Monthly Archives: October 2021

I Don’t Give a DAMN What You Think

It’s all talk. And no substance.

As they say, “Actions speak louder than words.” In my book, anyways.


I have found that some folks are so attached to their thoughts, and their self-image as rational animals, that they fulminate greatly when their thoughts are discounted or dismissed. As if their thoughts were superior to any other’s.

I’m not a great fan of science neither. Cf. Feyerabend (2010). But I’ll take experimental evidence over opinion EVERY day of the week. Cf. Rother (2010)

So, please don’t EVER tell me what you think. It’s only ever pompous windbaggery.

I am however ALWAYS interested in how you’re feeling (and your needs, what’s alive in you).

– Bob

Further Reading

Rother, M. (2010). Toyota Kata: Managing People* for Continuous Improvement and Superior Results. Mcgraw-Hill. (2020.). How to say BS in giraffe | Nonviolent Communication explained by Marshall Rosenberg. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Nov. 2021].

Feyerabend, P. (2010). Against Method. Verso.

* “You manage things, you lead people.” ~ Grace Hopper


Let’s take a look at one (of many) nuanced distinctions between coaching and Organisational Psychotherapy: techniques.


Many coaches will suggest techniques to their coachees, techniques to make their lives easier, and to tackle certain challenges. For example, software coaches might hear their coachees remark that code quality could be better, and invite their coachees to look at TDD as a technique to help the coachees improve it. Or coachees might complain that their code is too difficult to change, and the coach might suggest looking at the idea of connascence, and the techniques derived from that.

Contrarywise, organisational psychotherapists will typically refrain from making suggestions, in this case regarding techniques. Instead, they are likely to ask open, Socratic-style questions inviting reflection, such as: “Are there known techniques techniques that might help improve code quality?” and “Are there ideas that might help with making your code more amenable to change?”

Clean Language formulations of such questions may help further:

Client: “We suspect we have some issues with our code quality.”
Therapist: “What kind of issues are those issues?” …conversation continues…

(Note: The above are rather contrived Organisational Psychotherapy examples, as such topics seem relatively unlikely in the context of Organisational Psychotherapy).


Of course, Clean Language and Socratic questions are not the sole domain of the Organisational Psychotherapist. Both coaches and Organisational Psychotherapists may move on a continuum from leading questions to open questions, and back. The distinction I’m trying to illustrate here is that coaches may tend towards leading questions, therapists toward open ones.

And rigid adherence to purely open (Socratic) questions may rankle with clients and coachees, who may just want a straightforward answer, from time to time. One skill of the therapist and coach both, is to be able to resolve this kind of situation to the best satisfaction of the client.

– Bob

Further Reading

Sutton, J. (2020). Socratic Questioning in Psychology: Examples and Techniques. [online] Available at:

Clued or Clueless

In all my career I’ve never met a manager or executive who had even a single clue about how to organise for and run software development.

Such folks spend all their time pretending they have a clue rather than spending any time at all on actually getting a clue. This is as Argyris tells us.

Let’s not be too harsh on them. They live within social systems which reward the appearance of competence, and punish actual competence. Real competence finds no reward except its own. And actually knowing what’s going on becomes a severe career-blocker.

Few indeed are the “healthy” organisations where competence in any discipline is rewarded rather than punished. How much more so in software development, where the excuses are many, as are the rocks under which to hide.

– Bob

Further Reading

Argyris, C. (1991). Teaching Smart People How to Learn. Reflections: The SoL Journal, [online] 4(2), pp.4–15. Available at:

Argyris, C. (2002). Teaching Smart People How to Learn. Reflections: The SoL Journal, [online] 4(2), pp.4–15. Available at:

Sea Change

Last week whilst presenting a session on Organisational Psychotherapy (and Memeology) at Lean Agile Exchange 2021 I noted that Organisational Psychotherapy is a “sea change for the software industry, and business more generally”.

Does the software industry need a sea change? Probably not. At least, not on the supply side. Long schedules and high fees make for a cosy business. But on the demand side? Customers of software development seem inured to delays, poor due date performance, low quality, high costs, and a host of other frustrations and dysfunctions.

Inured, yes, but not entirely resigned. Hence attempted adoption of new approaches such as Agile, SAFe, and so on. And yet such attempted adoptions fail in at least 80% of cases. This is hardly news, and compares with some 95% failure rates in attempted Lean adoptions (in manufacturing industries).

So, if for no other reason than moving the needle on success rates in e.g. Lean or Agile adoptions, some fundamental shift in approach seems necessary.

Or do you disagree? Shall we continue to bash our heads against the wall of methods, processes, practices and tools, seeing little to no improvement – or might we seek a sea change in approach? And if the latter, what might that sea change look like, entail?

– Bob

Musing on the above, I just found this interesting (to me) article:

Flattery isn’t feedback – it rarely encourages or inspires genuine confidence

And then there’s the whole issue of the judgmentalism inherent in praise (however sincere).

“In Nonviolent Communication, we consider praise and compliments a violent form of communication.“

~ Marshall B. Rosenberg

(Feeling a bit like being punched in the gut is my response to receiving praise or compliments).

Damning with Fulsome Praise

See also:

Nonjudgmental Feedback


LeanAgileExchange 2021 Conference Report

I’m concerned. I’ve been thinking that folks seem less engaged with my blog, Slack workspace, etc.
But the past two days have caused my to rethink somewhat. It’s been the 2021 edition of the LeanAgileExchange conference (virtual). And I’ve been seeing the same lack of engagement there as elsewhere.

Seems like indifference and lack of engagement is a more or less ubiquitous phenomenon, presently.

The Conference

Overall, I found the event rather, umm, flat. Which is to say, lacking in excitement, a sense of occasion, buzz.

I guess it’s really hard to translate a successful IRL format into the virtual space. Or so it seems.

Not that everyone, especially the organising team, seemed to be doing other than their very level best. Everyone I “met” was keen, courteous, helpful, pleasant and diligent.

The Content

With three tracks (I loathe multi-track conferences, whether IRL or virtual, BTW) over two days, we had some 28 sessions to choose from. I did my usual “butterfly” thing, and frequently exercised the Law of Two Feet.

Aside: I tend to treat all conferences as OpenSpace events, whether formally governed by the Four Rules, the One Law and the Two Insects of OpenSpace, or not, whether IRL or virtual.

The sessions I stuck with were few, but I did much enjoy a couple:

Most sessions were recorded (although not publicly available), and I have yet to catch up with a few I missed on the day.

The Hallways

Although supported by Slack, I missed the hallways and lounges of IRL conferences. I generally spend little time in sessions, much preferring to hang out in the interstitial spaces for pleasant and interesting conversations. I find Slack to be a very poor substitute, more useful as an intercom or public address system.

My Session

I feel driven to briefly mention my session – “CultureShift through memeology”. The three-track setup meant that few attended (some 20 people, IIRC, the conference hosting, I guess, some 200 attendees, all told).

And aside from two most welcome Q&A questions and a smattering of chat, zero feedback (so far). Aside from using the session as a mini book launch for “Memeology”, my key message was (as ever):

“Organisational Psychotherapy proposes a sea change for the software Industry, and for business generally. Away from methods, processes, practices and tools, and towards people.”

I truly wonder how many folks are even interested in a sea change, let alone feel the need for one. This session failed to answer that question.


As this was a ticketed (paid-for) event, I wonder how many people felt they received value for their money? Personally, as a speaker, my entry was complimentary (thanks! to the fine Software Acumen folks for that). Even so, attending was hardly (borderline) worth my time.

– Bob

%d bloggers like this: