The World is Your Cube [@lincolnfingroup ad]


I saw this advertisement in Atlanta airport this past week. This advertisement made me sad.

“The world is my cubicle.”

Are you telling me that my world is limited and contained to the 4×5 space I reside in 9-10 hours a day? Or… is it that the “world” is what I make of it? I guess I just don’t see a positive side of connecting a big wonderful world with the life inside a cube…

Yes. I can be the “Chief Officer” of my cube. Congratulations. You made it.

As a Manager I Want to Improve Things!


[This is an email that was sent to me literally a day after our Certified Product Owner Training… it is things (action!) that I love seeing. Learning is great, but taking what you learn to make positive change in your organization is just yummy all the time! Thanks Miguel for letting me share it with the community!]


Just wanted to thank you for the Product Owner training. It was an eye opening experience and helped me on both a personal and professional level.  Wanted to share an email I sent over to the Executive Team a few minutes ago (see below).  I am really looking forward to help shape the future of Scrum in my organization!


From: Miguel
Sent: Sunday, April 20, 2014 5:13 PM
To: — — —
Subject: Scrum Committee

As a <Manager>

I would like to form an Organizational Scrum Committee

So that we can improve our processes and create high-performance teams

Acceptance Criteria:

  • Verify that the committee includes Scrum Masters
  • Verify that the committee includes Product Owners
  • Verify that the committee includes Developers
  • Verify that the committee includes Testers
  • Verify that the committee includes DevOps
  • Verify that a goal of the committee is to improve our processes
  • Verify that a goal of the committee is to achieve high-performance teams
  • Verify that is an honest venue where members are empowered to speak without fear of retribution

One of the things I got out of Product Owner training is that it’s pretty important for the leaders of an organization to get together and talk about your Scrum processes on a regular basis. What are your thoughts about putting together a Scrum committee of sorts (maybe do a lunch n learn at least once a month?) to  get together and discuss Scrum and Scrum processes?  It should at least include the PO’s, Scrum Masters and Leads, but I could see how inviting the developers, testers and IT would  be beneficial as well.   I see it being a Retro of Retro’s of sorts, where each team can discuss what is working and isn’t working for our teams.  It would also a great venue to discuss things we learn in training and other educational venues.  The goal of this committee would be to improve our development life cycle so that we can archive high performing teams.

It would be great to get the new PO’s and SM’s involved with this from the get go, I’m sure they can provide some good feedback from previous experiences.

I would like to head this up if you agree it will be beneficial for us.


Ensuring Corporate Employees Hate Their Job


But on another note… something to consider.

As our older generation moves on… and our younger generations (like X and Y and Millennials) begin to take over the upper ranks of management… I know things will change. They always do. The question is: “How will they change?”

I’ll make a prediction:

  • I believe that our younger generations (despite how we older generations consider them [good/bad]) will get tired of corporate bullshit, bureaucracy, command-and-control management, and so-forth.
  • Even if you think younger generations are _______ (fill in a derogatory idea here), I think, you can’t deny that they (may) have something going for them in their overly-social, high-desire-to-be-autonomous-borderline-on-irresponsible ethos of sorts.
  • As Time Magazine focused on: Generation ME ME ME ME (The Millennials), even if they are self absorbed, in-tune with their feelings, and pretty narcissistic, it will change corporate culture over time.

For the better? Who knows…


Extraordinary Teams are Lead by Extraordinary Leaders


Starting a business on the right foot begins with the leadership naturally and the first people to the table always drive the culture as well as the continued environment in which everyone works in.

It’s surprising, then, why many management teams do not spend nearly enough time continuing to educate themselves and optimize their efforts and instead make their teams beneath them spend the time, energy, and resources to optimize.

You’d think they’d take their own medicine once in a while, right? Extraordinary teams can be self-generated, at times, but more often than not they are created through the work, counsel, and direction of extraordinary leaders.

I loved a recent article highlighting 8 essential and core beliefs of extraordinary leaders and comparing them with “average” bosses:

1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield.

  • Average bosses see business as a conflict between companies, departments and groups. They build huge armies of “troops” to order about, demonize competitors as “enemies,” and treat customers as “territory” to be conquered.
  • Extraordinary bosses see business as a symbiosis where the most diverse firm is most likely to survive and thrive. They naturally create teams that adapt easily to new markets and can quickly form partnerships with other companies, customers … and even competitors.

2. A company is a community, not a machine.

  • Average bosses consider their company to be a machine with employees as cogs. They create rigid structures with rigid rules and then try to maintain control by “pulling levers” and “steering the ship.”
  • Extraordinary bosses see their company as a collection of individual hopes and dreams, all connected to a higher purpose. They inspire employees to dedicate themselves to the success of their peers and therefore to the community–and company–at large.

3. Management is service, not control.

  • Average bosses want employees to do exactly what they’re told. They’re hyper-aware of anything that smacks of insubordination and create environments where individual initiative is squelched by the “wait and see what the boss says” mentality.
  • Extraordinary bosses set a general direction and then commit themselves to obtaining the resources that their employees need to get the job done. They push decision making downward, allowing teams form their own rules and intervening only in emergencies.

4. My employees are my peers, not my children.

  • Average bosses see employees as inferior, immature beings who simply can’t be trusted if not overseen by a patriarchal management. Employees take their cues from this attitude, expend energy on looking busy and covering their behinds.
  • Extraordinary bosses treat every employee as if he or she were the most important person in the firm. Excellence is expected everywhere, from the loading dock to the boardroom. As a result, employees at all levels take charge of their own destinies.

5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear.

  • Average bosses see fear–of getting fired, of ridicule, of loss of privilege–as a crucial way to motivate people.  As a result, employees and managers alike become paralyzed and unable to make risky decisions.
  • Extraordinary bosses inspire people to see a better future and how they’ll be a part of it.  As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the organization’s goals, truly enjoy what they’re doing and (of course) know they’ll share in the rewards.

6. Change equals growth, not pain.

  • Average bosses see change as both complicated and threatening, something to be endured only when a firm is in desperate shape. They subconsciously torpedo change … until it’s too late.
  • Extraordinary bosses see change as an inevitable part of life. While they don’t value change for its own sake, they know that success is only possible if employees and organization embrace new ideas and new ways of doing business.

7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation.

  • Average bosses adhere to the old IT-centric view that technology is primarily a way to strengthen management control and increase predictability. They install centralized computer systems that dehumanize and antagonize employees.
  • Extraordinary bosses see technology as a way to free human beings to be creative and to build better relationships. They adapt their back-office systems to the tools, like smartphones and tablets, that people actually want to use.

8. Work should be fun, not mere toil.

  • Average bosses buy into the notion that work is, at best, a necessary evil. They fully expect employees to resent having to work, and therefore tend to subconsciously define themselves as oppressors and their employees as victims. Everyone then behaves accordingly.
  • Extraordinary bosses see work as something that should be inherently enjoyable–and believe therefore that the most important job of manager is, as far as possible, to put people in jobs that can and will make them truly happy.

Isn’t it true that all bosses want to be extraordinary but generally end up just being “average?” It’s a shame that they don’t have the right tools and the right perspective to keep their teams moving at high velocity and performance.