People have different values, and expecting everyone to have the same values is likely problematic. In any event, changing the values of people is difficult and time-consuming. A few promises made across the organization can be invaluable. This helps align people and enables them to work together even if they have different values. Amplio Development takes the attitude espoused by Jerry Sternin in The Power of Positive Deviance – “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.” While we believe it’s good to have useful values, we shouldn’t require shifting people’s attitudes before they can work together well. Instead, we work together to shift peoples’ attitudes.
Amplio@Teams foundation of universal principles enables teams to make agreements based on them. This provides a foundation for people to work together. With the exception of the ‘create psychological safety’, all the following agreements are based on universal principles.
The following promises originating with Net Objectives and later incorporated by Disciplined Agile are strongly suggested:
- Create psychological safety
- Understand what is of value and deliver it quickly
- Cooperate with each other
- Make all workflow visible
- Avoid making things less predictable
- Keep workloads within our capacity
- Improve continuously
The promise: We agree to create psychological safety. This includes not criticizing people for making errors or suggestions. This includes not criticizing them to others when they aren’t there.
Why this is important: Our primary effort needs to be on learning. Learning requires safety and the opportunity to try things. Psychological safety is necessary for this. We must promise to avoid chastising peers and those who report to us when errors are made.
The promise: We agree to work on what’s most valuable. And to do so in a manner that speeds up delivery. If we aren’t sure if something is of value, we need to ask.
Why this is important: A great deal of work is wasted due to local optimization. Much of this waste can be eliminated if we focus on the value delivered by the organization.
The promise: We agree to cooperate to create the most value for our organization. This includes everyone taking on responsibility for value realization.
This is important: This can break up siloes when everyone is accountable for their area, but no one is accountable for the overall value.
The promise: We agree to make our workflows and what we are working on visible. This includes having explicit agreements about how work is done. Explicit does not mean something we follow but merely stating how we feel is the best way to work. These explicit agreements can change at any time.
Why this is important: People not knowing how they are supposed to work together creates a lot of waste. Stating our agreements also provides a base for improvement.
The promise: We agree to avoid making things less predictable. While unpredictability can’t be avoided, we agree to attend to it and not take actions that we know will increase it.
Why this is important: While we often can’t see how to make things predictable, we can often see how to make things worse, we must stop doing those things.
The promise: We agree not to overload people with work. We will also make it clear when we are being overloaded.
Why this is important: Overloading people with work causes delays in our workflow, which causes waste. It also creates multitasking which causes inefficiency. Both of these also lowers morale.
The promise: We agree to improve continuously. This means that when we see something wrong with our methods, we will take action to fix it or mitigate its adverse effects as soon as we can.
Why this is important: The focus should be on learning what we are attempting to do and how we are attempting to do it. We want to create a habit of learning. This will improve morale and make us both more effective and efficient.
It is helpful to notice how these seven promises work together to support each other. A few observations:
- Creating psychological safety helps improve continuously
- Understanding what is of value and delivering it quickly provides a basis for cooperation
- Making all workflow visible increases predictability
- Keeping workloads within capacity helps deliver value quickly
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