This is the second of a 4-part series that describes how Flow fits within Modern Agile. Part one was “Make People Awesome … using Flow.” The second key area in Modern Agile is “Deliver Value Continuously.”

Modern Agile

Following the 4D Model from Flow, our first job is to Define value that has been filtered through the organization’s Anticipatory Vision.

4D Model color 2018 w c

True value is only derived through the lens of a properly executed Strategy that accomplishes your Vision. Apart from individual growth and the value derived by working within a Culture of Trust, we have observed that there are usually only four primary areas that organizations focus on to deliver value continuously (the 4 “Whys?”):

  1. Increase Revenues
  2. Save Costs
  3. Mitigate and/or Eliminate Risk
  4. Do the Right Thing

In the Product corner of the Flow transformational four-box, we include Product, Service and/or Result in this area. Also included in this area are Program Management (PMOs, Release Trains, SAFe, LeSS, Nexus) and Process Management:

Transform 4-box w the 4 Whys color 2018 w c

There are a number of roles that somewhat overlap in the Product corner above:  Agile Coach, Agile Project Managers, Product Owner, Product Manager and Program Manager (or Director).

Flow gives you the tools, patterns and methods for dealing with organization chaos and unclear Definitions (which many times happens within the Product and Organization boxes):

Transform 4-box w 4R 4D Infinity color 2018 w c

Continuous improvement at the organization level requires understanding and leadership directed at all four boxes. An Enterprise Agile Coach (using Flow) can help an organization accelerate into high performance in all areas, including continuous improvement and innovation. Flow begins with Vision. It helps you Distill your “why,” higher purpose and/or your “One Thing.”

Flow transforms your organization in a way that sustains all of your individuals and teams (both Technology and Business) during their journey to becoming Awesome. As we shared in our last post, a really good Enterprise Agile Coach understands politics and is (at the same time) a competent Management Consultant:

Agile Management Consulting color 2018 w c

Each area builds on all the others areas. Team level facilitators (Scrum Masters) often make great Agile Coaches (same for Agile Project Managers that have real Scrum Master experience). Agile Coaches can become great Enterprise Agile Coaches if they learn how to deal with politics and become competent Management Consultants. An organization should be prepared, financially and time-wise, for a multi-year journey to get there.

An excellent Management Consultant understands how to communicate with Executives in a language that Leaders understand. The “Agile-ese” that is spoken at the team level seldom works with Executives. Leaders tend to latch onto buzzwords that sound great (like “being Agile”), without perhaps really understanding the level of change that they must personally go through to understand Agile. Without leaders understanding and being Agile, the organization will struggle with transformation.

If an Agile Coach makes the mistake of assuming they have organization buy-in because the Executives can accurately pronounce the word “Agile,” but have no true understanding of Agility, then they risk ending up very frustrated like Jayme from our previous blog post who encountered a completely new set of political and organization challenges that Agile doesn’t address (see video link from our previous blog post on “Making People Great … using Flow“).

Napkin w c 2018.png

We have used the 4D Model over-and-over again in helping organizations Distill their Products, Services and Results. It is simple enough that it can be described on a napkin. The patterns we use are repeatable. But, simple isn’t easy and how those patterns manifest (or are used) may be very unique, depending upon the situation we encounter in each organization. Flow consistently and continuously Delivers measurable value.

Life is short. Deliver remarkable value using Flow!

________________________

For those that are not familiar with Flow, it is what’s next for businesses and organizations that are ready to succeed regardless of the methods, frameworks or management tools that they use throughout their enterprise.

Are you ‘in the zone’ of optimal performance right now as a person, team or enterprise? Did you get there by accident or by focused intentional acts?

“Flow” gives you the tools and practices needed to create and maintain an optimal state of high performance as an individual, team or organization.

Flow turbocharges “business agile” leadership. Our book, “Flow: Get everyone moving in the right direction…and loving it” is available both in paperback and as an eBook on 1,800 sites worldwide

________________________

Andrew Kallman and Ted Kallman are the co-authors of Flow and the Unified Vision Framework Their first book, “The Nehemiah Effect” has been a #1 National Best Rated and Best Seller on Amazon.com in the US during six different months since it was published in February of 2014:

The Nehemiah Effect: Ancient Wisdom from the World’s First Agile Projects

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One of the four key areas on which Modern Agile focuses is “Make People Awesome.” To help make people awesome is a humbling journey to undertake. However, the phrase itself may add to some of the confusion traditional management has regarding Agile and Agile methodologies. We’re not aware of any successful leadership or management paradigm that “makes people” do anything. That being said, we love creating the environment and ecosystem that allows individuals, teams and organizations to achieve sustainable, high-performance creating remarkable results.

Modern Agile

Delivering remarkable results related to the customer’s and organization’s Vision is one of the key elements of Flow. Our assumption is that if you are reading books like Flow, Drive, Start with Why, Turn the Ship Around, Brick by Brick, and so on, then you are already on your way to becoming (and being) “awesome.” However, we can’t make you read those books or change your attitude, approach or behaviors to customers, other people, and your work product.

We begin with people (and the individual’s Vision) in Flow, since they are core to the successful delivery of business value. It stands to reason, then, that the more “awesome” people that you have on your team, the higher the probability is that you will achieve remarkable results.

