Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Getting ready for an uncomfortable conversation

October 23, 2016
Like many people, I’d prefer to avoid tough conversations. Yet, addressing such topics is the only way to improve our relationships, our results, and the status quo.
Here are a few tips that I’ve learned from @LyssaAdkins to setup the conversation up for success…
First, take a few minutes to think about the issue from three different perspectives. An exercise called 3-2-1 guides us to envision ourselves first in the 3rd person perspective observing the conversation, “they”. Then, a 2nd person perspective “you”, imagine saying “you did xyz, you Abc”. And then finally an inclusive perspective saying “we” and inviting a shared solution.
Next, I write out what I intend to say and how I want to be received.
And finally, just before the actual conversation, I review my intention as written above.
Try it, you will be amazed at the clarity with which you enter the conversation and with your ability to stay present and on track in the heat of the moment. This will honor the other person and enable productive dialog.

Which tool, which tool

March 6, 2013

One of the challenges we face as project and program managers is the lure of new and bigger tools. And, while I do like saving time with cool new tools, I have learned to ask more questions before diving in.

  • What problem are we solving with this tool?
  • What is being automated?
  • What were the pros and cons of the old way? Versus the new way with the new tool?
  • Who are the stakeholders? And what are their needs?
  • Is this the most effective tool for the job? Why or why not?

On a very practical level, I would like to share a lightweight “tool” that I’ve found to be quite effective for smaller projects, and for sharing release level status wit stakeholders of many types.

It’s called the one page project plan and is described in some detail in this book .

Here is a version that we created for the PMI Agile teams. In this case, we called it a dashboard … you can view an example from one of several teams here (google drive /google docs /anyone with the link can view).

For scrum, I’ve found that the most effective tool is stickies on a wall for a co-located team. And Word or Excel printed as one page dashboards for stakeholder communication. For distributed teams we’ve used SeeNowDo. And are migrating to Jira + Greenhopper. For backlog management we’ve used Rally. None of these tools is perfect – including my favorite – stickies on a wall. 

My main point is not to sell you these or any other tool. But rather to encourage you to think differently about the tools that you are currently employing, and the ones that you hope to introduce soon.

Start with the simplest version that works,  start lightweight. Then layer on complexity as needed. 


March 14, 2012

I am practicing the skill of bottomlining, getting to the point, identifying the essence.  

Lyssa Adkins uses this concept in agile coaching circles… generally after some discussion and deepening starts to wind down. She gently probes – What is the essence of that? What matters about this? What is important about this?

I can see that this is also an important skill to call on when “netting” out requests or concerns. We start with an intention. Then we need to get clear around what we want to request of another person.  When we are clear, we can ask explicitly, openly, clearly. Of course, we want first to think about the other person’s position, ask about their needs, where they are at. Successful relationships are two way relationships.

This also applies to responding to a request for status in a bottom line way. Maureen Taylor explains this as “Keeping the answer short,  while still giving information.” 

A great demonstration of bottomlining is a video of Dr Robyn Silverman – Leadership Bootcamp / BottomLining & Challenging.

Gina Cajucom recommends in this article to “Always see and go back to the “big picture”…  How will you resolve this issue or how will you decide if you were the owner of this company?  …”Bottomlining is a C-suite skill that you can learn in whatever position you might be.”