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Interpreting the Unwritten Rules - or Are They Guidelines?


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Shane Hastie presents examples of how the most innocent of question or suggestion can send teams into a spin, and suggests a number of techniques to help create an environment where real communication can happen, irrespective if your team is co-located or distributed. Filmed at

Shane Hastie is an experienced and enthusiastic trainer and coach based in New Zealand, working with teams and organisations around the world. He specialises in working with cross cultural and distributed teams. He is the Agile Practice Lead for Software Education, a Director of the Agile Alliance and is the Process and Practices Lead Editor for

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Interpreting the Unwritten Rules - or Are They Guidelines?

  1. 1. News & Community Site • 750,000 unique visitors/month • Published in 4 languages (English, Chinese, Japanese and Brazilian Portuguese) • Post content from our QCon conferences • News 15-20 / week • Articles 3-4 / week • Presentations (videos) 12-15 / week • Interviews 2-3 / week • Books 1 / month Watch the video with slide synchronization on! /unwritten-rules
  2. 2. Presented at QCon London Purpose of QCon - to empower software development by facilitating the spread of knowledge and innovation Strategy - practitioner-driven conference designed for YOU: influencers of change and innovation in your teams - speakers and topics driving the evolution and innovation - connecting and catalyzing the influencers and innovators Highlights - attended by more than 12,000 delegates since 2007 - held in 9 cities worldwide
  3. 3. Interpreting the Unwritten Rules or are they Guidelines? Shane Hastie QCon London – March 2014
  4. 4. Hi - I’m Shane
  5. 5. Which is right? • I’m still hungry • Finish what’s on your plate • What a waste of food • Your generosity is appreciated
  6. 6. How do you feel when: ▪ Someone new joins the team ▪ There’s an all-hands meeting in the canteen ▪ We’re heading out to do a team-building activity
  7. 7. Why?
  8. 8. The story of this track An innocent email “Hi both I know your track is full, but what do you think of this? He is a great speaker and he is local :-) Cheers, ” Resulted in sheer panic! ▪ Redesign track? ▪ Drop a confirmed speaker? ▪ Drop the open space? ▪ What should we do? Then we discovered it was simply a contingency idea in case someone dropped out – phew!
  9. 9. We view the world through many filters Our viewpoint is refracted by the angle we look from at any time
  10. 10. The “culture” filter 9 Arts, literature, language, food, dress, games time, beauty, privacy, values, role in society, education, behavior, motivations, fears, etc…
  11. 11. The “me” filter • Precise• Peaceful • Powerful• Playful Playful Friendly Outgoing Bold Leader Decisive Practical Detailed Tidy Mediator Tolerant Calming EQ / IQ
  12. 12. The “values” filter ▪ Learned from birth ▪ Adapted by our experiences ▪ Related to beliefs about self and others ▪ What is “right” and “wrong”
  13. 13. The “now” filter ▪ What just happened ▪ Hungry ▪ Tired ▪ Thirsty ▪ Distracted ▪ Happy ▪ Excited
  14. 14. The “defensiveness” filter 13 We protect ourselves if we are threatened We are wired for survival We respond to perceived or imagined threats The amygdala triggers an emotional response ….. Causes a defensive reaction
  15. 15. My filters are not your filters If I do not want what you want, please try not to tell me that my want is wrong. Or, if I believe other than you, at least pause before you correct my view. Or, if my emotion is less than yours, or more, given the same circumstances, try not to ask me to feel more strongly or weakly. Or yet if I act, or fail to act, in the manner of your design for action, let me be. I do not, for the moment at least, ask you to understand me. That will come only when you are willing to give up changing me into a copy of you. Taken from the book ‘Please Understand Me’ by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates: Publisher Prometheus Nemesis Book Company
  16. 16. Is it a rule or a guide? ▪ Many of our filters become rules in our lives ▪ Rules are invariant ▪ Rules constrain and restrict us to only one course of action ▪ Breaking rules demotivates and causes stress ▪ Guides give us freedom to think and act based on the current context
  17. 17. To transform rules to guides ▪ State the rule precisely ▪ Change “must” to “can” ▪ Change “always” to “sometimes” ▪ Identify when the guide matters (at least three circumstances) ▪ I must always do a perfect job ▪ I can always do a perfect job ▪ I can sometimes do a perfect job ▪ I can do a perfect job when ▪ I feel the job is important ▪ I have sufficient time ▪ The nature of the work permits it This technique was taught me by Jerry Weinberg and Johanna Rothman at the AYE conference, November 2007 –
  18. 18. Your turn
  19. 19. Some of the presuppositions of NLP ▪ You are responsible for the results that you get ▪ People do things for their own reasons ▪ People are doing the best they can with the resources they have ▪ The meaning of the communication is the response you get ▪ Feedback is the basis for future success ▪ Behind every behaviour is a positive intention. ▪ The definition of inflexibility: doing the same thing again and expecting a different result.
  20. 20. Congruent & consistent Self Context Others Congruent – harmoniousPlacating – helplessnessBlaming – attackingSuper-reasonable - obsessiveIrrelevant – confused
  21. 21. Summary ▪ We all have filters through which we look at the world ▪ There are many different filters ▪ My filters are not your filters ▪ Different is not wrong ▪ Our filters often become rules which govern our attitudes and behaviour ▪ Rules are invariant and restrict our choices ▪ Many rules should be reworked to become guides ▪ Guides give us freedom to make good contextual decisions ▪ When communicating you own the outcomes ▪ Congruent behaviour results in better outcomes for all
  22. 22. Thanks! Please feel free to contact me: ▪ ▪ ▪ @shanehastie
  23. 23. Acknowledgements / References ▪ Jerry Weinberg, Johanna Rothman and the hosts of the AYE conference ▪ Donald E Gray & Steven M Smith – drawing from the Satir Model: Family Therapy and Beyond by Virginia Satir, Publisher Science & Behavior Books ▪ Software Education course: The Power of Persuasion & Influence – ▪ ▪ Please Understand Me’ by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates: Publisher Prometheus Nemesis Book Company ▪ Lee Cayzer, Educational Psychologist - ▪ Philippe Kruchten – Software Project Management
  24. 24. Watch the video with slide synchronization on! -rules