Jim and Toni Take On Psychological Safety

Apr 27 / Jim Benson
Welcome to Collaborwocky - a discussion series where we cover the hottest topics in management & productivity.

The second episode of the 2021 Collabowocky series stars Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria. They take on psychological safety by discussing their experiences and having a Lean Coffee with guests.

Check out the full recording of their talk and dive deep into the discussion with the episode transcript afterward.


Jim: So, welcome everybody to the second episode of Collaborwocky, and the first Jim and Toni take on. Toni and I found over the years that we tend to approach topics of importance, sometimes from slightly different angles as other people do. And the conversations that we have are fun and interesting. And they’re really fun when we get to involve other people in them. So, the format for today is going to be that Toni and I, for lack of a better term, do a quick presentation, which is basically just us kind of outlining how we see psychological safety, and things that we can do to make a psychologically safe environment. So, first thing we’re going to do is broaden the definition of it. And then the second thing we’re going to do is actually talk about implementable operationalizable actual things that we can do to make a more safe environment.

And I’ll grab the first sticky here and move it over to doing, the first two stickies, I guess. It’s like, who are we? Why are we here? It’s the simple ones. So, Toni and I, many years ago, wrote a book called Personal Kanban. In it, we started our collaborative journey in the investigation of the intersection of basically lean, agile, behavioral economics, social psychology, organizational psychology, futurism, any number of disciplines that we had varying levels of experience in. And then we spent the last 12 years applying those principles, those techniques, those ideas, in a wide variety of settings. So, we’ve worked in health care and in banking, and construction and software development and world governance and the list goes on and on. The list, actually, is so long that I get lost in it myself. And what’s been great about that is we’ve been able to kind of see how people actually work together.

My personal background, before all of this was kind of starting in psychology, going into urban planning and civil engineering and building giant things. But also building giant things that served community. Then I started a software company that made collaborative software for government. And that was collaboration around an intent like running a traffic network, like a roadway network, or by dealing with emergency services or emergency planning, to make those things that previously were siloed into collaborative acts. And then ever since then, with Modus, best known for Personal Kanban and Lean Coffee. But what Toni and I do on a regular basis is much deeper than that. And so how about you, Toni? How’d you get here? Who conned you into coming here?

Tonianne: I want to correct you on one thing, it’s 13 years. We hit 13 years of creative tension and sparring and eating together. So, yeah, baker’s dozen. So, my formal training and my past career was in history. So, back in DC, I worked as a public historian, and I focused primarily on collective memory and looking at the creation of official narratives in public places like monuments, memorials, museums. And then a gig writing a corporate history for Beltway Consulting Firm was where the seeds to this career. Part of my life started to Germany. So, I had stumbled upon the owner’s copy of The Fifth Discipline, and that’s where I was introduced to systems thinking and org dev and I was pretty much hooked. And it took me some time before I really appreciated the common thread that runs through history and consulting. And it’s that you’re always observing patterns. And you’re always thinking in terms of systems that rub up against other systems, not least of which are human systems, which, especially as knowledge workers, is governed by the brain.

So, as he mentioned, Jim had mentioned, we spent a lot of time working at the intersection between lean and agile and kanban, and management theory and behavioral economics and neuroscience and productivity and effectiveness. But what’s going on with your individuals, your teams, your orgs, all of that is meaningless if you consider something that one of our Modus’s personal heroes said, Dr. Deming tells us in his system of profound knowledge that without an understanding of what really drives those behaviors that you either want to replicate or avoid or change, especially as they pertain to why the way that we’re working currently isn’t working. So, by way of illustration, I have a couple of quick stories. And if anything goes wrong, it’s going to be with technology. So, if you could just bear with me for one second. Jim, I’m going to pull these down here. Get your sticky notes out of my way. Okay.

Jim: Those are our sticky notes, it’s a collaborative.

Tonianne: So, the first story I want to talk about is from a performance apparel company. And I want to tell you a little quick story about a super brilliant guy. Everybody loved him. He knew his stuff, his colleagues adored him, but year in and year out his performance evaluations said the same thing, so and so does not speak in meetings. And he is the last person you would ever deem shy or uncommunicative, or uncollaborative. So, this didn’t make sense. So, we were talking and his justification, and he was upset when you shared the story. His justification was, “I have no desire to.” And then he followed up with, “Why bother? He said, “They interrupt me, they pretend to listen, only to shoot down any ideas that I have.” And then he added, “Besides, it’s never my meeting, they already know everything.” And the sad thing is when we explored what had happened around those performance evaluations, his only role that he was able to determine was to sign the acknowledgement in the comment section, and then hand it back. Nobody ever asked him why he didn’t talk in meetings. So, it was a lost opportunity for improvement right there. He was like, “I would sit down, somebody would tell me what is wrong with me. And that was it and I was in and out.”

Now, I made -- I was specific when I said that he didn’t just work for an apparel company, he worked for a performance apparel company. So, being at the cutting edge of technology was really important in his vertical and this company, how could they get there if nobody was free to challenge the status quo? I would argue you’re not going to have any innovation if there is no creative tension, if there is no status quo. So, that was the Chachi story. Blind item, who told me that story. Oh, and for the record, he did find another job. He left. He left that organization. And his response was that he has a new job. and it’s where he can be himself. So, I thought that was really interesting.

So, the next story is from health care. So, a couple of years back, we spent a week at a health care organization, and we were helping them build their operating system. And by extension, a culture where their employees were engaged in the mission and the product. So, involved in this session, this is probably on the fourth day out of a five day engagement, we had in a room a healthy mix of admins, and improvement folk and lean folk as well as a couple of medical professionals. And they were all in some way engaged in continuous improvement. So, this was a whole continuous improvement week. And so for this particular exercise, we did a roomful of lean coffee. So, everybody had a table. There were about six to eight people at every table. And we asked them, what are some of the things that prevent you from getting your work done. And at the end of each lean coffee, we’re going to have a representative from each table stand up and share their epiphany and their findings.

And at one point of the weeks, probably the brightest and most conscientious young team member nobody wanted to stand up from her table and share the epiphanies. So, she was roped into it essentially. So, she stood up. And her voice was shaking when she spoke. And she said, “I know my job, I’m good at my job.” And she started to continue. And from the other end of the room, somebody interrupted her. And her voice started to shake. And she tried to ignore what the person was saying and continue her thought. And she said, “I want to do a great job, but I’m not being allowed to be effective, because…” She went into the reasons why. She got through maybe like a couple of seconds of explaining that, immediately, she was interrupted again by the same gentleman across the room, who not only interrupted her, but challenged her. And he said, “Why is this the first time that I’m hearing about this?” And his voice was really stern. And it was jarring. It was jarring to witness that behavior.

