Mush – Not a Healthy Team Diet

MushA book has fallen in my path again. If you’re not aware of it, I’m a big fan of Jim and Michele McCarthy’s “Core Protocols“. They have a great podcast on their website. They did pioneering work in software development at Microsoft, which is documented in Jim’s book, the Dynamics of Software Development. That work encouraged them to break away from Microsoft and build their own team work research laboratory, which led them to their book, Software For Your Head.

Jim and Michele uncovered great software for human teams, they called The Core Protocols. The software runs in the minds of the team members, not in a computer. I’ve taken a few of their Bootcamps. It’s not what you’d expect from computer gurus. We played drums, we painted, we made art work, and we talked about our FEELINGS. Run for the hills! But it worked. It was an experience I had only had rarely in my entire career, where people felt inspired, creative, and most importantly, cooperative and mutual support flowed in abundance.

What’s this have to do with mush? It’s been a challenge to get myself to follow the guidance from Jim and Michele. What’s worse, I thought I had to get everyone else in my teams to take on the Core Protocols before they could benefit from them. What did Ghandi say? “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I knew that, but still, it was a challenge. It just seemed way out in outerspace, that if people share their feelings and just talk to each other with a little hygene, that magic will happen.

This new book that’s fallen on my path is called Clear Leadership by Gervase Bushe. I would not have read it and inspired a team of 8 people at SAP to read this book with me had it not been for Jim and Michele McCarthy. Part of their fantastic community of software developers, change managers, counselors, and managers, is a wonderful gentleman from Paris, Christophe Thibaut, who told me the book is fantastic.

The main theme of “Clear Leadership” seems so obvious on face value. What happens in most teams (and most groups of human beings) is what he calls “Interpersonal Mush”. We all make up stories in our heads about things. It’s what our brains are built to do. They do it constantly. Unfortunately, we make up fictions about each other without validating the stories directly. Trust is damaged, collaboration is impeded, and of course, productivity sinks. Bureaucracy has the saving grace of keeping people in line towards an objective despite this, but at a painful soul cost.

What I love about The Core Protocols and Jim and Michele McCarthy’s work is that it provides some very simple tools to get better at the four skills that Gervase Bushe identifies that we need to provide “Clear Leadership”. The four skills are self-awareness, descriptiveness, curiosity, and appreciation. When we practice these skills, it cuts down on interpersonal mush. And when we practice the Core Protocols, it does that too!

The Core Protocols helps you connect with your passion, wisdom, integrity, faith, the kind of nutrition a team needs to do great things. So let’s change the team diet, cut down on the interpersonal mush, and get some healthy virtue-vitamins into our teams.

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