Mutual Authentic & Appreciative Engagement

Note: This blog entry was initially titled “Why does Lean/Kanban/Agile/Scrum or ‘Whatever’ Work (versus Lean/Kanban/Agile/Scrum or ‘Whatever-Else’)?”, however, due to extensive feedback and numerous suggestions, it has been retitled to better reflect its contents.

In the context of any Organization (Business and Technology as well as Management and Teams), rather than consider “what is” or “how to”, consider “why”! Why does it work? The Organization? The People? The Coach!

Most people with Lean, Kanban, Agile, or Scrum leanings will answer: People!

While many Lean folks will initially approach the question by discuss Value, Value Streams, Flow & Pull, and Pursing Perfection, they ultimately emphasize Teams/Development and “respecting people”, but don’t readily acknowledge Management/Business and “respecting” all people. When confronted with this, the common reply is that its Management/Business who is doing the disrespecting!

While many Scrum folks will initially approach the question by discuss Transparency and Inspecting & Adapting, they ultimately emphasize the Scrum (development) Team role and “protecting the Scrum Team”, but don’t readily acknowledge the Product (business) Owner role and “protecting” all people. When confronted with this, the common reply is that it’s the Scrum (development) Team who needs protecting!

While many Kanban folks will initially approach the question by discussing Lean, they ultimately emphasize Transparency with a Kanban System as well as Kaizen. The emphasis on Transparency focuses on the process and work. The emphasis on a Kanban System focuses on limiting work-in-process with pull-flow and balancing demand-against-throughput. And the emphasis on Kaizen Workshops/Events/Culture focuses on continuous improvement. However Transparency, a Kanban “synchronization/integration” System, and Kaizen (as continuous improvement has been around practically “forever” under many names including, CMMI, Six-Sigma, etc.) don’t necessitate success! When confronted with this, they commonly fallback on Lean’s “respecting people”!

What about Agility? Consider: Agility is not the Point and Why Agility doesn’t Sell!

Undoubtedly, people are essential to any human endeavor, but the “simple” answer (“people”) to the question (“why does ‘whatever’ work versus ‘whatever-else’?”) is not representative of the richness of the answer and thus not fulfilling! The answer is far richer than the mere “word” that tries to express/represent it!

Why does “whatever” work versus “whatever-else”? Engagement! Engagement involves purposeful participation and creation. — rationally (head), emotionally (heart), and pragmatically (head). Each individual purposely (passionately) participates and contributes.

Why does “whatever” work versus “whatever-else”? Not merely Engagement, but Mutual Engagement! Mutuality involves reciprocity. Everyone co-participates and co-creates. Each individual contributes and confirms other individual’s contributions.

Why does “whatever” work versus “whatever-else”? Not merely Mutual Engagement, but Mutual Authentic Engagement! Authenticity involves genuineness. Everyone participates genuinely. Each individual’s contributions and confirmations genuinely represent them and who they are, their identity. Authenticity is commonly labeled Transparency and Trust.

Why does “whatever” work versus “whatever-else”? Not merely Mutual Authentic Engagement, but Mutual Authentic & Appreciative Engagement! Appreciation involves valuing. Everyone is valued for their participation. Each individual’s contributions and confirmations are genuinely valued, their identity is valued. Appreciation is commonly labeled Respect.

And if we are truly and sincerely authentic & appreciative, we will be shaped by one another as much as we will shape each other, which fosters a culture of mutual authentic & appreciative engagement. This is not merely Servant Leadership (or as discussed here) where Managers are servants to Teams, but more so, Managers and Teams may be servants to each other’s needs at different times and Managers and Teams being servants to their shared purpose. See here for a critique of Servant Leadership. Ultimately, this is the nature of “real transformation” or win-win, not a focus on who is right-or-wrong or what is worst-or-best but a focus on what is worse-or-better in any given situation and context. I only believe in win-win, every win-lose is ultimately a lose-lose!

Mere Engagement does not work! Mere Mutual Engagement does not work! Mere Mutual Authentic Engagement or Mutual Appreciative Engagement do not work!

Why does “whatever” work versus “whatever-else”? Mutual Authentic & Appreciative Engagement (in any purposeful human endeavor involving multiple people), independent of Lean, Kanban, Agile, Scrum or “whatever”. That is, co-participation and co-creation that is genuine and valued! This is not easy but requires discipline, endurance, etc. Likeiwse, Lean, Kanban, Agile, Scrum or “whatever” are (respectfully) merely adornments and “tools”.

Consider any “successful” or “less-than successful” endeavor around Lean/Kanban/Agile/Scrum or “whatever”. Was there Engagement? Was it Mutual? Was is Authentic? Was it Appreciative?

Note:  Respectfully, Lean, Kanban, Agile, or Scrum are mere adornments to “whatever”!

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