• joe@jhanderson.biz   
    (206) 351-5607   

  • My Approach

  • A Four-Step Recipe for Success

    1. DEFINING SUCCESS: Agree on intended business outcomes (velocity, satisfaction, engagement, initiative success) and metrics to evaluate impact
    2. TRAINING: Establish a shared team understanding and vocabulary related to mindfulness and its benefits for technology delivery
    3. TEAM IMPLEMENTATION: Adopt a set of mindful team communication practices, integrated organically into existing team processes and culture
    4. INDIVIDUAL CULTIVATION: Support individuals who want to bring mindful intention to their work in a deliberate way
  • Defining Success

    Purpose: Align mindfulness with existing effectiveness metrics

    Duration: 1-2 weeks

    As with any change initiative, it's important that workplace mindfulness implementation be evaluated in the context of business performance measures. The definition of "success" in the organizational environment should be the standard against which the impact of a mindfulness initiative is measured. Examples include: team velocity (for example, story points, features delivered, or defects identified); customer satisfaction (via surveys or usage data); employee engagement (via surveys or retention metrics); change initiative success (tool and process adoption).

    It's probably not best to introduce new metrics where metrics did not exist, specifically in order to "test whether mindfulness works". The point is to evaluate the impact of mindfulness practice on team effectiveness (and ultimately on business outcomes) as measured by means that have already been established. Trying to "roll out" mindfulness in parallel with new performance measures creates too many complications and can lead to confusion.

    However, an explicit association with measurable outcomes (including establishing performance targets) is highly desirable where possible. This helps put the mindfulness activity in a practical business context, and allows leaders and teams to assess what’s needed and what works in an objective and grounded way.

  • Training

    Purpose: Conceptual and experiential training for teams in mindfulness and its application to managing distractedness, emotions, change, and team dynamics.

    Duration: One 2-hour workshop per week for three weeks

    Introducing teams to mindfulness and business and operational benefits that come from improving quality of attention has an immediate payoff: it gives team members a framework for having more concrete conversations about the human issues getting in their way.

    A series of focused training workshops, approximately 6 hours in duration, is sufficient for a high-level conceptual and experiential introduction to mindfulness practice and its application to managing emotions, change, and interpersonal dynamics in a collaborative team environment. This training is the foundation for integrating mindfulness into the team’s daily work in later phases.

    To lead to a successful implementation, the training program needs to beyond an introduction to mindfulness practice. The program also needs to demonstrate the relevance of mindfulness to collaborative teams and the specific ways mindfulness can address delivery challenges.

  • Team Implementation

    Purpose: Introduce "minimum viable mindfulness" practices to team communications

    Duration: 3 calendar weeks (1-2 meetings) to define and initiate

    With the conceptual framework provided in training, teams can begin simple, small-scale and sustainable practices to improve attention during normal group activities: we might call this "minimum viable mindfulness." Daily standup or weekly cross-functional team meetings would be excellent candidates for this. The phrase "minimum viable" is important here: the practice should be both viable (embraced by everyone in the group) and minimum (use the smallest possible amount of the group's time and energy). The goal is to implement a practice that is so easy that it quickly becomes completely transparent and habitual - but so valuable that the team immediately notices if it doesn't happen.

    Here are a few examples of agreements a team might make to improve the quality of its attention:

    • Refrain from interrupting until the person speaking has finished their thought
    • Take one silent breath as a group between each person’s status report during a standup meeting
    • Make eye contact with the person who is speaking
    • Limit the use of devices while meeting
    • Before speaking, briefly summarize what the previous speaker has said

    Implementing a minimum viable mindfulness team practice must be done in a skillful way that fully accounts for the cultural norms of the group and the organization.

    Behavioral change initiatives tend to degrade over time, so care must be taken to get to a solid consensus on implementing minimum viable mindfulness, address any objections or concerns, and identify any “immunity to change” that may consciously or unconsciously stand in the team’s way. It’s also important to have a periodic refresher and checkin (perhaps quarterly) to evaluate how the practice is contributing to team performance improvements and make any needed adjustments.

  • Individual Cultivation

    Purpose: Deepen mindfulness practice for team members on a volunteer basis

    Duration: 4-6 weeks to establish a practice

    Minimum viable mindfulness in a team's culture establishes a baseline of stable attention. But continuous improvement in the quality of attention comes from individual commitment to daily mindfulness practice of some kind. Simple individual practices both within the workplace and at home brings increased stability of attention, and translates well to better attention even under stressful workplace circumstances.

    Individual cultivation of mindfulness is of course highly personal and can take a wide variety of forms, from personal study and practice to participation in mindfulness classes, workshops or retreats, to one-on-one work with a workplace mindfulness coach.

    Individuals who cultivate mindfulness bring benefit across their whole team:

    • If any one member of a cross-functional team achieves an increase in the stability of their attention due to daily practice, the whole team receives benefit because of the questions they ask and the insights they provide.
    • If a team leader (product manager, product owner, program manager, project manager) achieves this increase, the benefit to the team is magnified because of the leader’s role as facilitator and modeler of the norms of communication and behavior.
    • The greater the number of team members that commit to deepening their practice, the better the quality of attention of the entire team.