Auckland Marathon 2019

With the 12hr done, my last long race of the year is the Auckland Marathon. A very different event. Brutal, but fun.

Two weeks out I had a terrible 10k run, was struggling from the second kilometer. I felt tanked coming up a hilly section and had to button off to walking pace. I ground to a stop at 8 k and had to rest before heading back to the car.

I thought I had no stamia for 10k, let alone 42, until I realised that I hadn’t had lunch that day and was running on a series of 5 hours sleep nights.

Pre race week was supposed to be simple MAF/Zone 4 5k runs to Saturday, but… Wednesday felt really great running with the lads for an estuary lap so did 8k at around 4:43 pace.

Start Line

Shape Shifter, In Colour is playing at full volume and I check my watch is ready and see my heart rate clicking up each second. The starter hooter sounds and we’re off.

About 1300 people behind us and 300 ahead.

Out and up the hills feels fine. Left calf is painful, much like it was at the start of the 12 hr. Put it down to nerves. I miss the first aid station as its a mess of grabbing and pro offered cups.

At Takapuna I think of Greg’s Gel protocol and get my first one in the mouth and stupidly swirl with it. It’s everywhere and my mouth is dry as. I try to crack a joke about our Kipchoge slipstream V pacers being missing and everyone’s too focused.

We chop through the new extra bit – pre Smales Farm and I figure I need water so jostle to the inside. Get a cup of water, get two good sips in but doesn’t feel like enough.

I figure I need a good drink before the bridge, so from Smales to Akoranga I kick slight ahead of the pacer to give myself a clear solid grab on a right side water.

I stay just ahead of him until the bridge, cutting the tangents through the corners to minimise distance.

The Bridge

Pacer says we have time on the bridge and we go over at 5:13 pace and I Croft a few on the way to Shelly Beach road, and push ahead to be clear for the next aid station and have my gel.

I swallow mouthfulls and it works loads better but a little dude who’s fallen of his pace ahead of me heads left, then right, then left, then right for the water table in front of me.

I have to grab both his shoulders to save leapfrogging him or getting buried under the pack bearing down on us. I get clear and grab a Powerade.

We’re good from here out and round the shorter section – missing the tank farm this year and we peel left to some thunderous cheers from volunteers and crowds near Victoria Park.

Onto Quay street and the mental “ticked off the half” hits quite a few. I pick up 40 spots before the 25K. Some were almost hyperventilating and I could feel myself starting to pick up my breath in sympathy.

I start to compose, and have another Gel before the aid station pre Okahu Bay. Felling pretty good. Pace is good. I start to decide what I can shout at Mark and Steffan who I figured I’d see any second coming through with the 3 hour pacers . We get out past Kelly Tarlton’s aquarium and I manage a “Go Ninja” for both and go mate for three others I spot before the turnaround.

I clear the turnaround and there’s no dread yet. I feel it coming into Mission bay and looking at my watch (like a rookie) I think I can let the pacer go a little as I gotta nail this aid station. I get a good grip, clamp, sip, get going and keep rolling.

A few shouts to the 3:45, 4:00 and 4:15 pacers – Super supportive, wonderful people, but why do they have to be people I know and need to respond to. I wasn’t up to talking at that point. I fade slightly and it is this segment that costs me 20 seconds.

I get a second wind here as we approach Hobson Bay and the lights. I chat for 5 minutes up and over the little rise with a South African who talks about the Comrades pacers needing to be a few min ahead so the back of the pacer pack makes it on time. I get a boost as he sounds real fresh and I think we can go for 5 together.

I’m about to ask him and he spurts out “I’m done my legs are dead”. He bails and a whole bunch are tanked in the headwinds and start walking.

I add another 20 to the tally from here to the last aid station where my watch hits 41.6 and I think I’ve got 12 mins to do less than a kilometer on my watch (it can’t be more than 2 course KM surely?). I walk through the last aid station and get a two handed grip on a water then choke on a Powerade.

