new technology can offer, you know?
Brian Miles Sure, Hang–
Darren Hoevel Yeah.
Brian Miles I was gonna say hang on to that for a little bit. I think that’s a really great inquiry and a great example. We’re going to talk about some more stuff in a little bit that I think might land in that example. And so yeah, I think that’s a great, thanks for bringing that up. I think that’s, that’s really valuable. Go ahead, Darren, sorry.
Darren Hoevel No, I was gonna hit on that but I might not hold my tongue and we’ll get through a couple more of the slides that add to it.
Brian Miles So the next concept we want to present is about this is that shifting notion of leadership, right? Again, we talked about the leader is no longer carrying the flag in front of the troops, you know, to use that analogy. It’s different now. Right? So what we say is the problems lie within people and the solutions lie within people too, and it’s the job of leadership to pull those solutions out, and help people understand that they have the solution, and really, truly use a coaching perspective to, um, to lead them, right; to help them understand that they have the solution within them.
Darren Hoevel Yeah, and I’ll say a piece of this is, one of the hardest things of leadership is letting your teams make the decision, knowing that you are no longer controlling what the outcome looks like. You know what the goal is, you’re expressing that goal to your team, but then you’re relinquishing how you get to that goal by leveraging the brainpower, the capabilities, of the members around you. It’s no longer your job. Can you contribute? Yes, absolutely. Are you there to educate them on the solution? Well, then that’s not leadership. Are you there? They’ll lead them towards a solution or lead with them towards a solution? Absolutely. It’s just being aware of what you’re doing — uh, once again, what is your intent is your intent to lead or manage? If your intent is to lead, then trust that the solutions lie within the people too. It’s-it’s hard *laughs* It’s even hard to say.
Brian Miles So we want to offer this concept of an intervention map, right, and this is just a way of thinking about different inven–interventions we can take as leaders, and, you know, the understanding here, remember, is that all problems are a mix of technical and adaptive but, traditionally, we tend to lean towards the technical. So even if you look at the stuff from a technical, I would think most people are more comfortable. Most leaders are more comfortable in the blue-ish area, rather than the green-ish area. And again, it’s not as cut and dry as it appears on this and there are times where, sure, as a leader you have to manage you have to be completely in the blue; you can’t take everything from a green perspective, right? You has to be in the blue, of course, but as much as possible — and this is sort of our challenge to you is — how can we start moving more towards the green? Right? It’s not a, ‘Do everything in the green’, that’s not the answer, right, but when faced with a problem, how can we start to diagnose the technical and diagnose the adaptive, and then start to move and offer interventions that are more in the realm of the green area.
Darren Hoevel And another way to think about this, just real quick Brian on that slide, is you know, I’m sitting here in Maine doing the whole fall leaf peeping exercise with my family and Google Maps will get me to any destination. So if I plug in an address, it’ll give me exactly where I need to go and tell me exactly how to get there with the possibility of a couple options. However, if I want to know where the best leaves are changing, I have to–I don’t know what that destination looks like. I can make a best guess but once I get there, I need to observe, look around, understand the environment, look at the winds, temperatures, and then, and mostly, just look around at the area and make adjustments to my to my journey, if that is what my goal is. So Google Maps: easy, very succinct, technical solution. However, when you’re going into something with a little more ambiguity, or the outcome is uncertain, that’s where you’re going to leveraging the adaptive challenges, and especially dealing with humans or working with humans, emotions, perspectives, habits and behaviors is much more on–is all adaptive because that is never hardwired, even on those folks that you think you have figured out.
Cherie Silas Hey, I have a question.
Brian Miles Please.
Cherie Silas Um, this may not mean a whole lot, but I’m interested in understanding…with why–the difference between why you have coaching only as perspectives and actions and addressing emotions, I guess, is my big question in ‘therapy’. Is it just a technicality, you needed a word to put there?
Brian Miles Basically. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, if we think more of the notion of really like pure traditional therapy, right, it’s–I guess it’s more addressions, emotions, and past, in some ways, and coaching is more like perspectives and-and, you know, I mean, we can talk about the difference of coaching and therapy all day, right, but yeah, it was–it was in an effort to be a little bit more succinct, but I’d love to hear your thoughts, you know, and what would you put differently there?