And that is when this young woman’s tears just started to flow, and she let it all out. And she said, where’s the ticket? She said, “I can’t let you see how I feel. You’re a doctor. I know how to do my job. Let me do my job, even though I don’t have MD after my name.” And it was so uncomfortable seeing her just brought to her knees. She had been fighting for so long to be a professional. But the system that she was working in was not allowing her to be a professional. Now, there were about 50 people in that room at that point, about 30 of them made a beeline straight to her, surrounded around her, gave her a hug, other forms of comfort. And it was in solidarity. It was a behavior that people had witnessed. It almost appeared as if it was cathartic to them. And if there’s one vertical, where employees should have the comfort to speak up when there is a problem, no matter if they have letters beyond their name or not, it should be health care.

But in this case, there was so much power distance and so much exclusionary behavior taking place right in front of her. And the thing about it is she was in CR. She was in continuous improvement, but she was siloed based upon her status. And she had no freedom to break out of that silo to bring problems or issues or concerns to anybody who really could do something about that. So, while leadership’s goal that week was to create the foundation for a culture where people were engaged in the mission, they were engaged in the product, they completely overlooked the need for people to, first, have a culture in which team members were able to engage safely with each other, especially when problems arose. So, she didn’t feel included in with the problem solvers, which I would argue is, as knowledge workers, that’s primarily what we do for a living.

So, the third story that I want to bring up is from insurance. And some of you who have sat in our live classes might have heard this story from me. And it’s a story that if -- I ask you if you could bear with me -- it’s a story that still, after all this time, still really gets me in the gut. So, back in 2013, we spent a week with an organization, as I said, it was an insurance company. And during our opening session, we invited people to share a little bit about who they were, and what they hope to get out of the week. And so a woman stood up. And she self identified as a single mom of three teenagers. She had been with the organization for 19 years. She was terribly grateful that she had this job. She said because she didn’t have a degree and there was really no other opportunity for anything that she could have supported her family with in this region. And so there weren’t a lot of opportunities for her and she needed to make this work. And her voice shook when she shared what she wanted out of the week. And she said, “Help me please justify my existence to my boss.” And it was wild when that happened. It was like, we’re staring at her and she said what she said and all of a sudden Jim just turns like this, just to stare at me to see are you going to fall apart? Are you going to be able to handle this? And both of us we’re just trying to hold it together.

And to add insult to injury with the story, later we were met with her manager and her manager expressed shock. She said, “I had no idea she felt this way. She was one of my charges.” She didn’t know her name, but she knew she was one of her charges. Now, if we can acknowledge that language begets behavior and informs a culture, there’s no way that any of this manager’s chargers are being made to feel like they have any value. Right? So, the paradox is that she felt personally unseen by her management. While at the same time she was being overseen. She was being overlooked as a charge. And far more damaging, I think was the fact that she and the other charges were made to feel they were somehow less because of their status yet again. Yet again, status. So, to come into work every day feeling ignored, feeling like you have zero certainty about how your contributions are perceived, and about if you or even the work that you do are even of any value. I would argue that that is the very definition of organizational malpractice. And I can’t imagine waking up to that every day.

And I have a sticky note that I probably rewrite every couple of months, because I’m always sharing it with people, and it says, “Help me justify my existence to my boss.” And this is what gets me out of bed every morning. This is what I want to prevent. I never want to hear another -- I never want to hear anybody in the workforce saying that. And I would argue if you’re watching this webinar, you’re doing what you do every day as well to make sure that you don’t ever have to hear this. You care enough to ensure that people come to work with enough psychological safety. So, let’s pull that ticket. All right. Help me justify my existence to my boss. Oh. So, what’s really interesting is that it’s not simply that psychological safety is in teams. It’s not just the humane and the right thing to do. There’s actually a business reason for it.

And so a couple years ago, Google undertook a multi-year study looking at what was the element? What elements contributed to high performing teams. And so, they’re Google, they have tons of access to data, they’re always looking at patterns and trends, and they’re looking at things like people’s skill set, and do they congregate after work, what is it? And they couldn’t find anything. No clear trend was being presented. And then somebody stumbled upon an article, a study that Amy Edmondson, arguably the go to person for psychological safety, had written I think, in several years, quite a few years before. And they realized that it was in fact, psychological safety was the number one predictor of high performing teams. And what they were able to report was that it not only helped with things like innovation and improvement, but it also helped with employee retention, employee satisfaction. And Gallup has done tons of studies as well that point to increase in productivity and increase in retention.

So, real quick, I want to focus on those two words. I want to focus on psychological and safety. So, we talk about Dr. Deming and his system of profound knowledge. He talks about how you have to have an understanding of psychology. And that’s because -- Or actually, let’s start with safety. I think safety is a better word to start with. So, when we talk about safety, what does that mean? So, the brain has two organizing principles, and one is to maximize reward, and the other is to minimize threat. So, at any given moment, your brain is constantly scanning your environment for environmental threats. Well, what’s super interesting is that when you -- I mean, for survival, right? So, what’s super interesting is that research has shown that there is an overlap in the part of the brain that processes pain. They’ve done fMRI studies, and they’ve actually asked the people that are put in the machine to recall a time where they experienced a social pain. So, what is a social pain? So, social pain is something like the loss of a loved one, a time where they were embarrassed, a time they were rejected. And interestingly enough, the part of the brain that responds to stimuli that is a physical pain, likewise lit up when the brain was experiencing a social trauma as well.

So, real quick, I want to focus on those two words. I want to focus on psychological and safety. So, we talk about Dr. Deming and his system of profound knowledge. He talks about how you have to have an understanding of psychology. And that’s because -- Or actually, let’s start with safety. I think safety is a better word to start with. So, when we talk about safety, what does that mean? So, the brain has two organizing principles, and one is to maximize reward, and the other is to minimize threat. So, at any given moment, your brain is constantly scanning your environment for environmental threats. Well, what’s super interesting is that when you -- I mean, for survival, right? So, what’s super interesting is that research has shown that there is an overlap in the part of the brain that processes pain. They’ve done fMRI studies, and they’ve actually asked the people that are put in the machine to recall a time where they experienced a social pain. So, what is a social pain? So, social pain is something like the loss of a loved one, a time where they were embarrassed, a time they were rejected. And interestingly enough, the part of the brain that responds to stimuli that is a physical pain, likewise lit up when the brain was experiencing a social trauma as well.

Well, your body has to focus all of its resources on getting rid of that threat. So, it shuts down non-essential functions, which are essentially your PFC, right? So, it wants to make sure that your pupils are dilated, you’re ready to fight or you’re ready to flee. And so as knowledge workers, when we are in a state of fight or flight, when we are threatened, when we are afraid, and that fear, I also mean is not simply -- I would hope that we don’t have employees that are worried about physical pain at work. But we have to start recognizing that social pain will shut down the very mechanisms that you are relying on as a knowledge worker.

