Operating Outside Your Comfort Zone

Operate Outside Your Comfort ZoneLast week, I facilitated an Agile game, with the goal to increase product delivery throughput.  At the beginning of each iteration, I would remind the team "The seven rules of the game are...".  Upon completion of the third iteration and only seeing modest gains, one of the team members questioned the need for one of the rules and proposed a change in the delivery process.  She asked me, "Is it ok if we do that?"  My response didn't give her much solace.  Though I knew she was concerned with potentially lowering delivery throughput, I said "it's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission. Just do it."  The team then changed their process, resulting in a dramatic increase in delivery throughput. Though I know success isn't always the outcome, if you don't go outside your comfort zone and do something different, you're never going to see dramatic results.  This applies on both organizational and personal levels.  Within the game, I allowed the team to pilot the new processes so they would either fail quickly or prove their theories.  Over the course of a few iterations, they figured out what worked and what did not, while adhering (directly and indirectly) to the original seven rules.

Within an organization, I recognize things can be much more complicated.  We have regulatory compliance, mandates, and policies to contend with.  I do challenge you to question if they all apply to your current situation.  As with the game, the team just assumed if the rule was listed then it must apply to them.  Without questioning the rules, the results are heavy and burdensome processes.

On a personal level, we litter our lives with artificial constraints.  We accumulate a lifetime of unnecessary rules, rarely stopping to ask ourselves why we do things that prevent us from excelling in the areas we desire.  I'm not promoting living or working recklessly or unethically. Uphold a few guiding principles and reteach yourself to intentionally go outside your comfort zone.  Stop asking permission and let the magic happen.

You can also read this post at LeadingAgile

Rules of Common Courtesy

When I was young man, others told me my parents were pretty strict.  I didn't think my parents were strict at all. It's just the way we were raised.  There were some pretty basic rules I remember following when it came to courtesy.  Some call them common courtesy.  But, I'm starting to think it's not as common as you might think.  So, today I'm going to give you a few rules of common courtesy. They will not be in any specific order.  Please apply to your work and home life. Hope you enjoy.

Derek's Rules of Common Courtesy

  1. Hold the door for people
  2. Say thank you when someone holds the door for you
  3. If someone says hello, say hello back
  4. Listen, don't wait to talk
  5. If you must interrupt someone, say excuse me
  6. If someone sneezes, say bless you, gesundheit, or something similar
  7. Say goodbye to your boss and colleagues before you leave for the day
  8. If someone sends you an invitation, either confirm it or deny it.  Don't not respond
  9. Don't take credit for work others have done
  10. Look people in the eye when they are talking to you
  11. Say please
  12. Say thank you (hand written thank you's are a big bonus when appropriate)
  13. Don't talk on you mobile phone while in a checkout line
  14. Turn off your mobile phone while at the theater or restaurant
  15. When in traffic and you come to a yield sign...yield
  16. When in traffic and you come to a N-way stop...stop
  17. Arrive at appointments or meetings on time
  18. If you say you're going to do something, do it
  19. If you drink the last of the coffee, please make another pot
  20. If you use the last of the toilet paper, please replace the roll (at least tell someone)

I would love to hear if you have a rule to add to the list.