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Agile NZ 2016 - Dealing with dysfunction

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Matthew Hodgson

on 19 September 2017

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Transcript of Agile NZ 2016 - Dealing with dysfunction

Dealing with Dysfunction
Using couples counseling patterns to manage team conflict
dysfunctional relationships have 0.8:1 positive to negative communications
12 longitudinal studies
20+ years
3,000+ couples
accuracy predicting relationship behaviour
Lencioni (2002) mentions that by building trust, a team makes conflict possible because team members engage in passionate and emotional debate that is essential to any great team keeping in mind that there is no punishment for stating something that might otherwise be interpreted as destructive or critical (202).

Not only is trust an important aspect of an effective team, but also healthy conflict focuses on concepts and ideas to produce the best possible solution for a team. Conflict means disagreement within the team which can be destructive and personal or constructive and ideological (Lencioni, 2002). Schellenberg (1996) notes the importance of this process, "conflict resolution may occur through self-conscious efforts to come to an agreement…As more narrowly conceived, conflict resolution is seen as a process of conscious settlement of the issues between parties" (as cited in Hamlin, 2008, p. 49).

Conflict often emerge as team members violate norms within a group, which are defined and renegotiated over time (Forsyth, 2010, p. 9). Additionally, conflict norms should be discontinued and made clear among the team (Lencioni, 2002). Team members must get past the perceptual misunderstanding by actively communicating information about their motives and goals through discussion (Forsyth, 2010, p. 401).

According to the dual concern model of conflict resolution: avoiding, yielding, cooperating, and fighting as means of dealing with conflict, differ in the degree to which they are based on concern for oneself and concern for the other person (Forsyth, 2010, p. 402).

Most groups that survive resolve conflicts quickly, before the disagreement causes permanent damage to members’ relationships. Conflict is not just unavoidable, however; it may be a key ingredient for creating group cohesion. Consequently, mild conflict over issues that are relevant to the group’s task might improve performance (Forsyth, 2010, p. 131).

A team should have engaging and productive conflict by extracting team members’ views and ideas, that way they can confidently commit and buy into a resolution keeping in mind that they have benefited from everyone’s idea (Lencioni, 2002, p. 207).
Solve your solvable problems
Use a softened start-up
Learn to make rep[air attempts
Soothe yourself and each other
Patrick Lencioni
"Pat shares his point of view through essays on leadership and management."
"The Five Dysfunctions of a Team outlines the root causes of politics and dysfunction on the teams where you work, and the keys to overcoming them"
Dr John Gottman
verbally attacking others' personality, character, work; thoughtlessness
withdrawing to avoid conflict; silent treatment; cutting off communication; refusal to engage
seeing yourself as the victim to ward off perceived attack; reversing blame;
not owning your own behaviour

sarcasm, belittling, cynicism, name calling and hostile humour;
uncaring behaviour

my code is perfect.
your tests are wrong
my test are perfect.
your code is wrong
but I need smaller batches of code, lower WIP, to test faster
no, we just need better testers
when do you think you can get me an answer
as soon as I know
it's always your fault. your code is terrible
but its still functional
Product Box Game
Customised Planning Poker Cards
Partner, Enterprise Agility and Digital Transformation
1. Don't allow the team (or its members) by action or inaction to come to harm
2. Follow the direction of the SM or PO, so long as it doesn't conflict with the 1st Law
3. Look after your own work, so long as it doesn't conflict with the 1st or 2nd Law
ZXM's 3 Laws of Robotics Pattern
ZXM 8 Elements of Coaching
Tuckman (1965)
"...participants form opinions about the character and integrity of the other participants and feel compelled to voice these opinions if they find someone shirking responsibility or attempting to dominate. Sometimes participants question the actions or decision of the leader as the expedition grows harder."
Leadership the Outward Bound Way: Becoming a Better Leader in the Workplace By Outward Bound USA, Rob Chatfield ISBN 9781594850332
#cultural bias
Go read Gottman's blog: https://www.gottman.com/blog/
The Scrum Team needed help to:
Overcome their dysfunction
Move toward Norming and Performing
c.f. Feidler, F. (1987) Contingency theory of leadership
Matthew Hodgson
Think about the last time you "lost it"
On a scale of 1-10, what was the tipping point?
How did you feel inside at that point?
Turn to the person next to you

Talk about:
Your score
The context
Who it was with
How you felt

Timebox: 5 minutes
Bob Waisfisz
stay on target
Workplace / Team culture
David Hussman
Jeff Patton
Are you saying I'm over reacting?
I can't have or express my feelings
Calm down
Shut up / You're over-reacting
I know how you feel
Here's what you need to do
We need to settle this now
My feelings and opinions aren't worth listening to?
You're saying "I get it - so stop talking"?
You shouldn't feel that way
You're judging me and my feelings? (subtractive empathy)
You're taking away my power to act?
You're telling me what to do?
You're trying to force your position to "win" right now?
What you say
What people hear
I don't think I can do this myself
Look at this automated test script engine I wrote
I've got a great idea for a new Retro pattern for this Sprint
Have you heard from Pat lately? She's been on leave a while
Did Matthew draw on our Kanban again? What did he do this time?
I saw the funniest video on YouTube the other day
Gimme a high-5!
I'm really worried - I don't think the new tester likes me
So what happened when you left early yesterday?
bid for help
bids for attention
bids for enthusiasm
bids for extended conversation
bids for play
bids for humour
bids for affection
bids for emotional support
bids for self-disclosure
Create emotional investment in the team
Create shared meaning
Strengthen team relationship
Applying couples therapy to team and inter-team dynamics
Strengthening admiration, and expressing appreciation and respect for others.
Building empathy
by understanding others history, worries, stresses, joys, and hopes.
negotiating "power distance/respect" between leaders and members, and tolerance for diversity and open expressions of opinions in discussions
“Trust ... has to be earned, over time and specifically over hard times together"

