Paris, je t’aime

Once upon a time

My manager said to me, ‘The team thinks you’re doing a good job.’ After a short pause he declared, ‘And I agree with them.’ Then a longer pause. I suspected I was in trouble, but I wasn’t sure what for. He continued. ‘The thing is, I’m just not sure what it is you actually do.’

From Dawn to Dusk to Present Day

I’m reading a book described as an ‘intimate portrait’ of the current President of France called L’Aube, le Soir ou la Nuit (Dawn, Evening or the Night) by Yasmina Reza. I was surprised to learn that Sarkozy and I have something in common.

In a conversation with Yasmina about young people today, Sarkozy says, ‘Ce qui est un problème c’est quand ils deviennent indépendants et pas gentils, gentils c’est le plus important.’ (‘The problem with young people is that when they grow up they forget about kindness. Being kind is what matters most.’)

‘It’s nice to be nice’

That was the gist of the answer I gave my manager all those years ago when he quizzed me about why the team was convinced I was doing a good job. I remember glossing over how I did what I did because my manager graduated from the school of stick-and-carrot management (using the Command and Control Management method). He wouldn’t have understood about consideration for others. I knew this because he had previously expressed concerns about my apparently ‘weaker’ style of management.

Although I couldn’t openly admit to my manager that I worked on the principle of Putting People First back then, the team knew and that was plenty good enough for me.

Agile is all about values

Putting People First is also about Communication, Simplicity, Feedback, Courage and Respect. Most people I talk to about becoming agile almost always identify respect as the key value from which the others spring.

What’s less well-known is that respect wasn’t in the first version of the published Agile Values. Some say that respect was omitted because it was a given. Surely people know the importance of being respectful towards one another? But even assuming they know about respect, can we trust that they will always behave in a respectful way? Do you? Towards everyone? After all, everyone is valuable.

In a conversation with Pascal about the values at the SPA conference last month, we both agreed that there is a sixth value: Trust. I’ve seen trust, when combined with respect, empowers teams to grow beyond all previous prejudices and perceived limitations. Trust from a manager or team lead is crucial. Trust among team members is equally vital.

What did you do this week to improve the way you work? How can you show you trust your team more?

One Response to “Paris, je t’aime”

  1. Thinking for a Change » Respect and Trust, it goes both ways writes:

    […] Portia stresses the importance of Respect and Trust as agile values. Respect for people is one of the two core principles of Lean. […]

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