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Choosing Trust


Choosing Trust

A colleague and friend of mine, Jamie Howard, wrote a short but interesting piece on trust. He called it Choosing Trust and you can find it here -

What I found most interesting is the personal nature of it. Jamie was introspective, honest, and vulnerable all at the same time. I applaud him for the courage to share what many of us are feeling.

It’s a short read, so please take a look.

Extend Instead

But it also made me think about a different approach to it that I’ve used. I write about it in this blog post.

I personally think the key is EXTENDING trust. Unconditional trust. A good example of this is the film – Yes Man. And yes, I wrote about that one here.

I’m not disagreeing with Jamie. I’m basically saying, Yes, And…and extending his thoughts ;-)

Wrapping Up

I want to thank Jamie for his courage in sharing. And for the inspiration! I also want to re-encourage all of us to aspire to the mindset of Yes, Man. Try it for a day, a week, or a month. It might be an interesting experiment for you to try…

Stay agile my friends,



The Sounds of Silence

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The Sounds of Silence

I was never a huge Simon and Garfunkel fan but there are a few songs of theirs that really stood out for me as I was growing up.

One of them is The Sounds of Silence.

It’s a haunting vision of the future.

And it swirled in my head as I read an article by Chris Murman. Chris is a friend and colleague that I find incredibly thoughtful about his (and others) agile journeys. But the article I found was published in September 2017, so nearly a year ago. And unfortunately, I missed it.

The article is entitled – What Can You Do About Organizational Silence?

And it focuses on a common corporate cultural phenomenon where the following occurs:

  • Leaders drive most of the “thinking”

  • Alternate ideas are not brought up

  • Discussion and debate are not realized

  • Disagreement with the status quo is discouraged

  • Creative ideas aren’t even suggested

And where silence, connoting tacit agreement, is the norm.

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Why is “Trusting” So Hard?


Why is “Trusting” So Hard?

I’ve been training and coaching agile teams for more than 15 years. While I’ve seen quite a lot of unique dysfunctions, one of the most prevalent is the overall lack of trust leadership trust in their teams.

There, I said it.

Quite often I use the term “little t” trust so that folks aren’t too offended, because really, nobody wants to admit that they don’t TRUST someone in today’s organizations. At least not out loud and visibly.

But the harsh reality is that most leaders do no trust their teams. And the other, even harsher reality, is that the teams know that they are untrusted.


What Comes First: The Chicken, the Egg, or Trust?


What Comes First: The Chicken, the Egg, or Trust?

It’s sort of a chicken and egg problem in many agile teams—that is the notion of trust.

  • Do you give the team your trust as an organization? Or do they have to earn it over time?
  • And if they make a mistake or miss a commitment, do they immediately lose your trust? And then have to start earning it again?
  • And is trust reciprocal, i.e., does the organization need to gain the trust of the team? And if so, how does that work?

I want to explore trust in this article. I’ve done it before, but an interview by Jeff Nielsen inspired me to revisit it.


The Agile Project Manager—What’s the Big Deal about Commitment?

As I discussed in my last post, I’m a bit of an “odd bird” when it comes to certain aspects of coaching agile teams. For example, I like the notion of calling sprints either a success or a failure based on how the team swarmed around and delivered on their Sprint Goal(s). Many agilist’s struggle with using the word failure to connote team performance and delivery—some prefer avoiding it entirely.

Another term that causes angst within agile circles is the word commitment. Again, I personally like the word commitment. After finishing sprint planning, I like to ask a team to “commit” to their sprint goal. I like the visualization of going “hands-in” as a team—in formalizing their commitment. Sometimes teams even physically do it, which always makes me smile. I see commitment as being a bond within the team to deliver on a realistic goal that they determine as part of sprint planning. It’s a bond extended to the business and generates meaning and focus for the team. But again, I may just be odd and miss the true nature of commitment.

The Agile Project Manager—Do You TRUST Your Team?

As an agile coach, one of my favorite expressions in response to nearly any situation I encounter in an agile team is—“trust the team” or “trust the process”. So here are a few examples of what I mean:

If you think the team has underestimated their work and are leaving velocity on the table, “trust the team”…

- If they have underestimated they can always pull in more work. And you know, you could be wrong, so allow the team to sort through how they understand, size, and execute their work. They’ll appreciate the trust you’ve given them and will invest in doing good work.

- If you do see poor estimation or poor execution & adjustment, then bring this to the attention of the team within their retrospective. Give them examples, but allow them to explore the most effective way(s) to improve.