Positive Bias: the Foundation for High-performance Teams

Hi, friends! 

In these notebook entries, I share a few things that I hope you'll enjoy:
  • recent events in the areas of high-performance teams and agile software development
  • a curated list of upcoming events
  • a request for help to share my class on high-performance teams in your part of the world
  • and more
Recent events: positive bias
It seems like everyone has high-performance teams on their mind. Just this morning, I had a great conversation with a young army veteran who had led teams. He said he experienced some incredibly bad teams during his stint in the army. The teams were toxic. They were run by bullying and negativity. His team leaders complained about everything that was the slightest bit wrong. They complained about the army in general, never pointing out anything that was working well for them. They bullied and belittled, barked orders, berated, shamed and embarrassed their people.

In contrast, some of his best teams were the ones that he led himself. He described the experience of learning to be a team leader. At first, he emulated his predecessors: command and control, bullying, shouting, threatening. Then he discovered his true voice. He began to lead with a sense of positivity, a can-do spirit, more like a coach than like a commander. And his teams became excellent. It felt good to be on these teams, and they performed better than other teams.

I use the term positive bias to describe the mindset and behaviors this young leader modeled for his teams. Positive bias is the foundation of high-performance teams. A client company that I'm coaching uses the phrase "assume positive intent" to guide people's interactions with each other. It's the foundation of this company's culture. With positive bias as their foundation, thousands of coworkers support each other and create awesome software together. If positive bias is the only thing you practice together as a team, you'll be better off.

What is the best team you've ever been a member of? What are some examples of positive bias in your best team?

Curated list of upcoming events
Request for help
I want to share the goodness of high-performance teams in your part of the world. Friends in Europe, I’ll be at ALE2017 in Prague August 25-28. Friends in North America, I’ll be at Agile2017 in Orlando in August, at Agile RTP in October, and around Boston most of the rest of the time.

Want me to visit your part of the world while I’m nearby? Just ask—I’d love to visit and share a class with your team or at your event.


With Great People


How to Create More Love

I joined my wife, Molly, and a group of around 25 old and new friends at the Open Space Institute’s conference on Peace and High Performance. I drew this quick sketch of Harrison Owen, creator of Open Space Technology as he reminded us how easy it is to connect using Open Space: just sit in a circle, get a bulletin board, open a marketplace, and it works every time.

My highlight of the conference was a session that Molly and I convened called, “How to create more love”. We've been pondering current events and wondering how to foster more love in the world. A thoughtful group of participants joined the conversation, and we hit upon some important themes:
  • Love is both a feeling and an action. It’s a verb. You have to act on it for it to be there. (Harold Shinsato shared this idea, giving credit to Jim McCarthy.)
  • It can’t be forced. It’s a gift to offer, not something to smother someone with.
How do you create more love?


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