Don’t let your entrepreneurial spirit wither and die on the vine

Don’t let your entrepreneurial spirit wither and die on the vine

I was recently having a conversation with an entrepreneurial friend of mine about some of the struggles he was having and something hit me. He’s clearly not treating his entrepreneurial spirit like a cash crop. The spirit is just like something you would plant in your back yard, it has certain needs that must be met in order to grow and flourish.

My friend was getting bogged down in the day to day grind and struggling to recharge his batteries. After listening to his problem I was able to quickly give him some advice on how to solve his problem. I simply told him “You need more Green time and less Screen time.” He looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language or had introduced some mind boggling concept so we dove into it.

Sometimes the easiest way to get a fresh perspective on things is to change your surroundings. I’m a huge fan of trying to get outside as much as possible. A little “Green Time” is a great way to recharge the batteries and take a moment to get away from the working grind.

One of the easiest ways to give your entrepreneurial spirit what it needs to thrive is get outside, change your perspective, get a little fresh air to help refocus yourself.

In today’s fully connected times no one is every really “out of the office” so its easy to get out on a walking meeting or get some green time and still be fully engaged in your work day.

 

Don’t let your entrepreneurial spirit wither and die on the vine, give it the Green time it needs

Agile transformation throughout Military History

As a huge military history buff I always find it interesting to stumble onto random waterfall vs agile snippets. Here are a few recent ones I wanted to share

 

In 197 BC at the Battle of Cynoscephalae a Roman army met the forces of Macedon. Looking back on the battle its hard to imagine how the traditional legionnaire tactics of the Roman military could deal with the mighty Macedonian Phalanx but the answer is much more surprising when viewed in the context of Waterfall vs Agile development.

At the time the Macedonian Phalanx was very much the unmovable object, very similar to waterfall development. From a command and control standpoint there wasnt much finesse to an army based around the Phalanx. Much like waterfall development once the battle started the Phalanx was a large unwieldy freight train that lacked the ability to pivot regardless of the environment around it. Macedonian Generals were often faced with new intel once a battle started very similar to how a Project Manager might field changing requirements while being powerless to make changes to the current project

The Roman army on the other hand organized itself into much smaller and more Agile manipular formations, with each commander afforded some battlefield flexibility to pivot and adjust as the battle unfolded. The hallmark of the Roman army as well as its greatest asset was the ability for a General to relay an overall strategy to each cohort commander and then once the battle begin each commander had the flexibility to pivot as needed as conditions changed, this very similar to how a product owner might deal with the churn and flux of requirements, directing the dev team on how to react to the changing landscape

 

Another great example of this can be found during the Battle of Trafalgar. Here Nelson took a smaller fleet up against a superior Franco-Spanish fleet. Again as in our previous example its very easy to draw some waterfall vs agile parallels

The Franco-Spanish Fleet under the command of Admiral Villeneuve looked to use its numbers advantage and relied on well established naval battle traditions. Information was very silo’d with only Villeneuve knowing the full battle plan . A plan he couldn’t share with his other captains ahead of time. As the battle begun to play out Villeneuve used a flag and smoke system to attempt to send his orders to fellow captains. A system that in the fog of battle proved impossible to follow

Lord Admiral Nelson on the other hand used a bit of an outside the box strategy in this battle. Not just in the way he deployed his ships but in how he communicated and shared his battle plan with his other captains. In the days leading up to the battle Nelson spent time with each captain addresses all concerns raised while placing great trust in each commander’s ability to ultimately make the right choice. When a captain challenged Nelson on the play Nelson famously told the captain “No Captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy” Nelson had patiently installed the idea in his own commanders that he allowed and, indeed, expected his subordinates to use their own initiative. The trust Nelson placed in his commanders to execute his overall strategy by whatever method they deemed best would become known as “The Nelson’s Touch”

 

It really does amaze me how often you can be researching something completely unrelated to business transformation and stumbled into some truly historic examples of just how long the age old battle of waterfall vs agile has been raging on!

 

The story of Proteus and Menelaus

I’m often asked how I ended up going into an Agile / Business transformation career, the answer is pretty simple, I just sort of fell into it and quickly found out it was something I was pretty good at. The story of Proteus and Menelaus always appealed to me and to this day is still a story I like to tell at the start of a new Agile or Business transformation.

 

Returning home after the Trojan war Menelaus’s ship was becalmed on the isle of Pharos, after spending 20 days waiting for favorable winds a Nymph named Eidothea explains that only Proteus can help Menelaus get home and that only by capturing Proteus will Menelaus ever get favorable winds to return home. Eidothea explains the only way to capture Proteus is by surprise and helps Menelaus hatch a plan to capture Proteus after he falls asleep. She told him there is a certain cave where seals sleep that Proteus goes to at dawn. Menelaus and two chosen men were to go there and hide among the seals and grab Proteus by surprise. They were to hold on no matter what form he changed into. When he stopped changing, then Menelaus could ask him which god was angry with them, then they could sacrifice to that god. Menelaus and his men snuck into the cave before dawn and grabbed Proteus when he came to look over the seals. He changed into animals and trees and tried to frighten them, but they did not let go.

 

This story always struck me as extremely interesting as Menelaus had to push past constant change while keeping a single goal in mind. This has always been a powerful story in helping drive home the perseverance needed to successfully transform a business.  During the transformation you might has to go through several stages each trying to throw you off course but the critical part is to always keep your end goal in mind and try to hold on for the ride!