Saturday, June 23, 2012

What's in it for me ? It doesn't hurt to put yourself in the other person's shoes.

I have been noticing something when talking with some fellow Agile coaches, and wanted to just pass along a "thought".

Although we cannot always provide an answer to the question "What's in it for me?", when we're talking about an Agile mindset, often we can and ignore the opportunity for an easy win-win situation.  This just requires a bit of a step back from being and Agile Evangelist, to thinking about change initiatives and how knowledge about that topic can help.

A good friend and Agile coach recommended a book by Kotter recently, focusing on organizational change. It got me thinking about myself and how I approach change.  A reference to the book is at the bottom of this post.

Ask yourself, "When I tried to explain the Review Meeting to that executive VP, did I talk about the process of how the meeting works or did I talk with them about how that meeting can help them?  Did I let them know what information they could learn from it, how they could achieve future vision, how they could make strategic plans based on the input and feel like they really know what's going on in their companies ?"

If you're like me, you've often gotten trapped talking about the meeting instead of the intended results.  I find that if I pay attention for cues in the conversation, I can usually catch myself if I'm careful.

When discussion Scrum's Review Meeting with an executive, if I hear myself say something like "the meeting works this way", I trigger myself to say.. "HEY, wrong conversation... that's for training... we're not training here.".  Think about your target audience (your customer).  

I then take a DEEP BREATH, ask the person I am talking to for a moment or a quick break.  I may even say, "Mr or Mrs. Smith, please bear with me.. .I've gotten off track.  I'm not providing you information that's really useful to you.  I will be back in two minutes after I clear my mind.  I want to give you information that is useful to YOU... That's more important to me.".  Be honest.  After all, you're human too.

Many of us find ourselves in situations where we are talking about how Scrum, OpenAgile or any of the other Agile Frameworks work.  We will also be sharing information with C Level executives who are seriously interested in learning more.  

The ironic thing is that many of us talk about how Agile is not about process and is about culture.  Then, when we have the first opportunity to talk to an executive, some how.. many of us end up talking about Process.. .What gives?  

This might be an interesting discussion for another post.  I think it might be related to the USUAL questions asked by a C Level Executive.  We are the ones who need to break our habitual answers.

There is a multitude of sources of information about how change works.  One part of most change initiatives is to put yourself in the other person's shoes and ask.  If I was them "What's in it for me ?". Better yet.... maybe ask them!

Granted, there will not always be something in it for them. It may just require sacrifice.  Nothing is perfect. 

Also, urgency for change has a big impact here and cannot be ignored. 

I find the majority of situations have something in it for the recipient of a request for change.  It seems pointless to me to throw away this 'gift' of a win-win by ignoring the possibility.  

As always, comments welcome.

Mike Caspar