I hate #privacy.

 

Unless you’ve been in solitary confinement for the whole of 2013, you would know the big pink elephant in the news have been the ongoing revelations from the stash of intelligence data that Edward Snowden acquired during his work with the NSA. Working with Glenn Greenwald, Snowden revealed and continues to reveal the extent of global and mass data collection of data of private citizens in and outside of the United States.

Of course, the US government and its allies, their security agencies and supporters sing the same refrain – ‘we spy on you to keep you safe’. There is some logic to this, if not a lot of evidence of the ‘keep you safe’ bit.

In order to carry out it’s continuous espionage on the population of the world – really, the World! The NSA and in collusion with other national security agencies – GCHQ in the UK and others have bought and bullied access to the pipes that carry the raw data. Plugging into the heart of global telecommunications gave them unprecedented access to email, voice and other data. In the NSA’s own words – they wanted everything, all the time. In doing so, they have created huge distrust with the legal system and with the guardians of those pipes like BT, Google, Microsoft etc.

Greenwald and his associates – the Guardian newspaper group – chose a very shrewd strategy to drip feed the revelations to the public. The cynic in me would say it was to keep the story alive and sell papers, boost professional profile and ultimately sell more books. But actually I think the strategy was to keep the public persistently aroused to force the conversations that democratic societies need to have about the kind of relationship the State has with the population.

The world population is fickle. Our attention span is short and hugely contended for. Disasters, war, celebrity, entertainment, taxes, work, no-work, family and many other distractions these leave little head space to police the arms of governments that are struggling to remain relevant in an increasingly chaotic landscape.

I hate privacy

We are not private creatures and there is no such thing as privacy. There is just stuff that either no one is currently interested in or that we haven’t yet found a way to make public. Most things we moan about are really of no interest to anyone and we take slight to the mere possibility that they may be violated.

I hate privacy – at least in its current form.  It fuels embarrassment and paranoia, stifles real respect and human emotional development, and it delays us from having grown up conversations about how a progressive society should work. I hate it because it fuels the clandestine and gives reason to all kinds of nastiness that people do to exploit it.

The opposite of privacy is not everything about everyone all the time  – it is transparency. It is not glass houses and nudist beaches. It is openness and no barriers to a request to see what is going on.

I want to live in a world where I can find anything I want and do not have to feel I need to hide anything. The sheer volume of transparent content teaches restraint and discernment, encourages learning to understand what it means. I wager that it also teaches respect – if we are all naked and imperfect, we are much less likely to poke fun at the imperfections of others.

People most often hide things because they are afraid of the consequences of being discovered and in my near 40 years on this earth – those fears are hardly justified. I have seen this in both my personal life and in the things that I have observed. What might happen if we could do something about the fear – what might our world look like?

The enemy is not collecting data, the enemy is the misuse of data

What concerns me far more about the privacy debate is that we are debating privacy far more than the actions that the authorities take based on that data. I really don’t care that the US government has been listening to my calls or read my emails or can determine I tweet from my toilet. What I take objection to is that they might target a drone to blow me up whilst I’m on the toilet. Let’s debate that. My personal preference really would be that no one gets blown up.

The enemy are the extra judicial powers a President or prime minister has to order the assassination of anyone, anywhere- we are all innocent until proven guilty in a court. At least the last time I checked.

The enemy is going to war on false data, clandestinely obtained and then further protected by a veil of secrecy under the pretense of ‘national security’.

The enemy is the multi billion dollar security industry that thrives on secrecy and funds those who agree with its agenda of treating people like pawns and targets.

The enemy is the paranoid judiciary that chastises and sanctions people who , at great personal risk, shine the light of transparency on abuse.

The enemy is the callous media that muck rake the sensitive details of ordinary people in the name of ‘freedom of speech’ for the most puerile of entertainment and the most ignoble of aims – profit.

I don’t care what the eye sees nor what the ears hear, nor even what the brain thinks. I care what the hand does.

Protecting Privacy is hard, but promoting transparency is harder

If you think protecting privacy is hard, try being transparent. Transparency is very hard to do.
Just making everything you do open to even minimal scrutiny is hugely difficult, keeping it transparent is even harder. Transparency leads us to the conversation about responsibility. It takes us quickly through the blame game and we will come to the other side of that conversation because there is no hiding place for megalomania. Transparency leads us to accountability if we only it let.

So I am taking a really different tack on this. Instead of moaning about violations of privacy – what might happen if we strive to make everything transparent. The intelligence machinery will never ever be capable of containing the data of a transparent society. Let’s flood the infrastructure with openness and make irrevelant the mass collection of data.

What might happen if we tried these:

  • Every one sending an email cc’s the NSA, GCHQ, the Police etc on each email they send. I’m sure we can find email addresses for them. Failing that send them to your MP.
  • When your phone bill arrives, take a picture of it and send it as an email to the above groups.
  • Every call you place auto dials the security services so you are always in conference  (I can write software to do this if you are interested).

I’ll tell you what would happen – the world as we know it would end. The internet would crawl to a halt.What then?

The gutter scrapers of the world – most mainstream media outlets – will soon go out of business. When the football player who is having an affair writes casually on his blog that he is bedding multiple women and that his wife and he have talked about it, and you can see all the emails that he has sent, why would you even buy a paper to read it? At some point it would simply not be appealing. If you can see the wedding picture of any celebrity and actually *all* celebrities,  you will quickly get bored of it – I know, I used to be wedding photographer!

But there are bad guys with bombs!

Now I know what you’re thinking – the bad guys are hiding their plans to kill us in our sleep. That may be some truth in this – at least the part that there are people who are currently bent on doing harm. The question we are not genuinely asking is “why?”.

What are they angry about? What have they tried to say peacefully that we didn’t acknowledge? What are we doing to continuously piss them off? Why is there an ‘us’ and ‘them’?

I’m not talking appeasement – and even if I was, so what!.  I’m talking about understanding the unmet needs of people – individuals and groups. At the very least – to listen with an open mind and open heart. Then doing something about it – either help them meet those needs or help society balance the seemingly conflicting needs of its members. If that is not the central role of a government  – I really do not know what is.

If the world did more of this deep and insightful inquiry and actively worked to address those concerns, we might find that most of the sources of global conflict and what we so readily call ‘terrorism’ is based on injustices have been allowed to fester and continue unabated for decades. Israel/Palestine, the impunity of corporations, the rapaciousness of empires, the greed and the broken systems and misguided thinking of limitless growth are all recognized sources of anger in many people in the world. Add to this the  clash of economic classes, the pressure for disappearing resources and the deep abuse of political power. Oh and let’s not forget religion!

Might we find that most of the threats we fear come from real legitimate concerns of people who ordinarily seek to live in peace with everyone else? What might happen if we addressed those legitimate concerns satisfactorily?

And go easy on the labeling

We make things worse by labeling. We label certain countries and groups our ‘allies’ – giving carte blanche to their abuses (ahem Israel, Pakistan). We label fellow human beings ‘terrorists’ (ahem Nelson Mandela), making their very existence null and closing the channel on further inquiry. We make their genuine concerns irrelevant with little regard for the consequences of such ignoring. In a transparent society we would see why those labels exist and we would be able to question them. Transparency leads more often to engagement than privacy does.

To be continued…

I will be raging on privacy vs freedom vs ownership vs modesty vs ‘it is my right’

How might we get to a more transparent global society?

What/who will try and stop us?

 

 

FUALMO – The life lesson you won't find on Oprah.

indexcard

2013 has been an amazing year on many accounts. Most notable of these is that my family and I moved to Spain, marking a new and beautiful chapter in an already charmed family life.

Also, 2013 represents the first 12 months of searching for a viable startup business through experimentation – well, almost 12 months.

This brings me to FUALMO.

Fuck Ups are inevitable.

This year has seen me fuck up repeatedly. Mostly with my startup and with my relationship with Katharine – my wife, my partner, my BFF, my ideas bouncer – basically my everything rolled into one beautiful package.

Being absolutely focused on my startups has meant being all consumed by it and being all-affected by what I am experiencing as I build things – the disappointments and the joys (actually there have been far more of the former and too few of the latter – but hey ho!).

I’ve been moody, snappy, inattentive, intolerant and lost in my own thoughts. I have overburdened her, taken her amazing resilience for granted, communicated poorly and generally been a grumpy ass for a good part of the year.

Apologise –  as soon as it’s safe to do so.

