Making Team Magic Happen

Richard Kasperowski interviews Michael Nir, a keynote speaker and bestselling author with expertise in Lean, Agile, and Gestalt. Michael shares his experience with a team of people from different walks of life, their intention to be part of a great team, and investing the time to make it happen. Learn more about Michael at

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Richard:                        00:08                Hi friends. Welcome back to With Great People, the podcast for high performance teams. I’m Richard Kasperowski. This episode is an interview with Michael Nir. Michael is a keynote speaker and best-selling author with expertise in Lean, Agile, and Gestalt. Micheal and I discuss his best team ever. The team included people from all walks of life. They became a tight knit group of friends, open and accepting of each other. Intentionally making team magic happen.

Richard:                        00:39                To support this podcast, sign up for my newsletter at Thanks for listening.

Richard:                        00:48                Hi friends, and welcome back to With Great People. Our special guest today is Michael Nir. Michael is a speaker and author. Michael just released his tenth book, The Pragmatists Guide To Corporate Lean Strategy. Hi Michael, great to have you here.

Michael:                       01:03                Hey Richard. So happy to join you here with great speakers.

Richard:                        01:09                Is there anything you want to add on to that introduction?

Michael:                       01:11                I think it was pretty solid. I do work on Lean and Agile and I work with teams all over and I really like my work.

Richard:                        01:20                Alright cool. This is the podcast about great teams. The question I ask every guest, I ask every guest to talk about their best team ever. What is your best team ever?

Michael:                       01:33                Richard, you actually asked me that about two months ago. I had a great answer and then I really thought about that and I forgot. Then you asked me about it today and I thought about it for a few minutes and I came with the exact same answer. I think it’s the correct answer if you could actually say it’s correct.

Richard:                        01:51                This must be the one. Tell me about your best team ever.

Michael:                       01:54                Years ago, and we are talking years ago I’m not going to date myself here, I was a youth hiking club counselor. We were taking kids on hikes in the desert. We’re talking Israel here where I grew up and spent quite a bit of time. We’re a group of counselors about eight or ten of them. We’re a team of counselors. I think that was the best team I was ever on.

Richard:                        02:23                Take yourself back to this team. Try to relive the experience of being on that team. Maybe even close your eyes and meditate on that experience for a moment. There might be a sensation that you feel in your body as you sort of relive that team. Is there one word that you could use to describe the sensation of being part of that team?

Michael:                       02:50                Great time.

Richard:                        02:51                Great time. What else about great time?

Michael:                       02:58                There was a lot of interest in one another. There was spending time together. I think non-judgemental, I would say. I’d say also the team was varied so different people. We weren’t all from the same background, same city, same place. We kind of happened to be at that point in time at the same place and we kind of melded, gelled together in a really cool way.

Richard:                        03:28                Perfect. How do you know it was a great team? What were the subjective things that you can look back at when you identify it as your best team?

Michael:                       03:40                We spent our discretionary time together. We just kept on doing that. We would hang out someplace. At one of our apartments and we would just spend days on end there and cook together and talk together and prepare for the next hikes together and help one another with getting the hikes right. Yeah.

Richard:                        04:02                Cool. Okay so you spent a lot of time together, prepared meals together, did a lot of preparation together. Was there anything objective about the team? Something you could measure?

Michael:                       04:14                You know that’s a great question, and again I’ll go back to two months ago when you’ve given me this hand out and I’m like “Wow, an objective thing. Oh my god.” I think it’s that kind of back of my head. I was like “What could be objective?” I think I got it. I really have a good answer now. I hope it is anyway. You’ll be the judge of that.

Michael:                       04:35                The number of kids we had in our groups that we were leading, and we’re talking about ten groups, was high. You could see that our kids on the groups were happy to be a part of this group because they knew their counselors were happy to be part of that team of counselors. You could have more kids than was normally you know was the average I would say. I had usually 10, 12. I had maybe ongoing for that year about 16 or 17 kids. You know really didn’t want to… didn’t enjoy not always taking the kids out on hikes, but really did enjoy hanging out together with the counselors anyways.

Richard:                        05:17                Alright, so you counselors were a great team. One of the metrics of that was sort of like the number of happy counselors and that was so obvious to the kids that you had a large number of happy kids and they were more attracted than usual. You had higher numbers than usual of happy kids in your groups.

