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Your Agile Leadership Journey:
Leading People,
Managing Paradoxes
Paul Boos
IT Executive Coach
excella.com | @excellaco
excella.com | @excellaco
• What is a Paradox?
• How does a Polarity Map help us understand
paradoxical situations?
• Why L...
excella.com | @excellaco
A proposition that, despite sound (or apparently
sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads...
excella.com | @excellaco
Graphically…
One View A Seemingly
Opposite View
excella.com | @excellaco
Each side has positive and
negative aspects to it…
One View A Seemingly
Opposite View
+
-
excella.com | @excellaco
These two dimensions create
a Polarity Map.
One View A Seemingly
Opposite View
+
-
excella.com | @excellaco
• Give a simplified view into the complex nature of
people working.
• Can provide insights into v...
excella.com | @excellaco
(sticker design by Brian Marick)
excella.com | @excellaco
Local Centralized
+
-
Local vs Centralized Decisions on
Software License Purchases
• Quicker deci...
excella.com | @excellaco
Description
excella.com | @excellaco
The Downsides –
• result from a systemic issue with the work system
• typically cause problems fo...
excella.com | @excellaco
Obvious or complicated decisions leading to…
• No downsides to a selected choice if enacted
prope...
excella.com | @excellaco
excella.com | @excellaco
? Understand
Customer Needs
An example…
• What is the possible contradiction?
• Does the contradi...
excella.com | @excellaco
Our 1st Four
Paradoxes
excella.com | @excellaco
Let’s Explore Them…
Exercise Time!
excella.com | @excellaco
1. You will work in your table group. Open your envelope, this will
reveal which of the Manifesto...
excella.com | @excellaco
Let’s take some
samples…
Who wants to start?
What did you learn?
What are some downsides to
the t...
excella.com | @excellaco
• When we move from a positive situation on either
side of the spectrum, we receive signals.
• Th...
excella.com | @excellaco
excella.com | @excellaco
Local Centralized
+
-
Local vs Centralized Decisions on
Software License Purchases
• Quick decisi...
excella.com | @excellaco
Local Centralized
+
-
Local vs Centralized Decisions on
Software License Purchases
Business will ...
excella.com | @excellaco
Motion Through The Quadrants
+
-
Starting point can
be anywhere
Always goes
this direction!
excella.com | @excellaco
One Aspect of Leadership is to
Try and Manage Our Motion
+
-Read signals
Get us to the
upside qui...
excella.com | @excellaco
Sounds like a paradox
Managed Unmanaged
excella.com | @excellaco
Managed Unmanaged
+
-
The Leadership Paradox in the
Management of Paradoxes
excella.com | @excellaco
Managed Unmanaged
+
-
The Leadership Paradox in the
Management of Paradoxes
• Don’t see signals f...
excella.com | @excellaco
Managed Unmanaged
+
-
The Leadership Paradox in the
Management of Paradoxes
• Can see when a 𝚫
is...
excella.com | @excellaco
Managed Unmanaged
+
-
The Leadership Paradox in the
Management of Paradoxes
• Can see when a 𝚫
is...
excella.com | @excellaco
Context Dependence
+
-
Upsides
Downsides
Signals,
Motion,
etc.
are Context Sensitive!
Every org w...
excella.com | @excellaco
Back to Managing Paradoxes…
This looks better.
+
-
excella.com | @excellaco
We may even want this.
+
-
What?!
You don’t believe me?
excella.com | @excellaco
An example…
Working
Software
Comprehensive
Documentation
+
-
excella.com | @excellaco
Managing Paradoxes
Exercise Time!
excella.com | @excellaco
1. You will work in your table group. Using your Polarity Map, for the
downsides, what signals te...
excella.com | @excellaco
Let’s take some
samples…
Who wants to start?
What insights did you gain?
What did you learn about...
excella.com | @excellaco
1. Look at the Manifesto’s principles; pick one and try and describe
a paradox that may be occurr...
excella.com | @excellaco
Let’s take some
samples…
Who wants to start?
