Be the type of person you want to meet

I've had this screenshot on my desktop since 1 April 2016. It's taken from the Momentum extension for Chrome. Each day, it gives you another image and quote when you open a new tab.

So why this screenshot?

Last Friday I was talking to one of my best friends about how people seem to behave differently when you change job titles. Why is that? It's just a title, the person behind the title is still the same one you talked to yesterday. Yes, responsibilities might change and in a hierarchical organisation (yuk!) your relationship might change. But those aren't good reasons to behave in another way than you did before.

I take pride in being the same person day in, day out. I'm no different at work, than I am with family, friends, clients, strangers,... What you see is what you get! ;-)

To me this seems like the only way to stay true to your values and be authentic.

What person do I like to meet?

I like to hang out with people that:

  • are ambitious
  • are full of energy
  • radiate positive vibes
  • are happy
  • give back
  • keep their word

Next time you see me failing on any one of these, tell me, otherwise I'm not the kind of person I'd like to meet.

So how about you? What kind of person do you like meeting?

Hasselt Lean Coffee

On Tuesday I went to the Hasselt Lean Coffee Meetup at the Corda Bar (Hasselt). It proved to be a great evening with some smart people.

What's Lean Coffee?

It's a nice way to connect with likeminded people and discuss topics in your field.

From the Lean Coffee website:

Lean Coffee is a structured, but agenda-less meeting. Participants gather, build an agenda, and begin talking. Conversations are directed and productive because the agenda for the meeting was democratically generated.

What did I learn about?

  1. The concept of nemawashi: in our discussion it centered around changing a company's culture. You can't just pull the company from it's current culture and drop it into a new one. It takes some careful digging around the roots, before you transplant the tree.
  2. Coworking location Seats2meet: the idea is that you can book a workspace or meetingroom and share your knowledge with other people in the building. You can see what everyone in the building has to offer, and meet up for an informal talk and share some ideas. They only have one location in Belgium (if I'm correct), but it's definitely something I want to check out when I'm in the Netherlands.
  3. A lot of angles/concepts in how we approach agile working. The topics I proposed where: "How to approach Product Ownership at the client's side?" and "How to teach agile to people without prior knowledge or people just coming from school?"

When's the next meetup?

The next Hasselt Lean Coffee will be held on Tuesday 6 December 2016 - 19h00 at the Corda Bar (Hasselt). If you want to join, make sure to RSVP on meetup.com

Thanks Wim Bollen and Tim Pijpops for organizing these meetups, I'm definitely attending again.

Feedback

The idea for this post came to me when reading this article on Harvard Business Review.

This part made me reflect on how we do software development:

A core value at The Other Side Movers is “200% Accountability.” Meaning every employee is expected to be 100% accountable for the quality of their own work, AND 100% accountable for the quality of the work of everyone else they see. The quickest way to get in trouble at The Other Side Movers is not to fail on #1, but on #2.

If we really embrace this rule as a team, there's no escaping, you'll have to give/receive feedback at some point.

As a Scrum Master it's my job to make people aware of the importance of feedback. I often see two things happening:

  • Giving feedback: some people are hesitant of pointing something out if it involves a colleague. "What if I'm wrong or my colleague doesn't like what I'm saying?" Let me turn it around: What if you're right and you didn't point it out? This moment was a chance to improve and we didn't grab it.
  • Receiving feedback: some people feel threatened because they see feedback as a bad thing. Once you see it as an opportunity to learn, you'll grow much faster as a person.

How to give feedback?

The following steps should make giving feedback an opportunity to learn for both parties:

  1. Name (not judge!) the behaviour you're seeing, the moment you see it. If you wait too long, the behaviour will be forgotten and the message is not as strong. Talking about the behaviour, not the person, is key in this step.
  2. Tell the person how you interpret this kind of behaviour and what effect it might have on the team.
  3. Propose a new way of behaving in this situation and see if you both can agree.

Don't let emotion get in the way of providing feedback. By keeping it factual, there's a bigger chance that the recipient will accept the feedback.

One thing I liked this week #4

Netflix. I've been a subscriber since they launched in Belgium and haven't regretted it ever since. For € 9,99/month I can watch their entire library of films/series and they're constantly adding new and interesting stuff.

That's even less than one visit to Kinepolis: € 10,20 for a 2D movie!

Last weekend we enjoyed Steve Aoki's aptly named documentary "I'll sleep when I'm dead" and "Fury" starring Brad Pitt.

When we have more time, we'll definitely be watching:

  • Stranger things
  • Narcos (Season 2, releasing 2 September)

Failure demand

IMAGE BY PAVAN TRIKUTAM

Failure demand is a concept discovered by Professor John Seddon. According to Wikipedia, he describes it as "demand caused by a failure to do something or do something right for the customer".

I'll give an example of something that happened to me a while ago. We needed an electrical inspection in order to sell our previous apartment. Due to the setup of our tenant living there, we had one month to make this happen before we had to hand over the keys to the new owners. One month seemed like a good enough buffer to make this happen. I immediately thought of Company A, because they left a sticker on the electrical cabinet after a previous inspection. I submitted a form on their website and got a confirmation message along the lines of: "We'll contact you as soon as possible to arrange an inspection!".

I mentioned that we needed an inspection within the next month.

The actual timeline

  • One week after submitting the form, I called Company A to ask if they received my request and explained that it was "urgent" (3 weeks time left).
    • The answer: "Yes sir, I'll inform my colleague to get to you right away!"
  • One week after my call (2 weeks time left), I called Company A to ask if something went wrong, because I still hadn't heard from them.
    • The answer: "Sir, I'll make sure that this gets picked up before tomorrow evening."
  • 1,5 week before our deadline, I submitted a form with Company B and was presented with an option to pick a date/hour for the inspection. As expected, they showed up on the requested date/hour and our electrical inspection was ok for our handover of the keys.

So you might wonder, what happened to company A? They called me one week after handing over the keys to the new owners to set up an appointment... So five weeks after my initial request and two phonecalls where they assured me this would be picked up fast, they wanted to set up an appointment. I kindly mentioned that their competitor already took care of it.

The lessons

  • Your copy on your website is part of your customer journey, make sure it fits with the way you actually work.
  • When you promise to get back to someone, do so. Even if it's just an update to let them know that the request is being processed. I'd rather receive multiple updates, than not hear anything at all.
  • If the customer is calling you to ask for a status, you're already experiencing failure demand, because of an implied expectation from the customer's side.