Michael:                       05:36                Yeah. Yeah I’d say yes. We were in our college. I was in my fourth year twenty years ago and we were all part about that same kind of age group. You know it’s just rockin’. It was just so much fun.

Richard:                        05:53                My little trick worked. We pulled out twenty years ago from you, so now we know more about how old you are.

Michael:                       05:59                Maybe twenty, maybe eighteen, maybe twenty two, I don’t really remember.

Richard:                        06:08                Okay, so you offered a couple of concrete behaviors that your team of counselors engaged in. What other concrete behaviors were there that helped you melt together as a really great team?

Michael:                       06:20                We definitely stood out for one another, so we helped out.

Richard:                        06:26                What did helping out each other look like?

Michael:                       06:27                For example, if I needed to prepare something for next week’s meeting with the kids I would ask someone else’s advice. I would give my advice. I would also give out prepared curriculum. We had to do this weekly outside of hiking, we had to do these weekly meet ups where we take them through some whatever. That whatever required a lot of preparation time. You know we just did that, a lot of that. I think one other thing is that people joined our team. We started at six. I think by the end of the year we were about maybe 14, 25 year old to 35 year old folks in one team that really gelled together well and were doing their job really well but also hanging out.

Michael:                       07:18                I think other behaviors was definitely trust. There was a lot of trust there because you think about that. We were going out on four or five day overnight hikes kind of testing sometimes, taking risks. We needed to be there for one another in case things you know, I got stuck in the darkness once. We had to navigate out with the kids and you might get lost. Which happens you know. We’re talking your pre-GPS days and pre-cell phone days, so you really had to know one another well and help out and if you know nobody… if some team did not… one of the kids or group of kids not had to camp at night at the right time we went out and started looking for them. It happened quite often I have to say.

Michael:                       08:00                We were responsible, you know I don’t want you thinking that we were totally irresponsible. I’m looking back, if I was a parent I’m not sure I would have sent my kid… never mind. That’s beside the point. We’re kind of a tangent here.

Richard:                        08:16                You told me your son is going to be a camp counselor this summer. Are you going to repeat these sorts of things with his counselors group? [crosstalk 00:08:23]

Michael:                       08:23                I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I think you know over the last twenty years the boundaries of how much you let go with all the technology around us. Parents will know where their kid is you know every half an hour. Back then you could go out for four or five days and they just wouldn’t know. It would freak me out today. Really.

Richard:                        08:47                Let’s see, any other concrete behaviors? If not, that’s okay.

Michael:                       08:55                I think I think I think it’s about that… it’s a long long time you know. Concrete behaviors for other things. Definitely the behavior, so the concrete behavior I do remember is our want or the fact that we were hanging out together and we organized our own excursions because we liked it so much. That was one thing that was definitely there.

Richard:                        09:18                Alright alright. Organizing your own excursions, just spending a lot of time together. How about advice for our listeners? What can our listeners do to reproduce this sort of goodness on their teams?

Michael:                       09:31                Here is another one of those questions that I really like because I wasn’t thinking about that. One of the interesting things is that that team was not homogenous. The people there that were from very different walks of life, so it wasn’t like all the people came from the same type of background. I would say that it was really more about one thing that we liked and we built on that. We decided that we want to make it happen. I think it’s really about intent. If I’m thinking about the business teams I’m working with now and helping them now become better and gel and work well together.

Michael:                       10:10                I just had that experience yesterday with one of my clients in Indy. It was an interesting experience for me to sit and look at this seven person leadership team and how they interact with one another. I think there’s a little trust there and there is a lot of challenges with the team behavior. I’m talking about senior leaders here, these are not newbies to business.

Michael:                       10:36                It really is about their intent. Do they want to be part of that team? Do they think that it will support their long term objectives? Is there someone there how is willing to create that bond and who will actually invest the effort to make it happen? I think if I reflect back about 18, 20 years ago we had a core team that said “We like it, we’re going to invest the effort, we’re going to put our time to that use and create that… ” it’s really magical. When it happens it’s magical. I have no other words for that. Teams that work well it’s so much more than the sum of the parts of the individuals. That’s like unbelievable.

Richard:                        11:26                Alright, so invest the time into making that magic happen.

Michael:                       11:29                Yes, and have the intent. Have the intent that that’s what you want right. You like and you want to have that.

Richard:                        11:36                Got it. Have the intent that you want that magic to happen on your team and then invest the time to make it happen.