Finish

My heart rate zooms as I try to pick the pace back up and stop coughing blue stuff.

I loose two spots here to guys through the aid station and do what I feels like a sprint from the Council (Vodafone) building to the finish, happy that there’s a good partition between the 21k walkers and those running to finish the marathon this time.

Results

3:31:40 on the clock. 3:31:20 net and 43k on my watch. With a PB to the half I knew I’d struggle to negative split so super happy with this and the fact that my Split rank for my last 4 splits was about 40 – 60 spots ahead of my race rank.

Strava

Official Results

Waiting to sign up for next year. 😁

Next steps are:

  • Recover
  • Work on aid station speed and cup skills
  • Time gel intakes better
  • Practice cornering in packs
  • More speed work to increase pace
  • More long runs in practice (106k is long but I didn’t get enough 21+ k runs in before the event)
  • Set next race and targets.

PS. If you’re considering the Auckland Marathon half or full next year. Mark Patterson (Stellar bloke and runner) has a fantastic break down of the first 21.1 Kilometers here:

https://crucialvelocityblog.wordpress.com/2019/10/09/auckland-half-marathon-2019-preview/


Sri Chinmoy 12hr Race Report

A departure from marketing and management to record one of my recent passions, running.

In July I was invited to join a group of enthusiastic amateur runners, dads that fit running in around their kids, work and life called the Night Ninjas. The orange and black top, I wear with pride. We may not be Eulid, but we sure as heck give running our all.

Day before

The Friday lunch run saw a gamut of nervous pings, cramps and ankle clicks as I tried to get my 5k in for the day early and get off my feet.  I used memory position number two on the standing desk for the first time for a good 5 of the 8 hours at work. I tried to get off my feet as much as possible.
(Number two = sitting. ‘Cause you know, you stand for number ones, sit for number twos. #dadjokes). 

Also picked up some running shorts with linings as I was worried about chaffing.
I heard an ultra audio book earlier in the week talk about how he borrowed some girl pants to meet the mandatory long pants/thermals gear requirement in Europe and the seam (only in girls pants) nearly cleft his pair in two!   😨

Pre race

Beef brisket for dinner, porridge breakfast and into the car to pick up ice for the chilly bin. Heading down the motorway its spitting on the windscreen. S#@%.  I turn off at Constellation Drive and there’s a hole in the clouds over the track 👍. Apart from 30 seconds mid morning, it didn’t rain at all, a blessing from the chafe spirits.

Pup tent up, chilly bin on, food laid out  👍 I say hi to the crazy old walking fulla while he has his pre race cigarette and puts his Bob Marley wig on. 

A moment’s silence for Sri Chinmoy and transcendental running bookends our preparation.

Race Start

We’re off. I keep with Brad Luiten (fellow Night Ninja, super fast half marathoner in recovery) for the first .004 meters and then let him go. He’s running his own race and all.
I Keep telling myself to slow down. (I know I’m slow, but I knew I needed to be slower to last).  I run a 1 hour 50 minute half. 20 minutes ahead of last year (at the 6 hour event) but think ok, I’ll bank the ks.

A pee stop and three kids purees later, 3:55 marathon. 35 mins up on last year and I feel good. I reward myself with a walk for 3 laps, then run a bit more cause I want the 50 in 5. Done. And then mega urge to pee straight after.

Black Tea

Thought I’d been drinking enough at every 4/5k but its brown like black tea. I start sipping electrolytes every 5 laps, then 3, hoping I can clear things up – literally.  
I try to run but feel like I’m going to pee myself. I decide to walk it off and see what happens. Drinking electrolytes every lap helps.

About here I unlapped myself one lap from Brad, once. Was awesome to have him giving me a pat on the shoulder every now and then as he passed, but he’d put in a massive effort and buttoned off, just for that bit, as he hit 60k.