"Leaders and members of a team need to understand themselves before they can understand their teammates"
The most important principle of strong group cohesion is trust among team members (e.g., to watch each other’s back) together with the ability for teamwork (e.g., pulling together to the task or job done) (Forsyth, 2010, p. 118). Moreover, the growth of cohesiveness and unity; institution of roles, standards and relationships; increased trust and communication are found during the norming stage of group development of Tuckman’s theory (Forsyth, 2010).
When disagreement arises, search for common ground rather than insisting on getting your own way
Name 'Patterns' and 'Anti-Patterns' after team shared memories
Tell stories at Retrospectives
Get past gridlock
Gridlock often existing because of unexpressed dreams behind each person's stubborn position
Make an individual team member's goals also team goals.
of conflict is about unresolvable, perpetual problems. 16% of these perpetual issues involve uncomfortable issues that have hidden agendas
Understanding the critical differences in handling perpetual problems and solvable problems.
Manage conflict over resolving conflict
Define trust and commitment
create shared meaning
make work dreams come true
the positive perspective
turn toward instead of turn away
share fondness and admiration
build friendship*
"most leadership behaviors can be classified as performance maintenance or relationship maintenance"
Donelson Foresyth
- Forsyth, D. R. (2010). Group Dynamics 5th edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
What did you do yesterday ...
What will you do today ...
Do you see any impediments ...
Who will you help today?
Charades Sprint Review
explore roles, goals, and symbols together
what do you want out of work? is it realistic?
make it happen together
manage conflict
accept influence. talk about problems. understand "flooding"
goal of 5:1 positive v negative interactions
be aware of bids calls for help
be appreciative of others' positive traits
and what they bring to the team
get to know your team mates as "people"
build love maps
Task vs Relationships Leaders
Working rules to consider:
Make it safe to state there is an issue
Call it out as a "perpetual problem"
Reassure and reaffirm that openness isn't destructive or critical
Psychological "soothing" of you and team mates
Complain but don't blame (complain = criticism)
"I" not "You" statements
Describe what happened, don't evaluate or judge
Be polite and appreciative
Don't store things up
Patterns to Apply:
Verbally reward learning and improvement
Patterns to Apply: Learning Mindset
- Peter Halacsy, Founder, Prezi. Keynote Agile Australia 2016
Encourages learning
Growth mindset
Verbally reward being #1
Fear of failure/conflict
"No room to grow" emotionally as a team
What should our future look like?
Patterns to Apply:
Would you rather play a board game or watch a movie with me?

Would you rather be a movie star or a famous musician?

Would you rather go into the past and meet your ancestors or go into the future and meet your great-great grandchildren?
Create empathy amongst team members
Knowing them as "people" means better decision-making for the whole team:
What motivates them?
What stressed them?
Retrospective Game
Patterns to Apply:
Would you rather?
Source: http://marriage365.org/25-fun-questions-to-ask-your-spouse/
Other Literature
Sound (Team) Relationship House
Patterns to Apply
Schuler, M (2014) Personal communication, January 29
O'Donnell, C (2011)
Low Emotion
High Emotion (flooded)
logical reasoning
fight or flight
100 bmp heart rate
I felt left out
You never ask me
Patterns to Apply:
"Repair Attempt"
Predictors of successful repair attempts:
It's not "how" you attempt to repair the situation
If you've been a "good friend" to the person
Putting "emotional deposits" in the relationship bank account
Being there when the person needs you
How do you come back from conflict?
Q: What did we learn about each other this Sprint?
Q: Whose the #1 team on the Release Train?!
There are underlying feelings and dreams unspoken
Patterns to Apply:
Visions, narratives, myths, and metaphors about your relationship with team members.
Source: http://www.funretrospectives.com/candy-love/
Place a package of M&Ms, Skittles or another colorful candy in a jar
Ask a participant to pick a candy from the jar, and then share something about him/herself according to the candy color:
Retrospective Game
Patterns to Apply: Candy Love
Red – One thing that you love about your job. Now this is interesting because some people are not happy about their jobs. So this candy will let them see the positive side about their work.

Yellow – A life goal you are working on. This gives everyone positive vibes and inspiration.

Green – Your favorite book or movie. Everyone has hobbies and past-time recreations so it’s definitely a great candy to divert their attention to the things they love to do.

... etc ...
"Calm the Farm"
Source: http://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/make-argument-worse/
Rules broken:
Ignores "fight or flight" and "flooding"
Flooding Pattern
Patterns to Apply: Never Have I Ever
Retrospective pattern (at a pub)
appreciated Johns work this Sprint in testing the search functionality
given praise to Sarah for bringing cookies to Sprint Planning so that everyone had lots of energy
said thanks to Steve for reminding us to use the fault injection method for testing the legacy services which saved us so much time
(gratitude version)
team contribution
Increase the positive interactions thru emotional banking
Patterns to Apply: Small things often
Stable happy relationships have a ratio of positive to negative interactions of 5:1, even while in the midst of conflict.
Source: https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-positive-perspective/
Adapted from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-science-love/201209/when-it-comes-relationships-the-little-things-count
Goal 5:1
positive to negative interactions
#1 tip: accept influence from your team mates!


1: impaired or abnormal functioning

2: abnormal or unhealthy interpersonal behaviour or interaction with a group
Learning about your team members
as valuable as learning to be more agile
as valuable as learning about your users
as valuable as learning about your products
"People" rules
as valuable as agile rules
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