What are some other
paradoxes you see?
What question...
excella.com | @excellaco
Silently capture what you will do
differently when you leave today.
~ 1 min
excella.com | @excellaco
Thank You!
Keep in touch!
@paul_boos
paul.boos@excella.com
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Your Agile Leadership Journey: Leading People, Managing Paradoxes

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This is the session given at March's AgileNoVA meet-up and is intended for Agile & Beyond 2019. It was also submitted for Agile2019 in the Leadership track.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Your Agile Leadership Journey: Leading People, Managing Paradoxes

  1. 1. Your Agile Leadership Journey: Leading People, Managing Paradoxes Paul Boos IT Executive Coach excella.com | @excellaco
  2. 2. excella.com | @excellaco • What is a Paradox? • How does a Polarity Map help us understand paradoxical situations? • Why Leaders may care… • What 4 Paradoxes are hidden in plain view? (Exercise) • How do we manage these Paradoxes? • What are ways to manage these Paradoxes? (Exercise) • Q&A/Close Agenda for this Workshop
  3. 3. excella.com | @excellaco A proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems self-contradictory. Either answer feels appropriate… What is a Paradox?
  4. 4. excella.com | @excellaco Graphically… One View A Seemingly Opposite View
  5. 5. excella.com | @excellaco Each side has positive and negative aspects to it… One View A Seemingly Opposite View + -
  6. 6. excella.com | @excellaco These two dimensions create a Polarity Map. One View A Seemingly Opposite View + -
  7. 7. excella.com | @excellaco • Give a simplified view into the complex nature of people working. • Can provide insights into valid perspectives. • Can be useful for testing the assumptions. • Because it is a spectrum, we can say where on the map we desire to be. • The actual location is never static. Polarity Maps Make Useful Tools
  8. 8. excella.com | @excellaco (sticker design by Brian Marick)
  9. 9. excella.com | @excellaco Local Centralized + - Local vs Centralized Decisions on Software License Purchases • Quicker decisions • More closely meets customer needs • Licensing costs more • Purchases may not interoperate with other packages purchased • Economies of scale in purchasing • Interoperability considered in each decision • Longer lead times • Uniquely important customer needs often ignored in enterprise decisions
  10. 10. excella.com | @excellaco Description
  11. 11. excella.com | @excellaco The Downsides – • result from a systemic issue with the work system • typically cause problems for people • indicate a need for an intervention • always happen though they could be infrequent and not very impactful Why leaders should care…
  12. 12. excella.com | @excellaco Obvious or complicated decisions leading to… • No downsides to a selected choice if enacted properly in the context you have… • Trade space that may optimize to an answer or a set of answers. Basically, answers don’t seem contradictory. What’s not a paradox?
  13. 13. excella.com | @excellaco
  14. 14. excella.com | @excellaco ? Understand Customer Needs An example… • What is the possible contradiction? • Does the contradiction have an upside? • Is there a downside to understanding customer needs?
  15. 15. excella.com | @excellaco Our 1st Four Paradoxes
  16. 16. excella.com | @excellaco Let’s Explore Them… Exercise Time!
  17. 17. excella.com | @excellaco 1. You will work in your table group. Open your envelope, this will reveal which of the Manifesto’s values your table will explore. 2. Draw the 2-Dimensional Polarity Map with the two ends of the spectrum equating to the two sides of the value statement. 3. Label the two ends of the spectrum and the + | - axis. 4. Fill in each quadrant – What are the possible positives for say responding to change? Following a plan? What could go wrong when you become focused on responding to change? Following a plan? Talk about examples where you can. 5. ~3 min/quadrant in any order you want; I’ll update you on time. 6. Elect a spokesperson. What to do…
  18. 18. excella.com | @excellaco Let’s take some samples… Who wants to start? What did you learn? What are some downsides to the things on the right? (Let us know which value you had…) Give examples you may have discussed. Now what possible downside can happen on the left? (Let us know which value you had…) Give examples you may have discussed. What antidotes do we find in the other side’s upside to the downsides? Exercise Debrief ~15 min
  19. 19. excella.com | @excellaco • When we move from a positive situation on either side of the spectrum, we receive signals. • These signals are telling us to re-examine our context and alter some choices. • Failing to do this can result in an uncontrolled correction the other way. Downside Signals
  20. 20. excella.com | @excellaco
  21. 21. excella.com | @excellaco Local Centralized + - Local vs Centralized Decisions on Software License Purchases • Quick decision made that met the customer’s UX needs and increased sales • Interoperability failure – we couldn’t get sales data out and put into our data warehouse • All future software purchases approved by a central governance board after ensuring every data element can be exported
  22. 22. excella.com | @excellaco Local Centralized + - Local vs Centralized Decisions on Software License Purchases Business will make all decisions so acquiring and protecting customer revenue is a priority All future software purchases approved by a central governance board after ensuring every data element can be exported Took 3 months to find and acquire next software package; lost longtime customer that provided $8M annually
  23. 23. excella.com | @excellaco Motion Through The Quadrants + - Starting point can be anywhere Always goes this direction!
  24. 24. excella.com | @excellaco One Aspect of Leadership is to Try and Manage Our Motion + -Read signals Get us to the upside quickly
  25. 25. excella.com | @excellaco Sounds like a paradox Managed Unmanaged
  26. 26. excella.com | @excellaco Managed Unmanaged + - The Leadership Paradox in the Management of Paradoxes
  27. 27. excella.com | @excellaco Managed Unmanaged + - The Leadership Paradox in the Management of Paradoxes • Don’t see signals for 𝚫 • No proactive control of transitions
  28. 28. excella.com | @excellaco Managed Unmanaged + - The Leadership Paradox in the Management of Paradoxes • Can see when a 𝚫 is needed • Can take early steps to make transitions smooth • Don’t see signals for 𝚫 • No proactive control of transitions
  29. 29. excella.com | @excellaco Managed Unmanaged + - The Leadership Paradox in the Management of Paradoxes • Can see when a 𝚫 is needed • Can take early steps to make transitions smooth • Don’t see signals for 𝚫 • No proactive control of transitions
  30. 30. excella.com | @excellaco Context Dependence + - Upsides Downsides Signals, Motion, etc. are Context Sensitive! Every org will be different.
  31. 31. excella.com | @excellaco Back to Managing Paradoxes… This looks better. + -
  32. 32. excella.com | @excellaco We may even want this. + - What?! You don’t believe me?
  33. 33. excella.com | @excellaco An example… Working Software Comprehensive Documentation + -
  34. 34. excella.com | @excellaco Managing Paradoxes Exercise Time!
  35. 35. excella.com | @excellaco 1. You will work in your table group. Using your Polarity Map, for the downsides, what signals tell you that you are moving there? Capture these on (color) Post-Its. 4 min 2. Now what actions can you take to proactively move you to the upside on the opposite side of the spectrum? Capture these on (color) Post-Its. 4 min 3. Elect a spokesperson. Part 1: What to do…
  36. 36. excella.com | @excellaco Let’s take some samples… Who wants to start? What insights did you gain? What did you learn about signals to look for..? How can you use them? What actions can you take? (Remind us which value you had…) Give any examples you may have discussed. Exercise Debrief ~10 min
  37. 37. excella.com | @excellaco 1. Look at the Manifesto’s principles; pick one and try and describe a paradox that may be occurring within it. You only need to describe the two ends of the spectrum. 2 min 2. Elect a spokesperson. Part 2: What to do…
  38. 38. excella.com | @excellaco Let’s take some samples… Who wants to start? What are some other paradoxes you see? What questions do you have? Exercise Debrief ~10 min
  39. 39. excella.com | @excellaco Silently capture what you will do differently when you leave today. ~ 1 min
  40. 40. excella.com | @excellaco Thank You! Keep in touch! @paul_boos paul.boos@excella.com

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