Cherie Silas I think I would put healing emotions, because addressing emotions is very much coaching but healing emotions is, absolutely, therapy.
Brian Miles Cool. Thanks Cherie! Yeah.
Darren Hoevel Yeah, and maybe, Cherie, it’s maybe addressing your story and healing emotions, in therapy, right? You know, we tried to do a gradation between, you know, adaptive going in–traditional therapy, into coaching, into facilitation, to show they bleed a little bit. But also, just from professional awareness, like, obviously, knowing when you’re going from coaching into therapy, like we’re not licensed therapist, at least, I would say, 98% of us. So knowing when to know you’re out of your, uh, out of your lane or a realm that you probably should be seeking other help from
Cherie Silas Cool thing
Darren Hoevel Great input.
Brian Miles So this work is tough, right? This work is-is a huge challenge because it’s-it’s a different sort of level. It’s looking at things, right, from a new perspective. It’s trying to change people’s perspectives and their beliefs that they don’t necessarily want to let go of. Right? It’s really easy to be a leader who wants to stand in the front of the room and pull everyone with them and have all the right answers, you know, and the really kind of crappy part is that companies promote people who have all the right answers, right? If we look at most of Corporate America and corporations around the world, when you have all the right answers, and you’re just kicking butt, and you’re solving problems, right, you get promoted. And the issue is that that’s, as we’ve already have seen, that’s not what the world really needs right now, from leaders, we need to move towards that more adaptive realm because we need to upgrade our leadership operating system and-and so, you know, companies don’t promote leaders who are asking questions and who are trying to address, you know, the really hard stuff, and so it’s a challenge and it requires a lot of courage to go in there and say, “Hey, I think I see us, you know, fixing this technical part by implementing a new software solution, but here’s all the stuff that we need to do to change people’s behaviors and work with people on changing their behaviors, and their attitudes, and their beliefs.” It’s much harder work. Go ahead Darren, you want to take this one?
Darren Hoevel Yeah, no, thank you, Brian. Um, so I think the the key to all of this work is-is showing up. So, you know, choosing courage over comfort, because sometimes you’re gonna walk into a situation or a conflict and it’s not going to be easy, and I think the one thing that resonates me with, you know, you making the choice to choose comfort over courage is is, as Brene says, sound defined is the definition of privilege. So we as leaders, need to be able to choose courage over comfort and that’s not always..the–some days suck, right? Some days you have to do some hard work, both with yourself but also with the teams or groups that you’re working with. So showing up every day, you know, Brian, and I work together with a client and we kept saying is like, “I don’t know what work we’re going to do today but I know just showing up, we get brought into things, we get–people talk to us about things, we get pulled left to right, we get asked to do things, and it really came down to just like, sitting in the chair, not because we’re getting paid to sit in the chair but because that’s how the organization was structured. It was somewhat chaotic, but also emergent, innovative, and, you know, being there, being available, both physically but also emotionally and mentally, and like I said, it’s it’s not always easy, because you know, on a Friday afternoon, or even on a Saturday on, you know, on a holiday weekend, showing up-showing up is hard. There’s there’s a lot of easier other things to do that can distract you. So good leadership, I just want to put an exclamation part-mark on this is-is showing up when it’s–it may not be a great day to show up.
Brian Miles And are sort of analogy for this is going to the gym, right? It’s really easy to say ‘I want to get healthier, I want to make a change’ but you have to show up at the gym. If you want to do that. Of course, there’s lots of other ways to do that. That’s just our simplified analogy, right, but you have to show up if you want to do that. Yeah. So this is another quote, as you can tell, we’re Brene Brown devotees, but we love this quote, it says, “If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall.” “Daring is not saying ‘I’m willing to risk failure.’ Daring-daring is saying, ‘I know I will eventually fail and I’m still all in.’ I’ve never met a brave person who hasn’t known disappointment, failure, or even heartbreak.” and what we’re really trying to get through at this point where–is, if you’re addressing these adaptive challenges in your organization, this stuff is going to happen. Right? You’re going to face what we call, and in a second we’ll cover them, the-the challenges, right? There are challenges that crop up when we jump into the realm of the adaptive. Organizations have an immune system, you can think of it that goes into overdrive when we start to address some of these adaptive solutions, right? They fight back because people don’t really give-give this stuff up. It’s hard. All right Darren, go for it.