Michael:                       11:42                Yeah, and be open to accept others. I think that’s a big one right, because you do have to accept that others are others right. They have their own experience and they have their own approach to how they do stuff.

Richard:                        11:59                Yeah. Alright. Is there anything else you want to add?

Michael:                       12:05                We didn’t mentioned and we started, I have this Gestalt background which I’ve been bringing to the table I would say the last twenty years or so. Gestalt is an approach to how individual… it’s a therapeutic approach for how individuals interact with the environment. I think a lot of team behaviors you can contract them back to how people interact with one another with their border of experience. I know it sounds a bit complex… you’re laughing and it’s like-

Richard:                        12:37                No no this is great. When we first met was at a conference a few years ago. One of the things that interested me in you was this background in Gestalt.

Michael:                       12:47                Yeah.

Richard:                        12:48                Do I even saying that right?

Michael:                       12:49                Gestalt yeah, it’s a german word. It’s a german word for structure right. There’s Gestalt ecology, Gestalt therapy, and we could talk about that a lot. Now it’s Qconn, and I remember you had done the open space and I was like “Wow, this is so much Gestalt here.” The entire interaction, so I got to hang out with that Richard dude. Then I came to Boston and I reached out and we met. You got a fine for illegal parking at the day that was the snowiest day in 2015.

Richard:                        13:18                In a blizzard.

Michael:                       13:19                In a blizzard yes. That was amusing. It’s funny.

Richard:                        13:24                The smile on my face is your teaching me about Gestalt right not. You know I’ve looked it up, I’ve read about it. I haven’t figured out how to study it well. I just love this introduction to it.

Michael:                       13:38                Yeah, and we had… you’re right. You can’t really explain Gestalt. You know at the last Agile games, Agile New England I was doing the one hour session and it really was doing Gestalt exercise. The funny thing is you can never understand it until you experience it and have taken the participants through an hour of that experience and then we’re doing the retrospective and they were like “Oh, so that’s what happened now for the last 60 minutes. Now it all connects. Now we understand what was the thing that we were going through.”

Michael:                       14:13                A lot of the Gestalt concepts are ingrained in how teams work.

Richard:                        14:18                Alright. Definitely something for me to learn more about. If our listeners want to learn more about that or they want to contact you for anything at all, how can they contact you?

Michael:                       14:29                Just drop me an email. I can say that right, just drop me an email. Some of these that work. With a baseball, the baseball is the left field, I think I’m getting the hang of it. Someone said that, drop me a line.

Richard:                        14:46                Alright so they can pitch an email to you and you’ll bat or reply right back.

Michael:                       14:51                Exactly. My new email with the new website is Michael Nir in one word, and Nir is N-I-R. Got that right.

Richard:                        15:03                We’ll put that in the podcast description to make it easy for people.

Michael:                       15:05                Great.

Richard:                        15:06                Michael Nir, thank you very much for joining us today. We had a really nice walk before we came down to the secret underground studio. I really appreciate all the time we spent together today.

Michael:                       15:16                Thanks for having me Richard.

Richard:                        15:19                Hi friends. Thanks for listening, and remember to support this podcast sign up for my newsletter at

Richard:                       00:45                Hi friends. Welcome back to With Great People. We are on location today at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts with our special guest, DiDi Vaz. DiDi is an Agile coach and the data sciences platform here at the Broad Institute. Hi DiDi, welcome to the podcast.

DiDi Vaz:                      01:01                It’s great to be here, Richard. Thanks for inviting me.

Richard:                       01:03                Oh, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for inviting me back here to the Broad. It’s really cool to be here.

DiDi:                             01:07                I recall our journey and our introduction to each other. For listeners, Richard is one of the reasons I am at the Broad Institute. I feel like you were one of my interviewers when they were [crosstalk 00:01:18].

Richard:                        01:19                Kind of, yeah, sort of an interviewer, sort of a let’s just get lunch and have a great conversation and make sure you want to work here.

DiDi:                             01:31                It was a great conversation, I felt. I really enjoyed talking to you. It was so helpful to me to have you as this consultant that’s what’s helping these folks through their first Agile adoption. Then of course, you know, you didn’t want … I don’t think you wanted the full-time engagement so then they went and looked for a full-time Agile coach. I remember that lunch we had before I got here and it was really great.

Richard:                        01:50                I knew they were in good hands with you.

DiDi:                             01:53                A lot of love fest happening right now on your podcast.

Richard:                        01:55                Isn’t that great? Let’s see, is there anything else we could add to that introduction?

