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News & Views from Esther Derby

I’ve been saying for a couple of years now that I would like to travel less. I have my wish, though I had not imagined it would come about this way. Like many people, I’m staying home during a pandemic, trying to work.

I’m responding to uncertainty, figuring out how to stay connected. And of course, I’m having Zoom meetings. Many Zoom meetings.

In one such meeting, I was on a panel regarding remote retrospectives. One of the panelists posited that people from earlier generations (I'd guess she was in her 30s) don’t take to these new collaboration tools. To which I say, “Rubbish.”

I’ve become the “Zoom guru” to a group whose average age appears to be over 70. They may be new to online collaboration tools, AND they are embracing the possibilities. 

The problem isn’t age. It is relevance and familiarity. 

For example, I have yet to grasp how Snapchat solves a problem for me, so I haven’t invested time in it. I spent an hour watching TikToks and moved on. Zoom, however, was obviously relevant to me. I’ve invested time learning it and I’ve been using it for years. Digital white boards and virtual sticky notes are right up my alley.

Before you introduce a cool tool consider what problem it solves for the group. Then help people become familiar with it.

  • New tech is fun for some people. Not so much for others. Know your group, and position a new tool accordingly. Be willing to articulate how it will solve a problem or create a benefit for the group, related to their work. 
  • Get to know the tools yourself, so you can answer questions. Practice, practice, practice. You don’t want to be fumbling around when you introduce a new tool. But don’t be too perfect. Showing that you are also figuring things out can give people confidence that their own fumbling is a normal part of learning.
  • Don’t introduce all the features at once.  Start with basics, and introduce more advanced features when they serve a purpose. Unless you are selling a tool, your meeting is not a sales demo. Tech should serve, not shine.
  • Make a visual explainer for basic controls. I don’t use the tool itself, I make a static image and circle or use an arrow to point out relevant controls. Run through it the first couple of times you use the tool if there is anyone in your meeting who is still learning it. Then stick to those controls for the next few meetings. Resist the temptation to do stuff with the tool because it is cool. 

I am grateful to have a bunch of bleeding edge tech adopters in my social circle. They introduce me to tools I might not have come across. They tell me what problems those shiny new tools solve for me. And help me become familiar--without any insinuation that I might be too old.

Problem Solving Leadership

We can't predict when the coronavirus will be a thing of the past. In my state, we are on Stay Home, Stay Safe until at least the first week in May.

Obviously, my public workshops for the next few months are on hold.

Don Gray and I are hopeful that we'll have a PSL class in the fall--if we can do so safely. We don't expect we'll be able to gauge that until early summer.

Usually, we open registration to the PSL First Notice list. (If you would like to be on that list and are not, drop me an email.). However, this time will be a bit different. People who were registered for the April class will have the first chance to register. Then we'll send to the PSL First Notice list. 

Remote Learning and Coaching

I may not be doing face-to-face workshops, but I am offering online learning opportunities and coaching.
Powerful Retrospectives

My Powerful Retrospectives workshop is still available to help you make retrospectives more effective.  If your retrospectives....
  • cover the same ground over and over
  • fail to engage all members of the team
  • don't accomplish a thing...
This online workshop is for you. You'll learn a format that supports a group to think, learn, and decide on actions. You gain strategies to engage everyone on the team. You'll learn why so many teams don't follow through on actions--and what to do about it.  Plus the course includes on how to have an engaging and useful remote retrospective.
Register for Powerful Retrospectives
Make the Most of Your One-on-One Meetings

Johanna Rothman and I teamed up to share how we handled one-on-one meetings when we were both dev managers. You'll learn a structure than enables meaningful conversation about work, career, and work-related problems. We'll share how a well-done one-on-one can be part of your management information system and help you do your job better.
Register for Make the Most of One-on-One Meetings

I'm now offering 4-week coaching packages. We'll spend the first meeting discussing the work issue you want to address, and create an adaptive action plan. In subsequent meetings we'll work (and adapt) the plan. You'll have a guide a sounding board to tackle a tough organizational problem.  Email me for information or use the link below to schedule a free 1/2 hour introductory call.
Schedule a free 1/2 hour call
Coming Soon

Don Gray, Jean McLendon, and I have created an online guided reflection based on Virginia Satir's Self-Esteem Maintenance Toolkit. The toolkit is a set of metaphorical reminders to connect us with our inner resources--courage, caring, learning and more. These troubled times are a challenge for all of us. The more we can access to our capabilities, appreciate, and support ourselves, the better able we'll be to cope creatively with the problems and stresses we face. 

We expect to publish this self-directed exploration in the next few weeks.

I'm designing an online course as a supplement to my latest book, 7 Rules for Positive Productive Change: Micro Shifts, Macro Results. The course will be available in two versions. You can take the self-directed version, which will include reading and assignments. Or, you can sign up to be part of cohort that will have asynchronous reading and exercises, plus weekly video calls for discussion, group exercises and deeper learning. With both, you will have a chance to learn and practice tools that will increase your scope and influence as a change artist.

I'll keep you posted!
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