Darren Hoevel Yep, the illusion of a broken system. So I’m going to read this and then we’re going to sort of pull it apart a little bit because it’s–it-it didn’t sit with me the first time I read it, so. There’s a myth that drives many change initiatives into the ground: that the organization needs to change because it is broken. The reality is that any social system is that way, because the people in that system want it that way. In that sense, the system is working fine, even though it may appear to be dysfunctional, in some respects to some members and outside observers. There’s no such thing as a dysfunctional organization because every organization is perfectly aligned to achieve the results it currently gets. So what do we do with this? Do we really believe this? Can you walk into any organization, especially if you’re involved in Agile transformations, and they’re high deep and waterfall bureaucracy and top down approach to leadership or management, and do you believe this? It’s always reminds me of the coaching mantra of, you know, ‘I believe that everyone is doing the best they can with the capabilities and information they have available to them.’ Another hard one to–sometimes hard, depending on who you’re working with. So the only way you’re going to drive — I shouldn’t say the only way — with this approach is to understand why things are set up their way the way they are. So not only are you used to trying to understand everyone else’s story, you’re trying to understand your own story, as a leader, or as a change agent, you’re trying to understand the folks that you’re working with — what their stories are and what motivates them — you’re also trying to understand what motivates the organization and why certain things are in their place because before you showed up, everything was okay until this, you know, I say outsider, or, a different perspective came in to tell them, rather, there’s a better way to do it, or hopefully not, but or they’re doing it the wrong way. I think this is a–maybe goes back to that-that map or that picture of the man jump–or the person jumping from one side to the other. The intent of the organization is here, the impact is maybe way over here and so how do you address–how do you make visible the gap between the two, and then you can start working on changing pieces of the organization, after you map them to why you want to make the change–or what are the goals or initiatives they’re trying to drive. And just know resistance is going to come from those that like the way the system is currently built. Their rewards, their pay, their promotions, they’ve been there for 20 or 30 years, or 15 or 20 years, and they’ve gotten to their level of success based on this system that they’ve learned how to play.
Brian Miles And that’s a great lead in to this is the key part to this, that people don’t resist change, right, they resist loss. This is the adaptive challenge to change. Right? Someone brought up, you know, switching software, right? Well, the actual switch of software is fine, right, but what do people resist? They resist, you know, losing the knowledge that they have, maybe they’re not familiar with it. So they’re no longer the experts, right; there resisting that loss. You know, they might be able to sit down at their desk and just jump right in and not have to do any research and now that they’re using a new program, they don’t know how to use it, they have to do research, right? That’s a loss and so it’s a loss of time, right; a loss of efficiency. So people don’t resist change, they resist loss and when you are in the realm of the adaptive, this is huge. And again, pulling back to COVID. You know, just think about everything that’s sort of gone on with COVID. Right? It’s been a change but it’s also been a loss, you know; it’s different now. We have to wear masks when we go outside. Social distancing, right? People are resisting the loss of physical touch and the loss of, you know, not having to go outside and remember your mask everywhere you go, right? It’s, it’s different and this is how, you know, you’re hitting on an adaptive problem. So when you get really deep into adaptive problems, resistance comes up and in some ways, this is a great thing, because it’s-it’s how you know that you’re doing the right work, right, and there are four types of resistance that come up when you’re addressing adaptive challenges. The first one is marginalization, right? I worked in an organization where I was sort of the outsider. I was the outsider Agile Coach that was coming in and they didn’t really want me but they kind of had to have me *laughs* I don’t know if any of you have been in that situation or not. So what did they do? They marginalized me. They said, “You go over and work with that group over there and we’re just going to do what we do over here.” Right? They pushed me off to the side and they gave me work to do because I was challenging some of their status quos. Right? I was challenging some of that adaptive stuff and so their answer was, “We have this great…” you know, “We’re gonna push you off”, right? Or they say, “We have this great new program that’s coming up on board. They are so awesome and we would love you to help out with them.” Creating a diversion right? Um, attack, right? People will just blatantly attack you and that happens when you’re in the realm of this adaptive, right? And seduction, this is a little bit harder to understand but it’s really about: the people who you are trying to solve the problems for seduce you into thinking how great of a job you’re doing. ‘Well, you’re just an amazing leader, and you’re doing such a great job, you know, and, you know, we just love to have you, and-and you know, everything’s going so well, and we’ve made so many improvements, right?’ It’s really easy to get seduced into thinking, as a leader, like, “Oh, like, man, I am pretty good” *laughs*, and, you know, we want to think we’re doing a good job, and we want to feel like things are changing for the better but it can also help der–it helps derail us from what–the work that we need to do. So this is based on research by Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky, who do all this work at Harvard and have researched this — and we can share some of the resources at the end but — these are the four phases of resistance they– that they have found tend to pop up when you are doing the adaptive work. And so I can already hear your gears turning a little bit, some of you online, and you’re thinking to yourselves, ‘Man, like, I remember this time when this happened, and they marginalize me’ or ‘I remember when this happened, and they should be thinking how great I was, and I lost my edge’, right? I’m hearing–I’m hearing your thinking as you’re going through and, again, like, this is not a bad thing if you can recognize what’s happening in the moment. It’s a great thing because it’s actually a sign that you’re doing the right work. It’s a sign you’re hitting that nerve, that needs to be changed; that you’re doing the right thing. But when you–the–but the hardest part is seeing a pop up. In that organization, when I was being marginalized, I didn’t see what was happening until it was too late and everything came crashing down. Right? That’s when I looked back, and I said, “Oh, I see what they were doing” and, you know, and so it’s easy to look back and see what happened, it’s harder to see and recognize it in the moment for me, at least. Alright, I just did lots of talk and go for it, Darren.
Darren Hoevel Sorry, I was answering some chats. Yeah, so three actions for adaptive challenges — let me get these couple of screens out of here — so figuring out what to keep from the past, figuring out what to draw from the past, and inventing new ways to build the best of the past. And-and for any of you who have done training, Agile or otherwise, you always talk about, you know, going to your audience. So understanding where your audience is at — people that you’re working with the organization that you’re working with — it has a story, we talked about that, the system is structured the way the people within the system want it to. So, seek to understand, uh, curiosity, um, and then if-if you only jump to way–the way things should be, then you’re devaluing everything about their past and their current story, and so how do you have a conversation around, “Hey, I understand,” or, “We, as a group, understand where we are at. That self awareness, from an organizational perspective, we understand what works and what doesn’t work. We want to bring along with us the stuff that works, that we do pretty well. We want to discard, to make space for change, the things that don’t work and that’s how we sort of bridge the chasm between where we are and where we want to be. And then you can start having conversations about where do we want to be? We’ll talk a little bit about how much can you know the-the flame–how much change an organization can handle but really is, what is the foundation in which we’re working off of? Does it need to be rebuilt? What can we pile onto that foundation? Well, depending how big and strong the foundation is, it-it–that could determine how much change is feasible, and I think the other piece really just from a pure human aspect, right? If you talk too far away from people, too much change too far ahead, you just lose them. So what, you know, and I always use an Agile transformation using inclu–inclusion and diversity is a huge topic right now, within organizations. If you’re speaking of a world that is 18 steps away, big giant leaps away, you’re going to–everyone’s going to get overwhelmed or just think, ‘That’s-that’s way past my time. I’m retiring in five years, and none of this is going to happen before I retire. So why do I care?’ So how do you wind it back to what are next two or three steps that this group, this organization, can feasibly make and implement, now, and then having a little bit of a-a teaser, what happens after that. And all that is based on respecting the past, understanding the past, respecting it, and then having a hard conversation around what’s worth keeping and what’s not. I got ahead of myself *laughs* Go ahead Brian
Brian Miles So, it’s our job, you know, as leaders to, what we call, regulate the heat, right? If you’re in this type of organization, or if you’re in an organization going through change, or even working with a person going through change, right, you have to help them regulate the heat, right? We have to have enough heat so that things cook because if we don’t have enough heat, nothing’s gonna cook. Right? So we have to have enough heat to boil the water to cook the pasta but if we don’t, um–if we have too much heat, right, it boils all over the place, and then you just have a huge mess, right? And so it’s our job, as change agents, as coaches, both in and out of the Agile space, to regulate that heat for our clients, whatever they look like, right; to turn it up when they can handle it and to turn it down and orient them a little bit when they feel like it’s too much heat. And not only that, but we also have to sort of create the container for that change, right? We need to hold the walls of the container and make sure that the container that we’re operating in is strong enough to hold the pressure — like a pressure cooker — of that heat. Right? I know, that’s sort of an esoteric analogy but working with, you know–finding out how much people can handle; how much pressure they can handle and how much eat they can handle. You come into an organization that’s done fifteen Agile ‘transformations’, and all of them have failed, they’re not gonna be able to handle my cheat, and there’s not much of a container in tact to be able to do the work. So how can you build that container? How can you work with one or two teams and build that container and build that trust with them to say, you know, what, I’m gonna make sure that things don’t explode but we’re gonna do a little bit of cooking here.