One of my enduring strengths is my ability to reflect – almost immediately – on my behaviour. It has often been difficult but I have also learnt to apologise sincerely for my contribution to disharmony.

I used to apologise simply to keep the peace – without really thinking deeply about what it meant to me and to the other person – hey don’t judge me!

But now I tend to apologise with an added description of what I am apologising for. I find it helps me fully understand what I consider the damage I may have done and  knowing I need to do this helps me really think about how the other person feels.

Thankfully Katharine helps this by being open to my apology and providing an insight into how my behavior affected her.

Learn – otherwise what is the point?

Every fuck up is an invitation to understand what need was unmet and to learn more about myself. One huge learning that I made this year was that I a lot of my behavior is down to a need to not be interrupted in thought. I think deeply about stuff. This year has been mostly about startups, what my passion is and home cinemas (yeah – who knew!). But through reflection and analysis of my behavior I learned that I resented being interrupted when I was deep in thought about something. It rarely matters what the interruption – from being called to supper or being invited to a family walk.

Now that I know this is a need I have, I can communicate it and find ways to accommodate it in a more effective and harmonious way.

The difference between failure and truly fucking up is learning. I leave you to figure out which way it works.

Move On – because no one should take that much abuse.

Finally what has really helped me this year has been my improving ability to move on from a fuck up. Some fuck ups have been bigger than others and the time it takes for me to move on from them has varied but, almost without exception, I have been about to get closure on a fuck up.

I am convinced that the steps leading to moving on are critical to being able to just let things go. Without sincere apology, I cannot learn deeply and without learning (and the actions they lead to) I cannot see how I could really move on.

Moving on is essential to my mental and emotional well-being. Without it, things boil and bubble, fury simmers – waiting for the next spark to turn into an explosion. I am lucky that I can recognise when I haven’t moved on – because the new irritation has something to connect to. But through more reflection and sometimes conversation with Katharine I am able to move on from the fuck up.

So whilst this might never make it to Oprah and I’m certainly no Dr Phil – I hope you will consider FUALMO as a sanity-preserving technique to cope with real life. It works for me and it might work for you. Even if you totally ignore everything else I have shared, please consider finding effective ways to move on from behaviors that you do not feel proud off.

Here’s to a 2014 of many failures and fewer fuck ups.

What would you like to share/learn on International Collaboration Day? #iCollday

International Collaboration Day is January 16th

The other day as I had a long overdue hangout with Philip Dodson of @workhubs, Philip mentioned that they were doing some events as part of the International Collaboration Day on the 16th of January 2014.

This event totally piqued my interest – people getting together and making magic through sincere and passionate pursuit of what might emerge -what’s not to love?

I thought of how I might participate in this unique and inspiring event and I thought why not have a completely virtual openspace-inspired event around the topic of collaboration. Use a framework built entirely by and for collaboration for a collaboration themed event! I say it is Openspace inspired because I believe unless you follow the word and spirit of Harrison Owen’s technique , it really shouldn’t be called an Open Space – that’s my opinion.

Never heard of Open Space Technology? No worries, read up about it here.

What will you share/learn?

So here is my idea – 16 sessions of anything you want to talk about, learn or explore around what collaboration means in this connected world we live in. It might be an experience you want to share or hear about. It might even be an invitation to collaborate on something after the event.

The possibilities are endless. Whatever happens is the only thing that could.

iCollabDay

My mockup of what the MarketPlace might look like.

Whoever Comes Are The Right People

I can do this alone, but it will be hard and really no fun. I need your help for this to rock. By joining in this effort you will have so much fun it won’t even feel like hard work and you will for sure learn and have many opportunities to share.

Here are some ways you can help:

Join in organising it: to get this going ASAP, I figure we’ll need folk to code, make things useful and delightful to use and spread the word and get folk to propose great sessions etc. Email me or tweet me now and let’s get going.

Think of something to propose – The marketplace will open on January 2nd 2014. Although the details are emerging here is what I know now:

    • You’ll need to make a 60 second video pitch of your idea – what is the core of it, why will it interest anyone?
    • Sessions will be scheduled for 1 hour but in true Open Space style – they will last as long as you there are people learning and sharing.
    • This will be entirely virtual and we’ll use Google hangouts which has some collaboration tools like a whiteboard. It’s awesome – but different from the ease of being in the same space. The more you prepare to communicate your content effectively, the better your session is likely to be.
    • Get set to attend one or more sessions – get mentally prepared, if you don’t have a camera on your internet device make plans to acquire one, make the time – book something in your calendar.

