Agile Notes (No. 43)
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This week, we continue looking at Collaboration Explained by Jean Tabaka. Chapter 3 got me a little excited because it references 3 (!!!) of my favorite “business” books. Two of the 3 are probably my Agile “gateway” books.
Tabaka references Phil Jackson’s Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior; Captain D. Michael Abrashoff’s It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy; and Jim Collins’ Good to Great.
I would recommend Jackson’s Eleven Rings to complement/supplement Sacred Hoops. Also, now that I think about it, reading Jackson is what got me interested in meditation and Buddhism. His approach to coaching showed me there is a different way to coach. (And that if you can coach Dennis Rodman, you can coach anybody.)
I think Capt. Abrashoff taught me the idea behind stand-ups before I knew anything about Agile. Tabaka lists the 11 lessons Abrashoff learned which you can find all over the internet. All are solid. But Tabaka does not talk about the thing that resonates most with me. When he first got to the ship, he went sailor to sailor and asked them 3 questions:
What is going well?
What is going poorly?
If you could fix one thing right now, what would it be?
I LOVE this. I have used this so many times in my career. But doesn’t it look like a standup? Are you BLOCKED? And where? You will QUICKLY start developing your list of priorities to improve morale and performance.
Good to Great is still a solid book. I know. I know. Everyone wants to point out how many of the companies profiled have failed, been bailed out, etc. Collins’ research could not account for the Dot Com Bubble of 2001 and the Real Estate Bubble of 2008. It is amazing that ANY of the companies profiled survived. There are still good lessons to be learned. They STILL apply. Tabaka highlights Collins’ “Level 5 Leader” who brings a mix of Humility and Will their teams. Collins’ writes:
…a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They are more like Lincoln and Socrates than Patton or Caesar.
As I reflect here, this might have sparked a change in my management and leadership philosophy. When I was managing large groups of people, I was definitely modeling Patton or Caesar. I was still using them as my North Star as I settled into Project and Program management. It is only in the last few years that I have started to embrace the servant leadership model.
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