Darren Hoevel And we’re really saying is, things are gonna be hard and uncomfortable but we don’t want to hit the overwhelming is another way to think about it, and I think Brian hits a good point, if-if you’re walking into an organization where whatever change you’re trying to drive has been tried many times before, and, you know, these-these consultants or change agents have been kicked out, just know, you’re gonna you’re gonna have a–that’s baked into their story, this organization. So, you’re gonna have to overcome that, rebuild a container, reappreciate, or appreciate, the story that this organization has gone through and where they’ve come from, and then really spent a lot of time on, what is feasible change. What is the next step of feasible change for this organization? And, you know, not part of this presentation, Brian and I have talked a lot about organizational evolution, which is a whole–a big–a mouthful, but what is the next step of evolution for that organization? And the answer is, it’ll depend on who that organization is and what they’ve been through.
Brian Miles So we want to offer…um…just a little–a few more thoughts around that. You know, a lot of people talk about and use the word transformation, right? This is not–this is not our stuff. This is from like, Marty Linsky. And they say, you know, transformation is rough, because it encourages, you know, this referential, grandiosity, you know? “I have this great vision of how we’re going to transform and I’m going to sell it to you,” right? Or it tends to be a historical, right, we’re just going to transform into this new thing and forget about everything in the past and we talked about that immune reaction, and then emphasizes, you know, “I can do it alone”, and, “We’re just going to do it all at once”, right, and we kn–as we’ve talked about through this, this is sort of a summary. of the things that we’ve talked about…um..i–it just doesn’t it doesn’t work, right? It’s really our job to move the needle, just a little bit every day, both in organizations, in teams and in people, you know; at all levels.
Darren Hoevel I would say that ‘people’ is including yourself,
Brian Miles Which is the hard work *laughs*
Darren Hoevel Yeah *laughs* So speaking of that, another thing, you know, good reminder, what does good leadership look like, and, you know, stealing from Brene Brown’s work, again, is ‘strong back, soft front, wild heart’, you know? Strong back is around understanding your values and sticking to them, even when it’s hard; confronting conflict. Not in a bad way, but not shying away from it. Soft front is, is having that empathy and understanding, both of a situation, of other people’s stories, of organizational stories. And then the wildheart is really wanting to show up as a leader and-and really emphasize or foster the potential and capabilities of others, both people and organizations, and-and as, I would say, as well as yourself. How do we drive this continuous evolution of everyone around us in the direction in which they want to go?