So, let’s see. What do we have here? So, the three stories that we talked about, I just want to, really quick, before I hand this over to Jim, talk about two quick models, maybe one and a half models, so that we could get a better understanding of what was occurring. So, based on the research that surfaced how the brain responds to physical pain, much in the same way as it responds to social pain, a gentleman named David Rock over the NeuroLeadership Institute came up with a model called SCARF. And the SCARF model is -- I like to think of it as an alternative model to Maslow. It’s basically, what drives human behavior? What are the threats? What are the rewards that we should look out with?

So, it’s an acronym. And so the first one is status. So, what is status? Status is essentially a relative importance to anybody. And so like, when you walk into a room, you don’t even realize you’re doing this, you’re scanning the room to see where you are in relation to the other people in that room. And what we saw with the three stories that I shared was, in all cases, we saw that their status was being impeded. Let’s see if I could share something. I don’t know that I could share something. Can I share this? Okay. So, like, with the performance apparel story, when he used the term, the higher ups, that threatened his status, when the health care employees said you don’t have to worry about not having letters after your name, that also spoke of status. And likewise, in the insurance company, she spoke about my leadership and the leadership spoke about the response was my charges. So, again, she felt excluded. She didn’t feel like she related to the mission. So, that is status.

Certainty. Certainty is essentially being able to predict the future. So, not working blindly. Understanding where you are, how people feel about your work, your ability to understand that if I speak up, there won’t be any repercussions, any negative repercussions, right? So, a lot of people think that psychological safety is being nice, or is not having -- I’m not being uncomfortable. And that’s actually not what psychological safety is. Psychological safety is you can bring your whole authentic professional self to work. You can speak with candor, you don’t have to worry about blame, you don’t have to worry about being embarrassed, you don’t have to self censor, you don’t feel excluded, you’re not devalued. All right. But also you’re safe to learn, you’re safe to contribute. And I did want to bring up really quickly that there is another model, but we’ll get to that with autonomy. But we saw that again with the three stories. We saw, especially with the woman who had been working with the insurance company for 19 years, she had no certainty about her role in the organization or if she was creating any value. All right. So, bring those down.

Autonomy. Autonomy is basically you have a sense of control over your events. So, at Toyota, and I raised the issue of Toyota, postwar Toyota because lean finds its roots in TPS, the Toyota Production System. And they talk a lot about wastes. And arguably, one of the greatest wastes Toyota would argue is the waste of human potential. And we saw that with all three of these people. We saw that they did not have a sense of autonomy over whether or not their skills were being valued. Right? They all saw that there was a problem, but they never had the ability to share that problem or to fix it. They likewise did not have safety to learn. So, I mentioned that there was another model, I wanted to speak really quickly, too. And Timothy Clark has his four stages of psychological safety. And one of those stages is something called learner safety. So, people should come into your organization, they should be able to work with teams, they should feel a sense of control over their learning as well. All right. So, that’s autonomy.

All right. Relatedness. Feeling safe to contribute, safe to contribute to the mission, safe to contribute to each other. That’s not relevant. Timothy Clark, he talks about contributor safety. You want to feel like you’re a part of something, and you want to make sure that you feel valued for that.

So, then we’re going to go to fairness. I am guilty of minimizing the value of fairness. And I’m not proud of this. And I feel I have the psychological safety to share a growth moment with you. I used to think fairness is something that 13 year old girls can get away with complaining about, not professionals at work, until something was once done to me and it bothered me for about 20 years. And I started to understand that a lack of fairness does trigger your fight or flight mechanism. It will impede your ability to engage in higher level thinking as well. And with regard to the teams that we refer to with regard to fairness is it was unfair that these people were being hired to do a job, and then were not allowed to actually do their job. All right. They had no ability to challenge the status quo, they had no ability to bring all their skills to work.

So, one of the things that Jim had mentioned earlier was that when we take on a subject, we kind of come at it from a different angle. And what frustrates us is when you are learning a subject, you’re learning a topic, you’re learning a theory, and you’re like, “This is great. Now, what do I do with it?” So, we want to make sure that we leave you with some ideas about how to operationalize that. So, I’m going to turn this over to Jim, and he’s going to talk a little bit more about that.

Jim: About that. So, one of the things that I love about what we do can be summed up in a quote from one of our repeat clients, who once said to me, “Jim, how come whenever something really really upsets me, you say, awesome?” Like I’ll come to you with this thing like really is upsetting you, and I’ll be like, “Oh, awesome.” And it’s because once we’re able to verbalize, at least if not visualize a problem, then we can start solving it. And if we know what it is, that’s kind of an initial point where we can respect that problem. And so what I like about Toni’s stories is that all three of them are ones that impacted her because they were real people experiencing real pain. And then she’s kept that like, literally, that one has been stuck in like three different houses has been stuck to her monitor moving around. And so we respect that pain, by both remembering it and responding to it.

So, in the first story, that guy was like you just don’t respect me. So, I go through your little communist and foreman circle meeting where you come and you tell me all of my sins and make me sign the piece of paper admitting to my crimes. But then you’re not actually helping me become a better professional. So, if you’re not going to give me the respect of asking me why I’m in this situation, what the system is that led me to be there, what am I supposed to do?

The doctor in the interrupting doctor story, the tension between MDs and everybody else in hospitals is not a shock. It’s well documented. But the interesting thing was that this guy had amazing bedside manner, if you will. So, there were two heads of continuous improvement at the hospital. One was this woman who was the head of continuous improvement. And the other was this doctor who was like the doctor head of continuous improvement. And he was awesome. He was like super awesome. Until we got to that point, and he became a jerk. So the thing is, is that he personally was probably, and by probably, I mean, like, almost certainly completely oblivious to the interpersonal crime he was committing. And so when we approach people, and we say we want psychological safety, or people approach other people and say, we want psychological safety, then they tend to, like do things like go to psychological safety training. Which is like saying things like you should really be polite to other people, and you shouldn’t interrupt them. And that’s silly.

So, if someone has something that is caused by either the system that they’re in, or the psychological system, the greater psychological system of cognitive biases that they’re in, they don’t even recognize that they are doing the thing that they’re doing. So, they don’t recognize that they’re engaged right now in age discrimination, or gender discrimination or any other kind of discrimination because they’re not actively setting out to do it. It’s just that they’re overloaded, the system is huge and crazy, the work is scheduled poorly, and they have latent gender, and other biases. And it’s really hard for an individual regardless of who they are to tease out when you are or aren’t doing that stuff.

