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CPA Congress 2019 

 October 2019 








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12 - 2pm


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The Problem with our Pursuit for Perfection and the Life-Changing Practice of Good Enough’



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 It's not 'drawing'...



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Build this powerful, influential skill to help make sense of change, communicate clearly and engage people in the most challenging situations

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    Entries in agile (33)


    Planning is a waste. Spur of the moment is often good enough. 

    ‘The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.’ - Walt Disney

    There’s a message here from the Director of Your Life; don’t wait for the script to arrive. Get on with it.

    Everyday life is the biggest improvisation of all. No script. No rehearsal. Get straight out onto the stage of life and start performing! 

    Ray Bradbury, the science fiction, horror and fantasy writer, said, ‘First you jump off the cliff and you build your wings on the way down’. And although some believe the quote attributable to Kurt Vonnegut, another equally interesting and creative author, the message is the same: leap and the net will appear, you will adapt, you’ll work it out and you’ll be moving!

    Spur of the moment is often good enough 

    For many planners, strategists and forward thinking folks, planning is a part of their everyday life. They plan their morning; they plan their lunch; they plan their afternoon; and they plan family holidays, expeditions and adventures. But to deal with the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous life which is how the world is now operating, to plan can sometimes be too slow.

    Start before you're ready

    How about the idea of starting before you're ready and making things up as we go along?

    I joke with friends and family that there are some cities and towns in the world, that if I had the opportunity to visit them again, you could take me to the airport right now. With nothing more than my phone with a payment app + my passport in my back pocket, I would work it all out as I went. 

    That idea can freak some people out. But I really would be willing to do that.

    Starting before you're ready is a response based on a theory around improvisation. Step into a community or public theatre in almost any city around the world and you will be able to discover the talents and prowess of improvisers. They step onto stages, performing for paying public and they are able to create and deliver an incredible performance almost every time.

    At the end of an improvised show, many theatergoers ask, ‘can we come back tomorrow night and see this performance again?’ Some audiences don’t realise that the show they just saw was fully improvised. Perhaps, a suggestion was given from someone in the audience to start a scene for the performance. Perhaps, one of the performers has added their own ideas. In fact, this is what improvisation is. It’s cutting loose your censor and setting free the inhibitions in your mind to deliver creativity.

    When I first learned the skills of improvisation with Impro Melbourne and was encouraged to step onto the stage as a performer, I always felt that I needed to rehearse a bit more or prepare in my mind what I was going to do or take some notes. Just as improvisers step onto a stage without a script -- so must we in workplaces today. 

    The idea that we can start before we are ready, gives us permission to just have a go, to not have a plan, to not have a script, to not have a structure and to not have any clue where this might go!

    What?! This can be terrifying for those who like to plan, for those who like certainty, for those who like unambiguous situations and for those who like to keep it all under control, known, certain and sorted. Trying to keep it all steady and calm. This is a little different to the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity that are now in full swing in most industries across the globe.

    If you are 80% ready to go, then go.

    Start before you're ready says don't worry about planning... well, not fully anyway. Not down to the final point.

    If you are 80% ready to go, then go.

    If you are 40% ready to go, then go with something.

    If you are 20% ready to go, then go with that.

    If you continue to plan out every single step of your idea, of your business opportunity, of your entrepreneurial thoughts or of your team's actions, your capacity to respond to that uncertainty and those changes are minimized. By the time you've finished planning, the landscape has changed! To be able to start at anytime - particularly before you're ready - gives you the opportunity to respond, to adapt, to be agile and to be flexible.

    Over the longer term starting before you're ready helps reduce your inhibitions, your structures, your limitations and your beliefs about what can be possible, what you can create and what you can do.

    Get momentum and get something 'out there'


    And for the procrastinators among us (yes, me too), starting before you're ready is a very cool way to get some momentum, to get something 'out there' and get over your need for it to be finished, perfect or better before you put it out there.

    Have a crack. Try it out. Start before you're ready and then document what happens. You could be on to something truly life changing for you and those you impact with your thinking, creativity and work.

    Improvisation maestro and master, guru and god, Keith Johnstone suggests that spur of the moment thoughts and actions are as good -- or better -- than the ones we try too hard at.

    Stop trying so hard. 


    The Visual Agile Manifesto - refreshed

    A few years ago I created a visual representation of the written Agile Manifesto.

    It seemed to resonate with people; it got printed out, pinned up on walls and was shared and talked about in workplaces all over the world.

    I've updated the visual - with the same elements - but looking a little more refreshed.

    Here it is...



    When seat kicking is a good thing

    Lengthy meetings, short on outcomes can be frustrating time wasters.

    You'd think we'd have the hang of how to make our interactions in groups work better for's nearly 50 years since Bruce Tuckman's team performance model suggested we needed to form, norm and storm before we'd perform.

    Oh yawn! Who has the time!?

    No wonder we look for a digital drug fix on one of our devices in dull meetings and workshops. Zzzzzzzz!