Brian Miles So what does this look like for us at Pliant Solutions and us when we look at clients? It’s everywhere, right? It’s not a work thing. It’s an everything thing, right? There’s, uh, adaptive work we need to do in our company, and we’re not there yet, and we will never be there but we’re still gonna try to do it. There’s adaptive work that we need to do with our clients and our customers, right? And then, there’s a lot of personal work that we have to do en–to enable ourselves to be able to take these perspectives to, uh, you know, realize when, uh, what’s going on, um, and to, you know, be able to show up, uh, differently, um, so that we can help-help our organizations…and our companies and ourselves. It’s–it’s–it’s a lot of work to do. Sometimes it feels overwhelming; I will speak from a personal perspective. So our challenge to you, right, now you know, it’s our responsibility to ask these tough questions and to pull our organizations into the realm of adaptability, right, and up our own game, and, you know, if we don’t do it, who will? You know, we now know the difference and if you don’t do it, who’s going to do it? So that’s our sort of challenge to you; to move into the realm of the adaptive to use your skill sets, to start to use different interventions, and talk about the hard stuff, and show up with courage, and it sucks. It’s hard. You get beat up *laughs* but it’s good work. It really is. So that’s what we have. We’d love to have, you know, we have some time for questions. I can’t promise answers, but we’ll at least hear your questions. We’ll do our best and if we don’t know something, I’ll say, “I have no idea!” but maybe I can point you in the right direction.
Cherie Silas Awesome. Well, um, yeah. Who has some comments, thoughts, maybe something you learned that you want to share with the group? Definitely any questions that you haven’t asked. We want to know what you have not asked. And feel free to turn your videos on so we can chat for a while.
Geeta This is Geeta. So one of the cha–from personal experiences–experience, one of the challenges I found to face at times even when you try to do the right steps to get you in an organization, to understand them, to see how they are working, and who are the influencers, and you think you’re going on the right path – you can still…step on a mine bomb, accidentally, and that’s kind of, like, the-the difficult part because there is– behind the scenes, there’s so much people talking to people, and a rapport was built beca–before you even came in as a newcomer. So you are like the foreign body who comes in, and what I saw at times with–when you talk to people, and they seem to be on board superficially, but then behind the scenes, closed doors, there are other conversations going on, and then too–basically you get a s–it could get kind of–it could–it gets like a–you get into sticky situations because of that, and that’s–I personally find is a huge challenge. It’s-it’s, you don’t even know what to learn from that. How–what could you do better? It doesn’t happen with every company but it happened to me in one of the companies I worked with, before, where I got into it-in a really sticky situation where I thought we were all on the same page but then I found out that behind the scenes, it was just people in front of me, people were nodding, and then, behind the scenes, people have their closed-door conversations to move things in a different direction. So how would you handle something like that? Maybe there’s something–maybe it’s just a skill I haven’t developed but how would you even…um…tackle something like that?
Brian Miles So I think we’ve all been there. I know, I certainly have, like, many times. Um, you know, there’s, there’s a piece of this, which we didn’t really jump into, but it’s one of the core–we kind of talked about it; tenants of this. Which is what–what they call getting on the balcony and what they mean by that is, being able to take that zoomed out approach and see everything that’s going on, right, and for me, it’s been helpful because when I…so the–sorry, the reference of getting on the balcony is like, if you’re at a music club or you’re at a dance club, which for some of us, it’s been longer than others, but, you know, you’re on the dance floor, and you’re walking around, and you’re like, “Man,” like, “this party is awesome”, right, and then you go up and look at the balcony, and you realize, like, the group that you were dancing with is only this big, but the club is this big. So you were only in this little corner, right, and you have only a limited perspective of what you saw. So what I’ve done in that situation, because like I said, it’s happened to me more times than I can count, is if I really try to zoom out and take the bigger organizational perspective, and really look at all those relationships, I’m able to sometimes see that stuff in advance and there’s a really great tool from, uh, ORSC (Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching) called con–paper constellations, where you actually draw out, like, these relationship systems, and you draw out the connections, and you draw out all of the pieces, and – in current state, and then future state – and for me, that’s been really valuable just to go through that exercise with myself because sometimes I can draw it out on a piece of paper, and I’m like, “Oh,” like, “I see it now.” It brings another level of perspective. It allows me to stand on the balcony and sort of look at it from a broader perspective and so, I’d be happy to share that with you if you reach out afterwards. You know, we could-we can run through that exercise but that’s just one thought that came up immediately because, like I said, it’s happened to me, and still does, all the time.
Geeta Thank you.