DiDi:                             02:00                I’ve been here at the Broad for two years. Before that I worked at a payroll software company as a Scrum master, an Agile community leader, you could say. I was their first full-time Scrum master and then we hired more. Then before that, I was an everything at another software company for a number of years that made products for media and film. Yeah, that’s been my journey. I’ve been in the software dev biz for about 13 years.

Richard:                        02:31                Great.

DiDi:                             02:31                Then before that I was a broadcast journalist, which is a whole other podcast and a whole other story.

Richard:                        02:40                Right. As I recall, we grew up neighboring towns in Western Massachusetts, although we grew up in different eras. I think I’m a little older. I think your town and my town, at least my town thought of it this way, that your town was our high soccer rival just because he had a lot of good soccer players there.

DiDi:                             03:03                Yes. We still do.

Richard:                        03:05                I don’t know if you even thought of my town at all because, you know, it’s kind of-

DiDi:                             03:07                I actually don’t remember your town.

Richard:                        03:08                Yeah, see? See?

DiDi:                             03:08                What was your town again? I feel like everybody in western Massachusetts thought that my little town, Ludlow, was their soccer rival. In fact, we have other Western Massers over there in my office and they often will tell me … They’ll tell me that. I’ll meet folks and they’ll say, “Oh. Oh, we were your rivals in soccer.” I’m like, yeah, everybody was our rival in soccer.

Richard:                        03:32                This is the podcast about great teams. What I’d like to ask every-

DiDi:                             03:39                Great soccer teams, right?

Richard:                        03:40                Great any teams. This is actually the question, what was your best team ever? That could be any team that you’ve ever been on in your life. Could be some sports team from the past, could be one of your current work teams or a past work team, any group of two or more people aligned with a common goal. It could be you and your family. What was your best team ever?

DiDi:                             04:02                I only get to pick one, eh? Well, there’s one team in particular. It has to be the first software development team where were we actually introduced Agile. I was working for this company where we had very much Waterfall practices. I was a software tester at the time. Waterfall is no good if you’re at the end of that crushing cascade of water, which is, hey, we have to release next week and, well, I just got to testing this and there are a lot of issues and how could we have discovered these things earlier, right? Then we had a VP come in who said, “You know, I’ve been doing this thing called Scrum,” so long time ago, “I’ve been doing this thing called Scrum at my company. I think it would help us out,” and introduced it to us. Then some of us were shipped off to training.

DiDi:                             04:54                These Scrum teams were created. The product owner was on the biz dev side. They found the right product owner for the team. Cross-functionally we were all set there. We had different engineers who had the skills we needed for the goal they had assigned our team. Then everybody on the team looked at me and they said, “We need a Scrum Master, you can do it.” I was sort of voluntold to be the Scrum master of the team.

DiDi:                             05:21                In fact, that’s a team that even though this was … We were first … That team was born maybe 13 years ago about, at least more than 10 years ago, we still get together for lunch sometime between Thanksgiving and New Year. Every year we find a time to have lunch with each other. We stay in touch and we’re connected on social media.

DiDi:                             05:47                Now this would not be a team you look at and think, “Oh, all these people have a lot of things in common.” Not to divulge identities, I don’t know if they want their names mentioned on a podcast, but came from all different backgrounds, experiences, cultures. I was the only woman on the team. Everybody else, most folks are now in their sixties. There was definitely a diversity in age too. When you look at this team, you think, “Well, this doesn’t look like a team where there’s a lot in common among these folks,” but what made it great, I think, is that we all had a certain amount of grit and good work ethic and we were aligned on values. We were all, I think, hard-working, motivated people and because of that we quickly earned, I think, each other’s respect and each other’s trust. When you really think about that, nobody’s slacking off. Everybody’s there to move the ball forward.

DiDi:                             06:58                I think that was common ground, that we all respected each other’s work ethic. Then we also, I think what made us a great team was that we had .. You mentioned a common goal, that’s what a team is. To have a team you need a common goal.

Richard:                        07:15                Right.

DiDi:                             07:16                That common goal was clear, crystal clear. We all knew if we delivered at the end of the month, we would get $20,000,000 in revenue.