So, we want to look at, for this, we want to look at what does psychological safety mean for an individual. And in the end, it’s not what we keep coming back to, which is I can speak up in meetings, or I can say something’s wrong. So, this isn’t like the whistleblower problem. It’s the action problem. Maybe I don’t feel safe to speak in meetings, but I also don’t feel safe to pull the right work, or give creative advice or anything like that. So, what happens is, when somebody lacks psychological safety, they can’t act with confidence. And the mark of a professional is acting with confidence. And I have a quick story about that. So, we had set up in a construction company in New York, a huge what in lean is called an obeya room, which is a bunch of different visual controls, not just a kanban or a scrum board or something, but actual meaningful visual controls that drive complex projects.

And the one that we were working with then was building a $750 million set of higher education buildings in New York City. And this person was primarily responsible for buying everything that that $750 million could buy. So, all the structural steel, all of the concrete, all of the glass, all of the toilet paper holders, literally everything. And then they had a couple of months to buy that in. So, imagine someone gives you a big check for $750 million, and then says, “Hey, go go spend this. Oh, and by the way, you have to adhere to all of these different rules about how to spend this.” So, the value stream for this thing was huge. And work was always getting lost and it was always a very adversarial process.

And so at one point, we brought in -- this is a global company -- we brought in the HR people from all around this company. And Kevin shows them the room, that’s the guy’s name, and they said, “So, Kevin, does this improve your work life balance?” And Kevin’s like, he’s a pretty young guy, right? And he says, “I work in construction. Nothing is going to impact my work life balance. But,” he says, “what this does is it tells everyone, me, my colleagues, my boss, my boss’s boss, the customer, the engineers, everybody else that’s working on the project everything that’s happening, everything that’s stuck, everything that needs a response from somebody else.” So, the system had a lot of triggers in it for appropriate response. And he said, “This allows me to act with confidence.” And so that’s my help me justify my existence to my boss story equivalent from what Tonianne said is when he said that I was just like, “Oh, man, that’s the thing.” That is the thing, this is the thing we want as professionals. So, I’m just going to leave that over here and make it like super big.

So, when we’re building our systems, lean, agile, prince2, six sigma, just roll your own, I don’t care what it is. When we’re building our own systems, we want to allow people to act with confidence, so that the teams can work professionally, the teams can learn, the teams can like, not feel like they’re screwing over their colleagues. They can have confidence themselves that when they make a decision, they’re not accidentally engaging in one kind of bias or another. And we can do that by normalizing what’s important to the team, and then operationalizing, what’s important to the team. So, if what’s important to the team is to not screw over other people like not to make sure that all the people who look like me are the ones that get promoted. We don’t do that necessarily, by setting up quotas. We do that by setting up a system that says, when you do these things, there will be these reactions. And then we make that system visual so that the system is visually triggering all of us, so that it’s no longer such a value judgment. We’ll talk more about that in a little bit. So, satisfying the needs of the organization as a whole.

Right now, any of us that work for any company of size, know that we spend a ridiculous amount of time arguing about how we treat each other. And that’s not fun, that’s not professional. That’s not why we go to work, right? So, we want to be able to build a system that says, all right. Let’s actually focus on building things that the customers want to buy. And make sure that while we’re doing that, we have a professional system that allows us as individuals to act with confidence. So, what we say at Modus is that individuals work in teams to provide value. And we have to make sure, in that, that all three of those elements are protected and supported. And if they’re not, then we won’t have psychological safety. So, if we over focus on the individual, we still won’t have psychological safety. If we over focus on the team, like agile does, we won’t focus on psychological safety. If we over focus on value, then we’ve seen that we get a lot of focus on throughput and cycle time and things like that. But we don’t get a lot of focus on the individual or the team or the ability to act professionally. So, we need to make a holistic, like for real holistic management system.

And that last story that Tonianne said about the needs that people have for power distance -- I’ll make these bigger, they’re feeling small to me -- is power distance is a huge thing. And that anybody here who has become a manager knows that it creeps up on you. And it freaks you out when it happens. So, people will treat you differently because your title, your role, your ability to influence their future has changed. And you will act in certain ways that will upset or freak out other people. Right? And you don’t mean to. Again, it’s a systemic thing. It’s not a personal thing. So, we want to employ ideas of psychological safety here so that work can be humane, that we’re not fearing our next annual review, or worse yet, maybe even worse than fearing resenting our next annual review, because resentment is really toxic. Resentment creates more fear, it slows you down, it gives you all sorts of existential overhead where you sit there and think, “Oh, God. Here it comes again.” And then you’re not focusing on making cool stuff.

So, what might these things look like? This is a pretty messy done column. We must be very, very productive. All right. Let me grab these, make them really big and then we’ll actually look at them. So, these are some of the areas that we’ve noticed create systemic barriers to psychological safety. Yes, there will always be jerks, griefers, bad actors, narcissists, sociopaths. But by and large, a lot of psychological safety is what we create by being lazy when we create our project plans, or how we set up our projects. So, we want to satisfy these conditions of respecting complexity, reducing HR ambiguity, understanding our culture, and flexibly defining roles by acknowledging that when we have complexity, we are doing these things. So, let me really quickly go over and use a different visualization for this.

So, we want to respect complexity. And the reason for that is that what happens quite often is that when a complex problem comes up in a group, they will assign a person to go solve that complex problem. And what you have is let’s just say you have a team. And these little heads are the people on your team. And all of those people have come from different backgrounds, different places, different levels of education, different styles of education, different artistic expression. They have a worldview that is unique to the experiences, the pains, the systems that they’ve come through. And so right now, we have a bunch of different causes and effects for the complexity that we’re experiencing. And we have a bunch of people. And some of them think that this cause might be doing it. Some people don’t know what the heck’s going on at all. Some people think this cause is the thing, some people want to talk about this effect. But what happens now is you’ve got some different perspectives. And those different perspectives have a lot of variance. So, these people might all get together and say, “Yeah, it’s the orange.” But then if you get together with just them in a room, they’ll even fight about what that orange looks like. Right?

So, what we want to do is be able, in a complex situation, to bring together all of these people and run them through or have them run a series of events where they figure out what is the actual makeup of the problem that we’re dealing with? Or the opportunity that we’re dealing with. Like, maybe this isn’t a problem, maybe this is a new market opportunity, but it’s still complex? What do we need to learn? What experiments can we run to drive us in the right direction? And if you have just one person show up and say, “Hi, I’m going to solve this on my own. I got it. It’s all me.” That person is more than likely going to be wrong. Because a complex problem solved by one person is almost always solved incorrectly. And that can be slightly incorrectly or catastrophically incorrectly. But psychologists have found repeatedly that when one person tries to solve a complex problem, they will be wrong more than 50% of the time. But adding even just one more perspective to those conversations greatly increases the veracity of the solution that you come up with. The solution is better thought out, it has more perspective. It’s deeper, it’s more interesting.

