The Hawthorne Effect is something I wrote about over a year ago. Previously as a Project Management Adviser and now as an Enterprise Agile Coach, I’ve seen it numerous times. To all those currently advising or coaching, do you tend to see clients trying to impress you? The Hawthorne Effect refers to the tendency of some people to modify their behavior, when they know they are being watched, due to the attention they are receiving from researchers, auditors, or coaches.
This effect was first discovered and named by researchers at Harvard University who were studying the relationship between productivity and work environment. Researchers conducted these experiments at the Hawthorne Works plant of Western Electric. The study was originally commissioned to determine if increasing or decreasing the amount of light workers received increased or decreased worker productivity. The researchers found that productivity temporarily increased, regardless if the light was increased or decreases. They then realized the increase in productivity was due to the attention given the workers by the research team and not because of changes to the experimental variable. (Thanks Wikipedia)
This is one reason short term engagements can be challenging. People are on their best behavior, until they get used to you being there. This is also why I don’t believe in annual reviews. How do you, as managers, leaders, coaches, or auditors get past the effect? How do you ensure you get a true representation of individual and team behavior and not suffer from the Hawthorne Effect?
Image Source: Pictofigo
Almost two months ago, I left my gig advising a Federal PMO to join LitheSpeed. LitheSpeed offers premium Scrum and Agile consulting, coaching, and training services. So, what do you do when you win work? Well, you put the word out that you’re looking for qualified people! So, are you an Agile coach who would like to be considered for our current and future engagements? Complete the form and you’ll be on the list.
Don’t see the Google form? Try this link
Drawing by Pictofigo
I was just over at the AgileScout website and read an entertaining account of his trip to the supermarket. It went a little something like this:
This past weekend, like every weekend, I go to Whole Foods with my wife for our weekly food run. While sampling some of the very good wine, I ran into an old neighbor that I hadn’t seen in years.
We ended up having a long conversation about his company doing this whole “Agile and Scrum thing.” I found myself saying things like the following to help clarify his questions:
- “Yes, that is Agile.”
- “No, that’s not a Scrum principle.”
- “Yes, that’s part of iterative development.”
- “Well, that isn’t explicitly in Agile…”
- “Well, Scrum doesn’t prescribe you to do…
- “No, that would be waterfall…”
- “Can we… I… get back to drinking free wine?…”
This reminded me of a very similar experience I had when my wife and I met some friends for dinner. One of them asked what I did exactly. When I offered a 30 second explanation and included Agile, I got a quick “we do that at work” response. I was pleasantly surprised so I asked in what ways they leveraged Agile principles and approaches. Now, I’m no dogmatic Agilist but the follow-up response had me shaking my head. I wasn’t going to outright argue with her but she correlated doing something as fast as possible as being Agile. No collaboration, no planning, monitoring, or adapting. To her, anarchy and Agile were pretty much synonymous.
For all of you project managers, project leaders, facilitators, ScrumMasters, coaches or whatever you may call yourself, what would be your 30 second pitch? Do you think you could explain what you do (to a layman) in 30 seconds? I’d love hear some of your pitches.
Last night I attended the monthly Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) DC event. Once again, the organizing team was able to get a really great guest. The guest last night was none other than Lyssa Adkins, known in Agile circles as an amazing coach and inspirational force. She’s also the author of the book Coaching Agile Teams (link goes to Lyssa’s website ). Lisa’s presentation was titled “What is an Agile Coach, Really?”
Listening to Lyssa made me think about where I am and where I want to take Agile with my current or future customers and teams. She stated during her presentation
Excellent agile coaches know how to help their teams get more and move from the mechanical application of agile into a world where teams deepen their experience of agile practices and principles and then go further, to take up their deliberate and joyful pursuit of high performance.
Yes, you read the right “deliberate and joyful pursuit of high performance”
A big shout out goes to David Bland, Richard Cheng, Manoj Vadakkan, Max Keeler, Nimat Haque, Dave Nicolette, and all of the others in the DC area who came out last night, had some pizza, and talked Agile. You don’t realize you’re part of a tribe, until you come to an event like this and see those familiar faces.