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Leadership Uncategorized

When?

The more often people ask “When?”, the less likely you are to be working in an Agile organisation.

If we’re building a software product using an agile model, then every day we’ll have the latest version ready, with all the most important features complete and the team working on the next most important. The choice is always with the organisation, they can launch what they have, or wait for another iteration.

If the conversation is always “When will it be finished?”, then you are thinking about projects, about things that don’t evolve with feedback, and most of all, something that has a fixed view of what’s considered good.

It’s much better to get that initial launch out early, and start to update quickly based on the actual activity of real users. That validates the assumption you made early on, or disproves them really quickly. It means that you waste the smallest amount of effort as you correct quickly.

I usually find that Marketing are a major asker of “When?”, there’s often a longer lead time with some channels, and they want to plan in a fixed way to account for these timelines. They aren’t able to move away from these processes, so you have to find some ways to mitigate the questioning.

There’s two techniques that I’ve found to be helpful (and that also work with anyone asking When?).

First up, move away from specific features. Switch up the conversation, and show what problems are being solved for your users. This lets you focus more on the overall value of the package, and sell the solution rather than any particulars that might not yet be complete.

Second, if features are important, take the conversation back to what’s already been done. Show off everything that’s available today. If you are experimenting with features before they reach prime-time, then you can use some that are nearly ready to go. Give the Marketing team early access, particularly to winning experiments that you are working to turn into full features. With the range of access, they’ll be able to slot features into various materials depending on their own lead time needs.

Do these, and you’ll start to wind down the “When?”, and get back into the agile swing of things.

Categories
Coaching Leadership Uncategorized

Know Your Strengths

I really rate the Clifton Strengths assessment as a method of understanding your own strengths and preferences. It costs about $50, but it will bring you many multiples of that back in value if you make good use of the report.

You’ll get an ordered list of 34 different strengths across a range of themes (Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building and Strategic Thinking). You’ll get a range of reports, ranging from the full list, to a deep dive into your top five strengths. The detailed reports will give a high level summary, a range of phrases that explain the strength, and also an indication of what could be a negative if you overuse that strength.

It’s really great that the reports invite you to reflect on the specific themes that resonate most to you, rather than forcing you to box yourself in to a single descriptor.

As an example, one of my top strengths is “Analytical”, which is 100% not a surprise (Maths graduate!). This means that I like to work with data, that I like it when ideas are well formed, and I enjoy when people are able to “show their working”. This strength will mean that people will seek me out when they want support to build up an idea (or knock down one that’s not yet well formed). However, if overused, it can cause people to stop seeking my advice, if they feel their ideas may not yet be rigorous enough.

With this awareness, I’m able to put this analytical strength to good use. I’m able to support people to build up ideas, pairing up with people who work in a more instinctive way to help them connect their inspiring idea to the data that backs it up.

I’m also able to look out for those times when the emotional connection is the right one to make, so that I don’t drown it out with data!

If you know your strengths, then you can spend time making sure you apply them whilst also looking out for situations where overusing them might be a handicap.

If you don’t have this awareness, then will find it hard to recognise what you are great at, you won’t recognise where you are struggling, and worst of all, you won’t know where your default behaviour is going to cause you difficulty.