Interdependent Work

This week I’m working in Minneapolis with Esther Derby. We’re pair writing a book on retrospectives. Working on the book has me thinking about teams—the two-person team of Esther and me and the teams that benefit from retrospectives—and my October 11 list of criteria for being a team.

Interdependent work (the second criterion for “team” on my October 11 list) underscores team members’ need to work together to get their jobs done. When work is interdependent, team members rely on the contribution (skills, knowledge, talents, interaction) of others. They can’t do their part alone. Interdependent work requires rich communication, frequent...


The Return of Retrospectives

Today I read a blog by Daragh Farrell at Thoughtworks. Daragh tells the story of a team that had returned to holding retrospectives and expresses amazement at the positive effect of the ritual on team development. Retrospective boosters (like me) tend to stress the role of retrospectives in process improvement and product quality because those have a more direct impact on ROI. I'm glad to be reminded of the more subtle contribution of retrospectives to accelerating team development. High performing, self-organizing teams also contribute to the bottom line through increased productivity, innovative thinking and lower absenteeism and...



This week I'm engaged and enlightened at the Consultants' Retreat and Network, held in Newport, Oregon, on the beautiful central Oregon coast. An impressive cast of consultants and brilliant significant others have gathered to discuss consulting in all its aspects. We use an Open Space format so that every session on our agenda holds compelling and current interest for a subset of us. So far our sessions have ranged from writing books to meditation to Agile artifacts to understanding the consulting context and more, with more to come. We're having a lot of fun. Wish you were here.



“I don’t want her/him/them to make the same mistakes I made!” “I hope you learn from my experience!” “See what happened to him/them?!” “If you knew what I’ve been through, you wouldn’t do that!” “We tried that once and it didn’t work.” Sound familiar?

When this sage advice is unappreciated or ignored, it’s followed closely by, “I guess everyone has to make his/her own mistakes.” Or the dreaded rebuke,“I told you so!”

Trying to save others from the discomfort we’ve experienced is a worthy impulse. When the pain we are trying to help them avoid is embarrassment, physical harm, disappointment or...



Lately, I've been thinking about the importance of striking a balance--finding a way to accommodate seemingly contradictory conditions--and how frequently that can make or break an interaction or relationship. High performing individuals, leaders and teams constantly acknowledge and embrace the paradoxes that come from successful balance.

When in balance, we show our strengths and disclose our vulnerabilities. Teams in balance enjoy the sweetness of harmony, yet work through conflict to achieve creativity and innovation. Most of us appreciate the opportunity to give support to others, and, in order for support to occur, someone has to be willing to ask for...