This gets us out of the us-them conversation of diversity, and it gets us into an implementable conversation of diversity. Yes, there’s inequity and we want to respond to that inequity. But we also want to recognize that not responding to that inequity over the last 200 or 300, or a thousand years, is what’s caused most of the problems that we have right now. So, we can better solve things, we can better work together if we have a workforce where this is actually expected, that when a complex problems arises, we will deal with it as a group. And my quick story about that is at that same construction company, a different site that we had worked with, they had built something that they called the right environment. They went through and at the beginning decided what the cultural elements of their group that were important to them were. And then into all of their visual controls, all of their ways of working, they made sure that none of them undermined those cultures, those cultural elements. They want to make sure that people got trained right, that people got a lot of experience, that they had good relationships with the customers, that they got on site a lot, all these different things.

So, when COVID came up, as you might guess, for construction, it’s hard to work from home. So, when COVID came up, they immediately sat down as a group and figured out how are we going to deal with this. They did it before any other group in the company did it because the other group didn’t have that right environment, they didn’t respect complexity as a group or the group there, they all waited for their bosses to tell them what to do. This group was in the conference room before the boss was even on site talking about what they’re going to do. And they ended up driving the best practices for the company as a whole. That rocks. That’s like the best thing ever.

So, these last bits really quickly. Understanding your culture. What we tend to do is we get people together, and we say, “Look, we want to make sure that while we’re working together, that we understand our culture.” So, we will run affinity mapping exercises through what we call a charter. And the team will get together and they’ll say, “Okay. Team, what is our vision? Like what is our product? Or what is our service supposed to do? Who does it serve? Why does it make their lives better? Why do they want to buy it? Expectations are how do we relate to each other? What do I expect from you? What do you expect from me? What do we expect from each other? Boundaries are when do we need to talk to each other? When we need to, like if a certain decision needs to be made? Is there a person who is either the best qualified to lead that discussion, or should be consulted? Or just, for lack of a better term, owns that part of the domain. Then the last one is victory. Which is right now, if everything was complete, and it was perfect, what would that look like?

And when you run through these in order, the conversations that people have, you’ll fill in vision, you’ll fill in expectations, then a little bit of vision. And then you’ll fill in boundaries. And then as you’re filling in boundaries, people go back and add things to expectation and vision. And then when you get to victory, all of a sudden, they’ve gone through a process where before, they never thought about their culture at all, and now they’re thinking about it very deeply. When those things are done, and we’ve got a bunch of blobs of affinity things in here. It doesn’t matter what these are. Let’s just say that they’re groups of importance. So, we got a bunch of blobs of important there. And now we say, “Okay. You know what, now we have things that we can implement.” So, we go in and we say, “All right. Which of these things do we want to make sure that we get done?”

Then when we build our visual controls, we make sure that as we’re doing these things, and these things are moving through the kanban or whatever, our visual control is, we make sure that they don’t again, undermine the stuff that is in this chart over here. And a lot of these are implementable immediately, like, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know that hurt you. I’m not going to do it again.” Once we do that, we can go back to HR and we can say things like, “Okay. The next time that you hire somebody for our group, don’t just say that we want someone with these certifications and these many years of experience. We want you to say that these people need to value these things, that they are comfortable working in a highly collaborative situation.” And you start to say, “Okay. You know what, we’re not going to have anti human job descriptions. And we’re not going to review people on whether or not you talk in meetings anymore. But we’re going to do this in a humane way. And we can’t ask HR to do this on their own. We have to go back and tell them how it works with the team, because we understand it now.”

Then the last bit, flexibly defining roles. The easiest example of this that I have, was we were working with a group, and they had a board, and that board had the options ready, development, testing and done, and the board looked like this where everything was in testing. And there was like a couple things here, and everybody was mad at the testers. And when we told them, “You guys need to stop developing and start helping test. And then later on, you have to figure out a way to not dump everything on your testers,” they became offended. That’s not flexible. So, right now, here, the work demands that people do testing, and that we respect the fact that testing needs to be done. So, that respect needs to happen. And I’m going to pop out of this and back into this and close this off. So, Tonianne, you have a lean coffee board, and you have a post-it note. So, I’m thinking that you have one note.

Tonianne: I do, I have. I have one quick comment that it only dawned on me while you were telling the story about I can act with confidence. You also followed up with him laughing off the fact that no, I don’t have work life balance. I’m always working, what do you think, but I could still act with confidence. And I was thinking in terms of the neurobiology that’s happening there, thinking in terms of when you have confidence, you get a serotonin boost, that is a reward. Right? So, that gives you the assurance, that helps you retain more, it helps you learn more, it helps you get into a better state of flow. Right? So, even though he was working far more hours and far more stressed in another aspects of his job, the fact that he had that sense of confidence, gave him that burst of serotonin, that feel good, and it afforded him the opportunity to, I don’t want to say power through when he didn’t have the the work life balance, but it did give him the momentum to continue and do a great job and see things through to fruition. All right. Let me put the link -- [crosstalk]

Jim: Oh, you got it?

Tonianne: Yeah, I have the link.

Jim: Okay. So, while she’s putting in a link, I want to excitedly announce that Trent Hohn, Trent Hohn is the winner of the complimentary one year of Modus Institute for attending and living through this entire webinar. Wait, is Trent still here? [laughs]

Tonianne: All right. We will make sure we will get in touch with Trent to give him his Turtle Wax and his Rice-A-Roni.

Jim: Oh, that’s hilarious. That’s right.

Tonianne: We did put a lean coffee board link in the chat window. So, if you have any questions, excellent. Okay. Good. I see that Laura, you got. All right. So, if you have any questions or any topics you want to have a conversation about, please feel free to add them, add new topic. You could add as many as you would like. And what’s going to happen is after people add topics and I’m hoping to see a couple of questions in there, I know a lot of you, and I know a lot of you have a lot of interesting things to say. So, we would love to

Jim: No, no, no, that’s what is -- Hold on. It’s this thing. It’s coming, it’s coming. It is the reason why not very many people here saw the copious spam we got in the middle of this. There we go. All panels and attendees now have the link.

Tonianne: Excellent. So, for those of you who might not have ever participated in a lean coffee, it is a democratized way of having essentially an agenda list meeting, or a dynamically generated agenda created by the people who were actually in the meeting? Okay. So, let’s see. Nice. So, we’ll take a couple of minutes. Feel free to add some topics. And what we will do is we’ll vote on the topics we want to speak about. First, you all will vote on the topics you want to speak about first. We’ll pull those topics into doing and we’ll have a little conversation about that.

Jim: So, while those are coming up, one of the things that we’ve worked very hard on, is getting away from the notion that culture and humanity are soft skills. They’re not. They’re the hardest of hard skills, and they’re also unbelievably implementable. We build systems, Deming says that a good system can -- or a bad system can ruin a good person every time. [crosstalk] But a good system can do the opposite. We’ve seen good systems raise people up unbelievably quickly. Just a little bit of feeling like the system isn’t trying to destroy you, unbelievably impacts people’s joy of working. And that’s a thing. That’s not a little thing. That’s like a big thing.

