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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.

Me with some of the tools that set my foundation to become a marathoner.

“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. 

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My client is still happy. 

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:

The Behavior Change Cycle I created for my transformation
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– And why on earth am I even doing this???

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.

This is me trying on my brand new Stockholm Half Marathon t-shirt. Cool, huh?
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