If you want to know how to successfully guide people in their journey to becoming awesome, you will need some additional tools in your toolkit. In Flow, we use a number of models and tools to support and guide people in their journey to becoming truly awesome. One of the tools we use in Flow is the Aha! Curve:

Aha Curve color 2018 w c

Knowing about Agile (Flow, Kanban, Scrum, XP, etc.) is part of the first two steps in the Aha! Curve pictured above. Everyone struggles when first learning how to use any Agile approach. And, even if an individual is only “going thru the motions,” they are still making progress towards the goal of being Agile.

But, merely “knowing” about Agile is not enough. A person also needs to be able to demonstrate competence in using Agile.

The other two steps in the Aha! Curve occur when individuals and teams can actually demonstrate continuous and sustainable improvement. They are no longer just going through the motions, but rather, the light of understanding has turned on and they have achieved what we call the “Aha! Moment.” They not only understand Agile but have actually internalized the values and can now consistently apply those values in their daily work. The awesome nature of a high-performing individual or team, many times, is an organic outcome of practicing Agile approaches and developing an Agile mindset. However, it is not guaranteed; and, it cannot be forced into existence. Flow provides an environment and holistic leadership ecosystem that allows “awesome” to occur.

Every person is unique and the journey up the curve to their “Aha!” moment can be fairly quick or take years. At the same time, every Team needs to go through the same journey. Same for each Product (Program, Process, Project) as well as for the entire Organization as shown in the following transformational four-box. Flow combines a modification of the “four windows on transformation” (Lyssa Atkins and Michael Spayd, Scrum Gathering 2013) with our Aha! Curve:

Transform 4-box w Aha Curve color 2018 w c

We believe that the picture above is why Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber point out in “Software in 30 Days” that the journey to transform an entire organization takes up to five (5) years. Using Flow, we can reduce that transformation down to a couple of years. And, you cannot do a transformation in one area without impacting or touching the other three.

If you do not understand the time required for a successful transformation, then you dramatically increase the odds that you will not achieve awesome results. Also, the two areas on the right in the picture above deal with politics.

Many Agilists haven’t understood the political part of the equation; or, that politics is a full-contact sport.  Here’s a recent video clip of an Agile Coach (Jayme) that had tried to become an Enterprise Agile Coach; but, he became frustrated with organizational “politics” and decided to go back to being a Team Coach (you only need to listen to around the first 2 min 30 sec to get the gist of his dissatisfaction):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSIdMxhxI-w

What Jayme misses is that successful team-level practices do not scale to the Executive Suite. There are repeatable frameworks for dealing with politics and Leadership issues. That’s what Flow is all about. He exemplifies the typical Agile coach who assumes that what worked well at the team level will also work well at the organizational level. This is simply not the case.

A good Enterprise Agile Coach is also a really good Management Consultant. I can already hear the boos and jeers that will erupt from the Agile side of the house; but, a successful Enterprise Agile Coach lives between the two worlds of Agile Coaching and Management Consulting:

Agile Management Consulting color 2018 w c

On the one hand, an Enterprise Agile Coach needs to be able to help build a culture of Innovation and Anticipatory Vision, see our blogpost on that:

https://pmobrothers.wordpress.com/2018/01/24/anticipatory-vision/

On the other hand, an Enterprise Agile Coach needs to also be able to help build a culture of Operation Excellence. It’s a “both-and” not an “either-or” proposition. One of the greatest values that a really good Enterprise Agile Coach will bring to the table for an organization is to help the Operational Excellence side of the equation understand when it is time for “creative destruction.”

A successful Enterprise Agile Coach understands you don’t need everyone onboard with when scaling Agile in an organization to have a very successful “scaling” result. The reason for that is that incrementally moving everyone up the Aha! Curve consistently over a couple of years (i.e. Train-Coach-Mentor) will easily double an organization’s ability to deliver value, even if everyone isn’t onboard with going through the Agile journey. That’s what “scaling” Agile is all about and it’s actually understanding the law of averages at both the Program and Portfolio levels – check out Andrew’s article on “The Art of Portfolio Management from a Fund Manager’s View:”

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/flaw-averages-agile-portfolio-mgt-using-fund-managers-andrew-kallman/

Another tool we use in Flow when working with Individuals is the 4R Model:

4R Model color 2018 w c

In order to help people on their journey to being Agile, we need to start with the Vision that the individual has since it is central to understanding a person’s motivation. Everyone distills their personal Values and Attitudes based on what they have as their “Truth.” A person’s core “Truth” and “Values and Attitudes” are demonstrated via the actions that a person chooses to take. Hopefully, this leads to “Right Results.”

However, if you are consistently getting the “wrong” results from an Individual or Team, then you might want to use the 4R Model in reverse (as a root-cause analysis tool):

4R Model Root Cause in Reverse color 2018 w c

If you didn’t get the intended Result, then you’ll want to look at the Actions. Behind those actions were Values and/or Attitudes that were based on some “Truth.” It might be necessary to look at training, coaching and/or mentoring (depending upon the situation) in order to get the person back on the right track.

To support and guide a person in their journey, we need to understand that sometimes life happens. We use the following diagram as a simple and quick way to coach and mentor our team members:

Spirit Mental Physical Social color 2018 w c

Good leaders master the art of asking questions. If you notice a downward trend in a team or individual’s performance, like any good coach you might want to begin to ask questions and/or listen for signals from your co-worker in the following areas:

  • Spirit – “Is your Vision clear?”
  • Mental – “What are you doing to grow yourself mentally?”
  • Physical – “Do you feel confident in your health regimen?”
  • Social – “How are your relationships?”

