The 5 W’s of Giving Feedback

Feedback is something that shouldn’t be frosty or cold.  It should always be tempered with warmth.
I am a person who is always looking for feedback, constructive criticism, and critique about my life, work, and abilities. This keeps me humble to grow, hungry to learn, and happy when the feedback helps. On the flipside, I am not shy about giving back in these mediums to others. I have distilled some core truths into the 5 W’s that must happen for the information one shares to be effective.

The Purpose Of Feedback

Think of the purpose that this chandelier was made with.  Alexandrinsky Theater, St. Petersburg, Russia 
This was a poem I created a couple of years back around how we shape purpose in our lives.  Feedback becomes an essential component.  In the last few months, I really have been focused on getting clarity of purpose and have shared a lot of my thoughts to garner feedback.  It has been a very healthy and productive exercise.  Now when I read the words below, I am really encouraged that feedback is making me into a better person and one of purpose, leading a life that is of significance.  Let me know after reading your thoughts on feedback and purpose and how they fit together.

Communicate Your Vision (Updated)

It is more than just words

As with any vision statement, it is a grand view.  Horseshoe Canyon in Moab.
When was the last time you looked at the Vision, Mission, and Values of your company?  Maybe you have them memorized and they come out in every part of your being.  If so quit reading now.  For the other 99.9999% of us keep reading as the vision definitely needs focused on.

Dusting off the vision statement

Read the most recent company vision statement.  What grade would you give yourself on pursuing the vision?  I must say when I did this, I didn’t get a high mark.  It is one thing to have a vision out there, quite another to pursue it.  Each employee should have the responsibility for understanding what that vision is, but the accountability of the visionary pursuit falls upon the leadership of the organization.

In order for a vision to be successful, it has to be more than words in an email pulled from the last year archive or a web page refresh.  If you have one focus point in the job that you are in, is it based upon the vision? If the vision accumulates dust, how valuable is it?

Communicating the vision

Communicating vision requires several leadership skills that range from getting buy-in, showing themselves as the model of the vision, and developing the passion in others to pursue the vision.  Books have been written by great men and women on this topic.  Here are some keys that I think are valuable to communicating vision.

  1. Collaborate and don’t commiserate.  Help others to embrace the vision that you share, but don’t spend a lot of time convincing persons who don’t find the vision valuable. It is better to cut and replenish, than to beat your head against the wall trying to convince the inconvincible.
  2. Share early and often.  While many people may take a while to grasp on to the vision, the more a leader shares will provide a consistent message and direction.
  3. Make it personal when possible. It takes effort, but sharing the vision personally will develop champions for the leader.
  4. Celebrate accomplishments even if they are small.  There is a lot of negative information and messaging in many companies.  Share the accomplishments frequently and again try to make if personal.
  5. Communicate outside the normal channels.  People are influenced by environments other than the workplace.  Meet them where it is most personal.

 

Review your vision and communicate the progress of how the vision is being met at least once a month. What would you add to communicating the vision of your company? Let me know in comments.

Avoiding Death Marches On Software Projects

The death march towards the release date has begun. The email just went out to ask for “volunteers” to put in a few extra hours this weekend to complete a couple rounds of testing before sending it over the wall for user testing. The project manager is trying to herd cats to get a complete status before the leadership team goes on “holiday”. The developers are questioning why leadership isn’t going to be in on the weekend and what does volunteer mean anyways. It will be frowned upon if they don’t show up.

Do you see the desolation after the death march. Is your team forever singed. Alkali burned trees in Yellowstone National Park.

Unfortunately, this story is one that I have seen replayed constantly. Only the names of the people involved change. Reason is thrown out the window for most projects when there is a fixed release date. Pizza sales and coffee intake increase. Dissatisfaction rises within the team leaving many scarred for a long time. When the software ships, it is at a significantly poorer quality.

For most projects it doesn’t have to be this way.

So You Really Want to Take a Vacation

Learn how to eliminate the interruptions

The Christmas holiday season is upon us and people are taking time off to visit friends and family or just taking a well-deserved rest. The last thing that anyone wants on holiday is to be interrupted by work. However, for many of us, the connected world is just too darn connected and people tend to think we are always available. We see the “urgent” response required email and no matter if we try to put it off, it will nag us until we complete a response.

There are few things more enjoyable then sledding on a Christmas vacation.  Don’t let the interruptions that are insignificant happen.

Boundary Management

Setting the start and finish lines is vital to a project's success

Fences are the ultimate picture of a boundary.

The project was already 1 week behind schedule according to the customer. I tried to find the humor in that assumption since the project was only 1 week old. Couldn’t they read the milestones and our current sprint plan? I could hear the voices in my head crafting up the blame game quips and quotes already. I mean really?   Do you think the team has just been sitting around? I did my best form of Adam Sandler’s rendition of meditation in Anger Management and suddenly the true problem hit me.

I had failed to set the expectations of what the Start and Finish lines looked like with the customer.

30 Days of Intentional Living – Recap

My thirty days of intentional living posts are finished! I wouldn’t have been able to do this at all without the support of my readers, my friends, and most of all my family. To make these posts easier to locate, I am consolidating them in this list. If there is one that you missed take the time to read it. If there is one that is your personal favorite let me know. I have taken some time to loosely categorize each post based upon an area of life to be intentional about.

Investing In Yourself

We need to continuously invest in ourselves to keep us from going stale or insignificant. There are so many ways that we can do this. I have found key components in the investment are discipline to move forward, grace to fail, and love to cover everything.

  1. Commitment Is It’s Own Reward
  2. Define Success in Everything
  3. Write, Write, and Then Write Some More
  4. Procrastination Is The Antidote
  5. An Abundant Mindset
  6. Choose Necessary Over Uncomfortable
  7. Change Happens Constantly
  8. Stop Calendar Abuse
  9. Finding Purpose With 3 Questions
  10. Think Before Acting
  11. Listen Intently, Listen Deeply
  12. A More Personalized Greeting

Investing in Others

This is such a rewarding experience. The purest reward is seeing the fruits of your labor of love in others. There are so many that have poured their time and effort into making me a better person, how could I not do the same for others.

  1. Trust and a Haricut
  2. Kindness Shouldn’t Be Seasonal
  3. Always Be Thankful
  4. Create Memories For Others
  5. Who Will You Invest in Today?
  6. Success For Others Is In You Control
  7. Encouragement is Contagious

Your Life Story

It is so amazing to think that the story of your life will be crafted by you. It has taken me over 40 years to realize this truth. I have started to deliberately demand significance for my life. Let’s see what amazing work will be accomplished through me as I intentionally focus outward to make a difference.

  1. Narrate Your Story With Choices
  2. Move Toward Your Dream
  3. What Do You Want To Accomplish?
  4. Doors of Opportunity Await
  5. Pursuit is the True Reward
  6. Your Life is an Artistic Masterpiece
  7. Intentional Living, A New Way Of Life

Teams

Living intentionally would be remiss if it didn’t include how we are fundamentally part of teams. No one person can scale to accomplish greatness. It takes an army, small precision teams, a life-long partnership, and an incredible support system to slay dragons and win kingdoms.

  1. Network Traits I Am Building
  2. Attracting a Team to Achieve a Dream
  3. Taking Credit is Really Stealing
  4. To Cooperate or Compete

I hope this set of writings will be inspirational for you. It has caused me to pause and realize that in order to be significant, I need to grow, explore, inspire, laugh, and cry. I am writing the story of my life and it would be pretty unsatisfying without you as part of it.