Hello and welcome to my page, the meeting point of my activities. My name is Fede Andino and I’m working at something that I’ve named Culture Crafting. It’s not something very solid yet.
There’s a classic book. the Cathedral and the Bazaar. In it, there are two models presented for something that is built: a Cathedral, an organized vision of a particular mind and a Bazaar, an organic aggregation of ideas and people over time. My art is not a cathedral, nor yet a bazaar but rather a well-attended Inn at the crossroads of IT work, Management, Mindfulness, Agile, Lean and Storytelling. In time, it is my hope that it may be a bazaar or its even better cousin, the Souk: a vibrant place with a lot of tradition. But it is not there, yet. It’s just a cozy inn, at this time.
In this site I’ll post my work ideas, my pics and videos and also all the social networks that I’m currently working on.
Once, I was about to speak to many people, in a corporate environment, about Mindfulness. Someone in the audience raised their hand just as I had presented myself. I stopped and asked them what did they wanted to add.
—This is not one of the meditation-type thingies, right? The person asked me.
—I’m afraid it is, I answered as honestly as I could.
—Oh, I thought it was an affirmation-and-prayer thing; the person told me and got up to leave.
This is the first time I crashed against that dragon, the amorphous nature of the term Mindfulness. I’m not the first one: scholars like Chiesa or McMahan have stumbled onto the same issue. So, as a brief definition, I wanted to propose a quick definition of what Mindfulness is:
Mindfulness is a systemic, organized management of attention and awareness through meditation that stems from Buddhist techniques and focuses on emotions, physical sensations, thoughts, or a combination of those three elements.
So, why is it a system, organized management of attention and awareness?
Because you’re not letting things happen at random. Usually, within the mindfulness techniques, you restrict awareness to a particular sphere of inputs. If you’re focusing on your thoughts, for example, even if the instruction is ‘watch your thoughts come and go as clouds in the sky’, you are not focusing on your body.
Why do I restrict this definition to those that came from Buddhist meditation techniques?
Because most Mindfulness today, especially in the corporate world, is based on John Kabat-Zin’s MBSR program. This program is a medical adaptation of the Vipassana approach to Buddhism. If you have ever done a body scanning, a mountain visualization, Mindful Eating, Mindful Movements, etc, you have just done the same technique that Buddhists have been doing for the last 2.500 years, in a different context.
And why do I put this three focuses (four, if you mix them) on emotions, physical sensations and thoughts? Where is our spirit, our self?
Well… in neither Buddhism nor in cognitive psychology, there is a category like a capital-S Self or spirit. Since Mindfulness’ conceptual framework is Buddhist or Psychology-based, any technique or meditation that is called mindful will inherit one of those two frameworks.
Does that mean that spirituality has no place in a mindful practice? No, not at all. But once spirituality and religion enter the picture, we move away from scientific, corporate approaches to Mindfulness towards religious and/or spiritual practice.
You have crafted an elevator pitch Origin Story. Something that you can actually pull off the cuff, that can help you drive your brand.
But what can you do when you need to craft a longer story, not for improvised storytelling, but deliberate storytelling?
Let me introduce you to the greatest crossover in structures of the last hundred years: the three-act structure x the hero’s journey.
We’ll cover each more in-depth in the future, but let’s start with something actionable: crafting a longer-form Origin Story based on it.
We have to cover three acts, so the basic structure is:
This we could very simple summarize at the product level with:
How we created the product
Where we are nowBut let’s make it more interesting with a little of Hero’s Journey. Let’s reframe the Three Acts:
The Opp: You saw it. This is when you explain what makes the product or your brand different. It can be context; it can be the product itself. But this is you being bitten by a radioactive spider. It is what defines the story.
The Struggle: unlike the “how we created the product” story, here the focus is on what the challenges were. Was that it was so new? Did you face shortages in production? Was your particular brand seen as disruptive? The focus here is not only on the challenges, but in the overcoming of them. We want to tell the story of us triumphing, but that only has value in relation to the challenge itself.
