20200911 - LeanAgileX2020 - Courageous leadership in difficult times, Sara Wachter-Boettcher

by Thierry de Pauw on


Courageous leadership in difficult times, Sara Wachter-Boettcher


  • @jamgregory: I'm going to add this to my reading list: https://t.co/IBnljZTSmb We're all kind of in a holding pattern - we're depleted, overwhelmed, anxious, struggling, just getting by. Yes... yes to that! #LeanAgileX

I am depleted
I need rest -> Do less


I am a leader
I need to make change -> Do more

Either/Or thinking

2020 is unbearable vs I have it good

  • @jamgregory: The binary is comfortable. The binary keeps us stuck. #LeanAgileX

Either we diversify or we hire the best.
But diversity helps hiring the best.
We don't know what the best is.
We are hiring based on an outdated view of what is the best.

  • @jamgregory: "We could hire a diverse team, but we'd have to lower the bar."
    It's often shown as a binary between hiring diversity and hiring the best.
    It misses the granularity - it's not an either/or situation. #LeanAgileX

  • @jamgregory: The binary is comfortable.
    The binary keeps us stuck. #LeanAgileX

Prioritize our public health vs Prioritize our economics

This is the binary I don't want to live with.
We need more options.

Either/or thinkig is a habit of white spremacy becuase it often preserves the status quo and stops us from imagining new ways of being and doing. It creates dynamics of gridlock and stalemate. ...
- Kad Smith, CompassPoint

  • @jamgregory: Either/or thinking preserves that status quo, and stops us thinking of different ways. It creates gridlock and stalemate. It's "us vs them".
  • Kad Smith, CompassPoint #LeanAgileX

Racist vs Not racist
it is very easy to want to be in that Not Racist category, especially as a white person
we are unable to think about it
if you only have these two categories pushes you to one of both

we are not able to dismantle this, and so you keep status quo which white supremacy loves

  • @hgdrury: Considering binary thinking as a tool of white supremacy- we deserve more options! Thought-provoking endnote from @saraannmarie #LeanAgileX 👇👇👇 https://t.co/ikG2oRFT1j

Binaries worth breaking:
1. keep pushing vs stop moving
2. powerful vs powerless
3. everything vs nothing

Keep pushing vs stop moving

Should I send my kids back to school?
What's more ethical, protesting or staying home?
Is it ok to travel for holiday?

  • @jamgregory: Right now, we're actually making a lot of high stakes decisions (shall I get a haircut? should my parents visit? should kids go to school) with low quality information. This can lead to decision fatigue - and when we're fatigued, we make the worse decisions. #LeanAgileX

We are making high-stakes decisions using low-confidence information.
=> Decision fatigue is real

When we are fatigue, we make worse decisions.

another binary: make bad decisions vs make good decisions
=> stop to make decisions

What we tell ourselves vs What we're saying ourselves: we don't know

Avoiding decisions at work ...
- lowers self-trust and team's trust in you -> you become indecisive
- reduces the number of options available
- creates confusion - left without a decision, individuals make conflicting ad hoc choices
- delays forward progress
- limits time available to implement a solution

We need the courage to make choices where it really counts - and stop ourselves from running in circles

Decisions create clarity
Clarity lowers stress and improves focus when we have so many unknowns

  • @jamgregory: We shouldn't decide everything right now, but even small decisions can create clarity.
    Clarity, in turn, can then lower stress and improve focus. #LeanAgileX

  • @hgdrury: Can we only make bad decisions or no decisions at all? Absolutely not! Love this slide from @saraannmarie at #leanagilex https://t.co/iQKJZvBqXN

Powerful vs powerless

The more accustomed you are to solving problems to getting things done, to having a routine, the harder it will be on you because none of that is possible right now. ...
-- ...

I feel personally attacked

=> binary: powerful vs powerless
we almost always put ourselves in the powerless
it is also status quo, you don't have to do a damned thing, we are powerless

A different question: where do I have power?

  • @jamgregory: Instead of saying "do I have power?", ask "where do I have power?" It's subtle - a yes/no question will usually go to no. An open question like "where do I have power?" leads to a journey of discovery. #LeanAgileX

Stuck: I don't have a seat at the table I'll nave change my organization
vs Possible: what can I do to make change from whereever I'm sitting today => leadership

Example: GitHub to replace "master" with alternative term to avoid slavery references.
a lot of organisations start looking at racist terms in their products

Each tiny shift creates space for more change, @saraannmarie
=> makes space for other people to shift norms, to speak up
=> for more changemakers
the more voices we have, the more power we have
we all have a little bit of power and that power builds up

Stuckness breeds burnout
Possibility gets us unstuck

Everything vs nothing

Being an anti-racist is not convenient ...
If it doesn't cost you anything, it's not enough
-- Rachel Rodgers, CEO of Hello Seven

Humans have a strong aversion to loss!

fear of speaking out is loosing future career possibilities

All workers worry about their future, but the ambitious people drawn to tech are almost pathologically reticent about foreclosing future opportunities they don't even know about yet
-- ...

We are so afraid of losing something, we risk nothing

  • @jamgregory: Humans have a strong aversion to loss. This is something that comes up so much when talking about anti-racism. That by somehow being anti-racist, you will lose something. #LeanAgileX

what is at stake when speaking up, what stops you?

  • your job or your feelings?
  • your financial stability or your pride?
  • your safety or your sense of status?
  • your community or your elite access?

Reject the binary between Everything vs Nothing
when we look at it, we go to the safest spot: risk nothing

  • @jamgregory: When it comes to thinking about speaking up, we're most likely to fixate on the worst thing that could happen. Instead we should look at the spectrum of outcomes - what could the best case be if I speak up? Or, what are the actual likely outcomes in the middle #LeanAgileX

The worst-case scenario is rarely the most likely case
=> We create cognitive distortion the the more you fixate, the more it feels likely

Spectrum of outcomes: Worst case <----> Best case
What are more likely outcomes? they are in the middle: not gres, so-so, pretty good outcomes

For each outcome:
- what could you do to prepare for or prevent that possibility?
- how would that outcome impact you or those around you?
- what are some ways you could mitigate that impact?
=> it allows you to see multiplicity, all the things you can't see when focussing on that binary

Catastrophizing breeds helplessness
Outcome-mapping builds courage

Toward abundance

away from binaries
going to places where you have more choices

Binary thinking is armor
It protects the status quo
It shields us from growth
It separates us from each other. I prevents to build community or building hope.

From that space we can not build shared value or shared progress

It creates:

White supremacy knows that when we're exhausted we remain obedient. And we're overworked we tend to stay quiet It rewards us for our silence, for not pushing back, for not questioning."
-- Desiree Adaway

Justice and rest are not in competition
They are inextricable.

It is ok to say no to overwork, to status quo

Be slow. Let this distract you. Let it change how you think and how you see the world. Because world is our work. And so, may this tragedy tear down our faulty assumptions. ...
-- ...

Break that binary, what is possible from here, right now.

Sketchnotes by @twalsh92