      Spread the word – gatherings are about people. People bring the magic. This event will suck if no one comes – that said, whoever comes are the right people. Help spread the word on all your networks. Collaboration affects everyone and we could all be better at it. Click your favorite share channel below. It is the least you can do.

      If this event does not float your boat, go check out the International Collaboration Day website and find something that does. If there really isn’t anything – propose something and make it happen.

       

I take solace in the indestructibility of energy.

One of my dearest friend’s mummy died this Christmas and I feel so deeply saddened to hear the news. It also touches that part of me that is unprepared for the inevitable passing of my own mummy. I take much solace from this. If you have lost someone you love, I hope you find some comfort in this too.

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him/her that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let him/her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her/his eyes, that those photons created within her/him constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.

– Aaron Freeman

Mrs Iluyomade, may your energy continue to light the hearts of all whose lives you touched.

The Alternative Christmas Message

Today is Christmas day. The day, in the Christian calendar, on which Christ was born – bringing salvation and hope to the world. A day for family, celebration of hope and goodwill to all.

Today, the world in which we live has no salvation and declining hope. More than half the human population lives in poverty, without even the basic necessities of life – enough food or clean water, shelter or healthcare. Yet the richer minority spend more for this day than the poorer majority earn in lifetimes.

Last year’s global holiday spend was about $38.2 billion principally from Europe ($15.77bn) and the US ($15.66bn). This year’s spend is expected to be , on average, 3.9% up on last year. This cannot be right. The financially wealthy nations of the world cannot surely be spending on the latest gadgets and gifts while the financially poor peoples starve and die of disease. Not today, the day of goodwill to all mankind.

Jesus Christ, whose birthday elicits much celebration and lavish spending came up at a time of great prosecution – he came as a saviour, the messiah. Not to one set of people, but for the whole world. Yet today, of the 191 nations recognised by the UN, there are 35 in some stage of armed conflict, many more in stages of internal strife brought about by the oppression of political minorities and the injustice of corporate interest. If ever there was a time for salvation, for a saviour, for a messiah; this would be it.

The world over, the natural infrastructure that forms the fragile balance of life on earth has been badly damaged and is continually eroded. The air, earth and water are being poisoned. Flora and fauna are both being pushed to the edge of extinction by greed and the desperation of poor people; the social bonds that bind people into communities are being destroyed. Maybe to some extent this is good – religion and other questionable forms of social control, which promoted a hypocritical sense of moral superiority, are removed. Now all we need is for a form of social adhesive based on the recognition of the earth and all its inhabitants as all members of the same ‘family’. Each with its part to play in the survival of the collective. With the regard and protection of all. This would be a good idea, but as of today, that is all it is – an idea.

Forget terrorism as the scourge of humanity. Poverty and disease caused by man is and will remain the main killer of more people than the bombs of political discontents. When the World Bank and the IMF ‘restructure’ candidate nations so that they spend more servicing debt than educating their youth or providing healthcare to their citizens, one must question who the real threats to humanity are.

So this Christmas the message is simple.

Do not just pay a passing glance, a fleeting thought to the homeless; the disenfranchised and the poor; the old and infirm; the hungry and dying in the developing worlds of Africa and Asia, Central and South America.

Do not ignore the devastation of the oceans and the earth’s very lifeblood, the rape of the land and the vegetation, the decimation of species in the name of profit. We all have to live on this planet and what we strive to be ignorant of today, will be painfully obvious to us and our generations to come.

If there is hope, it is that you can do something lasting about it. Educate yourself about what is going on and why. Then contribute what you can; in time, effort and money to make it better. That is the greatest present you can give the world.

This article was originally written 25 December 2003.

Gifts in unlikely places.

Finding the right gift is a pain – it shouldn’t be, but it is. My friend Søren has just launched a new product – Giftri.com. It is a clever and useful little app that helps you give and receive the right gifts. 

We were chatting about the challenges of launching a product and getting people to visit the site and use it and be wowed by its value. I prefer thinking of it like this (people and value vs traffic). I asked Søren what he had tried to get people to the site.