He picked it back up (too fast for me). I eat a kids custard. 
Thomas Watson had slowed enough by now that I tagged onto him to get to 60 kilometers in 6 hour. He’s tall so we took turns as wind breaks for each other, good chat.

Thanks to Daniel , Oscar, Stu-Pj , Richard, Gene and Stuart,  with encouragement, Ninja TV, Pies and Jellytips which all gave energy or motivation to run harder.  👍

65k in I take a long lap for third Kumara and mash and a relieving-ly clear pee. I feel the two toe blisters starting to move around and squishing. Cramp spray every 4k turns to every 4 laps. It’s not working, I start marching.

I call my wife to check on her and kids, while i start to march a few laps.I tell her I’ll be here ‘til at least 10:30pm as I run the numbers and start to doubt I’ll finish in time.

I Get emotional.


Why the heck did I do 12hs?

Turns out he was a real rabbit.

I’m tired. Maybe if I can’t make 100 in 12, I can lap the outside till I get it done, maybe. I said I’d be home around 10:30pm, right?

I see this bunny on the grass inside the track.

I Ignore him. Laps later, he’s still there.

I try and work out if I’m ahead of the female 12 hour racers. It takes me 6 laps to see that on the scoreboard. I realise that I haven’t been acknowledging my counters. S#%, did they get me those last laps? (they did).

Then a lady in front sees the bunny too.  I tell her I’ll take a picture to see if it’s real.

It is.

Dunno if I can, need rest.


75k I eat the pie Richard brought me. Can feel the vegan Sri Chinmoy-ers envy/disdain.
Mince is awesome. Pastry lines my mouth, dry. I down three cokes, sorted.

Might get the 100

I test the legs, cramps still there at top of calves, bottom of hamstrings but I want to see if it flares up or is just bearable. I start doing the maths on marching it out to 100k. I’m gonna fall short, heel blisters squish, but don’t want waist time checking them. I’m thinking: the march is working, speed up a little, keep moving.

If I sit down. I won’t get up. Like those guys there, who were sitting the last three lap.

Can’t do this

The cramps start to ping on long strides.
I try to run a couple, walk a couple around 88 , 90 and 92. Cramps get unbearable with any speed. I’m on pace by my watch but short on lap count by two, I think. I take a gel. March hard. Take 3x the RDA of cramp spray. Take another gel 6 laps later as the first tasted good. 

100k – It’s on

I get a lap count and need ten to get the 100.
Gene counts me in from five and I risk pace. Cramps are building but bearable. I run the final three laps, then and 2 kilometers more to get it done. Who cares if I pop blisters now.

I land after the burpee and kneel for a second. I catch my breath and realise I’m done. I get happy its over. Everything hurts. The cramps are now in my abs, lats, quads, hammys, calves and toes.

Blisters all busted I swagger over to the finish and celebrate.

I then spend 45 mins packing up the tent and gear like 102 is my age.

Sunday. Jandal 5k

I jalk (Jog and walk) out 1.5 kilometers after warming u with a 3 kilometer walk with the kids in jandals to keep my running streak.  
Monday, a slow 5k and its back to #5keveryday and thinking of what’s next 😃

Results

STRAVA

OFFICIAL RESULTS

My CPA Calculator For Marketing Activities

If you’re like me and into agile marketing, you might find this tool handy to calculate the true CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) of any marketing initiative.

For a digital marketing initiative there will be a number of figures you will need to consider when weighting up ROI, and working out how much of a priority a certain activity should be.

Typically you will have figures for:

  • Traffic, recipients or impressions
  • Open Rates
  • Click Thru Rates
  • Trial Rates
  • Trial to Paid Rates
  • Cost or CPM (Cost per thousand impressions)

But also remember the frictional costs of an activity, the creative costs and make some kind of calculation around your time spent in the shower coming up with ideas.

You could also use an ICE score to rate and compare the activities beyond just cost.

