The Fierce Urgency Of Now

This title is a quote from MLK.  It reminds me that time can burn and consume like a fire.  With the awareness that something needs to be done, we are challenged with taking action. It is the underlying motivation, logical reasoning, moral compass or character which will sustain that action should it meet opposition, resistance, impediment or chaos.  Anger can be a great short term motivator, but even Lincoln noticed that he destroyed an enemy every time he made them a friend instead.  How does an organization or an environment change?  The answer is usually one person at a time.  Having an optimism to be able to do that is what Powell called a force multiplier.  Going even further, in order to strengthen individuals we form into teams.  Larger or smaller – groups scale, coordinate, communicate, and converge on goals.

How is your organization organizing?

Valerie posted about having the right reasons to adopt scrum.  It makes worlds of difference since everyone’s active participation gets a team to the goal, the winning side of the struggle.

Just like a sustainable pace – Is our Vision sustainable?  This is the end goal, the proverbial chess endgame. What is our progress? Is this realistic? How quickly do we just give up or remain the armchair critic? Did we truly give it everything we had and then some? What did we try?

I once was with a team for a sprint planning session.  The scrum master led them through a visualization exercise for the sprint.  What would have to happen to get the work done.  Bit by bit with a few more questions, all the tasks, the order, the priority, and a plan emerged for the next two weeks.  The team was charged, energized and started the next day with diving right in.  On day two the plan fell apart with a problem the team didn’t expect.   Some people left with a memory that the plan failed.  Instead the plan was a start and the REAL wisdom was in a different spot.  Not the ability to follow a plan, but in the team’s ability to adapt, adjust and overcome.  With experience the team becomes better at critical thinking, and hence makes better plans.  What if this happens at the organizational level with leadership plans?  Does it all just fall apart or do we have a great team with the trusted ability to adjust and adapt?  We are out to improve not only the capacity but the capability of organizations.

How many times will we need to turn inwards and answer ourselves with a clear and immediate response that this effort is indeed worth it? If this is every day then it better be a VERY good answer.  An organizational ‘gut check’ for the proverbial fire that inspires us all to work towards that result.  Improving ourselves, our craft, our community.   A process shapes interaction.  Sometimes we grasp onto and leverage it just like another grip in scaling towards a mountain top.   Especially when we get scared, we can often cling and hold to it.  Moving nowhere until we are left so exhausted that we simply give up.  To change a process takes something else; a continuous desire to move towards something better. To improve upon our position we look for some purchase, or hold that affords us better (ad)vantage.  Teaching someone a best practice isn’t enough.  Without any investment, curiosity, willingness to participate and improve this is a check box action at its best and is still just a facade.  Even the Shu, Ha, Ri maturity model suggests something a bit better.  Emulate, Learn, Teach.

A Scrum is not always a pretty thing.  Prepare for it.

Watch one sometime.  Learn the Rugby analogy we use for software development team.  This is huge effort to move past a mark against an obstacle, a direct resistance.  The effort allows the team to take the ball and run with it. We train for it, participate in them, and improve upon our ability to perform them.  Be prepared to deal with problems and conflict and enable the team and organization to move towards resolution, mitigation, acceptance, or displacing the burden, even taking some iteration at a combination of any of these.  Melville said that if continual success is proof that one may wisely know their powers,–it is only to be added, that, in that case, they know them to be small.  There was never any risk to grow beyond where we were comfortable with control if we didn’t fail somewhere. Minimal frameworks tend towards maximum exposure.   Also, without the right supports things crumble away.  Care and maintenance are aimed at supporting an existing level.   What supports are a team, a program, or the entire organization willing to put in place to make this not only sustainable but incrementally better? Are we out to change the reputation of the company – or perhaps this is simply a side effect.  What can we let go of? Was it control, discomfort, or visibility into our vulnerabilities or insecurities?  Did we just move around the problem spots or did we instead reward and emphasize and grow our strengths?  Did we settle when it became someone else’s problem or did we make it better for everyone?

The wisdom at WHY we do all these things is found in the ability to answer ‘why’.  It is at the very heart of everything that gives us the willingness and drive to get close to the problem, be able to engage and grapple with it.  Where does your answer to ‘why’ lead you to share in a dream?

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