And so Dave just posted the thing about the certification in there. This is what we go deep into in the lean, agile, visual management certification is that if we build a humane workplace, we will always build highly performing teams, always. No matter what, and they will be resilient, and your turnover will be lower, and your quality will be higher, and people won’t get sick as much and people won’t go home angry. It’s not just so that they feel good. It’s not coddling. It is the only path to real quality. You can beat people up into like this platform of quality. But otherwise, we have to care about each other. And that is implementable. That is absolutely 100% implementable and collaborative.

All right. These are some awesome questions. So, we originally wanted this to go for 90 minutes. And there were a variety of reasons we got scheduled for 60. So, we recognize and thank the people who have stayed because we know that we have gone long. And yes, so do people want to vote. So, you vote just by clicking the vote button, you get three votes, you can vote more than once for one thing, you can vote as many times as you want until you run out of three. Nice questions. Nice conversation actually. All right. And I’ve got my participants list up here. And so Tonianne, can you turn on the Tatler so that we know who -- Thank you. And then I will allow in my infinite power those people to speak when we get to their question.

Tonianne: All right. So, I’m going to start. Now, we still have a couple of votes. [crosstalk]

Jim: Okay. So, let’s do it, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Joe Campbell’s a lazy voter.

Tonianne: Come on, Joe, you have two seconds. Joe, Joe, Joe, come on. You know the app could be betraying him. All right.

Jim: I prefer to think badly of him.

Tonianne: Okay. So, this question is from Laura. So, what’s going to happen real quick, I’m going to pull a ticket into discussing. I’m going to put five minutes on the timer. And when the timer goes off, we’re going to take a silent Roman vote, yes, I want it. We’re going to let whoever is speaking continue to speak, we’re going to do silent Roman vote, yes, I would like to continue. I’m ambivalent. No, let’s move on. If it is no, let’s move on, we’re going to let the person speaking finish their thought. And then we’re going to move that ticket into discussed. If it is an upvote, I will put a couple more minutes on the timer. So, with that, give it five minutes. Laura, if you would like to introduce your question, please. And thank you for being here.

Laura: Hi. I think it’s pretty straightforward. The two words power distance popped out at me from when Jim was talking. And the combination intrigues me. And also I don’t really have a context for those two words together. And so I would like to -- maybe it’s an information thing, but then also an exploration.

Jim: Awesome. Okay. So, I have a definition and a quick, quick story. It seems like hey, I can’t do anything without a quick story.

Jim: So, power distance is when any person has some positional power. They’re at some rung of the org chart of doom. And there are people who are under them in that org chart of doom, or they have some other access to power, that allows them to have undue influence on other people. And that influence can be invisible, and it can be entirely on the part of the person who is distanced. So, since I was a little kid, I’ve always been Jim Benson. When I go to conferences and talk to people, I still can’t quite process it when people go, “Oh, my God, you’re Jim Benson.” And I’m like, “Yeah, I am. I wrecked my bike once, you know.” But I don’t recognize the power distance, but it’s created by any number of things. And it can be just by writing a book, or it can be by being hired into a thing.

And so my story around that comes, and I’ll just go ahead and name it because I feel like it needs to be named. This was at Spotify, which is known the world over for being like the premier egalitarian organization ever. And their CEO is a guy named Daniel. He’s a really nice guy. And he was in their New York office. And people were in this room, and they were working on this skunkworks project that was really cool. It was like a new thing that Spotify was going to go into. And Daniel’s in town, he walks by the room, and he pokes his head in, and he says, “Hey, what you’re working on?” And they said, “We’re working on this.” He’s like, “Cool.” And so he comes in, and he, like, starts working with him. And he’s writing stuff on the whiteboard with them, and he’s like moving post-it notes around, and he’s doing all the things. And he’s like, “This was awesome.”

And then he like leaves to go to the airport to fly back to Sweden, and everybody takes out their laptops and starts changing their project plans. And we’re like, “What are you doing?” And they’re like, “Daniel just told us to do all of this stuff.” I’m like, “Daniel didn’t tell you to do anything. Daniel was working with you. He wasn’t telling you to do anything.” They’re like, “No, no, he absolutely told us to do those things.” So, they called him because Spotify really is that egalitarian. They just called him as he was going to the airport. And he answers his phone. He’s like, “Yeah.” And they’re like, “Did you mean for us to do those things?” And he’s like, “No, we were ideating. You should figure out what makes sense.” So, that power distance was there. It was invisible to Daniel. Frankly, it was invisible to me. But then when he left, everyone in the room reacted to it. That’s crazy.

And so what happens quite often is that bosses will inadvertently just spout an idea, and it will change the direction of people, or it will destroy what they thought they were doing. Like it’s an offhand comment that really isn’t meant to be too pejorative, but it wasn’t praised. And people react to that and it is nasty. There’s also the story with Joe’s colleague at the company in Philadelphia, where we were walking down the hall and a senior vice president’s walking down the hall and the guy we’re walking with stops, turns, and looks at his feet. Not the SVP’s feet, but his own feet, so that the SVP won’t talk to him. And we’re like, “What was that?” But he literally kowtow. It was the craziest thing. So, Toni, sorry, that’s about it.

Tonianne: I love this question. The issue with power distance, it leads into the status part of SCARF, right? And I spent half my life in New York City, half inside the Beltway in Washington, DC, and you could not go anyplace, any party, any function without somebody saying, “Hi, I’m so and so. What do you do?” They would lean in to find out if you’re worthy of their time. And that is, out of all of the elements of SCARF, that is the one element that people try to build up and protect more than any other one in an organization is status, is power distance. Because it plays into your feelings of rejection or inclusion. Okay. You never want to feel like you’re not a member of the tribe, you’re lesser? Does that answer your question, Laura?

Laura: Yes, thank you.

Jim: Yeah. I would also invite anyone to just consider the word sucking up. So, the amount to which one sucks up is also like directly equivalent to the amount of power distance that is there.

Tonianne: And it triggers a fear response. By virtue of the fact that your director is calling a meeting with you, that triggers fear. All right. Because it also plays into what kind of certainty do I have about the outcome of this meeting? All right. So, Genevieve brings up the topic of fairness. Jim, do you have any stories about fairness that you want to talk about? Or should I just talk about it from -- [crosstalk]

Jim: I do. I’m inviting Jen in first

Tonianne: I’m sorry? Jim: I’m inviting Gen in first. Yeah. Hi, Gen.

Genevieve: Hi. Yeah. So, fairness, I guess what triggered this question was Tonianne saying something about Middle School. And there was always this, it’s not fair. But it was fair, in my mind, maybe not in the middle schoolers’ mind. So, what is our perception of fairness? How do we determine what fairness is?

