Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Decision-Making

How our Team Performed Remote Design Thinking

Continuous Improvement, Decision-Making, Design Thinking, Digital Transformation, Information Technology, Innovation, IT Modernization, KAI Partners, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Project Management, Project Management Professional (PMP), Team Building, Technology

By Terry Daffin, PMP and Denise Larcade, Prosci

KAI Partners has recently been using design thinking to help create new products and improve existing processes to support the work we do for our clients. Even before the stay at home orders, one of our design thinking teams held a design sprint that was done almost completely remotely—and resulted in a product ready for implementation!

Here are some of our experiences and what we learned through our remote design thinking experience.

Remote Design Thinking Challenges

As with using any kind of new approach or methodology, there were some challenges and we certainly went through the 5 stages of group development: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning.

Working remotely added another level of complexity with the addition of anonymity or facelessness. With a lot of strong personalities on our team, it was easy for some folks to disengage from the group.

So, how did we get past this?

To get through the storming phase, we had to work together to develop trust and respect.

True trust and respect empowered the team and were ultimately what led us to the norming and performing stages.

Because we met virtually (over Zoom) once a week, we had to become more vocal than usual. It was not uncommon for members of the group to speak up in order to keep others on task so that we did not go down a path not in scope or bring up topics that should be added to the backlog for future discussion.

Remote Design Thinking Successes

Despite our initial challenges, we did make it to the norming and performing stages! How?

We didn’t wait for people to join in order to begin—we jumped right in and started working.

What made this easier were our tools—we used MS Teams to share files, document meeting notes, have team conversations, and even to build our prototype. There was rarely an occasion where people felt out of the loop, because all the notes, resources, and information were right there in Teams.

Working remotely also allowed us to reach more people, cross more boundaries, and include more perspectives, as opposed to in-person coordination.

People are busy (and that’s a different problem for another blog post!) but working remotely gave more people the opportunity to participate and contribute.

Self-Organizing Team Tips

Part of our remote design thinking method was to truly self-organize within our team. Here’s what worked for us:

Set expectations and make team agreements from the start.

Because there was not one person designated as our “Lead,” we created a list in Teams with the Facilitator and Scribe for each meeting. If someone was unable to Facilitate or Scribe on their appointed day, it was their responsibility to find coverage.

This helped promote ownership—we were all one team of equals and therefore equally responsible for the team’s success.

Of course, since we are a firm that provides organizational change management (OCM) services, OCM was always on our mind. Design thinking was new for some folks and people are often wary of change. Assigning the rotating roles was a good way to share the workload and learn a skill—we were all in this together!

Another tip is simply to have patience. We were learning a new way of working and change is hard. Trust and respect had to be established and re-established and that process took patience!

At the end of the day (or sprint), it was satisfying to see how we created a product through sheer teamwork—even though remote design thinking was a challenge at times, the final product was worth it!

Have you done any kind of remote design thinking work on your team?! Let us know your experience in the comments!

About Terry: Terry Daffin is an Executive Consultant within KAI Partners. He has worked in the IT industry for more than 30 years and has over 25 years of project management experience. As a public sector consultant in the health care industry, Mr. Daffin assisted in the development and implementation of Project Management Offices that include project management, service management, lean agile and traditional product development lifecycles, and governance processes. He has been an innovation advocate and evangelist for 15 years and has implemented innovative processes for projects that he has been engaged in since 2001. Mr. Daffin currently works as the Project Manager of the KAIP Academy, KAI Partners’ training division and is the Community Manager at KAI Partners’ coworking space, The WorkShop Sacramento.

About Denise: Denise Larcade is an Organizational Development Consultant and Merger and Acquisitions Expert. She is a Certified ScrumMaster, Certified Scrum Product Owner, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and is Prosci certified. She has over 25 years of experience in training, development, and leading companies through organizational change management. Denise has worked in corporate retail, technology, and government healthcare and most recently has experience with large-scale implementations nationwide. She currently works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc., providing client support to KAI Partners’ state clients. Denise lives in a 55-acre walnut orchard and enjoys the early morning hours when wildlife is stirring and the many birds are chirping. Since working from home as of recent, Denise has found she enjoys that extra cup of AM coffee without the commute…just her and nature.

How to Manage Changes in Leadership

Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Communications, Decision-Making, Employee Engagement, General Life/Work, Human Resources, Lean Six Sigma, Managing/Leadership, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Prosci, Sacramento

changes-in-leadership

By Denise Larcade, CSM, CSPO, LSSGB, Prosci

Whether a leader of a company abruptly leaves or a new leader is brought in, changes in leadership effect the entire organization. Today I am sharing some tips so you are well-equipped to handle these changes or make your own changes if necessary.