The Product: After all the struggle, how did your product or brand change? You cannot have the same thing as when you began. It will surely have changed. Perhaps some products or some brands triumphed almost at the gate, but those were inheritors of other attempts. If you share not the product but the experience of the creation, it is easier to become invested on it.This is a very easy 1-2-3 structure, but it remains a classic for a reason. Keep it and you will see how your own Origin Story takes form.
Once you get it into the structure, check these six points to make sure your story will connect to your audience:
Tone: keep it light, keep it entertaining.
Truth: don’t exaggerate or lie. One person who catches you and there goes your audience.
Fails: Keep those occasions when you failed in. It makes the eventual success sweeter.
1st Person: telling a story this way resonates a lot more than the third person, since it sounds like a report. Telling in the 2nd person is trickier, but an interesting approach.
To the point: trim the fat. We should summarize things that repeat themselves. We should highlight things that require special attention.
Short: don’t beat around the bush. Keep the story moving. Aim at five minutes of total time.
Record yourself, first on voice and then on video. See how it plays. And if you like, share your Origin Story on the comments! Next time, we’ll focus on the Hero’s Journey and how it can help (or hinder) Storytelling. See you soon!
Let’s say that you’re a consultant. Or a salesperson. An executive. A teacher.
Someone who starts tomorrow at a new job.
What do all these activities have in common?
At some point, you will introduce yourself.
Now, you might think that is as simple as saying your name. But that’s not so; after all, there’s no second chance for a first impression, so if you botch it, you’re already losing some power in the eyes of the beholder.
Worse, it might not be what you say, but how you say it. So many people mistake a particular cadence and pronunciation for intelligence and expertise. Yes, a mistake, but one that will color their perceptions of you.
Luckily, we have access to a particular type of introduction that, repeated until it faded into the background of our mind, has power: the Origin Story.
There’s a reason Marvel, DC and Universal keep pushing new hero movies, with the Origin Story at the forefront: often it is both the most powerful, defining and profitable use of their highly focused storytelling.
How can we leverage this into our storytelling practice?
There are two ways that I teach to do this: a simple way and a more involved way.
Let’s go today with the simple way. This is based on our storytelling practice at IBM, which is heavily based on Shaw Callahan’s Putting Stories to Work. This way is a variation of the Solution Story Archetype and it is told within 3 minutes, so a pretty quick intro.
It goes like this:
1-The Idea: This is the beginning of the story. We should mention your name quick, but in passing, you want the audience to focus on your particular characteristics, which don’t include your name. Focus on a dream, an idea, or something that makes you stand out.
“Hi everyone, my name is Ivan and from a very early age, I was into meditation. I read as much as I was able and spent some time in a Zen temple.”
2-The Fight: any superhero worth their salt needs some conflict. Be careful not to over-emphasize this, but frame the conflict around your idea.
“But when I worked at office jobs, everyone thought that the same meditation, which made me happy and creative, was basically a hippie thing. I was at a Fortune 500, but every time I tried to take a break, it was non-productive time. This was a significant source of unhappiness to me.”
3-The Leap of Faith: at some point, you took action. You took that which made you different and had the courage to move ahead. Now, be gentle here: you need to let the actions speak for themselves.
“So I had to choose: follow what my experience told me or what I was told day after day. I quit my job and created the first consultant firm for Corporate Wellness in the city.”
4-The Payoff: this makes people interested in you. It should be something relatable. If your story is becoming an academic in an obscure field, people will struggle to connect to it. Make it simple.
“So now I can work at the same companies that before, but on my terms, making the office space better for everyone; by doing what I love.”
It’s easy, right? 1-2-3-4.
There are some tricks to it.
Before rolling this out, please do:
Start by writing it out. It can be larger than the example, but remember: only 3 mins of spoken lines in a relaxed voice.
Once you have it, edit it and try it out.
Keep the tone light and friendly. Get a joke or a smile when you can, don’t force it.
Time yourself telling it. Record it and listen to it.
Now, once you have a story that you think is good enough, practice it. You want to practice it to the point you can tell it off-the-cuff. You never know when it is going to be your turn. They have invited me into meetings “just as a listener” and suddenly I was telling who I was to boards of Directors. You don’t want to fumble or change the story once you’ve started. A confident rhythm and delivery is key.