We’ve tried lots of things, Google ads, Facebook ads, joining forums and trying to promote it in conversation. We even used 3rd party ad sharing networks – which had lots of poor quality traffic. We also monitored tweets from people asking about what gifts to get and politely suggested using our service.

“The single, most effective thing we did”

Despite the investment in advertising on Google and Facebook and all the effort in mining social media –  lots of people came to the site, but  the conversion to using the site and seeing the recommendations was still very low.

What worked for them was simple. Søren says:

But you know what really worked for us? The single, most effective thing we did that brought the most people who used the site, checked out the recommendations and ultimately bought something from our partner?  I commented on a thread on reddit by a guy who was concerned about what to get his family for Christmas!

I was very surprised! This single thing whilst not generated lots of page visits, generated the most valuable visits. Maybe I’m reading more into this, but a profound lesson was reinforced for me by Søren’s experience. – understand the problem people have and how (and where) they express it.

 

People have needs and favorite places to express them

I was really inspired by a tweet by my friend @paulKlipp:

https://twitter.com/paulklipp/status/413619440081588224

‘People have needs’ and this is fundamentally true. Not meeting those needs can be a problem, it seems to me that needs also have channels where they are most effectively expressed. For any entrepreneur trying to understand problems in order to find a product/market, finding places where people express their needs is almost as crucial as the need itself.

The work in understanding where needs are expressed pays huge dividends. You find somewhere to engage with your audience and listen to their needs and demonstrate empathy and as you strive to solve them, you find a willing community to help you test your ideas.

As I work on building my app – Hashies – focused on helping communities have powerful conversations on Twitter, I am discovering that my engagement with those channels is vital to understand their pain points. Participating in these communities is also exceptionally rewarding in terms of learning new domains. If you aren’t already participating in these – I encourage you to take a look. A great place to find a list of Twitter chats is TheChatDiary.com [update 04/June/2014: TheChatDiary.com link is no longer valid]

So, as you do market research for your startup or are engaged in customer development, it might be worth your while to seek out the channels people use to express their needs as well as the needs themselves.

What are your thoughts on needs and channels? I’d love to hear and share the most – and least – effective things you’ve done for Customer Developement. 

 

Want 30 days of free #agile #coaching for your team? Help me on my project and it's yours. Pls Share.

A little about me?

I’m Mike Sutton – a deeply experienced agile coach with a background in development. I have built products, led teams and small companies, consulted with some of the biggest enterprises and helped  dozens of  teams and hundreds of  people to work more effectively. I tend to focus more on people and outcomes than on process and output and seek to leave places more joyful than I found them. Check me out on LinkedIn to find out who I’ve worked with or book a conversation with me  and I’d be happy to answer any questions you have.

I need your help

After over seven years of coaching enterprises of all sizes – usually on site for periods ranging from a few weeks to many months – I have become convinced that this is not the most effective model to help people genuinely learn and make sustainable positive changes to how they work and think about work.

Whether you are a big 20,000+ employee organisation or a small ten person team – I don’t believe this model of concentrated transformation or ‘shock’ coaching actually helps deliver sustained positive outcomes.

Here are 5 of the biggest reasons I don’t believe this is a model for sustained change:

  1. Cost: hiring a consultant coach is expensive – sometimes very expensive. It can run into tens of thousands of dollars for just one coach. When you multiply this by a few coaches on a large ‘transformation’, it gets crazy costly.
  2. Negatively disruptive : the cost also drives an unhealthy level of disruption. The unspoken sentiment is ‘Mike is here, the meter is running, drop everything now to get his help’. This has the effect of creating a pressure cooker situation that hardly encourages the learning that we want.
  3. Learning is rushed –  most enterprises I have worked with seem to consider a transformation to be a ‘project’. They’ll hire a coach and once the agreed period has passed, they will be ‘agile’. This is an unreasonable approach. The essential elements of making small changes, reflecting on the results, adjusting the next set of experiments all take time – they cannot be rushed. But because the meter is running and the costs are high, the journey is rushed and often abandoned because the learning has not been given a chance to stick.
  4. It wastes my time and your money: there are times when a coach must do nothing. Times when the organisation must do its own heavy lifting. Most organisations I have coached have expected me to still be on site even when it is counter productive to their learning and erodes their ability to stand on their own.
  5. Poor ongoing support: I see many companies that paid money to have their employees trained and certified. Some might even have hired a coach like me on site to do some work. But once the training is over and the coaches leaves,  their Scrum Masters, Product Owners, developers and even management are left with little or no ongoing support. It soon returns to business as usual because there is no one to help them stay focused or to whom they can turn for help with the next steps – at least not without another large cost. Some might create an internal coach role to keep improvements going – but in my experience the key ingredient of objectivity and honesty often get lost over time because of internal politics and familiarity.