The “spirit” area might seem like an odd area to chat about at work, but we need to work with people holistically; and, that begins with the individual’s Vision. For example, recently the following post came across my co-worker’s (Mia Kolmodin) LinkedIn feed from Johan Victor:

To everyone stressed out there, maybe we need a new definition of success? David W Orr shared:

“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”

This quote took my breath away! Got this yesterday from my new favorite writer, author, poet Frida Spikdotter Nilsson. Thank you, Frida!

Clearly Frida intuitively understands the 4D Model from Flow, even though she most likely has never seen it:

4D Model color 2018 w c

Definitions are always the starting point for success. But, before you can Deliver, the team needs to Distill agreement on their agreed-upon Definitions. In Flow, a team might define Frida’s list in the following way:

  • Peacemakers understand how to use Vision to unite people where division (literally “two visions”) exists. This is one of the most concrete and powerful uses of Vision and the Cascading VSPT (Vision, Strategy, People, Results) – see our blog post on the Power of the One Thing:
    https://pmobrothers.wordpress.com/2016/12/03/the-power-of-the-one-thing/
  • Healers understand the social, mental, physical and spiritual aspects of each individual, team and even for an entire organization.
  • Restorers have mastered the art of forgiveness and rebuild what has been torn down (either intentionally or accidentally).
  • Storytellers know and understand the power of the tribal story as a great tool for uniting, energizing and inspiring the team as well as for the entire organization.
  • Lovers express and demonstrate through their actions that the greatest item in this list … is Love. We define love as selfless giving or true “servant leadership.”

Making people awesome is a long-term investment in building people’s lives by supporting and inspiring them to pursue personal excellence in a sustainable way. It takes love, perseverance and moral courage to make this commitment. And, we need to begin where people are, not where we wish they were.

That’s the whole point of Flow, the Aha! Curve, the transformational four-box, the 4R Model; and, the 4D Model. Hopefully these tools will make your world Flow towards being a little more inviting, habitable, humane and successful!

Life is short. May we all be awesome.

________________________

For those that are not familiar with Flow, it is what’s next for businesses and organizations that are ready to succeed regardless of the methods, frameworks or management tools that they use throughout their enterprise.

Are you ‘in the zone’ of optimal performance right now as a person, team or enterprise? Did you get there by accident or by focused intentional acts?

“Flow” gives you the tools and practices needed to create and maintain an optimal state of high performance as an individual, team or organization.

Flow turbocharges “business agile” leadership. Our book, “Flow: Get everyone moving in the right direction…and loving it” is available both in paperback and as an eBook on 1,800 sites worldwide

________________________

Andrew Kallman and Ted Kallman are the co-authors of Flow and the Unified Vision Framework Their first book, “The Nehemiah Effect” has been a #1 National Best Rated and Best Seller on Amazon.com in the US during six different months since it was published in February of 2014:

The Nehemiah Effect: Ancient Wisdom from the World’s First Agile Projects

Over the years we have appreciated and utilized the work of Dr. Daniel Burrus, in particular his best-selling book “Flash Foresight.” We quote “Flash Foresight” at the end of our latest book “Flow” on page 117:

Volatility is now the norm. Daniel Burrus in his excellent book, “Flash Foresight” talks at length about the necessity to identify and align with the clear hard trends of the obvious future. He says:

“Agility has been quite a buzzword lately in corporate circles … ‘the competition and the marketplace are changing so fast, everything’s is changing so fast, that if you want to survive, you need to be incredibly agile …’ In the twenty-first century, being proactive has outlived its usefulness. It’s too late to be proactive: we need to become preactive … Being proactive is agile; being preactive is being anticipatory” If you are only now becoming Agile, you are already too late because you are still reacting or pro-acting instead of preacting. We need to be predictably pre-active in a reactive world and to get there at a sustainable pace.

All of this is possible with Flow, the UVF, and concepts like flash foresight. It is a clean simplification of all that is required to achieve exponential, “Nehemiah Effect” results.

We finished “Flow,” prior to the release of Dr. Burrus’ new book, “The Anticipatory Organization,” or we would have quoted this book as well. He expands the idea of being preactive with an anticipatory mindset he calls “Futureview” on Page 102:

“…pulls people together by providing both clarity and focus around future goals and possibilities.”

When done correctly, our definition of Vision (which includes Cascading the Vision, Mission, Strategy, Purpose, Goals & Objectives — what we collectively call “Culture”) aligns with Dr. Burrus definition of Futureview. By coining the word “Futureview,” we believe he is seeking to overcome the inherent problems most organizations have with Vision informing tasks and everyday activities. Also, the concept of Futureview deals with the fact that most static Vision statements do not take into account the speed at which our world is changing.

We applaud Dr. Burrus’ attempt to name the problem with the creation of a new word. However, we believe that “Futureview” is simply a new descriptor of our our definition of Vision. A Vision that is properly distilled and communicated throughout an organization has the same impact and result Dr. Burrus is attempting to achieve by using the word Futureview.

