Had another glorious day out with my nephew last week. This time I took him to Blakeney for a picnic, more crabbing and then we went out on Beans Boats to see the seals at the point. I love animals and going to see the seals has become like a pilgrimage each year for me. Disappointedly we did only catch 5 crabs, but I blame my brother who forgot the bacon. Fish heads just did not cut it!
We also had the Agile Coaching Exchange (ACE) with Nigel Baker who presented his Optimus Prime and Change session. It addresses organisational evolution towards a Scrum Method. Nigel is one of the funniest people in Scrum I know and he didn’t disappoint me on the night, his humour was on form. Most amusing had to be the teaching of the pisello technique. Well you have heard of the pomodoro technique of time boxing for 20 minutes, well this is the time boxing of 20 seconds. It translates to Pea!
So on the topic of changing organisations I want to talk about one of the key challenges that I tend to come up against. When people ask me what the best part of my job is I say ‘people’. Ask me what the worst is and I say ‘People’
Every coach has faced people who are happy with status quo and don’t outwardly support the way the organisation is heading with its delivery method. So as coaches, how can we help them on the journey?
A few years ago I was introduced to the 3 zones model.
The Comfort Zone
The comfort zone is where we are the majority of the time. It’s the location of the skills and abilities we’ve built up over our career. In the comfort zone we are the most ‘comfortable’ . However we cannot develop ourselves and build new skills when we are in this zone. It consists of the abilities we can already do easily.
The Panic Zone
Have you ever become so worried you can’t focus? Then you’ve probably been in the panic zone at some point of your life. Activities in the panic zone are so tough that we don’t even know how to approach them. The overall feeling of the panic zone is that you are uncomfortable and possibly discouraged. Like the comfort zone, we can’t make progress or learn in the panic zone.
The Learning Zone
Between the panic zone and the comfort zone is the learning zone. You only develop yourself further by embracing activities that are in the learning zone. The skills and abilities that are just out of reach are in the learning zone; they’re neither so far away that we panic nor close enough where they’re too easy.
So how does this relate to organisational transformation?
When we go into organisation as coaches and come across resistance, it means that we have possibly pushed people into the ‘Panic’ zone. We have to identify what their panic is and then work with them to resolve it. Here are a few examples of ‘panics’ that I come across most frequently:
- What does this mean to me? Will I still have a job?
- What if I cannot do this new role?
- I do not want to dilute my skills
- I was a manager, am I not anymore?
There are many more examples, but we need to consider how we approach the change and not push people into ‘Panic ‘ and shut themselves down. We need to articulate the change through a vision and ensure that we know what the current end state is anticipated to be, and how people fit into that picture.
We need to anticipate that certain people will need 121 coaching to help support them through the change and consider how they can be incorporate into the change to help influence others.
People are at the core of our business and so we need to invest the appropriate time and effort supporting them through the change and our lives as coaches will be easier.
There is another category of people who do not openly show their fear with reluctance or negativity. These are the ones who claim to get and support Agile, but their behaviours tell you otherwise. They think they are being cunning to disguise their true feelings, but it’s pretty apparent. The above won’t work for them, but I reckon that's another blog in itself!
I want you to consider your approach to working with individuals, teams and organisations and how you can coach them to be in the optimal place of the Learning Zone.