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Individuals, Interactions and Human Contracting

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Talk delivered at Global Scrum Gathering Dublin 2017.

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Individuals, Interactions and Human Contracting

  1. 1. Individuals, Interactions and Human contracting – Global Scrum Gathering Dublin 2017 AntoinetteCoet Global Scrum Gathering Dublin 2017 Individuals, Interactions and Human contracting Antoinette Coetzee AntoinetteCoet
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Editor's Notes

  • Good morning!
    A few years ago I was listening to a series of talks on Finding a romantic partner. And apparently I have been going about it all wrong all these years… One of the gems was that as a woman you should never approach and speak to a guy first, unless you want to be the one that in the relationship that forever after takes initiative. I like shy men and I tend to overfunction in relationships, so that explained a few things to me… But then, how ARE you supposed to let a shy guy know that you are interested? Wellllll…. Apparently there is this thing called a 6 second smile. Did you know that if you look at somebody for 6 seconds whilst smiling we unconsciously interpret it as interest? So I dare you… Find somebody in the room that you do not know, look into their eyes and smile and I will count the 6 seconds off… Come on, it is just an experiment. … Ready? So this is how long it is: 1…2….3…4…5…6… Crazy, hey? Or is it just me? Hands up who could go longer than 3? I am apparently doomed to either do all the work in the relationship or stay single …

    Ok, so that was a silly little experiment and I have NO idea whether it actually works, but what it does make me think about is how much of our interactions potentially is subjected to terms and conditions we are oblivious of. We unconsciously make agreements or THINK we make agreements or make assumptions about agreements ALL THE TIME. And in my work as coach I often hear both sides of stories and more often than not it is hard to believe that people are even IN the same stories! So today I would like us to look at ways of engaging with one another to ensure that we truly do achieve collaboration. Human or psychogical contracting that honours individuals, enables productive interactions, and ultimately lead to collaboration.
  • So let’s start with how we tend to look at engagements. Whether we are external consultants or take on a project or engagement inhouse, there is always the job or work itself. The things we think we are paid to do - the tasks we have to perform. As executors there are a lot of techniques we use to ensure we have a clear understanding of these tasks and if we have to come up with pricing, our price will mostly depend on the scope of these tasks. If we look at contracts in a more agile way we tend to build a contract with shared accountability for executor and client, we build in regular reviews and put the priorities in the hands of the client. But I ask you: when an engagement fails, how often is it as a result of you not performing these tasks well? Or not knowing what they are?

    For me, when it fails or when the results are not as good as they could be it is generally because there is some “stuff” that stands in the way. And sometimes it is clear what the “stuff” is, sometimes it is quite murky. I am a pretty straight forward gal, so I don’t have a problem walking up to someone and talking about an impediment, but when it gets really murky I have a strange, kinda squirming reluctance to do so. And I know from experience I am not the only one. So it is safe to say that there is more than our hands and our heads at work when we engage – our hearts need to be in it too.

    The conditions of the relationships we are forming – how we feel about one another – is crucial. And very often we never even discuss this with our client, yet this will determine the success of the endeavour. And we want to do it if at all possible, before we need to. For if things fail, it tends to be because we did not start properly. So the same way we tend to make it clear what the scope of a project is, we need to ensure we are on the same page with regards to how we work with one another on a human level.

    Which reminds me of a concept an ex-boyfriend of mine shared with me… So some background – he was Dutch. And extremely straight forward and outspoken. And not a natural at relationships. He was shy, though! So as part of his training as IT professional he would go to soft skills courses. And on of these courses he learnt an interesting phenomena ; people’s perceptions of your expertise are a product of how much they like you or relate to you and how good you really are. Literally the mathematical product. So if they don’t like you or relate, 0 * the best expertise in the world still is zero.

    So all in all it seems that the creators of the Manifesto had a point when they started it off with Individuals and Interactions, hey? For collaboration, which is at the heart of the Agile for me, is all about relationship. Interactions. And whether you are a SM, PO, AC, whatever, improving your own collaboration skills as well as being able to create collaboration in a human system is something to strive for. And there are many more moving parts in this beautiful dance than what we might think.
  • So what is this thing called collaboration? The way I like to describe collaboration is that it is the solution that did not exist before we all got into a room together. It is way beyond co-operation, which is when I agree to help you reach your goal and you do the same for me. It is when we in fact have a shared vision, a shared goal. It is when the sum is bigger than the parts. We live in a increasingly complex world. The days of a manager coming up with a solution and then having it executed by a bunch of underlings is long gone – we need the talents and energy of everyone in our organisation to solve problems and make an impact in the world. We need people to collaborate in the best possible way and leaders need to know how to orchestrate collaboration. We need to understand what the conditions are individuals need and how to negotiate that as a group in order to generate collaboration.