Tonianne: I think fairness also works with status, right? So, a lot of times, let’s say I am putting in a 20-hour day and I know Jim’s going to be like, “Yeah, I’m going to work for an hour.” Like, what is the value of me putting in 20 hours to Jim’s one hour? Now, we certainly don’t measure our value at Modus like that at all. But when you’re treated unfairly, the part of the brain involved with your pain, with the part of the brain that registers for pain, likewise registers for when your state of fairness is threatened as well. Inequity, inequity hurts. One of the things that we noticed at the health care organization is the young woman who spoke up was young. She didn’t feel like she paid her -- She was being made to feel she did not pay her dues. Yet, her insights were, I would argue throughout the course of the week, were among some of the most valuable that we saw. But she -- [crosstalk]

Jim: She was a superstar.

Tonianne: What was that, Jim?

Jim: She was a superstar. I hope she quit and found a better job.

Tonianne: So, and essentially, the same thing happened with the insurance company by saying help me justify my existence, she has 19 years of work behind her. It’s not fair that nobody sees that, that nobody acknowledges, that nobody celebrates that, right?

Jim: So, one of the things that strikes me about the word fair, is that fair has no individual definition. So, fair is right up there with important as overused and ultimately meaningless words. It’s also kind of like the people who were spamming the chat earlier, it’s like porn. So, you know it when you see it, but it’s very difficult to define. And if you are a nurse, and you are completely overworked in a crazy COVID situation, and they’re not hiring more people, and they’re cutting the support staff that you have, and the mid-tier professionals that used to do a lot of the work that now you’re being asked to do, and then your CEO is making 150 times what you do and gets a bonus. That might seem unfair. It probably doesn’t to the CEO, which is also a problem. When I was working in the government, in Portland, Oregon, at one point, and this may not surprise people, but I have strong opinions. And I had a knock-down, drag-out fight with my boss. And my office was right next to my boss’s office. And so we have this big fight, everyone at Metro in Portland knows that we had this fight, you could hear it outside.

And I go back to my office and I’m steaming. And our shop steward because we’re all unionized, comes to me and he’s like, “Do you want to file a grievance?” And I was like, and of course, he had to walk by John’s office to get to mine. So, John knows that this guy’s in my office. And I said, “A what?” And he says, “A grievance.” And I said, “A grievance for what?” He’s like, “John just yelled at you.” I was like, “I yelled back.” And he’s like, “No, no, no, that shouldn’t happen. You need to file a grievance.” And I’m like, “I’m an adult and John is an adult, and we just had an argument. If John wasn’t an adult, he would have fired me.” And on the other side of the wall, I could just hear my boss laughing like crazy. So, the notion of fairness in the union perspective was some altercation happened. My definition of fairness was that I was able to have the altercation.

So, when we get into a situation like that, where one person or one group feels like they weren’t treated fairly, that needs to become a respectful, open, honest conversation. And then if it is something where it’s like, this is something that needs to be resolved, that then is instantly elevated to a complex problem, and it needs to be solved by a group of people. And it can’t be a group of people like side A and Side B. So, Gen, like we’ve been talking about in the classes, we need to be able to build visual systems for those meetings that allow people to see things from different perspectives so that fairness doesn’t be my definition of fairness versus your definition of fairness. Because that’s never going to come up with a resolution. But to discuss what is the entire constellation of things that could be called fair or unfair, and what do we think about those things? And then we select the ones that work for everybody. That’s tough.

Tonianne: You know, Genevive I was just thinking the simplest explanation for fairness would be with a kanban and everybody has the same with limits. That’s how I was thinking. I do want to make sure that I incorporate some of the comments in the chat to extend this conversation. So, Jeff says, and you start to experience people following around behind you as you walk through the conference menu, power distance, so much to think about as far as individual responsibility. Nicole has a good story. At PayPal, they have a concept called justice by design, where there’s equality, equity, and justice. I love this. Which is actually fixing the system to offer equal access to all opportunities to everyone rather than evenly distribute tools. I love this. I need to read more about this, Nicole. I want to talk to you about that. That’s great. That is awesome. All right. Genevieve, did we cover everything?

Genevieve: Oh, yeah. I mean, I thought that was a great approach. The subjectivity when you’re in these situations can really be solved by having a dialogue about it. Right? And I like putting -- I like visualizing it onto a kanban.

Tonianne: Absolutely. And you know, when we talk about triggers, we talk about rewards, we talk about threads, they are subjective. So, we do not all respond to the same threats. Somebody’s threat, maybe somebody else’s reward. So, you’re absolutely right, getting to understand the people on your team and seeing what they respond to. I don’t know if I mentioned it to you in class, one of those things could be like in a case of where you’re rewarding somebody with a guest spot at the all-hands meeting, you get to speak in front of 5,000 people. For some people, that might appear to their status. That might be a reward status. For other people, they may be absolutely terrified of doing something like that. And that’s an absolute risk to them because they fear embarrassment. So, having those conversations to understand the weight people ascribe to certain triggers and certain rewards is certainly helpful.

Jim: I should note, just to kind of follow up based on what you two just said. So, the story with me and John. The relationship and the style of relating that John and I had gave me the psychological safety to have that knock-down-drag-out fight with him. If John would have done that to one of the junior planners that worked for me, I probably would have killed him. But here’s the thing, he wouldn’t. So, John had the, to borrow an old term, the emotional IQ, to know what communication style to use with what type of person. And that’s important to note. So, if he had yelled at a junior person like that, or had gotten into something like that, that probably would have been a valid grievance for the shop steward to come around and deal with I.

When we get into groups of people, and this is why canned processes tend not to work so well. When we get into groups of people, like when I tell Scrum teams is like, “Hey, if two of your people left, and you got two new people, would you expect to work exactly the same way?” And they’re always like, “No, we would have new people.” It’s like, exactly. So, understanding the communication styles, the triggers, so different people are great because they have different worldviews. But those different worldviews also come with like little packages or giant packages of PTSD. The Jim Morrison, quote, no one gets out of here alive. So, we want to make sure that while we’re not overly coddling people, that we’re building systems that say, here’s how we can build a platform that allows everyone to excel. And sometimes that’s fairness, sometimes that’s communication, sometimes that’s -- it can be any of these things that we’ve talked about. This isn’t easy stuff, which is why we suck at it so much. We universally suck at this. All right. So, one more question, Toni?

Tonianne: Right. We do. We have one more. All right. Can a system that considers human beings to be a resource ever be safe? And that question comes from Jeff if you’d like to --

Jim: Jeff is allowed to talk, there you go. Hey, Jeff.