DiDi:                             07:29                Clear goal, right? We knew what we would be missing out if we can get that goal. That was really motivating too. I think everybody on the team was so respectful, but at the same time we worked together for so many years that we were also very direct with each other. I felt very lucky because one of those senior engineers mentored me, saw … Starting out as a Scrum master, had some good ideas about what would make us successful as a team and did not mince words, did not tell me like, “Hey, hey, the way you ran that retro was no good.” Just give it to me, you know? But always was coming from a place of … I always saw that feedback, that direct feedback was just to make me better.

Richard:                        08:25                Right.

DiDi:                             08:26                I knew that person had my back. That’s why it was never … I mean, you know, it hurts sometimes to hear feedback that isn’t positive, but knowing that that person was looking out for me made it okay. When I think of these attributes of great teams, there is a foundation of trust that has to be built on this team.

Richard:                        08:54                Right.

DiDi:                             08:55                I folks out there, they call it psychological safety, and that’s a component I know, but I think there are a lot of things that can enable trust. For example, I mentioned all of us respecting each other’s skills and work ethic, I think was a way to create trust among us too. We could count on each other to do the thing. That’s a layer of trust. Then we get to know each other. We had lunch every day. I’m being a little … I shouldn’t say every day. Sure, we didn’t have lunch every day, but most days we had lunch. You get to know each other.

Richard:                        09:38                Right.

DiDi:                             09:38                I get to know what’s going on in these people’s personal lives and their families. They get to know what’s happening in mine. Now we are human beings to each other.

DiDi:                             09:50                We’re not just not just colleagues. We’re friends.

Richard:                        09:58                Right.

DiDi:                             09:58                That’s another layer of trust. Then there’s a third layer of trust. This trust just, I think of like a root system. Now, these roots of trust are just getting deeper and deeper. We went through the recession together, so we saw colleagues get laid off. This was the last major recession.

Richard:                        10:18                Right, right.

DiDi:                             10:19                We saw folks get laid off. Now we’re having to do more with less and changes in the organization. We went through hard times together too. We battled together. That created a layer of trust because we had all been through a thing together.

Richard:                        10:42                Supported each other and came out the other side.

DiDi:                             10:44                Yeah. We survived and we came out the other side. We were there for each other indeed, but there was also this … We had a war story together. This is me just spit-balling, but these things, these are the things that come to mind when I think about that work team that was really successful.

Richard:                        11:11                Now if we could take this team and this experience of being on that team and condense that whole thing into one word, is there one word that you could use to describe the sensation of the experience of being on that team?

DiDi:                             11:31                Sure. Are you ready for my one word?

Richard:                        11:32                Yeah.

DiDi:                             11:33                Connection.

Richard:                        11:33                Connection.

DiDi:                             11:34                That’s my one word. You think about it, we’re connected to our goals and we’re connected to each other. That’s how you synthesize.

Richard:                        11:44                Connection. Now what are some other ways in which you know that this was the best team?

DiDi:                             11:55                Oh.

Richard:                        11:55                Subjective things, objective things.

DiDi:                             11:58                I think outcomes. What makes a team successful is you meet your objective. We did get $20,000,000 in revenue. We met our goals. I think I am using that as a criterion of a great team.

Richard:                        12:22                You already shared a few concrete behaviors that you engaged in together that went into that.

DiDi:                             12:27                Right.

Richard:                        12:27                Are there any other concrete behaviors that you did that led to that success?

DiDi:                             12:36                In addition to that … I think I laid a lot of them out there.

Richard:                        12:43                You did.

DiDi:                             12:44                I did.

Richard:                        12:44                You talked about things like almost every day you had lunch together.

DiDi:                             12:47                I’m sure there are more.

Richard:                        12:48                You had respectful, direct feedback with each other.

DiDi:                             12:54                Direct feedback, right. That came later, of course, where I think … It took a while for that to feel good, but eventually, it did. I think as you build a relationship with someone the direct feedback comes at you, but you don’t have that trust, it’s no good, but then later on it … Once you have that trust and then the feedback comes, a funny thing happens. Your trust even builds because now you’re able to have this direct conversation with someone and tell them things that might make them uncomfortable, but it reestablishes the trust that you have.

Richard:                        13:28                Right. You’re not letting each other coast. You’re not letting each other’s skills degrade.

DiDi:                             13:39                I got to a point where I could interpret that direct feedback to me as somebody believing in me. It shifts. It’s no longer, oh wow, my ego feels bruised. I’m not good enough, which with women, imposter syndrome, all of that, I think a lot of us go through that. I’m certainly a victim of this as well, but now we’ve established trust. You get to a point where you understand that this person has so much belief in you and that’s where this feedback is coming from. They want you to be great. How did I know this? Because they said so.