This is a very simple, pre-made general Origin Story. We’ll cover soon the more complex, customized to your audience story.
One of the more complex challenges that we face in transformations is where the Agile Lead of the client is not fluent in Agile. Since we need to work with the Agile Lead / COE Lead head-to-head, it’s a key position for us.
In a perfect scenario, the Agile Lead is a mature Agile practitioner, but sometimes we have people who have received the ownership of the Agile dimension of the transformation with no experience. So, how can we transform this into an opportunity? How can we overcome the sponsor’s dysfunctional choice?
Before we can answer that, we need to distinguish the Agile Lead that we have to work with: are they an Agile Discoverer or an Agile Strikebreaker?
Challenge: support them to gain experience swiftly
Opportunity: Sounding Board
Tactical actions: Focus on both certification and hands-on laboratories
Agile Discoverer is an archetype that we run once in a while. It’s a lead that the enterprise sponsor thinks has the knowledge of agile and they don’t, or the right attitude. Either way, they do not have the experience necessary to help in the transformation.
This is an excellent opportunity: we can help them both gain the experience in Agile and in a transformation at the same time. Another advantage that this kind of Agile Lead has is that, being part of the organization but being relatively new to Agile, he or she can be a great sounding board for the opinions of the rest of the organization.
What can we do to empower the Agile Discoverer?
Pathfinding: We can create career paths and archetypes that map the ideal Scrum Master, ART, PO, etc. In that way, we can build up their general knowledge and also help them map certifications and courses.
Roleplaying: By existing a large experience gap, we can help them as consultants by showing them an embodied Agile perspective that they can gradually step into.
T3 (Train The Trainers): Being an Agile Lead, we probably expected them to coordinate and facilitate training. By focusing on a T3 approach, we can speed up their experience and quickly get to where we know if we’re going to need third-party facilitators.
The Agile Discoverer dysfunction is not a terrible situation; yes, it will probably require more work, but it is well worth it.
Challenge: attrition-based death of a company
Opportunity: Non-Violent Communication
Tactical actions: Reduce and contain damage while extracting yourself
An Agile Strikebreaker is a different dysfunction. This is not someone who has received a responsibility without having the means to uphold it. This is someone who is actively against Agile principles, and yet is theoretically their champion. Maybe there is a particular sponsor that wants the transformation poisoned and has prevailed to nominate them. Maybe they’ve lied about their qualifications or mindset and now it’s too late and they are the Agile COE Lead. But what it boils down is that they will undermine Agile principles and mindset while claiming to uphold them.
You can expect things like:
Asking for a commited, multiepic release plan with fixed dates
A focus on nonessential metrics
Manipulation of indicators that show agile maturity
Redefinition of roles and methodologies away from their accepted meaning to conform to a customized Agile which will tend to Waterfall
The result of this is not only complex for you; but for the company. Most Agile specialist are very in-demand. If you want to force them to work in a manner that is anti-ethical to their principles, they will leave en masse. This will soon reduce any profit that the company can generate and stall every single part of the transformation.
You also need to exercise great care in communication. Since the Agile Strikebreaker cannot let you advise to generate more agility, he or she will try to force and redefine every aspect of what you propose. From bitter experience, I know how difficult is to work with someone who lies through their teeth. A framework that allows you to remain professional and focused, like Non-Violent Communication, can be a great help.
Ultimately, what you can do with the Agile Strikebreaker boils down to the relationship that the sponsors have with you and with the Strikebreaker. If they are unaware that the situation is like this, there is a possibility that they are open to change. Here, clear reasoning and concepts are key; It should articulate the major thrust of the argument for a change in terms of the losses that the company will face if in the future, not only for the transformation but for any project undertaken under the guise of the “agility” which the Agile Strikebreaker espouses.