I need your help to make this better.

I’m working on a project to help and support people in maintaining a sustainable pace of continuous improvement and learning. To do this,  first I need to really understand the problems facing people who are trying to apply an agile approach with very little support. I want to understand what the barriers to support are and experiment with ways to remove them.

My offer to you

If any of the following apply to you:

I am in management struggling to understand how agile should be working for me and my organisation, my role in it and what should I be doing next

I am in a team that is seeking ways to improve our outcomes and how we collaborate and learn;

I am a Scrum Master or Product Owner feeling isolated, unsupported and outnumbered;

My organisation claims they are doing Scrum or are agile – but it’s all wrong and very frustrating. We could do with some help.

I am a C-Level executive with people in my organisation that fit the above and I want to help make it better.

Then I would love your help on my project.

I am offering to personally coach five lucky groups remotely  free of charge for 30 days.

Each group will enjoy great benefits including having:

30 days of remote access coaching available to anyone in your organisation. This could be ongoing coaching of Scrum masters as they perform an incredibly difficult role or mentoring Product Owners in keeping a vision shared and relevant and maintaining a healthy backlog. It could be starting from scratch with setting a strategic direction with the inclusion of your entire organisation or helping established teams get even better.

A skilled facilitator  – to help you and your organisation rediscover how to collaborate transparently and effectively so that you can finally start to address all those issues that affect you all.

An untainted observer – to help you with my objective observations untainted by any political influence.

An improvement partner – to help work through those tough problems and help you find your own way through them. From vision to delivery and everything in between.

Access to lots of games, practices and experience –  to help your teams improve their capability to reflect, experiment and collaborate and to deliver product and learning more sustainably.

Help to start and grow your communities of practice  – to help sustain an almost permanent and continuous state of learning.

Support when you need it – it is not in the interest of self-sustainability that a coach is there for everything you do – this is a journey where  you will ultimately outgrow a coach. But at every step where you falter, you will have my experience, expertise and network  to overcome it.

What’s the catch?

I am usually paid thousands of pounds/dollars to offer my expertise and experience to help teams and organisations improve. I’m making this offer absolutely free of charge – gratis!

While I will not charge you for my remote services, this offer is not free – I am offering this in exchange for learning!

I want to learn how the remote coaching experience works for you, specifically:

  1. To what extent does having unrestricted remote access to independent and experienced expert improve the outcomes for agile teams and their management?
  2. How much expert access is “just right” to keep continuous improvement at its highest sustainable pace?
  3. What is the most effective kind of access and for what kind of situations?
  4. Can the business value of remote strategic coaching be measured?
  5. If, given affordable access and no-pressure, will the individuals in an organisation use the help that is offered? What will it take for the organisation to support it?

That’s it. I coach you remotely for free , you and your organisation improve and have a great basis for continued improvement and I get to learn to what extent this can be done remotely. Want free agile coaching for 30 days? Sign up now.

How it works

  1. If I haven’t worked with your group for 6 months or more, we are best to start with 2 days on site where I meet your group –  the teams and individuals – and we work together on what we want out of this. We’ll come up with goals and a near term starting plan to reach them. We’ll setup a review cadence and start working on the items on the plan.
    This on-site time will be expenses only – so you cover the flight, accommodation and meals. I won’t charge you for my time.
  2. After the 2 days on-site, I leave and we continue the work on the plan remotely  – adjusting it as we learn more. We will collaborate using every remote channel available to us – video, screen-sharing, email and phone calls – perhaps even an interactive whiteboard!
  3. After 30 days, we end the partnership happy, we would both have learnt a lot and have actionable data to fuel improvement.

Does this sound doable for your organisation? Let’s try it together..

My ideal group

  • Are based within 7 hours of GMT+1  –  so  Europe, east coast USA, middle East and Africa are all in!
  • Are not larger than 400 employees. For huge companies, this refers only to the size of the group that will be using my offer.
  • Are building any product – software or otherwise.
  • Are in whatever stage of adopting an agile approach.
  • Are committed to improvement and are open-minded enough to try this.