ICE standing for:

  • Impact
    Could this compound, be replicated, be pivotal, be influencial, be ‘viral’?
    1= one off, 10 = compounding hypergrowth
  • Confidence
    How confident are you in the data and your assumptions
    1 = Faulty Towers, 10 = Four Seasons
  • Ease
    How easy is this to do?
    1 = will take an army, 10 = child’s play

Have a look at what this might look like. Give my calculator a try:


marketing-growth-hack-calc

CALCULATE CPA


Daily Journaling Template

In work and in life I’ve tried to follow a continuous beta mantra.
Always be testing, upgrading and improving.

\\ This is a sidestep from my classic business and marketing posts, but bear with me.

One thing I’ve been trying lately is daily journaling. I haven’t perfected it and I use an alarm still to prompt me every morning to do it.

It’s a practice that many of the world leaders, smart investors and creatives use to improve. Of those interviewed for Tim Ferris’ book Tools of Titans, a majority had daily practices of: journaling, meditation, waking early, physical activity and shocks to the system (either intermittent fasting or cold water immersion).

The book’s a good read BTW, or digest each podcast for the whole story, uncategorised.

Here’s a little video with the details (sorry if you’ve seen this on IGTV)

We often get quite granular with our KPIs and goals, but how often do we really review what’s working?

Here’s the template I use as a prompt.

Journaling Template

What went well
What am I grateful for and what went well yesterday I can be proud of and replicate.

Today’s three
Things that if I get them done will move the needle

  1. _
  2. _
  3. _

Today’s experiment
What am I going to try today. Something new.

Reflection
What didn’t work? What do I need to follow up? What can I celebrate? Who should I connect with and connect to someone?

What can I share that I’ve found useful?
=======================================================


Hope you guys find this useful.
Let me know if you’ve got a Journaling tip, habit or continuous beta effort in play.

Versions for you:

Idea: Real Estate Offices As Nation Wide Network Of Gig Economy Co-working Spaces?

Just letting a stream of thoughts fly here.

What if real estate offices leveraged their prime – centre of the neighbourhood – offices, by turning them into startup hubs and really respond to the gig economy?

A while back I was pondering over the two great problems that real estate agencies have:

  • Maintaining a constant source of great leads
  • The overhead of having to have a physical High St office like all of the other brands.

In today’s economy everything is moving to an ‘as a service model’. People are renting everything to avoid the initial costs of starting a business.

A number of startup hubs are forming in core cities around the world and their features of very similar to the needs a real estate office.

If you think about a high performing real estate office the staff should never be there – they should be out selling. They only group or regroup to align and share the current listings or to attend a training session or to run a large – normally after hours – auction. With their schedule of open homes and visiting clients the office could be left free for startups to use as Co-working spaces.

These freelancers and startups could be a constant source of residential leads that have brand awareness. Or as they scale enough to require their own space, expand the rent roll of a commercial Property Management arm.

To increase brand equity and surprise and delight those using their the coworking space the real estate company could bring in presenters. They could present and train them on sales and marketing – and the agency could leverage the presenters to teach their own sales team.

Expanding their services beyond just property they could branch into:

  • opening a cafe
  • a print house
  • a digital agency
  • event management
  • and all of the other ‘as a service’ offerings that a startup would consume.

Each time extending the rent roll of that commercial real estate agency.

Ultimately the real estate brand and it’s agents will become the hub and source of all of its thriving and a community.

And isn’t that exactly what they all want? Inbound leads arriving daily!

Here’s hoping a brand takes this up.

I would love to support them with the logistics and bookings and connecting with the startup community through marketing.

Do this weekly, heck daily if you’re brave enough. The Retrospective!

What’s my one tip as a coach?

Do this weekly. Heck daily – if you’re brave enough. Challenge your team to do regular retrospectives.

The biggest #GROWTHHACK I can think of is consistent and regular review of:

– What worked?
– What didn’t?
– What are we going to change?

