In this blog post, we present a case study using the model designed to leverage the processing strengths and mobilize the brainpower of today’s entire (organizational) collective, which we’re currently calling the Grow/Plow Coaching Model. We have previously published a post on the Grow/Plow model that you can find here if you havent read it.
The Grow/Plow Coaching Model
As you can see on the graphic below, GROW and PLOW naturally overlap at the O and W. PLOW supplements GROW so bottom-up thinking could be integrated into a single coaching model we’re calling the Grow/Plow Coaching Model:
Mainstream coaching models don’t fully account for the unique processing styles that are prevalent in the systemic thinkers that organizations rely upon for creativity and innovation. As a result, we’re not tapping into and releasing the remarkable creative and innovative potential of today’s talent in roles involving creative knowledge work. Moreover, research suggests that many of these systemic thinkers often have attributes of ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s, or other atypical ways of thinking. Given that everyone falls somewhere on the ADD, ADHD, and Asperger’s spectrum, we posit that unleashing creativity and innovation in today’s workplace requires a coaching model that accounts for multiple processing styles. We all think differently, and we need a coaching model that fits everyone.
In this blog post, we present a model designed to leverage the processing strengths and mobilize the brainpower of today’s entire (organizational) collective, which we’re currently calling the Grow/Plow Coaching Model.
POPULAR COACHING MODELS
All the mainstream coaching models we’ve come across are variants of the popular GROW model, which involves establishing a Goal, examining current Reality, exploring Options, and determining what Will happen next:
Such approaches presuppose that the coachee’s processing style prefers to start with concepts, such as goals or the big-picture aspirations often discussed while coaching, before diving into the details. This processing style is known as top-down processing and accounts for how most people think. Top-down thinking is driven by cognition where the brain applies what it knows from experience and what it expects to perceive and “fills in the blanks”.
SYSTEMIC THINKERS THINK DIFFERENTLY
Systemic thinkers, on the other hand, often have neurobiological and cognitive attributes that result in a bottom-up processing style that prefers details before concepts. A bombardment of sensory information comes in and their brain takes in these details before moving into conceptualization. This processing style is often connected to what’s known as the Weak Central Coherence deficit. In our experience, such thinkers prefer using problem-solving approaches to coaching that welcome the sensory details underpinning the need for change early in the process where the desired future state can be emergent and shaped by data rather than presupposed at the onset.
THE “PLOW” PROCESS
We took the basic steps involved in problem-solving to create an acronym we call PLOW. The PLOW process involves defining the Problem (i.e., state the problem as clearly as possible and be specific about the situation, behavior, circumstances, and timing that make it a problem); Learning as much as possible about the problem (which includes gathering data like facts, feelings, and opinions); exploring Options; and determining what Will happen next:
This is the thirteenth episode of the Agile Leadership & Management Series.
A core function of Agile leadership’s management work is to develop organizations into what is called learning organizations, a term coined by MIT’s Peter Senge, which are organizations that facilitate the learning of its members and continuously transform themselves. Such organizations possess the capability to survive and thrive in the midst of rapid change and high complexity.
Learning organizations are one of the best ways to create a flexible organization that can handle VUCA in a good way. The idea for a learning organization is that people identify needs so that strategy emerges from the accumulated activities of peoples and teams. It emerges within the overall vision of the organization’s future so innovation and improvements add to the organization’s whole.
This is the sixth post in the November Agile Leadership and Management Series.
Research has shown that new teams face significant struggles with coordinating their efforts, are more prone to making mistakes, and are less likely to catch and correct those mistakes in real-time. The reason is that almost none of the conditions required for team effectiveness are in place.
Harvard researchers Ruth Wageman and J. Richard Hackman has used the conditions required for effective teaming to create a 10-minute teaming process that helps new teams get on a strong positive trajectory and overcome the liabilities that could sabotage their success. This process has been shown to radically decrease the number of mistakes made by the team, catch and fix errors in real-time, and create the psychological safety required for everyone to speak up and create a shared understanding of how to accomplish the team purpose.