Does this sound like you? I need just 5 – be one of them, sign up now.

What you need to do now

Places are limited. Once I find 5 groups willing to help with this, the offer will close and you will have missed the opportunity. 

If you feel this opportunity would suit you and your organisation and you are willing to help me learn – get in touch now – there is not a minute to lose.

Finally , as a personal favour to me and your contacts – please share this.

Why @whatsapp just became one of my favourite companies and I don't even use their software.

whatapp-logo-bw-horizontal

Image courtesy of Whatsapp

I’m getting old.

I don’t hanker after gadgets as much as I used to and I’m not connected to the latest app fads. Plus I wear crocs.

But I read this blog post from the founders of WhatsApp –  a mobile app that lets you doing instant message to anyone in the world for free. As apps go – it is not very exciting for me. I’ve written a few myself and to be fair that space is very crowded. Yet they are loved by their users (my daughters and my sister at least) because they have a great product that they love and it shows.

What made me so totally love this company though is not its product or it huge user base but a glimpse into the fabric of the character of the company.

They don’t sell ads because for the same reasons that I will never sell ads on any application that I build. I especially love them because they were gifted with the ability to articulate their reasons so eloquently.

I’ve never completely understood advertising because fundamentally I think people search for what they need. So really what we could do with is better searching – easier ways to pull and not more places to have things pushed at one. Perhaps the most insidious aspect of advertising is that users become the product – eyeballs to be bought, sold and ad-sensed. That really grates me.

Advertising and the satellite industries around it seem to run the world. I wonder how it might change.

So – thank you Whatsapp – from one maker to another – keeping fighting the good fight and doing good work.

Just so you know – #agile training is *not* coaching.

I’m noticing a rather bizarre thing happening in the agile services space. Trainers – certified or otherwise – are increasingly adopting the ‘Agile Trainer/Coach’ title.
In my experience, trainers are not naturally coaches. I understand one reason why – it makes them more marketable, especially in a market that is full of ‘professionals’ seeking quick fixes and silver bullets to deeply flawed organizational problems.

Now, I’m not saying a person cannot be both – I just question the effectiveness of either – particularly the coaching – if said person has been peddling the same content repeatedly over a few months/years. Where is the learning for them, where is the problem solving that leads to knowledge that leads to something they can use to help others through a muddle?

I’ve coached over 100 teams over the last 7 years and the more coaching I do, the more I appreciate what a coach does. It is to bring a different perspective to the problem. A perspective informed not simply by the dogma of one framework or methodology – which trainers are great at -but the collective screw ups and successes of the their past experiences made sense by deep and constant reflection. Advice, support and counsel is imparted with honesty and deep empathy. A coach is in your problem with you, but not off your problem. Think about that!

I write this because I value coaching above training and I do not want to see the practice fall into the abyss of uselessness and corrupted definition.

Coaches are there to walk your journey with you – not every step but certainly every step where you falter. Coaches are there to help you become stronger in your practice. They are there long after the nonsensical idealism of training has worn off.

What has your experience of training been?
Have you experienced having a good coach work to help you and your team/organisation deliberately improve? What challenges did you observe, how did you address them?

I’d love to hear your experiences – good/bad/indifferent.

What happens on #Twitter when someone like #Mandela dies

I was going to title this post – ‘What billions of silent voices screaming at the same time look like’ – but it seemed too dramatic.

As I was about to release the pre-beta of my new app Hashies, the news came on the wire that Nelson Mandela had died. I wasn’t particularly shocked – more relieved actually. I do feel like I have lost a beloved grandfather – I think most of the world feels the same. But in the last few months, the situation around him and the media frenzy was grotesque to say the least. I wished nothing more than a peaceful passing on for Mr Mandela and when it came I felt only relief and gratitude for a beautiful brave life.

Hashies tracks what people are saying on a hashtag in near real time. Given the news, ‘#Mandela’ seemed the way to go. Before I heard the news – it was going to be ‘#JustinBeiber’ – glad it wasn’t!

Enough said, here is what it looked like.

And just to be sure – there is no one quite like Mr Mandela. And there is unlikely to ever be. RIP Madiba.