The best organisations have mastered this rapid iteration and constant velocity of improvement. Taking cues from Ray Dalio’s Principles – the top 1% document their change decisions so that even the way they learn (and make decisions) evolves.

Reflect, Recognise, Reward, and Realign


Make learning a key part of your week

Structuring Teams For Growth

I’m an Achilles heel, but I know it! The nature of our industry implies we have teachers, head teachers, academic leaders and a principal or CEO.

This centralised hierarchical structure means we have clear interfaces with the government and regulatory bodies, roles with built in dependancies, and bottlenecks when it comes to decisions. From a risk perspective these bottlenecks are strategic weak points. Heck even my current job title, Head of Marketing, sounds ripe for lopping off and leaving a lifeless directionless body…

It’s an org structure that historically has been well adopted, but is it the right structure for today’s VUCA world?

Beyond my KPIs as a Marketing Director, I see my role in any organisation as head of distribution. Where possible moving from a centralised system to a distributed model. At least in terms of our marketing capacity if not the wider organisation.

Creating scaffolding. Enabling with tools that allow open records, transparency around actions and accountability, and systems that empower my team to make decisions that better serve customers.

So why did the centralised systems form?

When we identify chaos our first reaction is to classify what we’re seeing, create order and build complex systems to make the chaos understandable and tolerable. It’s why we have forms, policies, procedures and why everyone (except well intended guests and relatives) puts the coffee cups back in the same spot. It creates efficiency.

But at the start, who decides if your draw goes knife-fork-spoon or spoon-fork-knife?

Historically we had tribal leaders that knew what to do and could make decisions. Without procedures or scaffolding, we would look to those leaders for guidance. It seemed like the right way to run a company. When you get a lot of bodies together it seemed easier to control them through orders and one commanding voice. Think of that guy on the megaphone at a busy ferry terminal or at the start of a marathon, barking orders usually on a platform in a top down fashion.

A tribal leader was usually, in Darwinistic fashion, the toughest or strongest one that could win the battles.

centralised-decentralised-distributed

Decentralised Was A Step Forward

As globalism spread, we realised that a certain degree of decentralisation had to occur. If just, as an example, to scale and let the East India Company make decisions that couldn’t be shipped back and forth like goods every month.

Progressing slightly, decentralised movements gave some resilience. Each node has a head and the required body parts to function. But the constant battle is to standardise processes and procedures again in order to make sense of the differing markets. You loose economies of scale, as you gain some independence and diversity of revenue.

Distributed Independent Organisms – Starfish over Spiders

Modern first world society has become so dependent on centralised structures that we are all just 9 meals away from anarchy. So how do we mitigate this reliance? Re-wilding and home grown organics maybe? We’d be distributed for sure.

What if we look back beyond our assumption that an organisation is a tribe that needs leadership. What if we saw it as an organism?

Brafman and Beckstrom Draw a fantastic analogy in their book The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations.
41tomcwwz2l-_sx318_bo1204203200_

Highly responsive, naturally resilient and adaptive, distributed systems and organisations cannot be controlled. This is in fact the basis of internet, a distributed system.

Here are a few more examples:

  • Wikipedia – Where no one author or contributor is responsible for verifying an entry, it has become a very strong source of basic encyclopaedic knowledge.
  • Terrorist cells – Modern terrorist cells are very hard to immobilise as each cell operates independently and can do so without revealing themselves through communication with others. In fact the most effective counterterrorist efforts have been conducted in cell like, rogue units, operating disconnected from the typical structured (predictable and traceable) Seal and SAS efforts.
  • Epidemics – AIDS and Bird flu are particularly hard to fight as our antibacterial usage struggles to combat continuous mutation and developing separate strains.

For some business examples check out:

  • Burtzorg (Europe) distributed healthcare
  • VALVE (USA) manager-less – game development
  • Enspiral (New Zealand) a cohort of self managing, distri ventures.