    There are a few prerequisites for collaboration, for getting people’s hearts, heads and minds involved :
    We have to be aligned on that singular focus
    We need to be a REAL team, which means we have psychological safety, which will enable us to speak our mind, engage fully, experiment safely, be there for one another! We will not be scared of challenging one another, since our relationship is robust and ever-changing. There are boundaries that we are all aware of and we are accountable to one another.

    So as if this is not a tall enough order within our home teams, how on earth do we create this with others in our organisations, with our clients?
  • So let’s start with looking at a model of how we sign up with somebody when our help is called for. It comes from the work of Peter Block, who had a big influence on how I personally view human contracting. There are 3 basic roles we can take on:
    We can be the expert., we can be a pair of hands, or we can be partners.

    Short explanation: Expert comes in, assesses the situation, comes up with a solution and the client says Yes, Sir, No, Sir, 3 bags full Sir. One brain at work. No collaboration.

    Pair of hands, comes in, gets told: so here is what I like you to do and says Yes Sir, No Sir, 3 bags full Sir! Still one brain at work…. Collaboration impossible.

    The 3rd way, a 50-50 partnership is the one most conducive to collaboration. How is it different from the first two? Well first of all it’s no longer only one brain at work, there is shared ownership, there is room for both people in the relationship, some freedom. And part of this is ensuring

    Explain the difference and lead into the fact that as somebody who has needs, has to make them known and agreed to. Part of the contract is the physical stuff, some of it is the feeling stuff
  • Start by contracting consciously
    Enhance your contract to add focus on the relationship and the desired behaviours
    Become adept at contracting in a human way – move from contract to alliance
  • STEP 1: Contract consciously
    Who is the real client? Who should the contract be with?
    What is the problem to be solved?

    Want to get to the real work asap. There are assumptions on both sides, but they are unspoken and most probably not matched.

    Even if you don’t yet come up with a contract that explicitly contains more human/relationship aspects, start by consciously engaging with the client. Contract for the head and the hands. Clarify who the client is, what the problem is.
  • STEP 2: Add focus on the relationship and behaviours

    Wants, needs and expectations of the client
    Your wants and needs
    Contributions and Offers
    Concerns
    When things go wrong

    Bring in Child Psychology stuff and Psychological Safety
  • Don’t think we have the right
    Unaware
    Eager to please



    Look at specifically what we need to do about agile adoptions
  • Tangible needs
    Access to the client manager
    Support from the manager
    Access to people and information
    Enough time to do a professional job
    Enough money to pay for the engagement
    Response to email and phone calls
    Commitment of top management
    YOU NEED TO BE SURE WHAT IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE ENGAGEMENT

  • Earlier this year we were asked to engage again with a small company, non-software, that we set up on a Lean/Agile path about a year before. I went in, did a brief informal assessment and together with the client we ID’d 2 areas that they wanted support in:
    They brought in a bunch of new recruits and it was not going so well, so 1 was to improve employee engagement. The 2nd was to ratchet up the use of lean and agile across the entire value stream. Some practices were compromised, there were some knowledge gaps, and the quoting and customer engagement process was still based on a waterfall way of working, so one of the real benefits of agile, only building stuff the customer actually needs, was not always exploited.

    The work for my hands had been defined. I had a human contracting conversation (yes, I practice what I preach! Sometimes!) with the MD and 2 of his manboard members who were directly involved with delivery. Done, dusted. We started.

    At the 2 weekly review meeting (we run our change initiatives Lean Change style) the meeting had 8 participants, not only the 3 I contracted with. I was surprised, but took it in my stride. I am agile, after all! BIG mistake… A week or so afterwards I was asked to observe a team planning session. One of the people I did not contract with, in this team taking on the role of PO, at some point casually mentioned that the team members should bear in mind that at any point the management team can change their priorities for the day and assign them to a task on another team. Wait??? WHAT???? Like one man the team turned to me, with big question marks on their face. And I realised it was too late… I did not have a personal relationship with the lady, we have not agreed how we would work together – she is stating a way of working that is in direct opposition to what the team knows is the right way to work and I have no recourse other than to openly disagree with either her or the team.




    Less tangible needs
    Ability to influence what happens
    Agreement not to “out” any of the client team members
    Feedback about your performance
    Openness and honesty
    Assurance that what you do adds value
    Support through tough times
    Confidentiality
    An open mind to entertain new ideas
    A willingness to hear that they are part of the problem
    Consulting when managers decide to change things that influence the engagement
    The right to say No
  • STEP 3: Move from contract to alliance

    Be authentic
    Listen for the subtext
    Watch body language
    Manage “your stuff”
    Be in the appropriate frame of mind
    Probe issues around control and commitment
    Make your client feel seen, heard and loved
    Be curious
    Genuinely desire a shared goal
  • ×