A year ago, Maria and I upped our game by focusing on the Personal Agility Institute. Why? Because we saw the potential, based on our first case studies, of positively impacting millions of lives. Today, we are pleased to share release candidate 1 of our vision and mission for the PAI. It’s not new, but never have we stated it so clearly.
Maria has been working with Alistair Cockburn, creator of the Heart of Agile Framework (HoA). According to Alistair, the essence of agility can be summed up in four words: Collaborate, Deliver, Reflect, and Improve. This led me to wonder, what is the heart of Personal Agility? I think we can sum it up as follows:
Personal Agility is…
The Personal Agility System is a simple coaching framework to help you spend more time on what really matters and create alignment with yourself and those around you.
What really matters gives you clarity of purpose. That gives you context for making decisions. If life is an ocean, you are the owner and captain of your boat. It’s your boat, you get to decide where it goes. What really matter is also the focal point for creating alignment with people around you, like your family, your customers, your manager, or their managers and other stakeholders.
Life happens faster than you can plan, so decide as best you can and celebrate whatever you got done. Be kind to yourself and remember the retrospective prime directive.
It’s normal to have too much to do, so you choose what you want to do, based on what really matters and what will make you happy. Choice puts you in charge of the boat and puts your hand on the rudder, even when you are in a storm.
It’s your boat, but no man is an island. Who you are is a reflection of what you do, and vice versa. How you are perceived and what you can achieve depends not just on your own skills and abilities, but also on your interactions with other people.
I believe every element of the Personal Agility System can be mapped back to one of these four elements. This is a first draft. How does this resonate with you?
P.S. As previously announced, the Personal Agility System is an HoA-compatible framework. Our training materials are now recognized by HoA.
The Personal Agility Recognized Practitioner Program teaches you how to apply powerful questions to be a catalyst, that is to help other people identify and solve their problems.
Many people find the coaching approach difficult because you are expected to lead someone through a problem-solving process without being the expert or even offering solutions. How do you do that?
We now have a canvas to help you coach other people to solve their problems.
It’s called the PAS Problem Solving Canvas. Use it to lead someone through a 5-step process to understand and come up with solutions to their challenges. The basic steps are:
Create safety so the person is able to talk about potentially sensitive issues
Identify and understand the goal
Identify and understand the problem
Explore alternatives for solving the problem
Identifying a possible course of action
For each step, the canvas includes a number of questions you could ask to help your coachee through the problem solving process. Your job as a coach is to be and active listener. You are striving to understand where your coachee is in their thought process, so you can ask the right question next. Remember when you have gotten an answer to “read it back” to confirm your and their understanding of the issue or solution.
This is a draft version. Please give it try! We’d be thrilled if you share your experience with it on Linkedin. Be sure to tag Peter, Maria, the PAI and your PARA.
We are taking what is probably an unusual step. We are releasing the PAS Problem Solving Canvas both as a PDF and as an MS-Office template. Yes, source form! So you can use it to log conversations or you can maybe come up with your own versions. Please respect the CC license conditions if you make an improved version, please share it back with us. Good luck!
The Personal Agility System (PAS) is a simple coaching framework to help you spend more of your time on things that really matter. Why is PAS a coaching framework? Why not just call it an agile framework? And why is coaching so important to the Recognized Practitioner training?
Other agile frameworks are often defined by tasks or processes: The core principles of Kanban can be summed up with, “visualize your work” and “reduce your Work in Progress (WIP)”. Both of these are tasks. The heart of Scrum is the Scrum flow, the series of events to create a product by inspecting and adapting on the product, the work and them.
Personal Agility was informed by both Scrum and Kanban. As you get to know Personal Agility, you will recognize the family resemblance! There is however a third major influence: Powerful Questions, the core coaching skill. (Now would be a time to mention the other important influences: Christopher Avery’s Responsibility Process, Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Simon Sinek’s Start with Why, and Tim Urban’s amazing Wait, but Why.)
The heart of Personal Agility are the six Powerful Questions, including What Really Matters? What could you do? Of those things, what’s important, what’s urgent, and what’s going to make you happy? A powerful question encourages you to think.
A very early observation coming from PAS practitioners was that asking yourself questions encourages an attitude of kindness to yourself. Making active choices about how to spend your time, even though you have many constraints and demands on your time, is quite empowering. You take command of your ship while having better acceptance of yourself. ‘What really matters’ enables you to know why you make the decisions you do, and to make adjustments (“course corrections”) if you are not in alignment with yourself.
Questions are surprisingly versatile instruments. You can ask questions to yourself and you can also ask them to other people as well. What really matters turns out to be a very scalable organizing technique. Clarity of Purpose got man to the moon, and enabled transformational development more recently at places like Microsoft, Apple, Tesla and SpaceX.
As our case studies emerged, we saw people’s results are often not just incremental improvements but substantial transformations in their lives. Coaching usually played a role in these transformations.
So the Personal Agility Recognized Practitioner Program starts with coaching techniques to help you get better at getting things done, then to achieve long-term goals in the face of distraction, procrastination, and other resistance.
Once you can achieve long-term goals, you learn to apply those same skills to become a catalyst, then a leader in your organization, by helping others to solve problems and ultimately to identify consensus and build alignment among diverse groups of stakeholders. The goal is not to make you into a coach, but to give the right tools to have impact in your life and work and to inspire others to follow you.
Zurich, October 1, 2017. Just in time for Scrum Day Portugal in Lisbon, Maria and I prepared the September, 2017 version of the Guide to Personal Agility.
Thanks to great conversations, especially with Steve Denning, we have realized that Personal Agility descales (takes a big problem and makes it smaller) the problem of creating alignment. Expect to hear more on the subject of “Leadership Agility”!
As always, we are looking for suggestions, corrections, thoughts and feedback! Thanks!