This is the fourth post in the November Agile Leadership and Management Series.
When forming Agile Leadership Teams we have found some mistakes to be common within many different organizations and through different types of businesses. Here they are compiled in a list to make it easy for you to study before you form your leadership team, and come back to on a regular basis.
This is the third post in the November Agile Leadership and Management Series.
As an Agile Leadership Team, regardless of the four Leadership team hats you find yourself wearing, there are certain conditions that dramatically increase the chances that a group of leaders will develop into an effective team.
Leadership today is a team sport. The emphasis is no longer on the skills, characteristics, and traits of a single, all-powerful person with the designation of “leader”. Leadership has evolved to be a collective endeavor that leads to the betterment of all involved and looks different depending on the context.
The Dandy People team have put together an Agile Leadership Team poster. The poster introduces 7 powerful Agile Leadership Principles designed to help leaders create a focus on what will help increase the business outcome of the organization. If the members of an Agile Leadership team agree upon strives to move towards these principles, collaboration and exploration can be enabled and strengthened!
1. Keep a transparent strategy and facilitate a pull-based backlog for teams to self-organize around value – NOT pushing things to the teams, or micromanaging
2. Give a clear direction and share WHY we are doing things to enable new learnings to impact the WHAT – NOT deciding on a solution.
3. Managing structures around the teams so that they can make quick and smart decisions – NOT managing the people.
4. Acts as sponsors by asking “What do you need to succeed?” and actively remove impediments – NOT acting as a steering group and only following up results (or making decisions on the team’s behalf).
5. Empower the people and foster a culture of psychological safety to enable initiative, experimentation, and problem-solving together – NOT stepping in to solve every day, low-risk problems so teams can become increasingly mature.
6. Empower teams and individuals to build the capabilities needed to take responsibility for delivering value continuously – NOT taking the responsibility from them, and not only optimizing for short-term goals.
7. Lead with vision, practice what we preach, and actively encourage a spirit of joy and responsibility – NOT keeping old structures and practices in place that reinforce ineffective behaviors.
The same rookie mistake I made on my transformation journey into marathoning is one that I see a lot of organizations make on their Agile journey: not taking the time to find the right shoes. Let me explain.
“Doing” agile is not enough
I thought I had a solid start on my transformation from couch potato to marathoner by focusing first on the routines and habits of runners. I felt like I was a runner because I was DOING the things runners do, like running 5-days a week, eating healthier, and strength training. Many organizations fall into the same trap. They think they’re agile because they’re going through the same motions and copying best practices. But then my mother saw me running out in the neighborhood and pointed out something that changed everything. She gave me the same perspective that I’ve given clients looking to become agile, and it blew my mind.
My goal is to coach myself through a transformation from couch potato to marathoner (well, a half-marathon). It’s been life-changing.
Behavior science is the secret sauce
The barriers and obstacles I experience with “becoming a marathoner” are similar to those experienced by organizations wanting to “become agile”. The secret sauce lies in behavior science. Through this marathoning process, I’ve uncovered my own behavior-based twist of the Deming cycle and Lean Startup and am using them to inspire a Lean Performance Management model for teams and organizations. It’s always fun when personal and professional worlds collide!
The Behavior-Change Cycle
Below is the Behavior-Change Cycle I created for myself inspired by the Deming Cycle and how behavior scientists approach organizational change:
I just took on the most challenging client–MYSELF.
Inspired by friends who are marathoners, I decided to cultivate what I’m calling a Marathon Mindset. I’m coaching myself towards achieving increased flow in the presence of variability. My aspiration is to emerge from this COVID-19 crisis a better person. Through this process, which involves training for an actual marathon, I’m learning that my own barriers and obstacles to “become a marathoner” are similar to those experienced by organizations wanting to “become agile”. This aha moment was unexpected, but transformative as an Agile Coach. I now believe the Marathon Mindset is the Agile Mindset because it simultaneously fosters both stability and agility through continuous and incremental evolution instead of a big bang transformation. Below I share some insights into what I’m learning for the benefit of Agile change agents everywhere.