Jeff: All right. Hey. Yeah, so during the 20th century, we really mastered the use of optimizing the use of human beings in a production system. That’s really what happened with Henry Ford, probably before that, but Henry Ford really started doing and Alfred Sloan after that, and so on. And we mastered that in the 20th century, the whole advent of human resources as a profession started happening then. And now because I come at this from the Scrum and agile world, what I’ve seen the last few years is just the locus of what we’re trying to -- managers try to optimize has just changed from people to teams. We got to optimize the number of teams or optimize the number of release trains, or whatever you want to call it. And I’ve really started to wonder lately, whether we start -- now, you know, business agility is a big thing. And agile HR is a big thing. And I’m wondering whether we’re really fooling ourselves because we’re still thinking about things as a system where we’re just trying to optimize the amount of humans we’re going to use.

Jim: I would wholly unabashedly completely and without reservation agree with that. I think that Frederick Winslow Taylor was the original Coronavirus. And that his very logical dividing of people into management tiers made a lot of sense in the teens, the 19 teens [crosstalk] because the transfer of information was extremely difficult and expensive. Then when we moved into Henry Ford land, the location and rapidity of repeatable movement became the most important thing. And those two things combined with a general militaristic thinking of command made people always fall back to who’s in charge, who’s accountable, who was the last one with it? And you can’t think of any knowledge work that way. And that’s where we run into problems is we treat individuals as fungible, we treat individuals as well as objects of work. And that in Scrum, in kanban, in any of the other things we do, I keep seeing people believe that they have individual work. And then they get upset when they have dependencies. And it’s like, no, you process that information together. This is something we do collaboratively. And so that -- I’m seeing a lot of lip service at the moment being paid to collaboration. A lot of people are talking about it. But I agree with you, it’s always on the scaling agile kind of thing where it’s like, we’re going to take the idea that kind of worked before and we’re going to blow it up and make it bigger. But we’re not actually going to ask ourselves, what do we need to change to allow professionals to be able to make decisions when they should be making decisions?

Jeff: Yeah, yeah. So, it’s got me thinking lately of a lot of this emerged from -- well, all this emerged from the 20th-century corporation, that structure in that system and whether we’re beating a dead horse now.

Jim: Yeah. Cool. So, can I turn that question around in a Jeff sort of way and say you have now, decades of multicultural experience, you’ve worked around the world. And you’ve worked around the world as an embedded person, not just showing up for a week or a couple of days, but being there for months, if not years. Is this a human thing? Because people like to say, “Well, that’s a Western thing.” But I’ve certainly seen a lot of this in India. I’ve seen a lot of this in Asia. So, I’m not seeing it as an East versus West thing. I’m seeing this as a human thing.

Jeff: I mean, this conversation could go on for hours. You know, I see it in India, but when I see it in India, what I see is what was taught to them by the British. Right. And that if you go back farther in Indian civilization, there is just an amazing ability to work together in the instant, this extreme comfort with chaos and ambiguity and the curiosity and the zest for learning. And that’s one of the things that I think they’ve been able to sustain themselves as a society for millenniums, even having different rulers come in. And the thing -- I’ll tell you the path I’m at now is I am, you know, this gets into a lot bigger question. And I’m wondering whether, most of what we’ve learned in the West in the past few decades on organizational psychology, organizational learning, and management theory, along with that and a lot of the models that we’re making up are really going to be useful. Okay. I’m not saying any of them are wrong, I’m just saying not useful for where we’ve got to move with us. And that’s why I keep going back to the East because I find a lot more of the ancient thinking to be way more useful than what we’re doing today in the West. But like I said, we could talk for hours about that.

Tonianne: I think especially in the West, we tend to fetishize the complicated. And perhaps in that culture, I mean, in old culture, we keep it simple. We do what’s worked.

Jeff: Right. Yeah. Yeah. And then in this field, in particular, I find in the West is that it’s we’re valuing understanding more than we value action as people, particularly in the Agile realm.

Tonianne: You mean is navel-gazing?

Jeff: No, I mean, is coming armed with all kinds of tools in the form of models and practices and things like that, rather than -- Toni, and you just said, looking at something simply as humans, right? That you’re rewarded as a professional for how many models you’ve got. My own field in trying to be an agile coach now, I think we’re in the realm, we’re having a professional certification in professional coaching. And understanding all the models from that world is now becoming more valuable than actually practicing and getting an action as an agile coach.

Jim: Yeah. Yeah. So, we have one question that just came up in the chat there. And it was just as I was about to say, well, we’re done. And it’s a really awesome question. [crosstalk] So, let’s go ahead and just do this quick question. So, basically, Jeff, someone’s asking, “Can you give a specific example of an Eastern or ancient thinking or lesson, and I’m worried that’s opening the [inaudible 01:27:31] worm can?

Jeff: Okay. I’ll give you one. And it’s coming from somebody who was considered a saint in India, but in the 20th century, but this is all based on very ancient knowledge, and his name is Ramana Maharshi. Probably the most well-known Indian saint of the 20th century. In his personal practice, right, is the way you find yourself and unify with what he called the self, which is the universal, is a simple practice of when something arises in your head, first, you find out who asked that question, right? Inevitably, if something arises in your head, the answer to that is who came up with that question is me. And then the next thing you inquire into is who am I? All right. It’s a very simple practice. But I have found that useful with teams. Right? What’s coming up that we’re inquiring along this line? Okay. Why are we here and why are we bringing this question up? Ramana Maharshi would call it -- that’s known from his world is called just simple self-inquiry. Using that with a team. It’s a simple practice from that realm that I found really powerful.

Jim: Awesome.

Jeff: I hope that answered the question. In a specific example, well, I’d have to get into where I’d use this with teams in India. I’ve actually used it within teams in the USA, where it brings up some really things like people get -- either they get that they’re not asking valuable stuff that really helped them out as a team out of whatever situation they’re in. And so they can start really turning more inward and finding out what’s really going to help us. I hope that helped.

Jim: That was awesome. So, everyone, thank you all for doing this with us. This is an exciting one for Toni and me because, for all intents and purposes, this is the first have what we expect to not too long from now be saying, “Wow, this is our 100th episode.” And this actually went really well today. And I’m excited to see how things evolve. So, our goal is, for this, is to do one that is like this, and then another one that’s an interview, and then a one that’s like this, and then an interview and kind of go back and forth like that. Yeah, Toni?

Tonianne: I just wanted to say one thing for those of you who are part of Modus Institute, and we did not get to your questions, I will make sure that I will put something in the open conversation thread after this webinar, so that we can continue this conversation over there and we have your questions that we could address.

Jim: Oh, awesome. All right.

Tonianne: Thank you. I appreciate you bringing up that question. That was great. Thank you.

Jim: All right.

Tonianne: Once again, everybody, we really appreciate your time today. We appreciate your engagement. And we do hope that we will see you going forward on the next one of these.