Bad habit-freezone.

4 min

re.set - Training

How do we break bad habits which prevent us from reaching our potential? According to our methodology, it means regularly evaluating our performance and that of our team. To do so, we’ll use four verbs:  keep, improve, stop, start. Let's get started!

In companies that have transformed to Business Agility models, the review of objectives, tasks and initiatives is perfectly scheduled. At the end of the quarter, for example, it’s convenient not only to rethink the OKRs but also to assess how the team is working and what we need to change culturally to move forward and not lose focus on the customer.

Let's look at the combination of these 4 verbs:

Keep. It’s what we keep because it works. This includes the habits that generate value. Sometimes it may seem obvious, but when we look back, we should always write down on the blackboard - and in our heads - what we’re particularly satisfied with or what has been carried over from one quarter to the next. What is maintained shouldn’t be tacitly extended; it’s the result of a decision and must be renewed day by day, making it visible. In any company or project there are some things that work very well. And we must bring these with us when we approach another project, start a new quarter or change teams. It's what we take with us in our backpack.

Think about a job interview. They’ll not only ask you why you left your old company. Most of all, they'll want to know what it is you do so well and how you learned to do it. So ask yourself that question every time a retrospection comes around.

Questions we can ask ourselves to identify what needs to be maintained:

  • What are the initiatives that work best?

  • What do we as a team not give up on?

  • Do clients consider these tasks a must that justify hiring us?

  • What always works, even if we change our objectives?

Improve. Room for improvement. Those of us who work in Agile methodologies like it the most. Because if anything characterizes an agile company, it’s the ability to leap forward. Continuous improvement is the key to any business project. Let's review every day, every two weeks and every quarter how to advance the objectives and improve ourselves as professionals. Without beating ourselves up, because it isn’t a question of looking back but instead of anticipating what’s coming.

When it comes to improving, it’s important to celebrate progress, however small:  adopting more productive and “healthier” habits can take months, even years, so it’s important that we celebrate any step in the right direction. Positive reinforcement of new behaviors will be the key to repeating and consolidating them.

We can ask ourselves, for example, things like the following questions:

  • Have we spent time auditing our tasks and improving their efficiency?

  • Do we apply the same levels of excellence to everything we do?

  • Are we still using the same tools and technologies as we did 1 year ago, as we did 2 years ago?

  • Are new hires performing as expected?

Stop. Let's identify toxic routines and things that haven't worked:  say STOP and don't give it another thought. In the movie WALL-E the endearing robot has been doing the same thing for centuries, until he falls in love with EVA and everything changes. One of the blessings of Business Agility is that we no longer work by inertia and “We've always done it this way”. If a regular meeting that we thought was necessary doesn’t work, if an initiative doesn’t contribute and is only holding us back, if a project doesn’t add value to the organization or if a training session is a waste of time, we have to say so and move on. First, of course, we have to analyze what went wrong and if there was any room for improvement.

  • Is there something that keeps getting in our way because deep down we don't want to do it or nobody knows why we do it?

  • What bad habits have we detected in the team that it’s time to address?

  • Are there tasks that we have taken on that do not add value to the customer or the team?

Start. Earlier we said that what we like most in agile companies is the integration of the verb improve. But the moment we are all waiting for is when we start a new project. To inaugurate. To undertake. To innovate. Create new routines that add value because there is a change on the horizon, a challenge to overcome or a new organizational goal.

Some of the questions we should ask ourselves when giving a “green light”.

  • Have we been assigned new tasks and a larger budget or have we expanded the team?

  • What is expected of us with these changes?

  • What is new in the market and in the industry that challenges us?

  • Is the end of a customer contract approaching and should we pull out all the stops?

The importance of “not doing”

It’s clear to us:  we work by objectives and we achieve them with initiatives. When we look back to analyze good and bad habits, we get into that abstract but important concept called CULTURE. It isn’t a bad thing from time to time to stop and think about how the organizational culture is working in our company and for our team, preventing us from getting rusty.

One of the most common mistakes is that we focus too much on “doing”. And sometimes we simply need to “not do”. Dedicate some time to pause and reflect, to find silence and balance. That is why from re.set we recommend dedicating time, for example two hours a week, to what we call focus time.

  • Individually: it’s about getting away from our usual work space, even from the computer and cell phone, with a pen and paper to simply reflect, think and devise anything not connected with the day to day. A few weeks ago we told you about Walkstorming, we suggest you give it a read because there are some interesting ideas. "Stop doing" can be the best preamble to a new initiative and process of improvement. It can also lead to innovative and even groundbreaking ideas.

  • Collectively: both good and bad habits are contagious, as we know, but they can also be corrected. It’s important to talk openly about our work goals and the habits we’re trying to change. This can create a network of support and accountability. And we need to be transparent with the progress of our new habits and ask for feedback from others. Routines such as sharing the evolution of department or team objectives outside the department or team, what we call the “Gemba Walk”, can be good exercise in opening up to the rest of the organization and forcing ourselves to present information in a certain way in order to receive concrete input and seek the help we need to move forward.

In your organization do you do this stop & go of good and bad habits, or what do you think about this type of periodic review? One of the first transformations we detect in the companies we work with is driven by this list of keep, improve, stop & start. It's amazing how quickly crippling inertia is overcome!

Should we hit the start button?

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