What a handstand taught me about building a process for my team
I recently made a 180° transition when I went from working with teams that were groomed to work in a process framework to a team where processes needed to be framed.
Having extensively worked for organizations where a process lurked in every corner, my initial perception was fairly optimistic — Given all the process knowledge already in my kitty, setting up a framework and getting the team going was going to be a walk in the park!
Well, it wasn’t.
That initial journey can look something like:
Intention -> Excitement -> Enthusiasm -> Confusion -> Enthusiasm -> Confusion -> Frustration -> Blame -> Buck up/Give up
But wait. What’s a handstand got to do with teams and processes?
I had been intending to do a handstand for 3 years. I used to attempt it on and off, get frustrated that I cannot get it right, and let it go. But I kept revisiting my unfulfilled intention.
Finally, I got some really sound advice from my younger brother who managed to do it in just 15 days! He said, “Just try to do a handstand 3 times every day.” I got around to practicing thrice a day, every day, and after just a month I was successfully upside down!
Although those 30 days weren’t easy. I was frustrated often since I was taking longer than my brother did. I wanted to give up on several occasions. I blamed my lack of shoulder strength… but just kept at it — “Try thrice a day” being my only mantra. And one fine day, voila!
I also had an Aha! moment during one of my frustration bouts — this frustration resonated with what I was feeling when trying to integrate a process framework. This Eureka moment rehashed the profoundness of some of the below concepts for me.
This is the stuff all personal development books are made of and I have devoured many, to say the least. It isn’t anything path breaking, but then the most sagacious concepts are often the simplest, though not always easy.
Whether you are attempting to learn something new or as in my case, conjuring up a working constitution for my team, these truly help:
• Understand your team
• Learn how they do their work now
• Determine process maturity
• Set up a matrix to evaluate the maturity
• Evaluate different processes to conclude what fits best
• Empower the team with this knowledge
For a handstand: Watch YouTube videos, and talk to someone who already does it.
• List out actionable steps — they must be specific
• Implement it
• Action it
• Follow up your team to action it
• A high severity incident is not an excuse to deviate from process. In fact, the tenser the situation the more the call for discipline
Without discipline, for every step forward you take two steps backwards.
For a handstand: Set up a time when you will do it, how many times will you attempt — then stick to it.
The mother of all behaviors. Without consistency, efforts deliver half-baked results.
• Stick to the meetings (stand-ups, retros, postmortems, analysis, work planning)
• Be consistent in your expectations and messages
• Your consistency to stick to the process will set the tone for the team
For handstand: Do it every day at the time you decided. With consistency, your body learns the movement faster.
• Get Feedback (from: own team, other team you see doing things better, coaches you have previously worked with)
• Re-calibrate when needed — and explain why the tweak is needed and what is the output you are aiming to achieve
For handstand: Record yourself. Watch others doing it. Compare and adjust.
• Believe in your team
• Believe in the efforts and knowledge you are applying
• Believe in the process and how it will empower your team
• Your belief is imperative to explain the why to your team
For handstand: Believe that you can do it. Sail through those frustrating periods and you will get there.
These characteristics provide the foundation for a journey that touches milestones.
It is a work in progress. Be agile in your process. Doesn’t mean you use Scrum or Kanban or Lean — but be agile.
I wrote about the importance of “Starting with a Why” here.
I will share my inputs on “Dealing with Resistance” and “How to setup a process” in the coming days.
P.S.: Don’t aim for perfection | Be prepared for resistance | Progress is slow until a tipping point | Frustration is the name of the game | You are part of the team