Orchestrator vs. Leader

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I came across a leadership podcast a few weeks back wherein there was a description of leadership that seems to fit the type of leadership that a ScrumMaster or agile advcocate needs to exude. I lost my notes on which podcast it is for the necessary attribution but the notes that stuck with me contains the following (paraphrased) content:

During a performance show, an orchestrator (conductor) is somebody whom everybody in the group looks up to, following every flick of the wrist for the correct entry into the symphony. The choreographer on the other hand only teaches the vision of the dance, corrects any mistakes during the practice sessions, and then sits back in the audience to see the dance troupe interpret the visions, sometimes in ways that even exceeds what was practiced.

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Image courtesy of freerangestock.com

The choreographer aspect seems to fit what the agile advocate needs to do. This follows the mandate that in an agile team the scrum master is a servant-leader, a person who influences without any direct mandate. For those who finds that hard to comprehend, it is the same type of authority that friends form over their experiences, wherein a select few of the pack is looked upon for inputs on what to do next. That only comes with trust that the “choreographer” knows what they are saying and that they will not lead the pack into ruin.

The only resistance is the inherent inertia that most of the corporate organizations still pine for the command-and-control structure which gives the “feel good feeling” that everything can be boxed into a specific plan. This makes organizations make more open to the idea of putting seasoned managers as conductors of delivery in order to control every aspect and cadence of the team. They are not entirely wrong but the unpredictability of the human mind and real life means they are also not entirely right.

The conductor can still be a person of trust but normally the conductor’s authority is proportional to their perceived reputation. The reputation is a double edged sword as that can be the initial hump that the team needs to overcome to start being comfortable with having the “conductor” as part of the team.

On Memories

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Personal memories are biased. They are, whether consciously or otherwise, what we have chosen to preserve in our mind for later recall. There is a kind of satisfaction when traipsing down memory lane but beware that sometimes memories encase the reality with the best interpretation we wish to see. We often hear that truth has two sides (yours and mine) and this gets more pronounced when we factor in the dulling effect of time has on memory recall.
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But what fun is it to go down memory lane, to revisit friends and moments that have made an impact to who we are.

SMH

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I saw this phrase in a social media comment : “idealistic and gullible”

Two words that are dangerous when put together. These words are what mobs are made of. The gullible aspect will feed the idealistic side with enough high the same way that adrenaline can mask pains and injury that would have triggered the common sense to stop the body from hurting itself.

It is not a matter of age but more of experience. Be idealistic. Don’t be gullible. Learn to recognize and keep the two apart. I know it is not easy as it took me a while to recognize it myself.

Of ponds, seas, hills and mountains

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Why settle for mediocrity when you always have the potential to be great? Finding yourself being the big fish in a small pond is a great feeling. However the intent on staying there is a disservice to yourself. Do not be afraid to start as the average fish in the open sea as that is where you will expand your horizons and discover new things about yourself.
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Truthiness

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Holding a ball in one hand in front of you illustrates the common fact that two or more sides of the truth can exist without negating other truths. This boils down to perception; and managing the perception of the other viewers.

My co-lead in the project was getting some reputation flak for his leadership style. When we talked about it he raised a good question: “I used the same tone and method you used a few days ago when you addressed the team. What makes my delivery different (and unacceptable)?”

It was good question because I agree that our leadership styles have a lot of similarities. How come one can get away with using that style while other people have a negative reaction? Is it the context/personality of the person using the style and the preconceived notion of the audience about the person that makes a difference? This makes me think of the social experiment wherein random people were made to taste cakes. In one experiment there was a tag price in front of the cake where the slice came from and one is expensive while the other is affordable. In one variation there are no price tags but one of the cakes were placed in a plain platter while one was in an ornately gilded tray. A lot of the people said they preferred the more expensive cake (or the one in the more expensive looking tray) better stating that it is finer and has a more chocolaty taste. The catch is that all cakes used in the social experiment were IDENTICAL.

Presentation and context may be the critical piece.

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