But why create something so organic/different from our current societal norms Nick? 

Are generation X,Y and Z customer and cause, not company focused?

Centralised organisations are very internally focused and looking up for guidance. Internal noise in many instances can drown out the outside world. At the very least it can leave your speech filled with acronyms and make communication with customers difficult.

Leaders now need to focus on managing the environment, connecting people with the purpose of the organisation and maintaining accountability.

Is it time to remove our exoskeleton and open up a connection with the customer?

Should we let the customer decide or lead the way?

Developing small distributed agile teams I believe is the way to go. It will take a while, and many may never to shed their hierarchies.

Design thinking and distributed teams are a good step in the right direction.

Whom would you recommend?

My biggest lesson of 2017? WEAK TIES ARE A GOLDMINE!

TL/DR: The more random and diverse my network — the more my career grows and the more exciting (ad)ventures become. Take thirty seconds to think through your conversations in January. Connect your contacts to someone that could help in the comments below.

Your network is your net worth

5+ years ago Facebook first published this article on degrees of separation. It shows the degrees of separation between every user on the network.

At the time there were 1.5 Billion users and the big statistic was: “The average person is connected to every other person by an average of 3.57 steps.” 

For reference, back then:

At the time I could reach every user on Facebook, with just 2.8 degrees of separation.

Here on LinkedIn, I connect to add value. There’s a great mix, of English, Russian, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese in my feed each day. Contrasting opinions, debates, and support. I can manage the egos, clickbait, and fluff.

This variety sparks creativity, innovation, and alternatives.

I encourage you all in 2018 to make a new connection each month, with a personal invite, to someone different.

WHY SEEK DIVERSITY?

What got you into a mess won’t get you out of it.

  • A wise man knows how little he knows. Think through an idea in another language or from the perspective of another culture. If you can’t, ask a friend who does. They might have a solution. Side note, Empathy is gold.
  • Two heads are better than one.

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. — Jim Rhone

  • If you really want to grow you need to be spending time with people that are more evolved than you. I’m not calling you an ape or neanderthal, but I want to complete an Ultra Marathon, so I’m not spending time doing 5k park runs with amateurs in skate shoes.
  • Hemmingway was such a successful writer because of the people he connected with and the scene he was in. Tim Ferriss, Benjamin Franklin, Harrison Ford — all accredit their success through proactively building the right connections with people they felt embarrassed and amateur around.

I know someone who works there.

  • If you’re in business development and just connect with industry or those in #bizdev your echo chamber will never reverberate with the sound of leads.
  • If you ever need to make a move or switch roles, your workmates and previous colleagues aren’t as much help as a connection at a prospective employer. I’m yet to secure a role through a recruitment agent, maybe in the future one will break this streak.
  • Procurement and finance will love you if you can source supplies at mates rates.
  • There’s a reason old boys networks, Lions clubs, Rotary and the Freemasons continue to grow.

HOW?

  • Get off the internet and out to Meetups, coworking spaces or Creative Mornings. Attend a new one every other month.
  • Use your contacts, ask for recommendations.
  • Get a hobby, run with strangers (note with not after, that gets you new friends and a lot less freedom to attend Meetups).
  • Join the local business council.
  • Join the Rotary or Lions club. Join the Bikers club?
  • Use my contacts — I’d be more than happy to make a connection?
  • Use this article. Ask for contacts in the comments.

Thanks for reading. If you’re feeling generous, connect me with someone you think I or others should know in the comments below!

hello-tag

Stickers, Scars and ENGAGED Agile Superstars

If they ever perfect teleportation I’ll be a late adopter. Sure it would save time but for so many events arriving or getting there is the best part. Think of the pilgrimages, flying around the Sugarloaf mountain into Rio de Janeiro, or into Manhattan from JFK in a yellow cab.

All too often in business we are far too focused on the end goal and ignore the journey, the learning it offers and the chance to improve as we go.

