Archive for May, 2011

Whether self-employed, employed by organizations, whether retired or unemployed, we all engage with companies and organizations that support us or we support them. In our interactions with these organizations, what we are wanting is to experience qualities of dignity, first and foremost. This means being treated as a sovereign individual of value, worthy of respect. I want people to communicate authentically, with curiosity and interest.

Disheartened by too many disappointments with customer service representative, HR people and bosses who have an agenda above and beyond the notion treating us as human beings, we’ve come to choose to cloak ourselves in various armor-styles. Through this strategy we attempt to mitigate the experience of being disempowered, triggered by attitudes and environments that are less than safe.

Consequences of stressful conversations and working environment are such that each of us actually empower ourselves to choose ways of being that are disempowering. We choose to lower our heads, withdraw and withhold, generating far less creativity, innovation, engaged sharing, often precipitating depression and demoralizing environments.

We are all affected by our own unique ways of empowering ourselves to disempower ourselves. That sounds confusing but it is none-the-less accurate. We want to blame others and remain unconscious as to how we are creating our own demise.

D.E.N.I.A.L (Don’t Even kNow I Am Lying) is the word that comes to mind.

Certainly we are affected by other people’s attitudes, moods and actions. At the same time, it’s important to get that they are also very much affected by our own. Our tendency is to want others to change so we can feel safe enough to the change too.

Quite often people are angered by my suggesting that we are not victims to our circumstance, that somehow we are collaborators and colluding with the enemy, that we are responsible for the abuse that is perpetrated upon us. My job is to provide an environment, in this case through my writing, where people can feel safe enough to being exploring possibilities beyond this current paradigm, which doesn’t allow deeper examination of the role we play within abusive environments.

Distinguishing what it is you are committed to will facilitate a conversation that either generates a discovering process or a disempowering process. This is in alignment with our previous discussion regarding commitments and conflicting or underlying commitment. Disclosing both reveals patterns and processes that we are unlikely aware of, yet present powerful and devastating outcomes.

D is for Dilemma

I spoke about this in my previous blog, that we are wanting change in our work environment and at the same time we are fearful of the consequence for being the change you are wanting. This creates a dilemma and precipitates a critical choice-point in just about every arena of our lives not just in the workplace. Again, getting clear about what you want and the degree to which you are committed to what you want can mean you begin to detach yourself from the perspectives and interpretations by which you have been living, being and acting. Through detachment you create a more expanded capacity to witness yourself making choices that aren’t in alignment with your own commitment. You begin to distinguish your actions from your thoughts, and intently choose to choose in alignment with what you are wanting.

Detach from Fear

At the New Living Expo, where I spoke about spiritual wounding in the workplace, there were many individuals present who experienced such disappointment, depression, dejection through their workplace. As we spoke it became clear that they needed to become their own advocate; not just in standing up for themselves but by noticing how they may be contributing to their workplace being less than optimal.

One woman asked – “What are some things I can practice before going into a meeting where I feel less than?” I encouraged her to sit quietly and get clear with her intentions – what it is she really wanted from the conversation, and then to feel the quality of that experience in her body of having it already. In this way she can truly embody her intention, and when embodied she’d be more than likely to follow through. Otherwise, the anxiety and fear precipitated by her conflicting commitment would take over and she would lose her nerve and withdraw.

A second person shared that he had used this particular practice and had experienced positive results. He shared that he’d followed through because he was able to stay in alignment with his intention by staying in this embodied experience.

Again, we have to be willing to detach from thoughts that precipitate sensations of anxiety and other discomforts. Habitually we act from these body sensations, hence it’s important to distinguish when we are acting from them and when we are acting from our intention. We know it in our bodies.

Domain of Humanity

I want to be clear with you that we choose to choose what we choose based on the ground of being we stand upon; the precepts of which are either fear-based or essence-based. These precepts reside in the Domain of Humanity.

Utilizing our personal power, we choose from fear or from non-fear. Our current paradigm is fraught with fear-based realities that we presume to be true. Can we detach ourselves from these fear-based thoughts enough to allow possibility to reveal itself? Can we allowing ourselves to expand our comfort zone to include what has yet to be conceived as real in our own thinking?

