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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.

 

We envision a world where people live and work according to things that really matter
We envision a world where people live and work according to things that really matter

 

Our mission is to enable one million people and companies change their situation for the better
Our mission is to enable one million people and companies change their situation for the better

The Scrum Alliance hosted an at-home agility interview series where they invited Peter Stevens and Maria Matarelli to talk about Personal Agility and how people can apply this simple approach in their life to do more of What Really Matters.

Watch the video interview: https://resources.scrumalliance.org/Video/high-impact-agile-practices-partnerships-families-friendships

Read the full article: https://resources.scrumalliance.org/Article/high-impact-agile-techniques-partnerships-friendships-families

At today’s Personal Agility Lean Coffee, I was asked for a simple explanation of PAS. Here is how I explained it:

The Personal Agility System is a simple framework to align what you do with what really matters. Thanks to its dialog-based approach, Personal Agility scales from the individual to the largest organization.

At the heart of PAS you find:

  • Purpose – Align what you do with what really matters.
  • Celebration – Celebrate what you got done, even if it was different than what you planned or intended.
  • Choice – Choose how to spend your time. You probably have too much to do, so choose things that matter first.
  • Emergence – Ask questions and really listen to the answers. Together with others you can become something bigger.
  • Kindness – Be kind to yourself. You are doing the best you can, given the situation at hand.

Thanks Sakthi Chandrasekar, Has Razwi and Jyoti Dandona for the invitation and to Ipsita Mishra, Susannah Chambers and Adelina Stefan, for bringing and sharing your experience.
 

Lyssa Adkins and Maria Matarelli discuss how Personal Agility is a powerful framework for leaders and organizations.
Listen in to the discussion and see the conversation summary below:

 

Maria Matarelli

What does this mean for leaders? Why would an executive want to use Personal Agility?

Lyssa Adkins  

I think it’s amazing as an opportunity for executives to use Personal Agility because, for example, well, let’s just talk about the benefits they’ll get in their own lives. The same benefits we’ve been talking about, if there are any people in the world that are running around like crazy, its executives; and if there are any people in the world who need to make conscious, clear decisions, it’s executives, right. And so this framework allows for information that supports all of that. But also, many executives are working in organizations where Agile is present, they may have brought Agile in themselves, or it may have just sort of grown up and then all of a sudden, they look around and go, “Well, this thing called Agile is here”. And here’s the thing is that Agile is operating from a completely different values set and belief system than any other way of working that we’ve had before. And in order for that belief set to flourish, in order for the benefit of Agile to really occur in organization, it requires all of us, all of us to move toward living these values and principles in our own lives. Personal Agility is a way that executives can do Agile on themselves, and learn the same lessons teams learn just in their own context.”

 

Maria Matarelli  

How do you think that that translates, because a lot of people will say, “Oh, it’s Personal Agility. This isn’t in the workplace, this isn’t for a leader or it isn’t…”

Lyssa Adkins  

Oh, my gosh, well, I use it to run my business. I mean, I’m a serial entrepreneur, I use it to start businesses, I use it to make all kinds of decisions. And I use it for managing my own energy. And what’s possible, in my, in the whole sphere of my work and life, you know, just like an executive would need to decide like, how much energy am I going to put into x? What am I going to delegate over here to y? What businesses do I need to start up? How will I know when that business needs to be either funded or put off to the side like, all of those things are things that show up in my Priorities Map on a weekly basis?

 

Maria Matarelli  

Could using Personal Agility help someone be a better team member in an Agile environment?

Lyssa Adkins  

I think it could. And I think it will go a long way to work here. And one of the biggest things I see in organizations at the team level, which is that people don’t ask for what they need to do the job they’ve been asked to do. And so once people become conscious choice makers, when people value themselves in their own time more than I think that they will be more willing to, number one, have clarity about what they need. And number two, be willing to ask for it.

 

Maria Matarelli 

At one point you made the statement that you believe that Personal Agility could shake the foundations of the industry at its core in the Agile community. Could you expand a little bit more on that? What did you mean by that?

Lyssa Adkins  

So here’s what I was imagining when I said that, I was imagining a bunch of people at all levels in an organization that have used Personal Agility that they have used it for all the things we’ve talked about to achieve more in their working life, to be conscious choice makers to celebrate what they what they actually accomplish, on and on and on. If they’ve done that, then when Agile comes into the organization, they will have already learned and grokked at a really deep level, the main mindset shifts that agile needs in order to really flourish in an organization. So if Agile comes in the door later, they’re going to be in a much better position to use agile in a way that fulfills Agile’s full promise.

