Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hope and Direction



(Note: Originally posted without the Agile context at https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140515013228-19267203-hope-and-direction)
My primary responsibility is to help teams unlock their full potential. That means introducing change, and change is usually difficult. As I describe the possibilities of what a team can accomplish, they become incredulous that they'll ever get to that point, and therefore are hesitant to start.
They hear about this amazing team that continuously deploys to production by leveraging cross-functional team members who are experts at automation, test-driven development, SOA design patterns, and a dozen other practices.
I reassure them by explaining that I'm giving them direction, something to work towards. I encourage them to take that direction and make it their own. I then give them hope that they can begin changing - indeed must begin changing - before that vision is realized. I have them ask themselves what small change they can enact now to begin on their journey.
I've learned that teams with hope but not direction become too scattered in their efforts, and their enthusiasm and passion becomes too dispersed to be sustained. Perhaps the team has both hope and direction, but that direction is too short-sighted, resulting in the team achieving a new status quo before fully realizing their potential.
Inversely, teams with direction and no hope quickly become discouraged and cynical, viewing such a perfect end-state as unrealistic, unattainable, and not worth pursuing. They give up before starting. The worst part is that they feel they've been peddled snake oil, and they become jaded to future change initiatives. They become the defenders of the status quo.
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