When a leader of a company leaves, there can be a domino effect of more people leaving the organization as well. The question is, what causes people to leave? Individuals ‘follow the leader’ either because the leader has left and then reached out to pull the individual along to their new venture or the individual has reached out to their former leader to identify an opportunity that may be better than the unknown they are left in.

Before you ‘follow the leader,’ you need to weigh your options to make sure you’re making the best choice. Here are some items to consider:

  • Are there facts that support the leader’s reason for departure?
  • Is your departure the right personal decision for you and your family?
  • Are you leaving your current position for a position you know is equal to or better than your current position?

If your answers to these questions were a quick yes, yes, yes, then ‘following the leader’ might just be the right decision for you. Regardless of your answers, you should also consider compensation and vacation/paid time off when deciding to make the transition to a new company. Oftentimes, you may be starting at the bottom, which could outweigh the benefit of being on the same team as your former mentor, boss, or supervisor.

On the other side of this coin, what happens when a new leader emerges? New leadership changes the dynamic of a company, from the c-suite on down. While you may be nervous about your new leader, remember that change may not happen immediately. New leaders should first engage with the business and determine what needs to change and what the priority is for making changes.

If you’re worried about the changes a new leader may bring, keep in mind that the circumstances by which the new leadership was placed can play a factor in how big or small the change ends up being.

For example, if the leader is replacing his or her former mentor who is retiring, the result could be little change. On the other hand, if the new leadership comes into position to help fix the company’s declining performance, you can usually expect big change.

So what does this mean for you? Change can be good and many positive impacts can result from change. A new leader will likely create a supporting structure in order to accomplish changes successfully. Moreover, a leader is seeking a team that supports their change initiatives. Supporting leadership and being part of the change says a lot about you to your leaders.

A leader will also identify who or what is in the way of successfully achieving a change goal or initiative. If you are a road block to the change process, you could end up with more change than you anticipated. If you don’t agree with the change initiatives or goals presented by the new leadership, it may be time for you to look elsewhere.

Of course, remember that ‘elsewhere’ likely comes with additional change, so no matter the circumstance, it’s important to weigh your options when deciding whether or not to make a change yourself.

What are some of the best ways you have found to handle changes in leadership?

About the Author: Denise Larcade is an Organizational Development Consultant and Merger and Acquisitions Expert. She has over 25 years of experience in training, development, and leading companies through organizational change management. Denise has worked in corporate retail, technology, and government healthcare and most recently has experience with large-scale implementations nationwide. She currently works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc., providing client support to one of KAI Partners’ state clients. Denise grew up in the Silicon Valley and relocated to Utah and Idaho before recently returning to her native California roots.

How the Business of Parenting is the Business of Business

Communications, Decision-Making, General Life/Work, Managing/Leadership, Team Building

intelligent-child-dumb-parents-modern-family-ecards-someecards
Photo Credit: Someecards

By Sarah Walsh

When I was in the second grade, I wrote a book called “All About Me.” A line from the book that has stuck out as a family favorite for almost-30 years is, “Most of the time, my parents talk about business, but sometimes they talk about me.” Ah, the plight of the only child being raised by two high-achieving, business-focused people.

As a surprise to no one, I—along with my high-achieving, business-focused husband—am now raising an (often precocious) only child as well. And again, as a surprise to no one, the conversations in our house revolve mostly around business. I’ve come to realize, though, that my parents were onto something.

Instead of talking to me like a kid, they talked to me like an adult and as a result, my thinking has—save for the teenage years—been practical and level-headed. I can count on one finger a time that I’ve had a tantrum at work. Mostly, I am able to keep calm and collected by simply bringing it back to basics.

Much of what you need to know to get through the daily grind are things you probably learned as a kid. And they’re probably all things we as parents try to drill into our kids every day. Here are some of my favorite things to keep in mind as I navigate this thing called life:

Honesty is the Best Policy

When I was first starting my career, I remember thinking, “Soon I won’t make any mistakes!” You won’t be surprised to learn that despite age and experience, the mistakes keep coming. What’s critical is managing and recovering from those mistakes. One no-no for me personally is lying. Maybe it’s because I’m a terrible liar, but I’d much rather be honest than try to cover up a lie with more lies. The key is knowing when and to whom to fess up. I am always a fan of the, “There was a problem, but we fixed it” method of honesty, provided I can fix the problem myself without requiring escalation. If not, then in that case…

If There’s a Problem, Tell an Adult

The adult of course, being your boss, mentor, colleague, etc. Very rarely are we expected to solve every problem on our own. In fact, what makes a truly great team is the cohesiveness and desire to problem-solve together. Having trusted bright minds on your side to help think of proposed solutions to your problem will help you get out from under any big issue. Surround yourself with good people and you’ll be in good hands, no matter the circumstance.