 

Maria Matarelli  

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your thoughts or experience with Personal Agility?

Lyssa Adkins  

Personal Agility is continuing to be a really important force in my life 111 weeks later. And I can tell when things in my work life, in my entrepreneurial life, in my life-life, I can tell when I need to shift because I can no longer operate my Priorities Map as well as I did a month ago. The things I’ve said that matter don’t seem to fit as well anymore. And I have to go to the next fine grain level to find out Hmm, what is the flavor of that now. And so I love how it’s a sub source of information and even wisdom that informs me.

 

 

The Personal Agility System helps people and organizations identify What Really Matters while providing a simple system to aid in achieving these goals. In addition to helping individuals and organizations gain clarity on What Really Matters, we go one step further to help people identify and create alignment. This could be alignment with the people in your life or in a work context, alignment with stakeholders and other teams throughout an organization.

Stakeholder alignment is important for any company using Agile. Having a clear vision for the teams to support clear initiatives that create a positive return on investment (ROI) for the organization.

We recognized early on how important it is to ensure that we create alignment with the people around us and alignment with the initiatives in an organization and we have created a tool at the Personal Agility Institute to help with just that.

Introducing the Stakeholder Interview Canvas. We have discovered this canvas can be a powerful tool when talking to stakeholders to uncover what is most important to them. The first column has questions related to “Who”, the second column has questions related to “Why”, and the third column has questions related to the “Desired Outcome”.

A powerful question at the core of Personal Agility, is “What Really Matters?” though we don’t immediately jump in to asking that question. We recommend going in the numerical order and jumping around the canvas. This encourages you to flow with the conversation and you can jump in and out of different questions as you go.

Begin with the first column with the questions related to “Who”. This is where we ask questions about the main goals or objectives.

Next, we go to the middle column and ask the questions related to “Why”. Here, we explore the challenges and impediments along with risks, concerns, fears, and frustrations.

As we approach the third column, we want to focus on the desired outcomes. This is where we ask about their definition of awesome and how we can support them in creating that outcome.

Next, we loop back around to summarize what really matters to the other person. You can summarize the top 3 areas of focus that emerged from the conversation or you may want to ask if they can clarify what the top 3 areas of importance are and identify any follow up steps.

Give it a try! Download a free copy of the Personal Agility Stakeholder Interview Canvas under the “Free Tools” section of the website here: https://personalagilityinstitute.org/freetools

We would love to hear how this tool works for you. Please give it a try and reach out to Maria (at) PersonalAgilityInstitute (dot) org to share your experience on how it helped!

 

 

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:

Ship's wheel

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.

Purpose

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.

Celebration

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.

Choice

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.

Emergence

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.

PAS Problem Solving Canvas v0.92
PAS Problem Solving Canvas v0.92

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:

  1. Create safety so the person is able to talk about potentially sensitive issues
  2. Identify and understand the goal
  3. Identify and understand the problem
  4. Explore alternatives for solving the problem
  5. 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!

Download the PAS Problem Solving Canvas

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.)

Six Questions of Personal Agility
Six Questions of Personal Agility

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.

 

Lyssa Adkins is best known as the author of the foundational book Coaching Agile Teams, which connected the Scrum Master role and Professional Coaching to give definition to the profession Agile Coach.

She co-founded the Agile Coaching Institute (ACI), which specialized in coaching agile coaches through their agile transformation. She led the development of the ACI until it was acquired by Accenture.

Challenge

Selling the company gave her a clean slate. “The key challenge I had around that time was how am I going to reorient myself and my business and even my public persona so that I can attract the business I wanted to attract, and so that I can do it in a way that didn’t sacrifice the sustainable pace I had very willingly and arduously crafted in my life?”

Desired Outcome

“I wanted clarity in how I spend my time, and to have more kindness to myself. I often didn’t count the things that were in the category of joy and play and family and community and alone time and recharging as valid or real. And I needed to.”

Result

“I definitely achieved that goal. One of my main categories under what really matters was called ample time. I wanted to have ample time to do everything I’m doing fully and well. I absolutely achieved that. Meanwhile, while the business piece was coming back up and getting reinvented, I found myself at the cusp of launching into new business ideas and new business ventures.”

“I had to constantly bring my attention to know relaxation is part of the job. Rejuvenation is part of the job; you’re actually doing tasks. You’re doing work by attending to your own foundation and the resilience that you will need in the future. This is what was going on in my head.”