    Low levels of engagement and poor participation isn't 'their' problem... It's up to us to fix it, every time we are in a meeting that isn't working. In 2012, web conferencing company SalesCrunch, created a “Don’t Suck at Meetings” guide
    based on more than 10,000 meetings hosted in their online meeting platform. The guide revealed
    that people’s attention and participation starts to decline after the 30 minute mark and they begin to give 1/4 of their attention to something else. It also showed that 92% of the attendees
    participate in the discussion if they are actively engaged.

    Andrew Knight, a business school professor at Washington University in St. Louis, headed a study on the impact of standing meetings in 2014. He wired participants with small sensors to measure their physiological arousal - defined as how their bodies react when they get excited. Participants were asked to work together in teams for half an hour to come up with a new university recruitment video. Half of them collaborated in a standard meeting room, complete with chairs and tables while the other half worked together in a space with no seats.

    Yes, it was seatless!

    Knight and his team evaluated the results for their collaboration and creativity.  The results were dramatic. Knight found “teams who stood had greater physiological arousal and
    were less territorial about ideas than those in the seated arrangement. Members of the standing groups reported that their team members were less protective of their ideas. This reduced territoriality, led to more information sharing and to higher-quality videos.”

    It’s time to stand up.

    Your meetings will be 34% shorter if you're on your feet. This kind of meeting is also widely used in Scrum methodologies and practices in agile technology teams. They're high on collaboration and killer at delivery!

    We spend a lot of our day sitting so 30 minutes or less of standing won't hurt. And people who sit less have a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases.

    So kick that seat.

    Propel your meetings forward with productive, collaborative and creative action. A meeting with the team that's like that deserves a standing ovation.


    A P.S. to the Standup

    Good news! The team I talked about in my recent post The best meeting : 10 minutes, no water bottles, no chairs, no tables, has now had four stand up meetings... FOUR.... and they're hooked!

    Yes there was uncertainty. There was doubt. There was disbelief.

    But there was also focus, clarity and progress.

    They laughed. They even applauded spontaneously at the end of the first meeting.

    And then off they went and started... doing! Hooray.

    I'm still standing by them as they stand up, mainly to guide the leader with some facilitation skills. Of course, that leader already has some great facilitation skills, but you know what it's like when you're working with PEOPLE! :-)

    We're all human and so the human leader just needs to deliver some more human to the humans in the stand up.

    So a little coaching, guidance and debriefing for the leader on the fine art of 'handling the sh*t that goes down in groups' is what we've be doing after each of the stand ups.

    I'll keep standing by their stand ups and look forward to seeing them getting on with great progress and celebrating - whether they stumble, fall, get up, fail, or go wildly beyond what they were expecting.

    Are you standing up yet?


    The best meeting : 10 minutes, no water bottles, no chairs, no tables

    At a client workplace this morning I saw a group of colleagues heading off to their Monday morning meeting. They were all carrying note pads and pens and water bottles full to the brim. Into the meeting room they walked, they shut the door, sat down and they got into two hours of ..... yawn. 

    I'm working with them to help them become quicker collaborators, clearer communicators and faster problem solvers. 

    The first thing we will 'delete' (before we create or add to a 'do' list) is their lengthy Monday morning meeting. 

    Starting tomorrow they'll be having a daily stand up, or a huddle; a quick (5 - 15 mins) standing meeting that reports on what each individual is working on and if there are any impediments to them getting that done today.

    They'll meet again the next day, same type of meeting. And the day after, and every working day onward. 

    This 'stand up' approach to meetings is efficient, quick, clear, focused, progressive and helps get stuff done. 

    It's a no nonsense, no blah-blah and no bullish*t approach to producing outcomes and getting over hurdles. 

    Borrowed from the worlds of agile and scrum and highly effective in software development, the daily stand up answers three questions and everyone reports in on them, quickly: 

    1. What did I accomplish yesterday?
    2. What will I do today?
    3. What obstacles are impeding my progress?

    A team in financial services I helped set up these meetings got started, but then they started shifting the time of the meetings to 10am and midday and then sometimes it didn't happen. 

    The key is same time, every day, no matter who is or isn't there. The meetings get people used to communicating frequently, face to face and clearly. 

    It's so great to see a team get some momentum with this approach. They're relieved at the time they're saving; they're motivated by the progress they can see they're making. 

    And the team leader can see quickly which areas need their input and leadership to unblock or remove impediments. 

    You don't need a meeting room. Stand up in your working area. 

    Try it at home. Have a daily stand up meeting at home to work out what's happening today and what obstacles are in the way. 

    There's so much more to read and learn about stand ups. Start with this awesome piece from Jason Yip on Martin Fowler's website and you'll find plenty of insights, learning and tips on how to make it more than just about standing up. 

    Your team's culture and collaborative effectiveness can change. This is one strong way to impact and lead that change. 

    Will you stand up?