Tipping Point Leadership

tipping-point-leadership
It is never easy to execute a strategic shift, and doing it fast with limited resources is even more difficult. Yet our research suggests that it can be achieved by leveraging tipping point leadership. By consciously addressing the hurdles to strategy execution and focusing on factors of disproportionate influence, you too can knock them over to actualize a strategic shift.
…building a culture of trust, commitment, and voluntary cooperation in its execution, as well as support for the leader…
Focus on three factors of disproportionate influence in motivating employees, what we call kingpinsfishbowl management, and atomization.
  • Zoom in on Kingpins—concentrate your efforts on kingpins, the key influencers in the organization; natural leaders, who are well respected and persuasive, or who have an ability to unlock or block access to key resources;
  • Place Kingpins in a Fishbowl to greatly raise the stakes of inaction—shine a spotlight on their actions in a repeated and highly visible way. Light is shined on who is lagging behind, and a fair stage is set for rapid change agents to shine. For fishbowl management to work it must be based on transparency, inclusion, and fair process.
  • Atomize to Get the Organization to Change Itself—Atomization relates to the framing of the strategic challenge. Unless people believe that the strategic challenge is attainable, the change is not likely to succeed. Break it into bite-size atoms that officers at different levels can relate to. Atomize the issue to make it actionable to all levels.

To overcome political forces, tipping point leaders focus on three disproportionate influence factors: leveraging angelssilencing devils, and getting a consigliere on their top management team. Angels are those who have the most to gain from the strategic shift (Who will naturally align with me?). Devils are those who have the most to lose from it (Who will fight me?). And a consigliere is a politically adept but highly respected insider who knows in advance all the land mines, including who will fight you and who will support you.

How can you motivate the mass of employees fast and at low cost?

Source: Blue Ocean Strategy.

Surprises ahead

Many, if not all, public companies start their quarterly updates and other sensitive sessions with a disclaimer concerning forward-looking statements that read like this:

Certain statements in this session, such as those about future products, services and features, are “forward-looking statements” that are subject to risks and uncertainties. These forward-looking statements are based on our current expectations. As a result of certain risks and uncertainties,  actual results may differ materially from those projected.

Consider closing every planning session with this disclaimer.

It also includes a last sentence that often reads:

Our team disclaims any obligation to update this information.

In the agile world, you may consider to reverse this into:

Our team obligates itself to update this information [in order to allow you to change your plans timely and accordingly].

Also known as a safe harbor statement.

Life is a broccoli

Everything in life is a broccoli. Take a broccoli, and snap off a piece. The piece of broccoli is a broccoli in itself. Take that piece, and snap off yet another piece. Again, that piece is a broccoli in itself.

In short, broccoli is self-similar. It is fractal. It is a holacracy.

You will find broccolis all over the place.

A portfolio is comprised of products. A product or a system consists of essential parts. Each part consists of subparts, and so on.

An organization consists of units, divisions, departments, groups, teams, squads, individuals. All broccolis within broccolis.

An initiative consists of programs, programs, in turn, consist of projects, projects have milestones, milestones take a couple of sprints to complete, sprints take one or two weeks.

Values, values, values

Actual values are the behavior and skills that are valued within the ‘fellowship’. The fellowship being the group of people pursuing some—noble—goal.

The Scrum Guide from 2016 pulls the Scrum values back into its center. Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland call it the heart of Scrum.

The agile and lean frameworks, methods, and practices—like XP, Scrum and the Kanban Method—each have their own set of values. The total set counts 17(!) unique values:

  1. simplicity;
  2. communication;
  3. feedback;
  4. focus;
  5. courage (2×)
  6. openness;
  7. commitment;
  8. respect (3×);
  9. agreement;
  10. balance;
  11. collaboration;
  12. customer focus;
  13. flow;
  14. leadership;
  15. respect;
  16. transparency; and
  17. understanding.

The long list of values reminds me of a joke that emerged during the UNIX standardization battles:

The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.

How can you live all those values? Which one do you pick? Which value do you focus on?

Perhaps picking your 3–5 top values, share them with your fellowship, and then dot vote the result to distill 3–5 fellowship values: behavior and skills that are valued by most or all.

Perhaps gauging them on how they contribute to the Fantastic Five may help:

  1. Abundance—The byproducts of already having abundance rather than how much.
  2. Livelihood—The byproducts of doing, rather than what you will do.
  3. Health—All that your fantastic health makes possible.
  4. Relationships—The results of having a new or an improved relationship rather than who.
  5. Appearance—The effects of being pleased with yourself rather than diets, time lines, and body weight.

Anyway, what do you think?

