Get the right things done! — A Personal Agility case study
Executive summary: Read about the challenges of a newly appointed team lead, Hamed Siasi, and how he used the Personal Agility System to overcome them.
This is a guest post from Hamed Siasi, a recent Personal Agility Recognized Practitioner living in Cambridge, UK.
Situation: Life and Business environment changes faster than you can plan
I got around 15 years of experience in Internet-of-Things (IoT), leading the solution architecture team in an IoT company. In general, I got good technical experience in my field and some exposure with project and people management as well. My colleagues (including my manager) were convinced that I have a lot of potential, so there were many internal career opportunities open for me.
Like many other good engineers, I used to consider my life as a big and complicated project. Working so hard to maintain it, catching the bugs before suffering any eventual damage and possibly adding new features. This seems quite promising, but the environment of life keeps changing fast and devalues the accurate plans and designed features. I could think of only two possible solutions for that.
- Focus on only one thing at a time and try to do it as soon as possible, before the environment changes again and the whole plan becomes worthless.
Well! I did try to speed up the execution part to achieve the planned goal before the environment changes, which means being overworked most of the times. But the worst comes when you find out that “one thing” that you have done was not actually the “right thing”. I mean you do it and then realise that maybe there were better options, or the impact of what you have done is not as shiny as you expected. So, the whole time and energy got wasted, and all other opportunities lost.
- The other approach is to stretch yourself to all possible options to not lose any, which means a lot of context-changes and time waste. Everything becomes too slow. I admit that this was my strategy. Participating in every meeting, trying to learn everything, working a lot (>50 hrs/week) in order not to miss out on anything. It was a lot of work, but the results were not convincing. Thus, I was also not happy with my performance. I was working like crazy, but not getting a valuable return on the time that I was investing. I was too busy working to achieve my long-term goals.
Meanwhile I have been asked to create a team in the organization focused on customer success from an engineering perspective. This role was new and a bit unknown to the whole organization. It was pioneering work. The task was to create “culture” and “trust” and of course gather the people and create the team itself.
After some different management trainings, I understood that these will not be enough to solve challenges. It was like trying to solve life’s problems without paying attention to life’s complex nature, and the fact that the usual plan-based approach — plan accurately ahead, then execute and monitor — was not working as expected. I needed something to start changing my mindset.
At the same time, I was exposed to the organization’s experiments with agility, and I started my agility journey with the “Agile leadership” course and then the “Personal Agility for Leaders” coaching program, both with Dr. Jan Farkas.
Desired Outcome: Debug on run-time
- I hoped that the Personal Agility System would assist me to achieve a true leader’s mindset and leadership effectiveness for both personal and organizational culture and performance.
- Take less load without compromising my progress. Creating space for innovation and value creation.
Actual Result: Harmony and efficiency not perfection
- My mindset and approach are now completely different. I am focused on what really matters and I can build alignment around them. I work like a catalyst in lots of projects to solve challenges.
- It was achieved 90%.
PAS proved to be working not only for my future as a leader, but also for me personally.
- I got a framework to uncover what my customers really need and therefore be able to filter what is “the right thing” between too many possible options, in which we invest the capacity of the team and myself. Using PAS I can differentiate between “getting things done” and “getting only the right things done”.
- I managed to create alignment around “the right things” with myself and the people surrounding me. I have more meaningful conversations with my manager and other stakeholders, and we have a much better mutual understanding.
- Using the Breadcrumb Trail, we got a more meaningful performance review.
- I work and study less, I have more time for other important things in my life, yet I am progressing better, because all my efforts are converging.
- I am more able to say “no”, despite the risks involved, so I could be successful in the things I say “yes” to.
- I figured out that people are open and willing to help more than I thought before.
- During the Celebrate and Choose events, I realized that I am doing much more than I thought every week. I now can give a high five to myself.
- What Really Matters (WRM) played a key role. If I know why I am doing it, I can justify it, even if there are risks involved.
- Personal Agility for executives: the missing enabler for organizational agility
- Peter Stevens, Maria Matarelli, Guide to Personal Agility, 2017