Darren Hoevel Yeah and I just, I’m just gonna add is, you know, Brian hit on this is that constellation exercise is a great way to visualize these things and, you know, I’d go back to Dan Dan Siegel’s work, he’s a neuroscientist. He’s also big in the mindfulness space. But if you can name it, you can tame it. And that’s where he talks about just from a neuroscience and you know, your self talk, so to speak, but it also works great in organizations. So those polic–political things, those, as you said, landmines, if you can somehow visualize that back to the group, what you’re really doing is putting a mirror up in front of those folks to say, what do we see–what do we all see? How do we create a holistic view of the actual system we’re trying to operate within? How politically charged it is, who’s the major, major contributors, who are the major decision makers, and you start just creating a diagram of these things, not you personally, but ‘you’ as a group; you’re a facilitator for this. And sometimes you can play the new card if you are the new person in the organization and say, “Hey, I don’t–I’ve only been here for a little bit. I’d really like to understand the dynamics of how we make decisions. I’d like to use this constellation exercise and you can start letting them build this this constellation, many different ways to use it. I’m in a currently in an organization that’s very political, a lot of super smart people but we’re trying to do Agile and none of them done Agile before. However, if you talk about, you know, CPAs, lawyers, and data scientists, they are wicked smart but, when it comes to Agile transformation, like – not that they’re not smart – they just haven’t done this piece before. So what happens is you have smart people providing opinions about things they don’t know about, because they’re used to providing opinions, because they’re–they’re-they’re a subject matter expert. Anyway, so yeah, I thought that was a great–so that self awareness that Brian talks about this-this visualization can create self awareness for you, for them, and for the group that you’re trying to work with.Also, like to share my heart, *inaudible* vocalization and being in a *inaudible* position, it’s very hard for a team to accept the changes that I bring into the table. So they have their own preconceived notion and *inauduble* those *inauduble* issues with fear, inauduble* give me the marginal, or you can say seduction on my face and *inaudble* me they plan *inaudible* in a very, very different manner. So what I just decided is, rather than being reactive, I would learn their perspective, as they cannot hold my knowledge, or they cannot hold my growth or learning exposure that I have. Is that perception what they have created for themselves, and *inaudible* they are wrong. But what I do is, I have stopped reacting, I’ve started learning and focus my energy to bring more acceptability towards the team. Once the team accepts you, things eventually Succeed?
Darren Hoevel Yeah, it’s truly the adaptive challenge here is building that trust; for them willing to be accepting of a new idea, let alone your idea. As long as the conversation is around who’s right and who’s wrong, aka your idea versus their idea, then you–it’s just–it’s just constant conflict. You add a little trust into conflict, there may be a willingness to try at least one of the three things you recommend. “Alright, well, if that works, do you–do commit to trying the next thing?” and maybe it’s not a formal contract between you and the team but as you as you build that relationship, that’s where you can turn up the heat a little bit more, with more trust that because this container is stronger, that you’ve built with that group.
So it’s not more like that be having *inaudble* kind of thing, now team and I had someone *inaudble* contributor, so there is no like clarity or something. So they don’t follow that. Now, the key is that we all contribute towards the success and then each and every aspect, I might be wrong. So what we do is for any session, we consider what are the cost points and what are the negative points for that, and based on that we think of a *inaudible* or we think of any suggestion which has the higher cost points, rather than the negative points?
Brian Miles Thank you for sharing
Darren Hoevel And, Brian, real quick, I just wanted to go back to the example that we put on hold around product delivery and technical refactoring wasn’t quite the way–I think, Alexander…or…
Exactly. That was exactly the case.
Darren Hoevel Yep. So I think thinking of the technical solution, this is an very much direct definition right of a refactoring is usually very technical. Helping the customer–the adaptive challenges is convincing your team, or your tech lead, or your product owner, that taking a step back and changing technology, or taking ultimately what you’re doing as saying, “We want to, instead of building new features, just build the stability or enhance the technology within this product that will then create, rather, a better customer experience, or a more scalable product that we can do more things for our customer in the future.” If you only have a conversation about this technology versus that technology, then I as a product–project manager, a product owner, I’m just going to be looking at how many points does this cost me and how far does that set me back from the milestones that we promised the customer? So I think Brian talks about going on to the balcony. You know, going onto the balcony for this particular product is saying holistically, you know, going from Oracle to Mongo, or upgrading the network routers, or moving from on prem to a–to a cloud solution are all similar conversations we probably all have been part of, at one point or another. It usually isn’t customer functionality, it’s a bunch of other things that enables us to do. So, that is where you, you know, what is the big picture, how do you articulate that, and what is the cost? It truly comes down to a cost benefit analysis but from a customer’s perspective, not from a pure technology, because it probably makes perfect sense to do the technology switch but having–how to integrate that into the holistic product strategy is, I think, where the conversation needs to be had. If you can convince them at that level, then the technology switch becomes sort of, of course, we’re going to do this.