Scrum values

The Scrum Guide lists the five Scrum values:

  1. Focus—We focus on only a few things at a time, work well together, and produce excellent work in order to deliver valuable items sooner.
  2. Courage—We work as a team, feel supported, and have more resources at our disposal in order to undertake greater challenges.
  3. Openness—We express how we’re doing, what’s in our way, and our concerns in order to mitigate or eliminate anything and everything that slows us down.
  4. Commitment—We have great control over our own destiny, and are more committed to success in order to live and work happier.
  5. Respect—We share successes and failures, in order to respect each other and to help each other become worthy of respect.

Tonic’s Rules to Live by

Tonic’s “Rules to live by” are quoted without permission from a little booklet I got at the SIGGRAPH ’93.

Be kind

Put things where they belong. Few are won over by misplaced, misalinged, misdesigned anything. Form, really, is a function. Be kind to the user.

Observe a lot. Test everything—because sometimes “common sense” is neither.

It’s hard to make every product so understandable that people know how to use it before they pick it up. But it’s worth shooting for.

[Apple Powerbook (1991)]

Make things simple, but beautiful.

Elegant and timeless beat fancy, gimmicky, or slick. Any day.

[Digidesign RI recording controller (1993)]

Make people lust for it.

Give it a competitive advantage. Make it worth looking at. Worth holding. Worth using. Worth paying good money for.

If the guy next to you on the train had one, would you be more than a little curious? Envious? Good.

[Apple Newton prototype (1992) and Powerbook Duo (1992)]

Make it makeable.

It doesn’t matter how beautiful the thing is if you can’t manufacture it. Befriend the engineering team. Collaborate with the factory.

Instead of designing yourself into a corner, ask for their opinions. So you can produce it–by the thousands. By the millions. Affordably.

[Apple Personal Laserwriter (1990) and Macintosh IIci (1990)]

Invent the future.

If you don’t like your destiny, invent a new one.

Have some fun. Experiment.

Invent a new product category. (Or a whole new industry.) Invent a new design language. Reset the corporate compass.

“It can’t be done,” naysayers will declare. Don’t listen.

[AT&T Personal Communicator concept (1992), Apple Guide concept (1991) and Knowledge Navigator concept (1987)]


© 1993 Tonic Industrial Design, Palo Alto, California, (415) 325-1326, (415) 326-4678, fax. All rights reserved.

People, Product, Process

So, everything boils down to changing human behavior based on feedback and learning.

People give each other feedback and feedforward so the may learn to cooperate and collaborate better. So doing, they improve their behavior.

We run a Lean Startup to pivot like crazy in order to improve our product, while the product and its user stories aim to trigger different behavior from their users.

All this while we tune and tweak our processes—our way of working—to also change or improve our behavior.

There’s loops of loops all over the place, on all levels of life is a broccoli and across people, product and process. Oh, how elegant.

Agile & Lean Product Development Topics

Plethora of topics to cover on agile & lean product development
Plethora of topics to cover on agile & lean product development

Now, how can you get all these Agile & Lean Product Development Topics and some descriptive texts on a single, beautiful, comprehensive, and elegant A0-sized poster?

Just Say No

Just say no to make your yes mean something.

Spending your limited time on the things that really matter creates a more intentional and solid yes, builds trust and coherence.

If you believe that you must keep your promises, overdeliver and treat every commitment as though it’s an opportunity for a transformation, then the only way you can do this is to turn down most opportunities.

No I can’t meet with you, no I can’t sell it to you at this price, no I can’t do this job justice, no I can’t come to your party, no I can’t help you. I’m sorry, but no, I can’t. Not if I want to do the very things that people value my work for.

Yes is the future no—in other words, you are lying, often to your dear ones.

Say yes too often, and your body will automatically tell you no in no time.

No is the foundation that we can build our yes on.

Here are nine practices to say a strategic no in order to create space in your life for a more intentional yes.

  1. Know your no. Identify what’s important to you and acknowledge what’s not.
  2. Be appreciative.
  3. Say no to the request, not the person.
  4. Explain why.
  5. Be as resolute as they are pushy.
  6. Practice.
  7. Establish a pre-emptive no.
  8. Be prepared to miss out.
  9. Gather your courage.

Say no to all issues that do not align with values, goals and norms—that fall outside the tolerance of your self or your organization.

  • To say “Yes” is about quantity.
  • To say “No” is about quality.
  • To say “No” gives certainty, dependability, safety and sureness.

Approach (similar to process leading to consent):

  • Actively listen to the other’s question.
  • Say “No’”.
  • Show understanding for any response or reaction.
  • Provide a focused motivation of your “No”.
  • Find a solution that you both can live with.
  • Track progress.

Therefore:

Listen to the other’s request and provide an understanding “No”, along with its motivation. Find a solution that you both can live with and track progress.

Variations

  • Say “Yes, as soon as… (I’ve completed all these things first).”