I just finished the first week with my team for Project 2020. I’ve genuinely enjoyed being their Scrum Master and it’s fascinating to see what issues are coming up.
My mentor Dr. Michael Hewitt-Gleeson ( who got his doctorate on selling under Dr. Edward DeBono) has a great story in his presentation on sales people.
He says it’s much easier for a salesperson to tell their manager they haven’t been able to speak to the client (and actively avoid doing so) to get a decision.
If they actually tell the Sales Manager they did not get the deal. They feel the pain (literal pain if their manager is like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glennross) from the sales manager and the disappointment they feel of failure to close the deal.
So it’s much easier to keep the (false) hope of avoiding the client and hoping the deal is still alive.
It never is.
Michael jokes this is why movie theatres are open during the day. It’s for all the salespeople who are avoiding their clients.
I knew I’d have to be vigilant early in this process (which is not my natural state!) early on in this process to set the tone. The fish rots from the head and all that.
It will be easier for my solopreneurs to not report than submit in a daily standup of disappointment. This will of course defeat the purpose of the project.
By reporting on their daily issues, I can actually jump in right away to help them with their issue with a well placed question. If they can just accept the process of reporting in and realising they are not submitting below-par homework. We can really start to move forward.
I’m loving doing stand ups through Slack. The ability for my ScrumStyle team to report in their Timezone instead of someone drawing the short straw and having to stay up late or ridiculously early.
Ask any coach of coaches, one of the first things they’ll teach you is accountability is the third rail of coaching. Touch it and your career will be short and painful.
Your clients will say they desperately want accountability but the moment you start holding them to account they slip straight into “I forgot my homework mode” and it’s easier to sack the coach than face their own shortcomings.
Can’t blame them – it’s very human to blame yourself only if every other possible excuse has been used.
So no accountability in coaching.
The latest research insists accountability is a crucial aspect of any successful endeavour. This got me thinking and this thinking made me perplexed.
I’m really lucky to have gotten to know many of my students really well. They are great people (I mean they chose me to coach them so of course they have exceptional taste!).
In every other area of their life they are the most reliable and accountable people you would ever meet. Amazing Parents, goto coworkers and significant contributors to family and community. In other words…
They are incredibly accountable!
The only place where they become shaky, unreliable and anxiety ridden is when they are working on their dream business. The thing which will allow them to level up their level of contribution in all areas of their life.
If they treated their children like they treat their new business building they would have a visit from the appropriate local authorities!
“Hey I collected the kids two out of five times this week” that’s cool right…
Why does this happen – I have some theories.
First, as much as they want their business to work , when some out of the blue event comes and disrupts life (and it always will) the new business is the first project overboard.
You can see why this makes sense, neglect your day job, you don’t get paid, neglect your family and kids and it has life long negative consequences. It makes sense to drop the new business, no one is affected.
Trouble is life happens and you never get the business to the point where you have others relying on you to make their pay check and feed their families. This is when accountability kicks in for your venture!
But between business idea and first employees you are very happy to put baby (your business) in the corner.
Second Theory – Dickensian Accountability Practices.
Most of the accountability practises and negative associations were burned into your pchyche in your many years of schooling. School was designed to get you ready for life as a subservient being on a factory line at the beginning of the Industrial Age.
When coaches try “School” style accountability, it’s not a surprise it backfires. Accountability practices when at their best lift everyone up and set up a cycle of constant and never ending improvement – not the shame and embarrassment of being singled out and disciplined for not doing your homework.
Trouble is these modern accountability practises really needs a team to be most helpful.
There’s the rub when we start out we are soloprenures.
Third Problem – You Are Bad For Yourself
This is the third issue – to practice effective feedback and modern accountability you can’t do it by yourself. If that voice in your head is anything like mine it’s a pretty harsh critic. The resistance as Steven Pressfield so brilliant identifies in The War Of Art. Will do anything to keep you from you’re calling.
One of my favourite things when I do Recipe Live events is when I get students to give each other modern feedback. So often, an Idea the inner critic has written of as rubbish is loved by your table mates. The smiles are infectious.
It’s insidious, the very thing we love about being our own boss, is the very thing which is agitating every effort for you to succeed with negative self talk and distorted, emotional analysis.
I’m running an experiment right now to see if we can bring accountability to entrepreneurs in a way that is uplifting and not draconian.
I’m acting as a Scrumaster to these entrepreneurs it’s early days but I like how things have started out. I’ll be sure to keep you updated.
So for the next six months I’m acting as ScrumMaster for 30 odd crazy souls.
It’s going to be interesting!
My job as Scrum Master is not to look at what they are doing or advising tactics and strategies. Our focus is on the underlying systems which will determine their success or failure over the next six months.
We Don’t Rise To The Level Of Our Goals, We Fail To The Level Of Our Systems
There are five systems which will determine their success.
They all signed up to have me as their Scrum Master to hold them accountable. This usually does not end well….
But… This is not “Did you do your homework?” accountability.
Based on a bunch of new scientific research we are going to use the latest tools and methods for accountability. As solopreneurs we need accountability but we also fight it as well! My hypothesis is these new approaches will give us the accountability we need.
I intend to document what I find out here in the blog. This in itself is an example of an accountability system
The first thing I noticed – the “Recipe” system.
Most of these legends of the future are just starting out on their business.
Quiet a few of them have tried and failed to get their business going many times. In other words, they are just like you.
A “recipe’ is a plan, blueprint or course you use to build your business.
I use recipe deliberately – it’s a metaphor.
If you’ve never cooked a sponge cake before you need a recipe. A set of ingredients and a step by step guide to help you bake the cake. Even with all this, you might still end up with more flapjack than fluffy sponge cake!
But if I just drop you into the kitchen and say I’m hungry – make me something to eat. The person who has never cooked before is in real trouble.
Here’s the thing. When I asked some of my team what recipe they were using they were able to name it specifically. I’m using Liam Austins Virtual Summit, I’m using Ed Dale fundamentals, I’m using Todd Brown E5 etc.
This is good – as their Scrum Master I know they have the recipe to follow and even better they are using a “recipe” that has been tested in the real world and is appropriate to their level of skill.
I can smell trouble once they can’t name the specific tested recipe they are using. If they’re a Masterchef with a ton of successful dishes behind them they can totally freestyle because they know the corner stone of any dish (Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat in case you were wondering!)
My students are not master chefs.
I was speaking with a 1-1 client earlier today and they have constantly refused to call a specific recipe and the result is constant overwhelm. As their coach this is my problem. I told them they needed to name the specific recipe they were going to choose so I could actually help them!
They had bought so many courses they kept trying to mix and match, pull pieces from one course and another. It’s a bit like trying to cook our sponge cake from above and add in elements of a lobster bisque. Not a great idea!
If you can’t name the specific recipe you are using to build your business, you are not going to have a business. So my job is to make sure my team has a recipe system in place ASAP.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Can you name the specific recipe you are using to build your business?
Is it proven for someone of your experience (some plans work great when you already have a reputation and an audience but would flame out for a beginner)?
If you can’t name your recipe – you are not going build a business.
UPDATE: Something else I noticed after drafting this article. Not only do you need to name the recipe, you need to name the creator of the recipe.
For example, It’s not enough to say I’m following an “affiliate marketing recipe” – who’s specifically. If you are a beginner, it’s insane not to follow a proven tested recipe. I found that a couple of team members were following recipe’s where they could not name the creator.
If you can’t name the creator, you don’t have a recipe.
As my team members Scrum Master – I know vagueness is death.