The problem is not whether or not you call it Vision or Futureview, it is whether or not your True Vision is preactive and anticipatory versus static and/or functionally inadequate. Renaming Vision to Futureview, without proper communication, agreement and execution throughout the whole organization, risks producing the same old results, which Dr. Burrus shares on page 105 as well as in the introduction section:

“…an organization whose Futureview is not aligned is more reactionary by default — constantly reacting and responding to events and conditions coming from the outside in.”

“Moving exponentially faster in the wrong direction can prove to be a major problem or downright disastrous.”

As we shared above, our definition of Vision is expanded to include and encompass Culture. We agree with Dr. Burrus that a part of your culture needs to become and remain anticipatory. 

We have found that transforming a culture, whether anticipatory or not, begins with a clearly defined and distilled Vision. Without distilling and gaining agreement at every level in an organization, any Vision for change is doomed to failure. Dr. John Kotter from Harvard has previously stated that:

“Most companies under communicate their visions for change by at least a factor of 10.”

We think Dr. Kotter may have underestimated the lack of proper and effective communication that is needed to facilitate organization change. Many organizations have in recent years have turned to Agile and Scrum as the current silver bullet to migrate from old-style management to high-performance. However, they find becoming “Agile” is difficult and not sufficient to achieve their goals. Dr. Burrus hit the nail on the head in his introduction to the Anticipatory Organization when he stated:

“Agility is valuable, but you will need more than that!”

This does not mean that migrating to an Agile mindset and adaptive culture is not a powerful and positive objective, but this requires more than methods and frameworks.

Around a decade ago, when Andrew first became a Certified Scrum Master (CSM), the Stacey Diagram was used as one of the tools used by his Trainer (CST), Michael James, to explain when to use Scrum or Agile methods. The Stacey Diagram was created by Ralph D. Stacey, Professor of Management, back in the early 1990s and it is particularly helpful for those making the personal transformation from Traditional Project Management and/or Waterfall to Scrum and Agile:

The Stacey Diagram is well known in the Agile community and it has served us well. It is a simple, elegant way to describe which tool is most appropriate based upon the clarity of requirements and the understanding of the technology being used.

The diagram is particularly useful because it visualizes the context. Anytime you can visualize your work or your problem and potential solutions it is easier to come to agreement and create a Vision and effective plan.

We believe the following visualization of Dr. Burrus’ work through the lens of Flow will be equally (if not more) useful for Flow practitioners and/or anyone using Dr. Burrus’ Anticipatory Organization (AO) Model. For those using the AO Model, you may want to substitute “High Clarity of Futureview” and “Low Clarity of Futureview” along the left side (x-axis) of this diagram:

 

Having the right Vision and the ability to execute your Strategy are core fundamentals of both Flow and the AO Model:

  1. If you have a poorly defined Vision (or, even the wrong Vision) and are using a Traditional (Low Ability) approach to executing your Strategy, then at best you can only be Reactive.

  2. If you have a poorly defined Vision (or, even the wrong Vision) and are using an Agile or adaptive (High Ability) approach to executing your Strategy, then you might be able to be Proactive or Preactive — but there is no guarantee that you are headed the right direction or will obtain the desired results.

  3. If you have a really well-defined Vision (“right” Vision) and are using a Traditional (Low Ability) approach to executing your Strategy, then again, at best, you will only be Reactive.

  4. If you have a really well-defined Vision (“right” Vision) and are using an Agile or adaptive (High Ability) approach to executing your Strategy, then you will most likely be Proactive and possibly Preactive.

Most organizations would prefer operating in the high, upper-right portion of the diagram, which starts with bullet point number four above.

In our experience, however, becoming an anticipatory organization requires creating and sustaining a state of high-performing Flow. We are adding Futureview to our toolkit and wish to thank Dr. Burrus for his insight and wisdom.

________________________

For those that are not familiar with Flow, it is what’s next for businesses and organizations that are ready to succeed regardless of the methods, frameworks or management tools that they use throughout their enterprise.

Are you ‘in the zone’ of optimal performance right now as a person, team or enterprise? Did you get there by accident or by focused intentional acts?

“Flow” gives you the tools and practices needed to create and maintain an optimal state of high performance as an individual, team or organization.

Flow methods turbocharge “business agile” leadership.

Our new book, “Flow: Get everyone moving in the right direction…and loving it”:

  • eBook now available at 1,800 eBook sites worldwide

  • Paperback release in April (pre-orders in March)

________________________

Andrew Kallman and Ted Kallman are the co-authors of Flow and the Unified Vision Framework Their book, “The Nehemiah Effect” has been a #1 National Best Seller on Amazon.com in the US during six different months since it was published in February of 2014:

The Nehemiah Effect: Ancient Wisdom from the World’s First Agile Projects

Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi once observed that,

“when a field becomes too self-referential and cut off from reality, it runs the risk of becoming irrelevant.” 

See page 89 of “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention”

Silencing discussions that don’t agree with your world-view is a self-referential cut off from reality.

Due to the recent firing of an engineer at Alphabet (Harvard graduate James Damore), we would like to propose the following (new) logo that reflects the true spirit of Google’s culture:

If you haven’t read Damore’s memo on diversity (which was written to facilitate open and transparent discussion within Google), you can read it here.

Even Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, had to admit that Damore had valid points. But, Pichai defended his firing of Damore with some rather twisted logic. On the one hand, Pichai accused the engineer of violating Google’s HR policies. One the other hand, he said that the engineer was free to express his opinion.

