'Mit unserem Coaching wńchst der Erfolg Ihres innovativen Unternehmens, deutlich.' Josef Dietl, BrillianTeams
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Red Traffic Lights

The other day, a the lecture in Potsdam, I spoke among others about TDD, test-driven development, and about my joy about red traffic lights in the TDD context. One of the students asked a question, he found it intriguing to enjoy red traffic lights.

In fact, in my 15 years as a project manager, I rarely enjoyed red traffic lights. So where’s the difference?

Annoying red traffic lights are raised by somebody else, often by a quality manager, and he spoke about me or my team. Most people feel attacked in such a situation and prepare themselves for defense. The resulting discussions are usually more loud than useful.

Red traffic lights in TDD (and, by the way, in many other contexts, too) are raised by me, for myself, as a reminder that there is something left to do. I don’t need to defend myself against anybody, it’s just another item on the to-do-list. So what?

Burn-down charts in scrum or Kanban cards in production have a similar role: they are “just” signals by ouselves, for ourselves.

Here’s one of the keys to high-performing teams: Do you experience the traffic lights in your team as coming from the “outside” (and likely annoying you), or do you perceive them as coming from the “inside” (and you experience them as support)? How do you react?

High-performing teams organize themselves in such a way that they are fully focussed on their goal – including their own internal warning mechanisms to manage risks around missing their goals. This focus on the goal leads to a constructive approach to feedback (including but not limited to red traffic lights). More on that soon, in another article.

Something New, Anything

Starting new things is, in a way, the opposite of habits. That means, people who structure their everyday life strongly according to habits and regular processes have trained their brain away from news.

Fortunately, the mechanism also works the other way round: Everybody can decide at any time to tune their brain into news. It’s easy, and easiest to start with small things, such as brushing the teeth with the other hand.

Also, experiences “outside” help to discover news more and more. When I was in India, walking towards the car, the driver adressed me: “Oh, you want to drive?” – Certainly… in India, people drive on the left, so the steering wheel is on the right. When I was approaching the “passenger’s” side of the car, I was actually walking to the driver’s seat, because it’s the other way round. It was unusual for me to have a driver anyways – and it was great.

At least in Germany, this is a popular children’s game: I see something that you don’t. One of the children picks an item in everybody’s sight and says “I see something that you don’t”, and then it’s yes/no questions until one of the other players identifies the item. This game is a great way to soften and modify filters of perception. What are your main filters of perception? – Rather small things, or rather big things? Rather colorless things, or rather bright colors? Rather far away, or rather close by? This literally makes exploring our own filters of perception a child’s game.

So: When are you going to enter a car from the “wrong” side the next time?

Every little change is training or thinking muscle a bit more, and once we have the habit to do things in new ways, we’re done.

BrillianTeams at the Hasso-Plattner-Institut

A few days ago, Josef Dietl was in Potsdam to lecture in the context of the software technologies II lecture at Hasso-Plattner-Institut (HPI). He spoke about “Project Kick-Off: Development Process & Collaboration Infrastructure”. The lecture was made such that the students were informed about the concrete environment of their project as well as sustainably motivated, and Josef Dietl executed brilliantly on both: In the following 1 hour lab session, one of the student groups for the first time completed the entire product backlog plus one more requirement they had identified themselves. This time, the aha-experience was not with the students… So we literally offered a lesson on one of the core topics of BrillianTeams, the importance of motivation in software development.
The HPI has published videos of the lecture here.


For sure, PowerPoint is polarizing. Some love it, some hate it, and there is a ton of studies about its sense and nonsense. So now?

… weiterlesen »

Knowledge Management et cetera

Knowledge management is not primarily about tools. It is primarily about mindset.

… weiterlesen »

Just Do It!

Yesterday, I spoke with friends about the difference between self-employed and employed people. It wasn’t just that self-employed – as a popular pun in German says – are working themselves and constantly. It turned out that the central difference is the attitude, especially the attitude towards feedback.

… weiterlesen »

BrillianTeams at Software-QS-Days

Josef Dietl, BrillianTeams’ founder, is speaking on November 2 at the QS-Days in Nuremberg about “Social Dynamics and Values – making and measuring quality”.

… weiterlesen »

Motivation: Food for Thought

What are the options to strengthen team motivation into the “high performing” realm? – A few thoughts based on the Soccer Women’s World Cup and a recent article in the German online edition of the Financial Times.

The FT article revolves around the slogan “Every project needs a brand!”, and possibilities to develop a project into such a brand. What is written there is useful, and at the same time I’m missing something on the way to high-performance teams, something beyond the brand is missing. Don’t you feel it, too?

Two quotes from the soccer national team offer a nice contrast. First, a German player answering an interview question sets us on the trail. The question is: “What are you thankful for?”

My team mates and my friends

Even without asking you now which team mates you are thankful for the quote reveals what that missing something is: It’s something about the people around us, who are – with all their more or less desired strengths – pulling in the same direction and are striving for the same goal as us. The people who make up the team are in focus. It’s about us.

And I can say that in all high performance environments I’ve worked in so far, I was thankful for every single team member, and because I appreciated these people so much, I’m still proud of having been part of every one of these teams, never mind work or leisure. Even the mere thought of those days makes me feel really great. Remember your own high performance periods. For some, it works better to think first of yesterday, then last week, then last month and to collect the team spirit moments from each phase until they arrive at their youth and childhood. Others remember even better by starting at their childhood, collect their experience until they arrive at last month, last week, yesterday and today. Whichever way you prefer to strengthen your memory: Where did you find this really strong, positive feeling of team spirit? This feeling can be your guiding light and tell you the direction.

Because it’s also about our joint attitude – and in all humility, first my own, respectively your own attitude – towards the team and its assignment. I like what Celia Okoyino da Mbabi said:

“Believe me, […for this world cup match…] I’d have played goalie.”

In only a few words, she reveals her passion. Celia wants to play, she wants to win, she wants to do her best, and she’s putting aside the broken shin from a few years ago to make it work. A high performance team needs enthusiasm, professionalism is not sufficient. Burning for the goal, impatience as if right before a world cup match – those things characterize what truly deserves the term “team”. Where I’m passionate for a topic, that passion will in all its intensity rub off to everybody else. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s one of the central characteristics of my successes: From the very first moment, I was enthusiastic for those jobs that turned later into successful high power assignments. Are you aware how your subjective perception is distinguishing mediocre jobs from the champions league? How forcefully do you act on this insight? How do you nurture your passion for your job?

A high performing team starts with you: Do you do more and more of what you are passionate about?

Welcome to the BrillianTeams Blog

BrillianTeams: Innovation through Brilliant Teams.
We know how your team can achieve brilliant results.

… weiterlesen »

Whitepaper “Erfolgreiche Meetings”

Die BrillianTeams-Bibliothek bietet einen Neuzugang: Das Whitepaper "Erfolgreiche Meetings beginnen in Ihrem Kopf" (PDF und ePub). Auf 16 Seiten erfahren Sie, wie Sie Meetings zum Erfolg f├╝hren k├Ânnen.

Unterhaltsam und frech kommt es so zum Punkt, da├č Sie die Inhalte sofort kennen, k├Ânnen und einsetzen.

Viel Spa├č und viel Erfolg mit "Erfolgreiche Meetings beginnen in Ihrem Kopf."

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