Personal Agility for More Potent Agile Adoption


beings, go through when we avoid responsibility and destroy the ownership behavior essential to self-organizing teams.


Figure 1: The Responsibility Process

Imagine you're leaving home for a critical meeting. You're not late yet but you have no time to lose. You grab your laptop bag, reach for your keys, and... they aren't there! What's the first thing that crosses your mind? Who moved my keys? Or, honey - did you take my keys? Regardless of the exact words, most of us instinctively look for someone else to blame when something goes wrong. This behavior is a strategy we use unconsciously to avoid taking responsibility for our situation. (In the diagram, you are on the bottom behavior - laying blame.)

Now, imagine you arrived at the meeting. You're five minutes late. As you walk in the door, what do you say? quot;Sorry I'm late, I lost my keys?quot; Or perhaps, quot;Sorry I'm late, traffic was bad?quot; Why not stop at quot;Sorry I'm late?quot; Why continue with an explanation? According to Avery's research, the next instinctive response we have once we escape blame, is to justify. It's not my problem - the universe is at fault.

When we get past blame and justification, the next natural response is shame. When coming from blame or justification we externalized the problem - we believed we had no responsibility for it. When we get to shame, we now acknowledge that we're part of the problem - but instead of taking constructive action, we beat ourselves up. Regardless of the   words out of our mouth, we're flogging ourselves for blowing it again. This is not a resourceful state of mind; this is another detour keeping us from responsibility.

When we get past shame, we have one more way to avoid responsibility - obligation. An example: quot;Honey, I'm sorry I won't be home for dinner tonight. I have to join the boss for dinner with a client.quot; No you don't have to go to dinner with the boss - you choose to. You own your life. You make your choices. Obligation is rule following behavior - using explicit or implicit rules to relinquish your ownership of your life. This doesn't mean you should go home for dinner. It means you should be conscious of your choice.

Assuming we get past each of these potholes, we find ourselves at responsibility. This is a state of mind where we take ownership for our situation. If things aren't as we prefer, we take action to change them. This state is the starting point for personal agility.

I want to be more responsible, how can I do it?
So you've decided you want model responsible behavior - now what? There are three keys to adopt this process in your life. First you must have an intention to act from a position of responsibility. Avery and McCarley's research suggests that our NATURAL response is not responsibility; the intention alone isn't enough. You have to learn new behaviors/responses. Therefore, the second step is to become aware when you are coming from any of the non-responsible states. For example, if you hear yourself saying quot;I have to....quot; then you are probably in the obligation state. Third, when you find yourself in one of the non-responsible situations, you must confront yourself with this issue. It is as simple and as difficult as this. [ii]

My teammates are stuck in blame, what shall I do?
One interesting aspect of the Responsibility Process Model is that it can only be self-applied - period. If your teammate (or worse your spouse) is stuck in blame, they do

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