Huh?

Orwell would be proud.

1984 has arrived at Google and has now become its poster child.

This is exactly the kind of double speak that can be expected from politicians; or, in any organizational culture that is completely dysfunctional. Worse, Google is blind to its own predicament. And, hundreds, if not thousands, of posts on LinkedIn, twitter, Facebook, etc., have already pointed out the hypocrisy of Google’s leadership and their problem with groupthink.

Groupthink?

Yes, there is no better description for what is infecting the cultures of so many companies today. It seems our leaders have forgotten that those who ignore the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.

Groupthink has torpedoed more than one organization during the past 75 years since the phrase was coined. Merriam-Webster defines groupthink as:

“a pattern of thought characterized by self-deception, forced manufacture of consent, and conformity to group values and ethics”

see: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/groupthink

Wikipedia Defines groupthink as:

“…a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.”

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

Wikipedia further states:

“Groupthink requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking. The dysfunctional group dynamics of the “ingroup” produces an “illusion of invulnerability” (an inflated certainty that the right decision has been made). Thus the “ingroup” significantly overrates its own abilities in decision-making and significantly underrates the abilities of its opponents (the “outgroup“). Furthermore, groupthink can produce dehumanizing actions against the “outgroup…”

See Wikipedia link above.

Groupthink is a major blind spot for many organizations. Google is no exception. They don’t think (or believe) it applies to them.

However, they are revealing alignment with their true vision (see our white paper on Creating a Unified Vision). Google has a stated value: “don’t be evil.” Apparently, expressing ideas that don’t agree with the established cultural norms of Google, is now defined as “evil” and led to the firing of Mr. Damore.

Dr. Csikszentmihalyi also stated that,

“some of the most creative breakthroughs occur when an idea that works well in one domain gets grafted to another and revitalizes it.”

See page 88 of “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention”

In this case, Mr. Damore’s ideas came from another domain. Google has harmed its own creative culture and future creativity by it actions, thus stifling and snuffing out diversity of thought.

As pointed out in the Wikipedia article above, they have the illusion that they are right.

The firing of Mr. Damore is a perfect example of groupthink operating within Google. He dared to go against the culture and call out the leadership for their lack of true diversity. Whistle blowers rarely survive in groupthink environments. And, at minimum, it was career suicide to send out a 10-page memo like Damore’s regardless of its accuracy and importance to the discussion.

The key to preventing groupthink is to have a safe, honest, transparent environment in which all ideas can be discussed without fear of reprisal.

By firing Damore, all Google succeeded in doing was to further enforce and entrench a culture of fear. Instead of achieving the diversity that they state is desired, all they have done is to create a blah, monochrome culture (see new logo at the top of this post). And, in our opinion, reduced creativity.

Google’s message is clear:  anyone that dissents from the group norm will be fired. Alarm bells should be going off everywhere. No one is safe, unless they completely agree with Google’s internal state-run media.

Anyone working at Google, but who does not agree with the forced, coerced group norm will lose their jobs should they make the mistake of voicing their opinions regardless of its truth. “Google” is now merely an acronym for:

Go Outside Our Groupthink … Lose Employment

Can Google be fixed?

That depends.

Fixing Google needs to begin with the CEO. Unless Google’s CEO is willing to create a safe environment where truly diverse ideas, world-views, values, and attitudes are allowed and freely discussed, then it cannot be fixed.

Some are even calling for Pichai to resign. For example, “the august pages of the New York Times embraced a bit of controversy Friday morning, with the publication of another David Brooks special, “Sundar Pichai Should Resign as Google’s C.E.O.””

Usually, the fish rots from the head. And, David Brooks is correct, firing the CEO would be a first step towards cleaning up the cultural mess at Google.

To quote Dr. Csikszentmihalyi again regarding why creative organizations and people have become successful, he states,

“…one of the main reasons they had become successful was because they were truthful or honest.”

See page 166 of “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention”

He talks about the importance of honesty in social science, business, politics and social reformation creativity saying this,

“In none of these fields could you be ultimately successful if you were not truthful, if you distorted the evidence, either consciously or unconsciously, for your own advantage. 

See page 167 of “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention”

Our next book, “Flow: Get everyone moving in the right direction … and loving it” has many anti-Patterns identified that will disrupt or eliminate high-performance Flow for individuals, teams and organizations. Google’s whack-a-mole approach in eliminating thought diversity unfortunately is a wonderful example of one of these anti-Patterns.

A transparent, safe and honest culture will always be required for true high-performance.

So, for those of us who don’t work for Google, is there a way to avoid groupthink?

Yes.

A strong and effective antidote to groupthink that we have used during the past 30 years is the 4D Model:

You can discover its application in previous blogs, white papers and our previous book, The Nehemiah Effect.

However, to close this post, we want to bring attention to the first “D” – Define. Many times, a proper Definition of the problem is the first step to reaching a solution. Google thinks its problem is the public perception its actions caused.

The real problem is a culture that does not allow for diversity of thought and removes any dissenter. One would think that the President of Alphabet, Sergey Brin (a Russian-born American computer scientist, internet entrepreneur, and philanthropist, also co-founder of Google with Larry Page), with his heritage would keenly understand the negative and corrosive effects that removing dissenters has on a culture.

