Two ingredients are the salt and sugar for high-performance organizations.

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Photo by Andhika Soreng on Unsplash

Every company wants to be a high-performance organization these days. Well, at least most organizations.

That makes sense.

A high-performance organization seems to be the answer to the uncertainty, volatility and complexity we face today. It promises outstanding business outcomes and sustainable success despite these odds. It is an organization where learning and adaptation takes place.

Which responsible company owner wouldn’t want to pursue that path? But what gets you there?

High-performance organization: the basic ingredients

Let me first tell you what will not get you there.

First, you can’t expect to do the same, give it a different name and be successful with that. No one has ever been successful in initiating change without changing anything. Instead, you will have to accept that change is inevitable and even that it could affect you. You will have to let go of things you came to like. …


Psychological safety in organizations is crucial. Amy Edmondson makes the case for it.

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Photo by Varvara Grabova on Unsplash

A few years ago the term “Psychological safety” gained popularity.

Google had announced their results of Project Aristotle. In Project Aristotle Google set out to discover what makes teams effective. Their most striking finding: Psychological safety is essential for high-performing teams. But Google were not the first to make that finding. In fact, tremendous research of this topic has been conducted over the course of over 20 years.

One of these researchers, Amy Edmondson, authored the book “The fearless organization” (affiliate link).

About the author

Amy Edmondson is probably the most important researcher on psychological safety.

She is professor of leadership at the Harvard Business School. In her career she devoted large parts researching psychological safety. Back in 1999, she published a paper “Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior in Work Teams”. In that paper, she already emphasized the importance of psychological safety. Her finding was that psychological safety contributes to learning behavior in teams. Learning behavior in turn leads to improved team performance. …


Going the extra mile to make core concepts of Scrum more clear. A commented overview of the changes in the new Scrum Guide.

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Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

Big words were used to announce the new version of the Scrum Guide. Now it is finally released. In this story, I want to give an overview of the things that I took note of.

A lot has changed in this version.

Well, many changes aim to make it easier to read and understand. But that’s not all. Funny enough, that the new Scrum Guide is a demonstration of well-known Scrum wisdom. Building a potentially releasable Increment doesn’t equal an obligation to release it. But, the new guide says, delivering more often than once a sprint, is entirely valid. …


Feedback on your products is valuable, but not always easy to get. Be bold but smart at the same time.

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Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

The world is a mess.

In a perfect world, our customers would tell us what they want. More important: they would describe what they need. In the real world, however, customers do not always know what they want. Let alone that they would know what they need. And coming up with good ideas for what provides value and will be successful is not easy, either. Even the best ideas can fail in that messy world. Many ideas fail. Either they don’t solve the problem, or it takes too long before the solution provides value.

We have been aware of this for some time. It’s the reason why we embraced the idea of empiricism in the first place. …


The journey to asynchronous communication starts with improving your meeting culture.

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Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

„Its madness“, Peter thinks as he is rushing up the stairs.

He is a bit late, but that’s not what is occupying his mind. His mind is circling around his daily schedule. The upcoming meeting is only one in a bunch. Like breadcrumbs, they are scattered throughout the day. Leaving no doubt: getting things done is not his destiny. „Damn“, he thinks, as his coffee spills over. Before sitting down, he quickly heads into the kitchen to get a towel.

„Let’s give them a couple of minutes“, he hears the runner of the meeting say. Peter chuckles, wondering if he will ever experience a meeting that starts on time. Peter takes a look at the sleepy faces attending the meeting. It’s a large round, far from following the two-pizza-rule. He looks at each of the faces on his screen, pondering what their average hourly wage might be – summing up the numbers in his head. …


Would you build something no one needs if you know upfront?

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Photo by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay

„What did I spend so much effort for?“, he pondered in despair.

Last months he spent most of his days working on this one thing. The work defined these months. A vision is what got him started. He had an idea that could make the life of many people easier. And he spent hour after hour to plan out this project, develop it, and prepare its launch. Almost six months had passed since then. Six months. „Wasted“, he thought.

Now, he was looking at the page with page views and registrations. He felt like a fool. All the work for nothing. He reloaded the page, again and again. After several times reloading the page, he convinced himself to let go. To let go and wait. …


What is a Minimum Viable Product? An improvised beach bar on Mallorca can teach you a thing or two about this.

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The way to the Beach. Photo taken on Mallorca.

We held next to the main road.

Our goal was to reach a small beach which was lesser known to tourists and promised to be less crowded. A friend had recommended it to us, saying that it was a bit hard to reach but worth it.

Now we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere and looked down a bumpy gravel road. The sun was burning and every move made us sweat.

The road would have brought us nearer to the beach and we wondered if we should take the risk. But looking down that road, we could spot some serious potholes. Otherwise, the road didn’t seem very inviting either. It seemed there was a real risk for a broken axle on our rental car if we weren’t cautious enough. …


The practice of adapting Scrum is not as bad as you think — but you need to make sure your modified approach works.

Elephants showing us their butts.
Elephants showing us their butts.
Elephants showing us their butts. Picture was taken in a zoo in Münster, Germany.

“We are doing Scrum, but …”

Some people snort if they overhear a sentence starting like this. They think to themselves: “Oh no! Yet another person who hasn’t understood Scrum and is cherry-picking“. By many, it’s considered an anti-pattern to adopt only some tenets of Scrum. In contrast, people are taking a pragmatic stance. They might say: „It’s all about the results, and if we have to change everything about scrum to achieve that — so be it.“

There are even people who think that the so-called ScrumButs are the best about Scrum.

Who is right?

I tend to the position: everything about Scrum can change if it serves your needs. …


He tried to say „yes“ to everyone and failed but learnt an important lesson: every „no“ can make a „yes“ much stronger.

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Photo by Methawee Krasaeden on Pixabay

„I don‘t have any time.“

He spoke the sentence and breezed out a deep sigh. Like anyone else he had this sentence running through his mind many times in the past. He knew that there were a few reasons to use this sentence. In a meritocratic and fast-moving world it could be used like a pretty jewel, a way to pride yourself for how busy you are. …


Remote work could help us solving the climate crisis and on top of that make our work places more inclusive, better places to work. In this article I’ll outline some arguments for remote work and why some of the challenges with it might actually indicate issues that have nothing to do with remote work at all.

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When the Corona crisis started unfolding, my employer sent us home. Initially it was thought as a temporary measure but the “all remote” policy has not been loosened much since then.

This has been early in March and ever since I‘m doing my work from home. Initially, I had my own doubts for sure, but I came to realize what benefits the remote work entails and nowadays I couldn’t be much happier with the new situation. On the other hand it‘s clear that not everyone shares my feelings about remote work. Even in my direct surroundings there are people, who struggle with the situation more than I ever did. Some desperately miss hanging out with their fellow workers and the personal interaction at the work place. Some struggle with the missing structure that is inherent to the practice of going to the office in the morning and going home when the work day is done. Unsurprisingly some of those people took the chance when the company allowed a small fraction of the work force to return to the campus even though this included strict regulations. Overall, however, the experience has been a good one for the people at my work place. …

About

Patrick Schönfeld

Trying to improve the chaos called work - one article at a time. Blogging on Medium and on my blog chaosverbesserer.de.

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