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If you haven’t had an “Agile” evangelist (like myself) hunt you down yet, here’s what to expect. We might suggest that if you don’t know how Agile and one of its popular frameworks will revolutionize your product, service, or industry, we think your company is squarely located under a rock.

Okay, I’m just kidding. But you know what I’m saying? Agile has become a jungle of tooling vendors and consulting companies selling frameworks that are implemented as a blueprint. There are too many cooks, when what we need are chefs. Let me explain…

Cooks follow recipes. Chefs create them. It’s much easier to copy recipes that work, and for many aspects of our life, it probably makes sense to act as a cook. …


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Imagine you were just invited to play a game, but no one knows the rules. What do you do when something doesn’t make sense? Well, as each player makes a move, you attempt to determine their motives and objectives. Through trial and error, you make your moves and look for acceptance or disapproval from the group. Eventually, you decide the rules and play the game. That’s sensemaking in action. In a way, you are constructing a mental map of what you can’t see.

What is sense-making?

Organizational psychologist Karl Weick coined the term “sensemaking,” and just like it sounds, it means making sense of the world around us. Sensemaking can be individual or collective, prospective or retrospective. It’s how groups and individuals socially construct the meaning of an ongoing flow of experience and create structure out of the unknown. It’s about the construction of reality and its consequences. Without realizing it, we try to make sense of things all the time so we can see and act on them. Sensemaking is a vital skill. An important benefit of sensemaking is that it helps to build shared understanding and collective action. …


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The four lenses operate in a continuum between the poles of the invisible aspects (left side) and the visible aspects (right side), as well as individual (top) or collective (bottom) aspects. If I want to describe an organization, I would use both invisible and visible perspectives. For the visible side of the organization, I can look at its organizational architecture, policies, and strategy (bottom-right). I could also observe employee behavior, practices, and habits (top-right). However, I am not able to see what people are thinking, feeling, and the values that they live by (top-left). I also can’t observe invisible norms, relationships, and shared values amongst the employees that make up the organization’s culture (bottom-left). …


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There was a time when Enron Corp. was considered one of the best corporations in the world. It was voted “most innovative” six years in a row by People Magazine. In 1999, the executive committee of Enron Corp. was conducting creative vision sessions to select a new slogan for the company. Enron was on a roll, entering new markets and growing in existing ones. But the old motto, “The world’s leading energy company,” was no longer working for them. Their top choice for a replacement was “World’s coolest company.” When asked by a reporter about their vision, Enron’s President at that time, Jeffrey K. Skilling, said, “It’s a vision of innovation; it’s a vision of creativity.” They even considered wrapping the headquarters building in a pair of giant sunglasses. For Enron, it was all about winning. Everything else came second. Today, the name Enron is synonymous with greed, ego, and win-at-all-cost mindset. Winning is a reasonably standard goal for an organization, of course. And a good one. But how you define “winning” makes all the difference in how your people work to achieve it. …


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System. We hear and use the word all the time. “There’s no sense in trying to buck the system,” we might say. Or, “ I need a better system.” It seems there is almost no end to the use of the word “system” in today’s society. But what exactly is a system? A system is a construct of different interconnected elements that make a unified whole, which together produce results not obtainable by the elements alone. Systems range in complexity, from ordered systems, such as clocks, to complex adaptive open systems such as the highly diverse and interdependent ecosystems of rainforests. A pile of rocks is not a system. If you remove a single rock, you have still got a pile of rocks. However, a functioning car is a system. Remove the carburetor, and you no longer have a working vehicle. Whether you are aware of it or not, you are a part of many systems such as a family, an organization, a society, a planet, or the whole galaxy. You are a complex biological system comprising many smaller systems. But why is it important to understand systems? …


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I will forever remember the night of May 29, 1991. Not because it was my birthday but because my dad and I watched the Red Star Belgrade accomplish the unbelievable by defeating the Olympique Marseille of France for the UEFA Champions’ League soccer crown. Held every four years, winning the UEFA Champions’ league title is almost as important as winning the FIFA World Cup of soccer. This win was forever written in the soccer history books as the single most successful moment of a nation emerging victorious after being on the cusp of elimination. …


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I have always been fascinated by the story of the Titanic, and why the ship met its tragic fate. From the architects and engineers, to the crew and passengers themselves, everyone was convinced that the Titanic could not sink. What was even more fascinating is that the denial grew and prevailed for some time among the passengers and crew as the ship was sinking. This mindset undoubtedly caused many unnecessary deaths. Since nearly everyone believed so strongly that the Titanic was invincible, they were unable to perceive reality as it unfolded. …


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Once upon a time, the Scrum Master role was an outlandish concept at the fringes of software development. Now there are thousands of Scrum Masters out there that are falling victim to several common anti-patterns that are diminishing the meaning of the Scrum Master role.

As an Agile Coach and an active member of the Agile community, I talk to a lot of people who are fueled with frustrations about Scrum and Agile. Many of these leaders and practitioners try to tell me that Scrum and their Scrum Masters suck when really, it’s about how they suck(ed) at Scrum.

I’ve seen so many organizations that suffer from poor implementations which are driven by PowerPoint slides, lack of leadership at all levels, and Scrum Masters who don’t have the passion, support, skills, and experience necessary to serve their teams and organization. What I see is more and more organizations that don’t see the value of the Scrum Master role, so they start shifting to sharing Scrum Masters across multiple teams to act as facilitators. In worse cases, the role of a Scrum Master is eliminated, and “people managers” are brought back. …


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The status quo of forcing and imposing change in organizations can only be transcended by leadership first accepting what “already is”. Acceptance is the first step of transformation. Then you can invite and inspire.

Making a positive change first requires that we embrace our genuine selves. It is the great paradox of change that sometimes the most effective adjustments occur by accepting what already is. This is certainly something that I have struggled to embrace throughout my life.

Humans have a fascinating relationship with change. There is no entity in the world that has not witnessed and experienced growth or decline. While we may ride change like the current of the ocean, we often resist it and actively fight hard against it, usually out of fear. The strange fact is that we often resist change even when we know that it will likely bring us better outcomes in the long run. There is something about the familiarity and comfort of now that causes the human mind to push back against any threat of change, whether it be good or bad. …


Improving your “skills” is much different from improving your emotional intelligence and cognitive awareness.

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The summer of 1993 was one of the most difficult summers in my life. As a 10-year-old, my view of the world was constrained to my experiences and my environment. We didn’t have running water or electricity for most of the summer. We had to walk three miles just to get drinking water. We didn’t hear from my father in over a month as he was in a concentration camp. We didn’t know if he was alive or dead. I had so much anger built up towards the Bosnian Muslims who’d kept my father from my family. My world was unknowable and frightening. It felt like the world is a jungle and that only the strong survive and the weak oblige. …

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