Our hope is that Google will deal honestly with the issues now publicly exposed within its culture. If they do not, our fear is the net result will be an anti-diverse, alphabet soup. And, remember, “the Truth will set you free.”

________________________

For those that are not familiar with Flow, it is what’s next for businesses and organizations that are ready to succeed regardless of the methods, frameworks or management tools that they use throughout their enterprise.

Are you ‘in the zone’ of optimal performance right now as a person, team or enterprise? Did you get there by accident or by focused intentional acts?

“Flow” gives you the tools and practices needed to create and maintain an optimal state of performance as an individual and in every area of your life.

Flow turbocharges your “business agile” leadership.

Our new book, “Flow: Get everyone moving in the right direction…and loving it” is scheduled for release in 2018:

  • eBook in January

  • Paperback in April (pre-orders will begin in March)

________________________

Andrew Kallman, FCP, FCT and Ted Kallman, FCP, FCT are the co-authors of Flow and the Unified Vision Framework Their book, “The Nehemiah Effect” is a #1 National Best Seller on Amazon.com in the US during six different months since it was published in February of 2014 (i.e. #1 in the following 4 sub-categories:  1. Decision-making, 2. Business, 3. Consulting and 4. Project Management):

The Nehemiah Effect: Ancient Wisdom from the World’s First Agile Projects

Linus Pauling once stated,

“I have a picture, a sort of general theory of the universe in my mind that I’ve built up over the decades. If I read an article, or hear someone give a seminar talk, or in some other way get some piece of information about science that I hadn’t had before, I ask myself, ‘how does that fit into my picture of the universe?’ And if it doesn’t fit, I ask, ‘why doesn’t it fit in?'”

Source: Page 118, “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention”, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

We have found this approach to be true in our own exploration of how to apply and effectively utilize Flow and the Unified Vision Framework. Constantly cross-pollinating ideas and theories from multiple domains and fields has strengthened and deepened our frameworks and tools.

It is particularly interesting when we both independently react to an article in this way. So, thank you Google and Inc. Magazine, for sharing important research that affirms the positive results of Flow properly applied in team situations.

You can read the full (and very interesting) article at the following link where Julia Rozovsky outlines the five key characteristics of Google’s highly successful teams:

https://www.inc.com/michael-schneider/google-thought-they-knew-how-to-create-the-perfect.html

The five traits are:

1. Dependability.
“Team members get things done on time and meet expectations.”

2. Structure and clarity.
“High-performing teams have clear goals, and have well-defined roles within the group.”

3. Meaning.
“The work has personal significance to each member.”

4. Impact.
“The group believes their work is purposeful and positively impacts the greater good.”

And the last trait stood out from the rest:

5. Psychological Safety.
“We’ve all been in meetings and, due to the fear of seeming incompetent, have held back questions or ideas. I get it. It’s unnerving to feel like you’re in an environment where everything you do or say is under a microscope.

But imagine a different setting. A situation in which everyone is safe to take risks, voice their opinions, and ask judgment-free questions. A culture where managers provide air cover and create safe zones so employees can let down their guard and become free to deliver remarkable results.

That’s psychological safety.

Yes, we know that this is not the quantitative data for which you were hoping. However, Google found that teams with psychologically safe environments had employees who were less likely to leave, more likely to harness the power of diversity, and ultimately, who were more successful.

Engineering the perfect team is more subjective than we would like, but focusing on these five components increases the likelihood that you will build a dream team. Through its research, Google made the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle proud by proving, “The whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.””

The key traits described above are actually talking about the proper application of a culture of Vision. Ultimately, as we discuss in detail in the “Nehemiah Effect” and our new book “Flow”… “Culture eats everything for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

In Flow, we define “Culture” as:  Vision, Mission, Purpose, Core Values & Attitudes; and, Goals & Objectives.

So, once a clear Definition of a psychologically safe culture of Vision has been stated, agreed to and exhibited by the executive and team leaders, then the resulting high-performance, demonstrated by the Google teams, is a natural outcome.

Let’s look at Google’s five traits through the lens of Flow and the Unified Vision Framework:

In order to Deliver high-performance (1. Dependability), teams need to have a strong culture of Vision (3. Meaning, 4. Impact and 5. Psychological Safety) combined with clear Definitions and Distilled agreements (2. Structure and clarity). High performing teams also maintain a focus on the most important, highest priority items by continuously reminding each other what success looks like and iteratively adjusting activities to ultimately Drive that success (2. Structure and clarity).

For a more complete discussion about the impact of Vision, see our previous blog post:

https://pmobrothers.wordpress.com/2016/12/03/the-power-of-the-one-thing/

________________________

For those that are not familiar with Flow, it is what’s next for businesses and organizations that are ready to succeed regardless of the methods, frameworks or management tools that they use throughout their enterprise.

Are you ‘in the zone’ of optimal performance right now as a person, team or enterprise? Did you get there by accident or by focused intentional acts?

“Flow” gives you the tools and practices needed to create and maintain an optimal state of performance as an individual and in every area of your life.

Flow turbocharges your “business agile” leadership.