A fundamental practice that empowers this exploration is to distinguish the roots of your choice-making, within the Domain of Humanity. Just through noticing what is occurring in your body – those sometime very subtle tensions or releasing, you can reveal to yourself whether the current choice is founded on fear or founded on essential wisdom. Only through practice will you be able to reveal fascinating choice-making processes that empower you, in the long run, to self-generate dignity. Enjoy the exploration!

Can Agile cause damage?

Yes.

Is Agile a good method?

Yes.

How can both statements be true?

Let’s look.

First, let me say I have a great respect for RAD, Extreme Programming, Agile, etc., because the methods reflect acceptance of and dealing with a common reality.  That reality is the gap between initiatives or high-level project statements (40,000 foot view) and what it takes to get the job done (working in the trenches). Life moves at such a fast pace there is little time or tolerance to do definitive estimating, i.e., laying out ALL work in work packages of 80 effort hours or less and stringing them together logically to create a network diagram. The pressure that is usually put on the team comes from the desire to see action and deliverables being generated as quickly as possible. The belief is time might be wasted planning due to analysis paralysis. There’s something more to it, though.. the senior management has the desire to move ahead with more initiatives and wants to delegate its responsibility to think things through at a detailed level. In other words a greediness can be present to get as much from the team with as little input as possible.

The Agile method creates a realistic solution to such a situation by getting the team to work quickly with the caveat that the recipient of the deliverable will be available to sign off on progress made and give clear indication of what they desire next.

Baby Steps

The problem that can arise is reflected humorously in the movie, What About Bob, where a successful psychiatrist (for this blog representing the team) loses his mind while attempting to deal with a highly dependent, manipulative, obsessive-compulsive patient (representing the customer, end-user, or sponsor).

In the movie, the psychiatrist is famous for his book, “Baby Steps,” which defines how patients can be moved back to health by making small, corrective changes in their behavior. The problem is the patient takes advantage of the psychiatrist’s dedication to get more of what he wants without taking responsibility and making any changes in his own behavior.

No, this does this mean that customers, senior managers, and end users are mentally deranged. The situation is more in line with having to deal with a demanding, ever-changing business environment and expecting IT to keep up with the demands. If these demands are legitimate then what is the problem?

Flexible or Fragmented?

The issue has to do with the potential of taking a good thing too far and having it turn into a weakness. This is the basis of an interesting psychological tool, the Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI). Flexibility IS important as is acceptance of the difficulties associated with doing long-range detailed planning. So, again, Agile provides a definite “plus.” The problem arises when there is an over-reliance on the intense, tactical approach. What can happen is reinforcement of a nearsightedness regarding requirements along with the belief the team can work without getting immediate feedback on their work. If the team reacts to this and pumps up to get more intense about making the method work a negative feedback loop can build which is of no help to the project.

The Solution: Balance

In the end stability is needed. Why? When the success of a method exists solely in the dynamic of extreme, short-term actions there is the risk of no end-to-end stability. Documentation becomes increasingly difficult to perform because many targets are moving simultaneously. The organization can behave as if it has ADHD.  On the flip side, strategizing without getting into the details risks going nowhere.

The solution lies in getting back to some classic project management approaches to insure a coherent strategic overview is maintained and system performance is truly auditable. It is similar to laying roof shingles. A line needs to be drawn as a reference point across the entire roof. If not, roofers can lay shingle by shingle and swear they are following a straight line. However, after going 15 or 20 feet in this manner they can drift from the straight line with absolutely no awareness they are doing so. This drift eats time and money.

A 5,000-year-old quote from the Upanishads sums it well:

“By standing still we overtake those who are running.”


If you’re a business owner or an author using a sample chapter of your book, a report, or a tip sheet as a list-building incentive, consider replacing it with a manifesto. A well-written manifesto can do a better job of helping you build your brand and grow your list, paving the way for you to sell more books.

Manifestos are better list builders because they take a stand. Because manifestos strongly advocate a position, and are usually passionately written, they operate on an emotional level, tapping into the power of commitment.

