Just getting it done is getting me down

I am demanding.

I want work to be done perfectly every time. I expect everyone to have the same attention to detail and follow through as me. Guess what? It’s frustrating and the frustration doesn’t yield better results. Even worse, the frustration is mine alone and doesn’t help anyone (specifically the person I’m frustrated with) improve.

Time to step back and look at the problem. As Chris Daily said, people need to “let go of the perception that they are in charge. In reality, you were never in charge, but you told everyone you were.” This is incredibly important because we were raised in a world where bosses told you what to do. It’s not unusual for people to come to me and ask questions like “How should I do this?” or “What exactly do you want?”. These questions are the root of why I’m often disappointed with the final product. If I decide the how, what stake does the person doing the task have? He won’t have any ownership and by using the prescribed solution can easily implement without much thought.  But I want him to think! I want him to come up with different solutions, talk to his peers, make decisions that the team can agree on, and own the solution.

Instead of answering with how, I am trying to enable the team to decide by itself. I am stopping myself before answering, counting to ten, collecting my thoughts, and framing my response as an agile coach. I hope to find myself answering how with a suggestion to sit and talk the problem through with the business owner and team. I hope to find myself less frustrated and more productive.


The bottleneck of false import

I have only been at my current organization one year, but somehow I am already the definitive source for information. I am no technical expert, but find myself making technical decisions. I care so much about getting the job done (both well and on time) that I weigh in on technical decisions just to expedite.
Here’s the problem: with every new system and each project, more information is in my head and I become even more relied upon. But I am still one person with only so many waking hours, two ears, one mouth, and one tired brain. I have become a bottleneck without meaning to. No matter how much I decide or how many people rely on me to “be in charge,” projects aren’t getting done better or faster.
The solution: use all the knowledge I have of Scrum development and being an agile coach to forge a new path.
Turns out moving from the guy who knows everything to the agile coach ain’t easy. At this point, it’s equally changing my internal behavior as much as teaching others to adjust to my new external behavior.
I turned a meeting that was “standup” by name into a real scrum stand up. We answered the three questions, we tried to move conversations into follow ups; it was beautiful. Not perfect but beautiful.
Here’s how we did it: I acted as the Scrum Master. I told everyone the rules and enforced them. I tried to assist by recording the blockers so the speaker felt he could safely move on to the next person and his blocker would soon be addressed. The team did the rest. For now, I’ll setup the follow up meetings. One change at a time. Tomorrow we’ll do it again and hopefully it will be easier. By next week, I will try to have encouraged everyone enough that they setup the meetings and resolve their own blockers as a team.