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Like most of the pillars, I always claim this one’s the most important.  A coach constantly creates a space and invites people into it. If you’re just starting out as a coach, inviting is the pillar for you to start working on.

There are three parts to inviting:

  • the easy part: throwing a terrific party;
  • the hard part: making sure there is a place for everyone who comes;
  • the other part: building it into a team-wide state of mind.

Let’s take that a step at a time.

Throw The Best Party You Can

(With No Sex Or Substance Abuse)

(Leave it to me to have to mention the excluded activities. But if I was telling this to me, I’d have to be explicit like this, so I thought I better tell you. Remember, this is a party at work.)

What do great parties have, people? Well, there’s food, there’s conversation, there’s party favors, there’s games, there’s most of all a glow that surrounds the whole thing.

You want more? Try a learning lottery, or have a beer o’clock at a strange time (bowling at 10:30 am?). Leave tricky puzzles and lots of soft throwable stuff laying around.  Get a decent mascot. Play poker or bridge or hearts or go fish or war every Monday evening where people are allowed to DJ. Take a page from Google: by a few hundred dollars worth of Lego. Hire a dance teacher to come show folks how to dance.

Relax, this is the easy part. If you can’t think of the right thing, hell, ask your team! They’ll have ideas and they’ll share them.

Milton's Are Real

Milton's Are Real

Make Sure Anyone Who Comes Fits

This is the hard part.

Here’s a fundamental rule from the openspace movement applied in my usual garbled & twisted way: the right people are here.

Milton, like many icons, is only funny if he isn’t real. In the world we’re trying to make as coaches, the overwhelming majority of Milton’s have the capacity to become excellent teammates, but they’ve lost this knowledge about themselves. It’s critical that we help them to remember.

If you’re throwing a party, and someone comes in, even a Milton, you have to find a place at the party for him.

It’s easier if you don’t go into it with  pre-established ideas about what ‘jobs’ are available in the team. Don’t be afraid to just ask your would-be Milton what part of the job they like the most. Or ask other teammates.

Make A Team-Wide Tradition

As usual, we’re trying to become unemployed, at least on the current team. All the work is wasted if you don’t create from it a team that can sustain the vision when you’re gone.

This is just catching the team doing something right. When you see a party-behavior that actually seems to work, then do more of it. It’s very easy to just reinforce the good ideas and let the bad ones just drift away.

Okay, new comment game: Who’s Got The Best Inviting Idea?

Next:  A New DoubleDawgDare! ‘Cuz That’s How I Roll

One Response to “Coaching Pillar: Inviting”

  1. The inviting idea that I’ve been finding helpful is “try it”. Engineers can be a critical bunch. They hear a new idea and immediately start shooting holes into it, the usual objections to smaller stories, TDD, pair programming., etc. After trying to give rational answers to their objections, I usually invite them to “try it”, then they can find out for themselves. They can come to the party for an hour or two, they don’t have to commit to staying all night.

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