Richard:                        14:22                Right.

DiDi:                             14:22                They said this, “You know, you could do this. You could do this if you keep learning and growing, you could do this.” I left that place really knowing what I was capable of because I had these mentors and these people who believed in me on this team and were looking out for me. Then, this company that I’m thinking of had some struggles with politics. There a lot of politics and cross-team issues. Sometimes I would just get in a room with these mentors and we would strategize, and talk about people’s motivations and how to influence them. I think strategizing too, with folks, towards a common goal also established, I guess, a connection or strength on the team. It goes back to that war story thing. It’s really coming up with a battle plan. It’s like, okay, we have to navigate all the politics in this organization, but we’re doing it together.

Richard:                        15:26                Right.

DiDi:                             15:28                We’re teammates in this.

Richard:                        15:30                A battle plan for the organizational politics.

DiDi:                             15:33                Yeah. I feel so lucky because I don’t have to deal with this in my current organization, which is … What a blessing. What a blessing.

Richard:                        15:41                I was just going to say that. You really are blessed here at the Broad Institute.

DiDi:                             15:45                Oh, it’s an amazing place to work, amazing place to work. I feel very lucky to be here because I don’t have any of that stuff anymore, politics and you know.

Richard:                        15:54                Well, and there is a profound shared goal here.

DiDi:                             16:00                Right. Right. We have a mission, or vision really, to transform medicine, accelerate science and cure disease. Is there a bigger and better mission? Probably not.

Richard:                        16:19                Yeah, that’s part of why I really loved consulting and coaching here. It was so easy to be aligned with the Broad Institute’s goals.

DiDi:                             16:28                It feels good to be here.

Richard:                        16:30                Yeah, absolutely. Now, how about some advice for our listeners? What could they do? What could our listeners do to reproduce some of the success that you experienced on that best team ever?

DiDi:                             16:45                Sometimes it’s small things. How do you establish trust? What are the interactions the team is having? Create the affordance for those interactions. What are the events? What are the social opportunities? Create those. It could be a puzzle in your common room. It could be ice cream delivered once a week and everybody has to wait in line for the ice cream. What are the opportunities that people can talk to each other, face to face, not via Slack channel, not in a particular team or work event where it’s all business, but create events.

Richard:                        17:36                Right.

DiDi:                             17:36                Create connections or opportunities for connection where people can get to know each other.

Richard:                        17:41                Right. Create opportunities for connection.

DiDi:                             17:46                Yeah.

Richard:                        17:47                Something as simple as, “I see them here at the Broad,” a jigsaw puzzle in a common area and it’s not quite done yet. Somebody sits down, maybe two people sit down together and work on it. Anything else as advice to our listeners to reproduce such awesomeness?

DiDi:                             18:02                That’s connection to each other, but then what are we doing to connect people to their goals. Who is going to benefit from them achieving this goal? Get those people in front of your teammates. What’s at stake? What’s the win? Have them feel that, know that intimately.

Richard:                        18:37                You can hear me doing the equivalent of scribbling notes as you talk, tap, tap, tap, tap with the pencil. Create opportunities for connecting with each other as people and create opportunities for connecting with the shared goals.

DiDi:                             18:53                The shared goals, yeah. A way for everybody to align, when you see teams not working out, how often … Richard you can weigh in on this too. How often is it because that goal … They’re not aligned on what that outcome should be.

Richard:                        19:07                Yeah, totally.

DiDi:                             19:09                That’s a prerequisite. That’s a must-have on any great team is everybody is on the same page. In fact, visualize it. Put it on a page.

Richard:                        19:21                Literally the same page.

DiDi:                             19:21                Yes, and post it near where the team is and go, this is what success looks like. It helps that team have the right conversations and make the right trade-offs, often come to consensus more easily because they have something guiding them on what the right thing is. Crucial.

Richard:                        19:45                Crucial. I love how clear you are about connection as the sensation and connection to goals and to each other and really concrete ways to get that to happen.

DiDi:                             19:57                Yes. I think about this stuff all the time. As you know, I think when people hire Agile coaches, a lot of organizations think, “Oh, this is somebody who’s going to tell us what to do as far as practices, processes,” but as so many of us have discovered, a lot of that overlaps with culture and the human stuff, emotion and connection. I’m always surprised by how surprised other folks are by that. It often happens where we have a … I see it happening with my Scrum masters now. We’ve hired Scrum masters here in our group and actually, we’re hiring more. I see them do it. They come in and they want to establish team norms and practices and then the bulk of their work is team dynamics.

Richard:                        20:55                Right.

DiDi:                             20:57                It’s really an incredible thing. I know folks in our discipline know that because it’s everybody’s experience, but it always surprises me by the folks who hire us don’t necessarily realize that yet.

Richard:                        21:12                Yeah, that’s interesting.

DiDi:                             21:13                All the time. They know it’s a thing that they don’t see the overlap. Like, “Oh, maybe this team isn’t successful because there’s something going on that’s not necessarily related to a process, but in how they’re connecting to each other or their goals.”

Richard:                        21:28                I’ve never heard a boss say it just like that.

DiDi:                             21:32                Right.

Richard:                        21:34                Which is why they need somebody like you here.

DiDi:                             21:37                Then it’s work. Sometimes folks will come up to me and be like, “Oh gosh, this is such a great place.” I see all the work that’s happening behind the scenes to keep it a great place. It is a living thing. Culture is a living organism. For it to thrive, you need to feed it. You need to give it … You need to nurture it. You need to feed it. It does not just exist.

Richard:                        22:15                Culture is a thing that you need to feed and help it thrive.

DiDi:                             22:19                Think about it. I know we’re at the scientific institute right now, but think of culture, the actual word is to culture something.

Richard:                        22:26                Oh, we could go into that room back there and see some actual living cultures.

DiDi:                             22:28                See cultures.

Richard:                        22:30                Cell cultures.

DiDi:                             22:31                Right. Those things … Well, I’m not even going to move into like I understand all the science around here. I won’t even posture that way. It is something that needs to be fed and grown and nurtured. I think you cannot have a great team without a great team culture.

Richard:                        22:59                Well said. You can’t have a great team without a great team culture. Is there anything else you want to add?

DiDi:                             23:07                Well, I could talk to you forever, Richard. I like talking to you. I had to course correct as we thought about these things because I always go to what not to do. I’m always like, this is what you don’t want on a team. What was nice about this conversation is I was able to frame things on what you should do.

Richard:                        23:30                Let’s not even go into what not to do.

DiDi:                             23:31                Let’s not go over there. I guess that’s just the way my mind works. I’m always like, oh, this is what you shouldn’t do. Even if you have that in your mind, it’s easy to reframe those things into what you should do. I’m very proud of myself.

Richard:                        23:45                There’s this pedagogy theory that when you tell people what not to do, you’ve created some new brain structures that they didn’t need to have.

DiDi:                             23:57                That’s so interesting.

Richard:                        23:59                Just tell them what they need to do. Just tell them what you want them to learn versus what not to do.

DiDi:                             24:04                Right. There are powerful lessons in the mistakes and the failures.

Richard:                        24:09                For sure. That’s how people learn, but [crosstalk 00:24:14].

DiDi:                             24:14                That’s how you learn.

Richard:                        24:14                In a condition where there’s trust and you feel safe and you can learn from your little mistakes.

DiDi:                             24:16                Right. Right, but I agree it’s probably better to process all those mistakes into guidelines on what to do. It definitely seems more efficient.

Richard:                        24:30                How could our listeners contact you if they wanted to?

DiDi:                             24:34                I do have a sad Twitter account, which I have to admit I don’t use very often, but I believe it uses my full ethnic name, which will be difficult here. It’s Diolinda, D-I-O-L-I-N-D-A, underscore Vaz, which is sad I had to use an underscore and that there’s another Diolinda Vaz out there, but such is life. Then also I think I’m on LinkedIn, again with my fancy ethnic name, Diolinda Vaz.

Richard:                        25:08                Full, fancy, ethnic name. I love my fancy, ethnic name. … I want people to be able to find me, and they can.

DiDi:                             25:21                Nice. I know it’s such an achievement.

Richard:                        25:23                Right.

DiDi:                             25:24                Luckily I have that last name that’s quite easy to remember, V-A-Z, like a vase. You put flowers in it.

Richard:                        25:33                DiDi, thank you very much for joining us today. I really, really enjoyed having this conversation with you, thanks.

DiDi:                             25:38                This was great. I’m happy to talk to you anytime.

Richard:                        25:44                Hi friends. Thanks for listening and remember to support this podcast. Sign up for my newsletter at