Jörn Hendrik Ast: The Double-Edged Sword of Commitment, An Agile Team’s Journey Through Innovation and Despair

Jörn Hendrik recounts a sobering team story centered around the development and eventual discontinuation of a seemingly promising app. This episode sheds light on the dangers of commitment without flexibility, the value of listening to feedback, and the importance of recognizing when to pivot. It’s a tale of commitment, disillusionment, and the hard-earned wisdom that sometimes, stopping is part of the journey to success.

Featured Book of the Week: Fearless Organization by Amy Edmondson

Dive into Amy Edmondson’s “Fearless Organization” with Jörn as he shares how this seminal work on psychological safety reshaped his approach to team management and workshop organization. This segment, explores the transformative power of psychological safety in the workplace, underpinned by practical insights from Jörn’s experience. Discover how breaking the silence on issues can propel teams towards better collaboration, innovation, and success. A must-listen for anyone looking to foster an environment where every voice is heard and valued.

Transform Your Agile Teams with Hard-Earned Lessons from Super-Experienced Scrum Masters

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!

About Jörn Hendrik Ask

Jörn Hendrik Ast, founded of New Work Heroes in 2018. He is an entrepreneur, podcaster, and author dedicated to innovating work through team collaboration, leadership, and personal development. He is coaching teams, producing podcast episodes, and continues to create impactful learning formats and books.

You can link with Jörn Hendrik Ask on LinkedIn and connect with Jörn Hendrik Ask on Threads.

BONUS: Agile Coaching With a Philosophical Twist, Exploring Michel Foucault’s Work, The Panopticon, and Other Systems of Control With Michelle Pauk

In this episode, with Michelle Pauk – an Agile Coach – we explore what we can learn from philosophy, and Michel Foucault’s work on systems of power and discourse. Learn more about the systems we need to adapt to, and even transform. From the Panopticon, to the systems that drive compliance, and remove creative thought! A must listen for those interested in changing the world of work!

Michelle’s Journey into Agile Coaching

“It’s not about predicting; it’s about responding.”

Michelle’s journey into becoming an Agile coach was as unpredictable as volcanos can be, literally! Inspired initially by Michel Foucault during her studies, she found herself intrigued by the intricacies of thought and its impact on behavior. This intellectual curiosity led her to a company specializing in language learning software, where her role in project management opened her eyes to the stress and unpredictability inherent in the field. The realization that many of her challenges could be mitigated by Agile methodologies was a turning point. Agile, with its emphasis on adaptation over prediction, offered a solution to the guilt and responsibility she felt over uncontrollable factors, like a volcano disrupting her project. This journey not only transformed her approach to work but also challenged inherited industrial revolution-era notions of work processes.

Foucault’s Influence

“The panopticon and Agile: Visibility without the constraint.”

Michelle’s admiration for Michel Foucault’s work, particularly his book Discipline and Punish, provides a unique lens through which she views her role as an Agile coach. The book’s exploration of the panopticon—a system for observing without being seen—parallels the modern open office plan and contrasts with Agile’s emphasis on transparency and collaboration. Foucault’s historical analysis of justice systems and control mechanisms resonates with the systemic changes Agile coaching aims to implement in the workplace.

Systems of Control and Culture

“Pay attention to what is *NOT* being said; it speaks volumes about your team’s culture.”

One of the core aspects of Agile coaching for Michelle is the focus on discourse and culture within teams—what is being talked about, and perhaps more importantly, what isn’t. Drawing on Foucault and Wittgenstein, she emphasizes the power of unspoken norms and assumptions in shaping work environments. By encouraging teams to challenge these silent boundaries, Agile coaching not only aims to improve workflow but also to humanize the workplace, making it more receptive to change and innovation.

Awareness of Culture in Agile Practices

“Can we even think outside our language?”

The challenge for Agile coaches and Scrum Masters lies in becoming deeply aware of the surrounding culture and its influence on thought and action. By critically examining workplace norms and practices, Agile professionals can identify and challenge the limitations imposed by current systems of work. This awareness is crucial in fostering an environment where innovation thrives and work is humanized, reflecting the core goals of Agile methodology.

Philosophical Inspirations

“I’m curious on what I learn from literature. It helps to understand, and develop empathy.”

Michelle’s coaching philosophy is enriched by a broad spectrum of historical and literary insights, demonstrating a deep-seated belief in the value of diverse perspectives. Beyond Foucault, she draws inspiration from literature and other historical accounts of thought, believing that understanding different mental frameworks can enhance empathy and effectiveness in her coaching practice. Books like Edgar Schein’s explorations of organizational culture further contribute to her holistic approach.

Exploring Systems of Control

“Understanding ‘coercive persuasion’ sheds light on resistance to change.”

For those interested in delving deeper into the concepts of systems of control and their implications for learning and adaptation, Michelle recommends an article from the Harvard Business Review by Edgar Schein. This resource provides insights into ‘coercive persuasion’ and the natural resistance to change, topics that are crucial for Agile coaches aiming to navigate and mitigate these challenges in their organizations.

About Michelle Pauk

Michelle Pauk is the founder of Streamside Coaching, where she helps leaders and organizations thrive with change. She has over 15 years of experience working in diverse agile environments as a Product Owner, Scrum Master, project manager, and Agile coach. She is a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation and has a master’s degree in leadership and organizational development.

You can link with Michelle Pauk on LinkedIn.

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