Ladder of Leadership

Sometimes our people aren’t taking initiative in the way we hope they will. This could be due to an issue of motivation or a lack of safety or more generally a system that discourages that initiative in some way. Whatever the reason might be, we need a way to change the conditions to get the result we want.

Dopamine and Learning

In order for us to learn something new, we need to store it in long term memory. If we’re unable to save it there, then we’ll immediately lose that learning the moment we focus our working memory on something new. Working memory is quite limited1 so we need to save those memories quickly if we’re going to.

  1. The research indicates that the typical person can hold 7±2 chunks of information in their working memory at once. There are reports of people who can store as many as 80 chunks of information but these people are extreme outliers. 


I’ve spoken to a number of people recently who have complained about a lack of autonomy at work. They talk about being micro-managed by their bosses. About being given solutions to implement, rather than problems to solve. About restrictions on what they can and cannot do in the environment.

Team working agreements with LEGO

Team working agreements (sometimes called team norms) are all about how we are going to work together as a group of people. To do this effectively, we need fairly deep and honest conversations, and yet we see many working agreement sessions stay fairly superficial. The approach in this article uses LEGO® Serious Play® for the core discussions to get those more meaningful conversations.

My people aren’t participating

I frequently hear “my people won’t speak up during standup” or “they aren’t participating in retro” or other activities. Unfortunately, there are many different reasons why this might be so it’s not a simple problem to fix. Step one is to figure out why this might be happening.

“This is a safe space”

I’m seeing more and more situations where someone will say “this is a safe space” in a meeting invite or at the beginning of a session. While I appreciate that the person saying the words really wants that to be true, the fact they feel the need to say it, highlights the fact that it probably isn’t. If it really were safe, we would already know that.

Six Thinking Hats Retrospective

Six Thinking Hats is an approach for creativity that was created by Edward DeBono. I use it as the basis for an agile retrospective, and find this approach to be particularly effective when the topic we’re discussing is expected to be controversial or heated.

Inattentional blindness

Inattentional blindness is when we are so focused on some things that we completely miss other things that should be completely obvious. This can be used to hilarious effect, as you’ll see below, and at the same time is something we need to take into account in business.

Cognitive load

Cognitive load is an indication of how hard the brain works to perform specific actions. Although often used as just a conceptual model, cognitive load can be measured by watching cerebral blood flow while performing different tasks, and many formal studies of programming tasks do exactly this.

Coaching to Logical Levels

In a previous article we discussed what the logical levels are. In this article, we’re going to show how we can assist someone at each level. If you haven’t read that article first then we suggest you do that now.