Jessica Soroky Guest Post 2: Purpose, Clarity, and Trust, Oh My!

After reading Christopher’s blog post Leadership Skills: Why Clarity Is Your Source of Power, a light bulb went off in my head. Clarity has been a popular and frequent topic of discussion in my office over the past year, but I had never seen the connection between clarity being the source of power in a team.

Napoleon Hill says that to have clarity one must have a purpose, and in his definition purpose is something one eats, sleeps, and breathes. I began to wonder if there can be levels of purpose.

In life the purpose I have chosen is to make people aware of a new way of thinking and working, the way my eyes were opened.

Now I would like to think I eat, sleep, and breathe that purpose, but every day I go to work, I have a slightly more specific, not smaller, just clearer purpose.

This week my purpose is to dive deep into the concept of power from clarity.

Today my purpose is to help a team get through their requirements elicitation problem so they can have a successful release planning meeting.

So purpose is necessary for clarity, but clarity is just as necessary for purpose.

I began to see that there are simply levels of clarity within a purpose. The more clear and specific my purpose was, the more powerful I felt to take on the task in front of me.

I saw the individual power I got from declaring my purpose before taking on an activity, but I wasn’t being clear yet beyond that within myself. How could this level of clarity affect a team?

I decided to ask two teams to write on cards what “done” meant to them in the context of their current sprint.

One team, lets call them “Team A,” had worked together on a previous project and was now two sprints into their second project together. They had already gotten through all the forming and storming.

The other team, “Team B,” was only four sprints into their first project and very much still in storming.

When I looked at the cards each team had written, Team A had all written down almost exactly the same thing: “Done to me means a modern, clean, and efficient internal time management system that is user-friendly and easy to administer.”

Team B, however, struggled more with this exercise. The developers all wrote down pretty much the same thing, and the product owner wrote down something quite a bit different.

For the next few days, Team B agreed to start every daily stand up by stating their purpose that day, being extremely clear on what they would be working on, and why they chose to work on that part.

They began to burn through cards, finishing everything they had in the product backlog a full week early. Before pulling more cards into the sprint, I asked the team to run the exercise again and write down what “done” meant to them now.

The results were almost identical to Team A’s; every team member wrote down the same thing.

I took the original sticky notes and the ones they had just written and posted them all on the board. In between the two groupings of cards I wrote the question, “What differences do you see?”

The team fell silent for a minute before a developer cleared her voice and in one word summed up all the new power the team had found from their clarity: “Trust.”

After a week of practicing clarity, it was evident to the team that the more clear and transparent we became, the stronger our trust was.

With the trust between all team members increased, user stories were pumped out twice as fast and with a higher level of quality.

At the next retrospective, the team decided to write “Trust is our power” on their whiteboard to remind them of the power they get from clarity, which will make their collaboration easier from now on.

Jessica Soroky, CSM
Only 21 years old, Jessica is already a Certified Scrum Master with two years of practice in agile delivery and team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in the The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches.  After five years of non-profit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies. 

Posted in Coaching, Leadership on 09/18/2013 01:00 am
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