Okay, it’s understandable.
Darren Hoevel Glad that helps
And I have another question. There are two scenarios that I have been through, which I’m not sure if it’s worth the effort of actually being the coach. Let me tell you two–the two examples. The first example is about being in a–in a team with lots of product owners, half of them say they are coming from traditional, let’s say management, and they are not willing to change, and they’re the other half that they are, also belong–they belong to the traditional, let’s say management, but they’re willing to learn. Unfortunately, the traditional ones, the I mean, the ones that they don’t want the things, they are in a higher rank, let’s say. So they–the stakeholders are more likely to listen to them than the other product owners. So there have been a lot of turbulences on this product and there are a lot–have been a lot of confrontations, especially about Agile about MVP, about the whole purpose. So I have this scenario. And then I’m just wondering if it was worth actually the whole trouble of convincing people to go through it. I’ll tell you afterwards, what was–what happened and I have another scenario as well, I’m not sure if you want me to tell you now or…?
Brian Miles Well, let’s talk about that one first and what I, because I think everyone has been in a probably a situation similar, and so I want to anchor some of the stuff that we talked about today and use it to apply it to this situation. So the first piece is, right, basically, the story is you have people who don’t want to change, right? So why is that? You’re never going to convince them right? Convincing doesn’t work. Contrary to what people on Facebook posts think. Right? Everyone posts their opinion on Facebook and try to change people’s mind in a in a little paragraph. Right? So it’s really about applying the stuff that we talked about today is people don’t resist change, they resist loss, right? So what are they losing by a shift to Agile? Right? It might be a benefit to go through and think about that and, you know, create a, you know, write it down. Like, what are they losing? What do you think that they’re losing? Right? Talk to them. Now, what are you losing by doing this?
Presentation Participant Right, first thing that comes to mind? Sorry to interrupt is that actually it’s their position in hierarchy because suddenly all product owners are in equal level, let’s say
Brian Miles Yeah, right, and so the reason people don’t change is because their loss-to-benefit ratio is off. Right? They’re losing more than they’re gaining. So, it’s our job, and they’re not going to change until we can equalize or tip that scale. Right? And that’s sort of the job and, um, I don’t have an answer for how to do that but I think if we think about it in a different way, and think about it in the adaptive dressing, the realm of the adaptive, you know, how can we address their losses? How can we address their beliefs? And how can we tip that loss-to-benefit scale, in the way where there are more benefits than there are losses because those losses are going to happen. You’re not going to be able to prevent those losses from happening–happening, it’s just a matter of getting the benefits to outweigh the losses, and/or getting them to understand that losing that is going to be okay, and helping them cope, you know, cope with those losses, because those losses are going to be probably, like, we can’t–we can’t fix that. Right? That loss is going to be there. So they either have to be okay with it or they have to realize that the benefits are going to be–outweigh the losses.
Cherie Silas All right. Thank you, Brian. We’re right at the end of our time now. So Brian and Darren, if you would maybe post your contact information in the chat box that’ll enable people to reach out to you after or your LinkedIn profile address that way people can reach out to you later. This has been a great presentation. I really, really enjoyed a lot of the ideas you have here. I just want to say thank you for joining us today and thank you, everyone else, for joining us. I hope that there’s a lot you’re going to take away to start considering and chewing on a bit more.
Thank you. That was fantastic. I just wanted to express that. Um, and yeah, I’m thinking about it a lot. I was wondering, is there any chance we can get a hold of the slides, because some of it was really interesting and I want to sit on some of the topics a little more