Don’t be Afraid to Make a Decision

While my daughter has free rein to make most of her own decisions, she sometimes waffles, unsure of the “right” decision to make. (Don’t worry, at 5-years-old, these decisions are mostly of the, “What should I wear?” variety). A phrase my husband is fond of saying is, “A good decision is good enough; we can always improve it.” Simply making a decision can help keep the momentum going so your team doesn’t get caught up in the bottle-neck that can be the decision-making process. Our own fearless leader here at KAI Partners recently relayed this same sentiment. For us Type-As in the group, it was maddening, but it was what needed to be done so we could continue forward progress on our newest project.

Many Hands Make for Light Work

This is something my mom has said for as long as I can remember. When I was 13, and she wanted help unloading the groceries, this was not a mantra I enjoyed hearing. Now that I’m an adult, I see what she means. We all need to get stuff done and if we all pitch in, then it’ll get done more quickly, leaving us time to move onto other tasks. I remember hearing something once about the chair movers versus the non-chair movers. Basically, there are two types of people at work: Those who will help set up the meeting room—arranging the table and chairs, etc.—and those who show up to the meeting and sit down. Of course, not everyone needs to be a chair mover at every meeting, but the key is knowing when to pitch in and help out so that the day can progress versus being too prideful to roll up your sleeves and help get it done.

What about you? Is there something you learned as a kid that applies in your professional life? Perhaps, how to deal with the office bully? Share it with us in the comments!

About the Author: Sarah Walsh has nearly a decade of communications experience, including public sector roles in the California State Senate and State Assembly, as well as private sector roles for a sovereign Native American tribe and a global pharmaceutical company. In addition to communications work, Sarah and her husband are team captains and fundraisers for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s annual Walk MS event. When she’s not writing, editing, or soliciting her friends and family for MS Walk donations, she loves performing improv, hanging out with her husband and 5-year-old daughter, and cooking. Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahsykeswalsh.

Best of the Best Practices: Decision-Making

Best Practices, Communications, Decision-Making, General Life/Work, Managing/Leadership, Project Management

Best of the Best

By Sarah Walsh

Companies both big and small can easily get bogged down in the decision-making process. Whether you have too many decision-makers or just not the right decision-makers identified, there is always room to streamline the decision-making process. Here are some best practices we found that tackle this issue.

3 Best Practices for High Performance Decision Making Teams from Cloverpop

You know we love the why. This article from Cloverpop focuses on a few best practices you can implement to create a more streamlined decision-making process—and at the heart is explaining why a decision was made in order to get buy-in from your team.

The five steps to better decisions from Bain

This comprehensive guide from Bain outlines five key steps to increase more effective decision-making. Some of our favorite tips include making sure people are clear on the roles they should play in the decision-making process and focusing on those decisions that are most important.

5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Decision Making from Forbes

This quick and easy article has some great, no-nonsense tips for what to consider when making a decision. This is more geared toward the solo decision-maker, but any of these tips can be applied in a group decision-making setting, as well. (A personal favorite: “Shelve ego and emotion”).

7 Best Practices for Effective Group Decision-Making from Philosophy IB

Some key tips included here, from management consulting firm Philosophy IB, include formulating a decision-making approach and bringing in a facilitator to drive the meeting.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Meetings from Project Management Hacks

Meetings are often where decisions get made, so it seemed appropriate to add some meeting best practices to this list, as well. These tips from Project Management Hacks no-brainers. “Prewire Important Points and Decisions” and “Manage the Meeting by the Clock” will help streamline both your meeting and the decisions made in your meeting.

What are some of your best favorite practices for decision-making? Share them with us in the comments!

About the Author: Sarah Walsh has nearly a decade of communications experience, including public sector roles in the California State Senate and State Assembly, as well as private sector roles for a sovereign Native American tribe and a global pharmaceutical company. In addition to communications work, Sarah and her husband are team captains and fundraisers for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s annual Walk MS event. When she’s not writing, editing, or soliciting her friends and family for MS Walk donations, she loves performing improv, hanging out with her husband and 5-year-old daughter, and cooking. Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahsykeswalsh.

The Pros and Cons of Waterfall and Agile [INFOGRAPHIC]

Agile, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Decision-Making, Infographic, Project Management, Scrum, Technology, Waterfall

If you are thinking about using either the Waterfall method or the Agile approach on your next project, check out this quick and comprehensive infographic from Global One Connection. The infographic outlines the pros and cons of both the Waterfall and Agile methods, and can help as you make your decision. At KAI Partners, we are experienced with both methods–our staff are both Project Management Professional certified and Certified Scrum Masters. To learn more about how we can help you on your next project–whether Waterfall or Agile–contact us at info@kaipartners.com.

Via: Global One Connection