Our new book, “Flow: Get everyone moving in the right direction…and loving it” is scheduled for release in 2018:

  • eBook in January

  • Paperback in April (pre-orders will begin in March)

________________________

Andrew Kallman, FCP, FCT and Ted Kallman, FCP, FCT are the co-authors of Flow and the Unified Vision Framework Their book, “The Nehemiah Effect” is a #1 National Best Seller on Amazon.com in the US during six different months since it was published in February of 2014 (i.e. #1 in the following 4 sub-categories:  1. Decision-making, 2. Business, 3. Consulting and 4. Project Management):

The Nehemiah Effect: Ancient Wisdom from the World’s First Agile Projects

Recently we came across a very interesting book:

The One Thing by Gary Keller

The one thing that is powerful about this book is that it validates what we’ve been teaching for years on how to transform any organization from Traditional / Waterfall (i.e. Command-and-control) thinking to becoming truly Agile (see our previous blog posts for more on that).

What we want to revisit in this blog post is the exponential impact of a properly Defined and accurately communicated Vision.

Many Executives that attend our Flow training remark that Cascading Vision is one of the most powerful features of Flow and the Unified Vision Framework (V = Vision and VSPT = Vision, Strategy, People and Tasks):

cascading-vision-vspt-4d-model

The 4D Model and VSPT need to be Cascaded throughout the organization

Most organizations assume that they are successfully Cascading their Vision from top to bottom. Research across the board shows that this is a fallacy and that the upper level Vision is rarely clear at the task level. And, even fewer organizations are able to link-back the Vision (via intentional actions) from the team level back up through the organization to accomplish the Vision.

In the following examples, the Organization is six levels deep (to reach the team member level) and the percentages are the percent remaining after dilution.

The grim reality is that even if you lose only 10% of the clarity at each organizational level (as the Vision cascades through it), by the time you get to the individual team member you have already potentially lost almost half (47%) of the original Vision:

Dilution Example 1

At the Program level in Example 1 above, 27% of the original Vision is at risk of having been Diluted. This is probably one of the better arguments for flattening an organization, since the fewer levels you have, the less Dilution of the Vision can occur.

At an 80% level of clarity (a 20% loss in clarity per level; an 80/20 Pareto), by the time you get to the individual level you may have lost up to three-fourths (74%) of the original Vision:

Dilution Example 2

At the Program level in Example 2 above, around half (49%) of the original Vision is at risk of having been Diluted.

At a 50% level of clarity, you have gridlock; and, perhaps only a 2% chance that the original Vision makes it through to the Individual team member:

Dilution Example 3

At the Program level, in this Example 3, almost all of the original Vision (87%) is at risk of having been lost.

These examples of Dilution are stunning.

It is also what we find, routinely, to be the case in most organizations when we begin to work with them. It is also no surprise that many executives end up frustrated with such dismal results for their Program, Project and Team-level results.  But, we believe the graphs above explain why up to:

  • 86% of all (Traditional/Waterfall + Agile) projects “fail” (14% success rate)

  • 70% of all Change programs “fail” (30% success rate)

  • 58 % of all Agile / Scrum projects “fail” (42% success rate)

The ability of an organization to effectively and accurately communicate its Vision to all levels is not a “nice-to-have.” It is a matter of life or death.

For many years now we have advocated the use of what we call the “Cutting Room Floor” / Forced Prioritization exercise (i.e. prioritizing the work at the Board, Cxx, Executive and Director levels).

This involves taking the entire backlog of work (i.e. Programs / Projects) that needs to be done and going through a few rounds of editing (i.e. cutting).  If you start with 25 items in your Executive backlog, then the first round of cutting should eliminate 80% of the items.  That is only 20% make it through the first round of cutting. So, you go from 25 backlog items down to 5 items.

The second round of cutting follows the same idea that 80% of the surviving 5 items are eliminated and your are left with one item in your backlog.  This is your “one thing.” This is the item on which you focus the organization:

25 –> 5 –> 1 Example

With 25 items, to focus on all 25 would require that you split your attention between them, resulting in less that 4% of your attention on each one.  Already cutting it to five items increases your productivity 5-fold and you could devote 20% of your attention to each one.  Bringing it down to one gives you a chance to give your full attention to your “one thing.”

Simple? Yes.

Easy to do? No.

In this updated version of Cascading Vision, we have Distilled Vision and VSPT (Vision, Strategy, People and Tasks) down to the idea of “one.”

The “dominos” in this picture are adapted from the images for Gary Keller’s book

 In the example above, we depict a series of dominoes on the left side, where each successive domino grows in size by 50%. If you start with a 2 inch domino, the second domino would be 3 inches tall. The third domino would be 4.5 inches tall, and so on.  Gary Keller captures this geometric progression in his book, and we have just the first part of the curve from that image here:

The original picture can be seen in the images for Gary Keller’s book

At the 19th domino, the size of the domino is taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. At 25 dominos, it’s as tall as the Eiffel Tower. At 31 it’s taller than Mount Everest. And, at 57 you’ve almost made it to the moon!

A really good video on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y97rBdSYbkg&t=7s) by Stephen Morris illustrates this point very well. Although it’s an ad, the Prudential Dominoes Experiment video is also impressive (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZpjmBGIp44).

Keller’s metaphor demonstrates (along with the videos) the powerful impact of small, intentional actions that are continuously focused on the right Vision, the clear “one” thing.