If the sponsor is aware of the situation, the best course of action is to limit the damage and slowly extricate yourself of the situation. It doesn’t matter why they poisoned the transformation. Perhaps it was an internal power struggle. Perhaps they signed and then they realized it was too much effort. The bottom line is that you are trying to swim with a heavy anchor attached to you. I have found that the best way to deal with these situations is to elegantly remove yourself from it.
Do you have other strategies to deal with Discoverers and Strikebreakers?
Let’s focus on the first step: finding a partner that has done it before.
Why? Why should you need a partner for a transformation?
There are several reasons for having a partnership in a Digital Transformation process:
You will not probably have the number of people who can leverage the Transformation within a reasonable amount of time.
You won’t also have dedicated resources, unless your business IS DTs (in which case, you are the partner)
Even if you have people who have been through a DT before, you need the experience that only comes after having done many DTs.
Ready-made content and training will reduce cost and duration of the DT.
But the more important reason is that a suitable partner can help you envision the transformation itself and how can you measure its impact, value and effort, reducing the resistance you’re going to face.
Because you’re going to face resistance. There’s no such a thing as a frictionless organization.
So, let’s say that you buy this. This is how you start:
First, of course, you create consensus on the leadership of the organization. I’ve seen more DTs that I can count derailed by having just the support of the sponsor. Everyone doesn’t need to agree on everything, but there should be a broad consensus that a Transformation it is both desirable and necessary.
Then, we move onto metrics: How are we going to know if we’ve achieved the DTs? Are we going to look primarily at methodologies? Are we going to be focused on Value? Time 2 Market? What are our driving concerns and pain points? We don’t actually need to list the metrics involved, but we need to have a rough consensus of what type of metric are they. They will guide our search in the next step.
The result that you want will dictate the search for the right partner. Looking for a focused, Journey-to-Agile short impact transformation? Then a good specialist provider in Agile Coaching can be a good bet. Bigger Enterprise Cultural Transformation? Find the experts with a wide base of people and experience in Enterprise Agility.
Once you have someone you think might be a good fit, you can do this to gauge their compatibility: ask them to tell you a story. In the past, when has a DT clicked for them? What were the challenges of the Client? Do they seem familiar to you?
You are trying to craft your own Origin Story and to see if the potential partner’s a match, you need to see if they have what it takes to help you.
Your Origin Story is the first artifact of the transformation. It will answer the first question anyone in the organization will ask themselves: Why, oh why, are we doing this?
And we’ll soon broach some structure ideas for the OS. But for now, you should be set to look for a partner.
At my first corporate job in the 1990s, I used to work on several projects with someone nicknamed The Futurist.
The Futurist was called that because, at the beginning of each project, he would calmly tell you: “You know, this project will go this way, it will probably crash because of this and we’ll be back here in three months.”
This was usually spot on. It wasn’t an ironic nickname. The Futurist’s prediction came to pass.
So, a couple of months, I asked him: “Then, why we do it at all?”
His answer: “This is the way projects are done.”
That answer never satisfied me. When I worked alongside The Futurist, he would work on things that he knew that were useless. In the projects, they would discuss everything perfunctorily and then push on ahead. When questioned, the usual answer was: how do you get experience if you don’t work, then?
Almost a lifetime later, this answer still rings hollow to me.
Experience, theoretically measured by seniority, is just not a matter of simply doing work. You can keep working and be able to forecast a project’s fate, like The Futurist could, but I wouldn’t call that experience. The Futurist had worked for a long time, but that work hasn’t translated into experience and seniority.
This translation’s not automatic. It takes time and effort.
We can think of the generating of experience as four steps; four steps that should be the base for all Retro ceremonies within Scrum, but even outside Scrum, they are precious.
The Four Steps are:
Do The Work: you need to put the time into doing things. You need to fail fast. You need to test your hypothesis. This means two things: getting your hands dirty and getting things done.
Reflecting Together: Every once in a while, reflect as a team. Yes, self-reflection is a vital part of your personal journey. But as long as you are in a team, working towards a common goal, reflection needs to be refined and validated between you all, like anything else.
Getting Feedback: Even if you do your reflection, feedback is the blood that drives improvement. Metrics, pulse surveys, business results. Crave them.
