Core Practices for the Antimatter Principle

Core Practices for the Antimatter Principle

When presenting the Antimatter Principle, some folks have suggested that it might help meet their needs for me to also present some ideas on how to go about applying it. In other words, some core practices.

I guess it’s the curse of the expert that makes me wonder how this could be useful, given it’s so obvious to me how to apply it (not least, having done so for the past eighteen years or more). After all, what’s so difficult about asking folks what their needs are?

I do feel uneasy about giving people “advice” – in the form of recommended practices – too. I find folks have an enormous potential for coming up with their own ideas – ideas much better suited to their own needs and contexts – given half a chance.

“When it comes to giving advice, never do so unless you’ve first received a request in writing, signed by a lawyer.”

~ Marshall B. Rosenberg

And, of course, there’s a huge body of work in Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication which can help with having productive dialogue focussed on attending to folks’ needs.

Anyways, before I put some time into explaining some relevant practices, I’d like to ask you, dear readers, whether you have any practices you use that might serve the Antimatter Principle? Would you be willing to contribute by means of a comment, a post on your blog, or even a guest post here? I’d be happy to collaborate to help you do so. I make a special plea to the Rightshifting Community in this regard.

Aside: For one of my own core practices – about which I’ve already written – see the post “Nonviolent Project Management”, which includes an example of said practice: “Stakeholder and Their Needs”.

– Bob





  1. Hi Bob,

    There is a practice that springs to mind which I use quite frequently: running a “Hopes, Fears and Expectations” exercise at the kick-off of a new project.

    In this project “inception”, I get all the stakeholders together with the purpose of relationship building, creating shared understanding of what we’re trying to achieve, what our roles and responsibilities are within the project, etc. I find the “Hopes, Fears and Expectations” exercise useful to help people think about, and share, the human emotions they are feeling at the outset of a project.

    We also revisit the stickies that people put up throughout the day(s) of the inception, and often find that the trust and understanding which has emerged in such a short time actually eliminates some of the fears. I’d posit this is a great result before we’ve even started the project 🙂

    I usually run this exercise right at the start of the inception, and make it clear that it is distinct from the project “nitty gritty” such as requirements, releases, development mechanics, etc. It’s really useful to find out what people really “need” at an emotional level from the project, and how we can help each other meets those needs.

    Does this comment meet your need for readers sharing practices that serve the Antimatter Principle?



  2. Hi Bob,

    As simple asking for Needs may seem, it often doesn’t work out well.

    I most certainly agree with the NVC approach, it’s good to build up a good relationship and understanding with the stakeholders. Whether a traditional business analysis approach is chosen or the most progressive game-storming session is done depends mostly on the mindset of the stakeholder group and how much time we’ve gotten to build trust.

    “Once you truly understand the need, you’re halfway to find the solution”

    I often see that people “forget” the more fundamental needs (those became habits or they gave up on getting those needs met), game-storming usually helps to “kick” them out of the habit and set the context 🙂

    Furthermore a challenge remains in visualizing the Needs in such manner that they represent the shared view of the stakeholder group and that we may build upon this vision (iterating and improving the quality as we go).

    Sometimes “political” needs spoil the true Needs, but that’s a different story…

    Look forward to see where this tread is going and to discuss at DareFest.

    Other valuable Experiences or Needs?



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