“It took a long time to rewire the addiction to work, the addiction to achieving, and the addiction to saying yes to too many things (which meant I had to get them done). Getting past this addiction was a huge benefit. It took me a while to consistently direct my attention to what was really important.

That created a lot more happiness and joy in my own life, or maybe just helped me notice how much happiness and joy was already in my life.”

Tools

“Of all the tools of the Personal Agility System, what really stands out for me is the brilliant naming of the ‘Celebrate and Choose’ event.”

“I was on an addiction-to-work rollercoaster where I was moving from one thing to the next. And yes, I would have moments of recognizing my accomplishments or celebrating, but it was not a weekly ritual of celebrating what actually did happen.”

“Since I was tracking all this in my Priorities Map, I could clearly see what I accomplished.”

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh — I can’t believe I got that much done,’ even though I didn’t feel like I had been pushing myself. This new way of being was both more effective and more relaxed at the same time.”

“Personal Agility reminded me strongly that I do not celebrate enough. I wasn’t noticing enough what I accomplished or the gains I had made. I wasn’t giving myself any breaks or even trying to give myself a break. I had to rewire myself around the ritual of celebrating.”

“The ‘Celebrate and Choose’ event helped me recognize what actually did happen. Good, bad, or indifferent, it represents learning and I know I can choose differently next time. That was huge.”

Path to Success

“I think that the biggest thing about Agility itself is transparency.”

“That’s really it in a nutshell. When I get it all out on the Priorities Map — and I’m working my Priorities Map every single day — I’m seeing what’s going on and I’m seeing what I am not getting done. This allows me to be a more conscious choice maker. When I say I want something, and then notice that I’m making different choices, it’s easier to correct my choices toward what I want.”

“I am so aware that Personal Agility will continue to benefit me because it helps me ensure I have the right things on the calendar. My Priorities Map helps me do things completely and not overbook myself or go crazy with too much work in progress.”

Tips for your Journey

“I love the stories that we have heard from people pulling themselves out of desperate financial situations, to people getting in and out of business partnerships, and just making a lot of very declarative and meaningful changes in their lives.”

“Working with the Personal Agility Institute, I have really loved being involved with the groups that Maria Matarelli and I have led through the process. What I’ve learned is that everyone does it a little bit differently. And I love that. So I think to replicate my success, you just use the tools and follow along the process, and you’re going to do it your own way.”

“You will have different things that matter to you, you will have a different way that you’re charting your course across the ocean of your life, you will have different things that get in your way. My particular ways of getting in my own way will not be your particular ways. But all of this can be revealed and worked with in a really kind way.”

2020 Is the year The Personal Agility System (PAS) really got off the ground. In January, Maria Matarelli introduced Peter Stevens to “The Culinary Queen” Sharon Guerin. She wanted to say thank you to Peter for Personal Agility, because thanks to Personal Agility — and the right help from Maria — Sharon changed her life! So she invited us all to dinner – which was amazing, and she shared her story, which is also amazing!

Sharon inspired in two ways. First her story gave a hint how universally useful Personal Agility can be: literally millions if not hundreds of millions of people could change their lives or work for the better. So Maria and Peter decided to document case studies for our book.

When the COVID crisis came around, we was looking for purpose and inspiration. What if we could reach even 1% of the people like Sharon who Personal Agility could help? That’s still millions of people! If every one of them invited us for dinner, that would be 3’000 years of thank you’s! So we decided to focus on Personal Agility like never before. In particular, to get the Ambassador program going, so we can start to reach those millions of people and generate those thank you’s.

Personal Agility Recognized Ambassadors and Trainers

Personal Agility Recognized Ambassadors and Trainers, November 2020

Today a group of 10 “PARAs” and “PARTs” – Personal Agility Recognized Ambassadors and Trainers are spreading the word around the world. Together we have trained 90 people in Personal Agility this year – three time our cumulative total from last year! Which brings me to the topic of this blog post.

What are they saying about Personal Agility? With this post, I am going to collect the articles articles and resources written by people on their Personal Agility voyage. Some are just getting started, others have been applying PAS for years.

Should your article or video be added to this list? Share it on LinkedIn and tag me and the Personal Agility Institute, or contact me directly

Initial Experience Reports

Long-Term Experience Reports

Personal Agility in Leadership

Personal Agility System Tools and Concepts

Personal Agility in the Press

Presentations

Reference Materials

Personal Agility Insitute