Implementing Changes: So, you have your feedback. You brainstorm, you reflect, you know what to do. It is vital that you do it. While seemingly a trivial thing, I’ve lost count of the number of groups that I’ve seen that know what to change, but never get around to change it. Don’t be like them.
These Four Steps are deceptively simple. What’s hard is the discipline needed to always implement them. But if you achieve it, you move beyond The Futurist into the Changer of Ways, the most important of the archetypes for a Transformation. In order to become that, change yourself.
Learn. Become experienced. Don’t accept things as they are, but always strive to learn. Don’t accept the future just because you see it. The big difference between The Futurist and the Changer of Ways is not the knowledge of what is coming. In that, they are matched.
The difference is on the experience and seniority needed to know that change is possible. And to get there, you need to create both those qualities out of the alchemy of work, reflection, feedback and change.
Lately, I just summarize it into four main points.
So, here’s my new answer to why do you need Mindful Transformations which you can count in one hand while saving the thumb:
Creativity: Innovation is the name of the game. Innovation drives business, creates legendary products, makes a difference. But there’s another layer to Innovation: Innovation geared towards your work process. And let’s be frank: innovation feels great. When we innovate, we can see the effect that the change has on long-suffered problems. If we pause and recognize the moment, we want more. But that’s a great “if”. Mindfulness gives your people the tools to empower themselves to recognize the feeling and amplify it.
Joy: Often, work is very dull. Even if you feel challenged by it, the continuous burn down and stress can sap your energy. And in a Transformation, this translates into resistance and disengagement. Once R&D’s are in place, every single action becomes an uphill battle. Mindfulness helps counteract the effects of R&D in your Transformation by introducing moments of connection and joy in the middle of the workday.
Future Vision: If the day-to-day business is a slog, there’s zero interest in knowing the future of the company. If the routine brings only stress, our capacity to focus on long-term goals becomes compromised. By introducing stress-management techniques, we regain the enthusiasm for the future of our work and we can engage in a more creative fashion again.
Fly: One thing that Mindfulness techniques specialize on is not removing or crashing against obstacles in our path, but making those obstacles the path. Not reaching enough ratio? Instead of trying to brute-force our way, agility can help by testing hypothesis via MVPs. Are our metrics too innocent? The inherent fuzziness of User Story Points can help us adjust. But one thing that all these actions require is Mindset. If we try to implement an Agile framework without working on the Mindset of the people implementing it… we’re going to crash and burn upon that land called That was not my mistake. Mindset is the key to Agile and Mindfulness is a tool to work it. Not the only tool, perhaps not the best, but one that’s reliable, proven and has a great number of practitioners.
So, what do you think? Is throwing the book at people a better approach? Does Mindfulness make sense in a Digital Transformation? Do we need to create Mindful Transformations?
This is, today, the most common and most risky type of transformation, post-pandemic, at an enterprise level.
Digital Transformations are always changing, complex beasts, but they have a couple of things that stay the same and allow us to group them together:
· They focus on moving from a location and paper approach to a digital remote one.
· Usually, we do them via a shift of methodology. Depending on the Enterprise itself to adopt a new methodology or to adopt a methodology. This results in changes at a cultural, organizational, and work stream level.
· The primary goal of most Digital Transformations is better client satisfaction, greater innovation, or a clear focus on efficiency.
Having defined a Digital Transformation, I will do an overview of what are the best practices and approaches.
This will be, of course, my experience and opinions.
I will first divide the Digital Transformation in four arbitrary phases, which I call A.I.M.S., which means:
· Aiming: The phase in which we plot our way through the Transformation itself and we align expectations and goals.
· Inoculate: we go hard-for-broke with a skilled team, to build the beginning of the Transformation and gather momentum with a series of pilots and proof of concepts.
· Measure: when we make sure that what we’re doing is having the desired effect or we correct it.
· Scale!: when we have found the correct list of recipes, and how to measure them, it’s time to deploy them Enterprise-wide.
I’ll be covering the first phase next (Aiming), but what do you think? Does this sequence of phases, the A.I.M.S., make sense?