More importantly, we don’t give proper recognition to progress. Why do we wait until a project is complete rather than celebrating the little wins along the way? Quick wins deserve celebrations too!

So many project wins are an anticlimax that could be chopped into micro moments of merriment!

A framework exists for working in incremental micro-moments, that creates agility, flexibility, and engagement. Agile Project Management is spreading throughout the organisation, not just in software development teams.

Why move to Agile Project Management?

May teams move to Agile project management because they can see the productivity and velocity benefits, or they like the idea of being able to change the product being created as they go – a misguided idea. The real benefits I think are in the way teams are recognised and released to do their best work.

The Scrum Tight Four: Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-Ups, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective

Beyond their original intent – helping software teams build better products – the Scrum framework is fantastic for employee engagement.

Sprint Planning

A recent Gallup poll suggests 30% of employees strongly agree that their manager involves them in goal setting. Employees whose managers involved them in goal setting are 3.6x more likely than other employees to be engaged. 
Sprint planning before each period of work allows the Product Owner to prioritise and refine the stories (goals) they wish to complete for the sprint. AND it involves the team doing the work, they help form the solution, how long it will take and what done looks like. They have ownership of the goal.

Daily Stand-Ups

Every day the team communicate with each other (not to their boss) what they have done since last time, what they are working on today and what is impeding their work.

  • Done – creates a sense of belonging, responsibility and a little bit of competitiveness and support. If one team member is ahead the others might compete to get more done, or offer support to someone who is struggling.
  • Doing – lets the team see what they aim to accomplish, they can see if others are in need and where there are external dependencies, they can choose to cooperate or collaborate. My sales teams often prioritise between themselves when there is a queue to get something done externally.
  • Impediments – any impediments should be minimised but when all the developers are held up by something it needs fixing and you have strength in numbers to get it done.

Sprint Review

At the end of the sprint, the team gets to show off the value they have created for customers. Internally, within the team this creates connection as they see how each element is coming together to form a whole. Externally, it allows others to see what the day to day heads down grind is accomplishing. The regular and often reviews create recognition and emphasises the feeling of accomplishment.

Recognition breeds engagement.
Accomplishment feeds happiness.

Sprint Retrospective

Two of the US Navy’s highest performing leaders Leif Babin and Jocko Willink will tell you that there’s no such thing as a perfect team. Circumstances and opponents change, a team must constantly grow. What makes a ‘high performing’ team is their discipline and constant analysis of their performance.

“Don’t count on motivation, count on discipline” – Jocko Willink

Retrospectives allow you to reflect on what’s working, what’s broken and what you’ll do differently next time. The team develops ownership of their performance and what they will do to improve it.

What’s key to a great Retrospective is that it is impersonal. It’s not a time for blaming others, it’s about taking ownership and changing actions for better outcomes. It’s also a time for reflecting on what’s working and doing more of that!

Create discipline around relentlessly doing what it takes to succeed.

Discipline di.sci.pline ˈdɪsɪplɪn: Train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way.

Stickers and Scars

The daily Scrum and the scrum environment always focus on a visible Taskboard. A Whiteboard containing the teams Sprint goals, backlog items, tasks, tasks in progress, “DONE” items and the daily Sprint Burndown chart.

  • DONE – The DONE column is a spot for STICKERS, patches, and signs of the team’s accomplishments. Every completed Story and Epic is something to hold up, be proud of and stick to the wall for others to see. Pin release feedback, customer star ratings and industry awards to those stickers and attribute them and the team’s actions to your wins.
  • SCARS – Scars are where strong teams take the lead. They pin their failures right beside their stickers. Reminders of what not to do with analysis and actions from it.

Take Action with Agile

I’m starting personal analysis now but my guess is teams using the Agile framework that recognise Superstars regularly will out-perform those who get a complement sandwich and annual bonus.