Cialdini and Commitment

Robert Cialdini, the best-selling author of Influence: The Power of Persuasion, has spent his entire career researching the science of influence, earning an international reputation as an expert in the fields of persuasion, compliance, and negotiation.

Influence: The Power of Persuasion has become one of the most frequently quoted psychology books among marketing professionals. In it, Cialdini describes 6 weapons of influence. The longest chapter is devoted to commitment. The main idea is simple: once individuals commit to an idea or a course of action, they tend to remain committed.

The power of commitment is rooted in an individual’s self-image and a desire to avoid appearing wrong to others; the more public the commitment, the stronger the commitment.

Commitment, social media, and list quality

I was reminded about the power of commitment when I ran across Sunni Brown’s Doodle Revolution Manifesto, one of the strongest community-building list-builders I’ve seen in a long-long time.

Sunni Brown is co-author, with Dave Gray and John Macanufo, of Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers. Gamestorming is currently one of Amazon.com’s top 1,500 bestsellers overall, as well as a leading book in several business categories.

My route to signing Sunni Brown’s Doodle Revolution Manifesto illustrates the importance of quality online content, backed up with the power of social media.

My journey to the Doodle Revolutionary’s Manifesto

Here’s the social media and quality content route I traveled that led me to Sunni’s manifesto (and this post):.

  • Friday afternoon. My journey began when I discovered Gamestorming at the local Barnes & Noble.
  • Early Friday evening. My exploration continued when I got home, searched online, and visited the Gamestorming site and blog. Later, I Googled each of the authors. My search lead me to a Tweet by @bangalaurent, Laurent Sarrazin. The post described Sunni’s free, i.e., no registration, Revolutionary’s Booklist. I was intrigued, checked it out, and downloaded it.
  • Late Friday evening. Later, after downloading the Revolutionary’s Booklist, I spent a couple of pleasurable hours with it, discovering interesting titles and exploring their authors online.
  • Saturday morning. I was so impressed with the list that I shared it with a dozen clients and friends, both local and around the world. Later in the afternoon, I received e-mails from several recipients, thanking me for sending them the list.
  • Sunday night. Pleased with my experience so far, I returned to Sunni’s site, reread the Doodle Revolutionary’s Manifesto, reviewed the names of the individuals who had already signed it, then signed it myself. I also added my name to her e-mail newsletter list (which was not required to sign the Manifesto).

Lessons from my Doodler’s Revolution journey

Here are a few of my big takeaways from my odyssey:

  1. Size of following does not equal influence. The Twitter post that began the journey was by someone who had less than 30 followers! But, Google didn’t care when they displayed their Tweet, and I didn’t care when I followed it to Sunni’s list.
  2. Content quality is more important than quantity. If I hadn’t been impressed by the Revolutionary’s Booklist, my journey would have ended. But, because the content was relevant, useful, and concise, I felt compelled to share it. Moreover, the Doodle Revolutionary’s Manifesto is just 2 pages long—it’s the Gettysburg Address of list-building incentives. I might not have read a 12-page report or an 8-page manifesto, but I had no trouble reading a well-written 2-page manifesto.
  3. Quality outsells “selling.” The Revolutionary’s Books PDF is free from selling; there’s only quality content and a clean layout, plus a tongue-in-cheek footer, “With love from www.doodlerevolution.com and www.sunnibrown.com.” A nice, light-hearted touch.
  4. Story and emotion win. The Doodle Revolutionary’s Manifesto wasn’t written by a committee and for a committee. It was written by a passionate believer speaking directly to other passionate believers. It succeeds because it’s engaging and provides a chance for believers to confirm their beliefs. In fact, the writing style is entertaining because it goes slightly overboard. But, overboard is sometimes OK! As opera proves, there’s a time and a place for colorful and passionate writing.

Takeaways and opinions

What are your takeaways from my journey from anonymous prospective reader and website visitors to a person who has publicly committed to a cause? Would a similar manifesto and online approach help you build your brand, grow your list, & sell more books? What would your manifesto be about? How could you get your prospects to commit to it? Share your impressions and questions as comments, below.