It finally caught up with me. After successfully evading the Corona Crown for all the pandemic, after dodging every risky situation, a PCR found me positive.
Mind you, I already felt sick. Headaches, fever, body pains. The works.
‘Ok’ I thought ‘we should be alright. We are not at risk since we have all the vaccine coverage. This will just take time’. I learned experientially about the importance of vaccination through the application of mindfulness.
Just to be clear about something, before we begin: I’m not any kind of qualified medical doctor or practitioner. I’m not a medic, nurse, or specialist in any biological science.
I’m also not any kind of untraditional practitioner of health, like a Reiki devotee or a crystal healer.
My work is mainly as a Strategy Consultant, with a specialization in Mindfulness as a tool to generate both systemic and personal change in corporation and their workers.
I found interesting, as both a meditation practitioner and teacher, how to apply my awareness to the process of my sickness and healing.
There was a very interesting correlation between the experience of vaccination and sickness.
This is just a personal and singular experience, but I found it helpful to document it.
I have three vaccines which followed a pattern.
After the first shot, I returned to work. Slowly, a general feeling of dullness dawned, followed by headaches and body pain. I found out that I couldn’t continue working, not in any useful way.
I went to bed to read, thinking that I’ll be up soon. Then, the fever came.
I had a pretty strong fever until the small hours of the morning. After that, I could sleep. I felt tired, but nothing else.
Second shot. I did this on a morning. By midday, I felt headaches. I went to my bed, fearing the repeat of the first.The fever came right on cue. I struggled, trying to distract myself, but I had to wait for the fever to break.
Third shot. ‘Ok, Fede’ I thought to myself ‘you’re slow, but even you can learn’. I had the shot, then went straight to my bed. Fell asleep as soon as I could. Slept through the fever. Woke up feeling refreshed.
Then, COVID came this week. I found out that it behaved the way it was supposed to. It was the experience of the vaccine, but amped up.
Every day, the same pattern: wake with headaches, mucus, body pain. Fever started mounting towards the end of the day. If I fought against it, I couldn’t sleep until the fever abated. If I tried to relax and sleep as much as I could, I just sailed past it.
Lying on a bed is easier said than done. My body, at least, hurts once the twelve hour mark is past. With mindfulness of posture, and small stretches, when I could do them, I managed.
Our thoughts are the main thing. All those questions. When I’m going to feel better? Should I call the doctor again? Do I have to lie here feeling bad?
This is where mindfulness comes into play; to help both manage our expectations and to relax on the experience.
On the expectation side, yes, we’re going to feel sick. But that’s what we can expect, isn’t it? By framing our expectations against our experience of the vaccines and seeing a similar pattern. We can be sure that this is not going to kill us. It’s not a bridge that we haven’t crossed already; it’s just that the intensity’s a little higher, nothing more.
On the experience itself, mindfulness can help us to manage those things, like posture, that we can manage and relax ourselves to those things we cannot. I don’t think that anyone can be fully comfortable during COVID fevers, but one thing that mindfulness teaches is to be comfortable while being uncomfortable. We need to relax into the pain and the fever.
Is it a good time? No, not at all.
Will it pass soon enough if we relax? Yes.
I did what I could. I took the strategy of my third shot iteration and reused it for COVID. I slept as much as I could, going to sleep at non-regular hours; just when I felt the fever rising. And it worked like a charm: I woke up refreshed and soon I was back on my feet.
The experience taught me more respect for the heroes of this pandemic: the scientists and immunologists who created a vast array of vaccines in a short time. Of course, I know that testing has proved them in a laboratory setting.
Still, it amazed me to see how well they prepared me for the actual thing. Not only did they create defenses in my system to not fall to the virus badly. It trained me on how to take the best course of action if I were to be infected.
So, this is my brief, mindful conclusion: if you still haven’t fully vaccinated… please do so now! I know you might read many people telling you about their personal experiences. This is mine, and I’m telling you, not only for yourself but for everyone else: this works.
And if you’re already have, please join me in thanking all of those who made these vaccines possible for all! The unsung heros of these years. Thank you!