If you’re interested in boosting engagement, velocity, visibility and transparency in your teams by adopting Agile practices, get in touch.

Is this normal? How can I deal with chaos?

The one constant in life and business is change.

When it’s your socks that need changing most people can sense, assess and respond with appropriate action. But when you’re marching days into the arctic circle, your main issues is survival, not stench. Frostbite, not the fragrance of your socks.

When normal is abnormal and you have multiple inputs you look to group and rationalise so that you can act accordingly. You create routine and discipline to make things simple.

The day ends, socks from everyone in the family go in the wash (grouped in the washing basket), we put new ones on tomorrow (found in our individual drawers).

In fact, I’m grateful that most of us have accepted the standard daily routine and haven’t chosen to optimise or experiment in sock longevity.

How about when things are more complicated?

How do you deal with multi touch attribution in marketing, while the market is in flux? How do you fund your entry to a new market with confidence, while exiting another?How do you work out if something is normal, when you’re doing it for the first time?

Huh, it’s no wonder there’s mixed satisfaction with first times given the varying research, scenarios, and inputs that go into them.

Heck if THAT first time had a stakeholder brief, a pre-meeting meeting, budget analysis, room allocation and a pre-mortem I’m sure billions would have far better memories of their first time. Such is the irony that those who have worked in large corporate multinationals can attest to: you often have far too much planning involving far too many, for events that should be a walk in the park for two.

So standard events and first times we can handle, but what do you do with chaos, disruption, and disorder?

“Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth.” — Mike Tyson

Dealing with utter chaos

There’s a framework I was introduced to a couple of years back that builds from the Agile cycle of Launching, Analysing, Learning, and Adjusting. The Cynefin Framework, penned by Dave Snowden almost 20 years ago is the perfect aid for today’s VUCA world.

Simple or Complicated?

When confronted by seeming disorder, in most cases we can: sense, categorise and respond. Some points may require analysis but overall we can form best practice and good practice to deal with most scenarios.

Complex?

When things are complex we can: probe, sense what’s happening and respond. This works when there is some sort of flow or pattern occurring that we can see happening. Think of putting patches on a leaking boat to see which stops the water coming in.

When there are one hundred holes in your plan, profits leaking everywhere but it’s all going in one direction you can probe, sense which holes are now leaking less, and respond. The patterns are complex, but you can start to move them into some complicated best practice.

Chaotic?

When there’s no order, rhyme or reason: act.

Things seem uncontrollable, so act through which you control, sense what happens and respond.

Next, hunt for leverage.

Act. Start creating and pulling levers one by one.

Discover the biggest lever and pull harder.

Turn the chaos into order and set the direction you desire. The art is focusing on the right big levers.

“ You’re better off not giving the small things more time than they deserve.” — Marcus Aurelius

From Chaos To Simplicity And Back

The best companies in the world and products, take us from seemed chaos to simplicity.

  • Spotify use machine learning to take us from a bunch of CDs on the wall to a play list that suits us, our mood, and activity.
  • Amazon takes the chaotic world of online shopping creating a simple categorised way to hunt for your Christmas gifts.
  • Apple took a complex digital camera and put it in your phone for in-focus shots from your lock screen. They combined it with a bunch of other things that used to take a backpack to carry, but now fit simply in your hand.

The key for growth being that continual path from chaos to simplicity and ensuring that for your customers: simplicity doesn’t equal boring and repetitive. The most thriving brands and platforms have variety, novelty, and investment. They’re not just simple.

Their simplicity enables complex and chaotic interactions.

You came to Facebook or Instagram for the easy photo uploads and the novelty filters or old friend connections. But you come back because of the variety and unpredictable messages (almost chaos) your connections post. You keep coming back because of the investment you’ve made in data, shared history and connecting with a community.

Anyway, before you jump over to Facebook or Instagram…

Spot the complex, get complicated and dive into chaos!

Oh, and please commentshare or like if you think someone else needs a little chaos in their life.