In this issue:
Have you met people at work who believe in zero-sum games, with one winner and one loser? “You must do my project. I don’t care about anyone else.” That you-against-me is an indication of a scarcity mindset.
Some people believe in the abundance mindset where, together, we create win-win situations. They tend to think that there are ways to collaborate to find a way for everyone to win. They often say things such as, “How can we make this work for everyone?”
Regardless of where you are in the organization, if you have an abundance mindset, you are a leader. You try to create an environment in which everyone can do a great job.
Here’s how you know if you work in a place with a scarcity mindset:
- People believe everything is resource-constrained. There is not enough money, people or time.
- People believe that there are winners and losers.
- Managers micromanage projects and people, instead of asking for results.
- Someone senior has the answers to whatever problem or challenge you have. You have to use the hierarchy to solve problems.
Here’s how you know if you work in a place with an abundance mindset:
- People have relationships based on trust.
- The organization ranks projects based on a project’s value.
- Leaders focus on results, not time or effort.
- Leaders expect performance, not bad news.
If you work in a place currently in a scarcity mindset, how can you move towards an abundance mindset?
Several years ago, I coached David, a development manager. He was frantic. All of his people were spread over many projects. He explained, “I’m not getting any traction on anything. Everyone is 100% utilized, but I have no projects finishing. Pretty soon, my neck is going to be on the line, and I’ve been doing what my manager wants!”
I asked, “Do you know what the organization needs? Do you know the top priority project?”
David was pretty sure. I suggested he ask his manager to be positive.
Then, he had a staff meeting, where he had everyone define their commitments for the next two weeks. What did they have to deliver in the next two weeks? What could they postpone? How could they deliver value on the organization’s top priority project as a team?
That meeting allowed them to create their project portfolio. After that, they met as a team three times a week to manage their interruptions. If they knew what the interruptions were, they could decide what to do about them. David soon saw patterns in the interruptions.
To reduce their interruptions, they created a project to write some documentation for customer support about installation. They created another project to fix some nagging defects. David approached the Test Manager to see if his team and the testers could work on projects as a cross-functional team. That way, they would have a joint approach to managing the software development.
If you have people 100% utilized, working on multiple projects instead of working in one project team, that’s one indication your organization has a scarcity mindset.
How did David move from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset?
- He started delivering value. The more often you deliver, the more people will trust you. Regardless of your position, use your influence skills to help your project team deliver smaller chunks of value often.
- He reviewed his results. Look at your results. How valuable are they? Can you make them more valuable? Are you working on the most valuable projects for the organization?
- He saw a next step to provide new results: working with the Test Manager for even more value. Provide your boss with results before he or she has to ask for them.
The more often you provide valuable results—the more often you deliver—the more you can influence the organization to move towards an abundance mentality.
Managers are not the only leaders in the organization. If you are trying to transition to agile, you know that you need leaders everywhere, at all levels. That’s what Gil Broza and I teach you in The Influential Agile Leader. If you liked this article about abundance or scarcity and its relationship to leadership, please sign up for The Influential Agile Leader. We have early bird rates for California and London only until Dec 31, 2014.
You can also catch my Exploding Management Myths webinar Dec 9, 2014.
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Do you need a friendly ear and some sound advice? See my coaching page for my packaged and customizable coaching services.
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© 2014 Johanna Rothman
Tags: abundance, leadership, management, micromanagement, mindset, project portfolio management, scarcity, trust, value, zero-sum game