However, one of the biggest blockers for the Vision (“one thing”) to freely flow, domino-to-domino throughout the organization, is language.  The language spoken at the Executive, Senior Management (i.e. Portfolio level) and Program Levels seldom has anything to do with the language spoken by the Project, Team or Individual levels:

cascading-vspt-with-one-incl-languages-leadership-managment

Language of Leadership vs. Management

The result of this language barrier is a dilution of focus, and thus the Vision, which eliminates the power of the domino effect. This can also result in a disconnect between the levels.  It’s the difference between the Language of Leadership and the Language of Management (see our previous blog post).

What is most powerful in any organization is the ability to effectively and accurately transmit the Vision throughout all team level and individual activities. And, linking back the “one thing” from the individual and team levels back up through the organization has the potential to create exponential value-add.

And when you factor in the fact that the Business and IT/Tech sides of the organization also have their own “languages,” it becomes clear that having clear Definitions, to which everyone agrees (i.e. Distillation) is the only way to insure Delivering value and Driving the organization forward:

The 4D Model from Flow and the Unified Vision Framework

In the past, we have used the 1 Language + 1 Mind + 1 Plan = 1 Vision formula to communicate the need for this clarity.  We’ve been using the idea of “one” for quite a long time, but the domino metaphor Mr. Keller uses are the clearest visual of how this works that we have ever seen.

Additionally, we created the Vision Flow Formula to help organizations visualize the negative results of poorly defined and/or communicated Vision:

vision-flow

If the Vision is poorly defined (or, even missing), then the probability of having Anarchy in the organization is high.  If you have the wrong people in the wrong roles, then Anxiety among your team members will probably go through the roof.  Any part of the 4D Model that is missing will most likely result in Confusion, Politics, Chaos and/or Division.  The word “Division” in English literally means “two visions.”

As the old saying goes, “united we stand and divided we fall.”

The only antidote to “Division” and “Dilution” is to Distill your Vision down to your “one thing” at every level. Successfully doing that has the potential to release exponential results.

________________________

For those that are not familiar with Flow, it is what’s next for businesses and organizations that are ready to succeed regardless of the methods, frameworks or management tools that they use throughout their enterprise.

Are you ‘in the zone’ of optimal performance right now as a person, team or enterprise? Did you get there by accident or by focused intentional acts?

“Flow” gives you the tools and practices needed to create and maintain an optimal state of performance as an individual and in every area of your life.

Flow turbocharges your “business agile” leadership.

________________________

Andrew Kallman, FCP, FCT and Ted Kallman, FCP, FCT are the co-authors of Flow and the Unified Vision Framework Their book, “The Nehemiah Effect” is a #1 National Best Seller on Amazon.com in the US during six different months since it was published in February of 2014 (i.e. #1 in the following 4 sub-categories:  1. Decision-making, 2. Business, 3. Consulting and 4. Project Management):

The Nehemiah Effect: Ancient Wisdom from the World’s First Agile Projects

Flow continues to grow!  Three new groups of FCPs certified from April – August.  We are now up to 57 FCPs in the US and Europe.

Congratulations to the following new FCPs that attended the 27-28 April 2016 at World Mission with Ted and Jeff:

  • Bernie Blauwkamp, FCP

  • Tim Cosby, FCP

  • Daniel Kallman, FCP

  • Joel Kallman, FCP

  • Greg Kelly, FCP

  • Joe Moss, FCP

  • John Sawyer, FCP

  • Ken Steensma, FCP

Also, Congratulations to the following new FCPs that attended the 22-23 June 2016 training at Double-O with Ted and Jeff:

  • Justin Beene, FCP

  • Nate Beene, FCP

  • Shannon Bruin, FCP

  • Erin Sweeney, FCP

  • Tiffany Clarke, FCP

  • Dawn Carowitz, FCP

  • Mike Otis, FCP

  • Jack Johnson, FCP

  • Philip Otis, FCP

  • Tom Powers, FCP

And, Congratulations to the following new FCPs that attended the 17-18 August 2016 training at Culver CPA with Ted and Jeff:

  • Rob Arnold, FCP

  • Duane Culver, FCP

  • Lena Abissi, FCP

  • Tim Lunger, FCP

  • Traci Zimmer, FCP

  • Teri Kukla, FCP

  • Emily Dykema, FCP

  • CC Curey, FCP

  • Robert Grove, FCP

  • John Sawyer, FCP

  • Ross Sweetman, FCP

  • Suzie Kim, FCP

  • Chris Stapleton, FCP

  • Ben Crompton, FCP

  • Todd Jones, FCP

We’re looking forward to working with each and every one of you to help to build your Flow leadership careers.

Again, well done everyone!

________________________

For those that are not familiar with Flow, it is what’s next for businesses and organizations that are ready to succeed regardless of the methods, frameworks or management tools that they use throughout their enterprise.

Are you ‘in the zone’ of optimal performance right now as a person, team or enterprise? Did you get there by accident or by focused intentional acts?

“Flow” gives you the tools and practices needed to create and maintain an optimal state of performance as an individual and in every area of your life.

Flow turbocharges your “business agile” leadership.

________________________

Andrew Kallman, FCP, FCT and Ted Kallman, FCP, FCT are the co-authors of Flow and the Unified Vision Framework Their book, “The Nehemiah Effect” is a #1 National Best Seller on Amazon.com and was #1 again as recently as September 2015 (i.e. #1 in the following 4 sub-categories:  Decision-making, Business, Consulting and Project Management) for 6 of the last 29 months:

The Nehemiah Effect: Ancient Wisdom from the World’s First Agile Projects