A “Just Leadership Manifesto”​ to step into a new year

2020, A year of great opportunity for leadership growth 

During the beautiful spring time fo 2020, nature was generous with us, reminding us with beauty that life is what matters most, and that we, as our businesses are committed to serve life. The challenging period of 2020, when I experienced the richness of void, the place of infinite opportunities, has gave me an idea of creating a servant leadership manifesto. 

Leadership styles?

I am working on developing a servant leadership mindset, and I wrote the principles back in early summer. Then other moments of reflection came and I was thinking… maybe … it’s more a “hosting leadership” mindset manifesto… or… even better, an “inclusive leadership” manifesto. After all, I don’t believe there are multiple leadership styles. My definition of leadership is: capacity to live life with purpose and serve life with intention. Therefore, this is a just leadership manifesto as a gift for the new year. 

A Just Leadership Manifesto

Allow things to get done over getting things done

Welcome what comes over seeking for perfection

Listen rather over making statements 

Nurture a shared purpose over setting expectations 

Express “power with” over “power over” 

Support people growth over compliance 

Embrace fearless trust over demanding righteous evidence 

Just Leadership Manifesto by Oana Juncuis licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

We are all leaders

I believe every one of us is a leader. This “Just Leadership Manifesto” is my gift for you to step into the new year. May 2021 be the year when you will be fully aligned and connected with your genuine selfless leadership. My mission will be here to support you on the journey, while I will continue on my own leadership learning journey.

Happy New Journey for 2021!

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On Ego, Fear, Power and … Leadership

Shane Rounce on Unsplash

Whether you are an Agile Coach, an Agile transformation facilitator or a Scrum Master, did it happen to you to feel frustrated because the change you wanted to see in your workplace was nat the change that was taking place? Did it happen to you to have that feeling of  frustration because the values and principles you promoted had not the desired echo? Did you ever felt the pressure to “succeed a transformation following a plan”, while people had other operational priorities? If you are a manager, did you feel excited by a more collaborative way of working, then felt lost because your hierarchy hase the same “old ways” type of expectations form you? The intentions of an “Agile Transformation Program” are probably true and generous.  Unfortunately it has high chances to turn into  an  “Transformation without leadership” pattern, because the reality on the field is driven by collective unconscious behaviours that sees any change as a threat. I  believe that true resilient transformation happens when we acknowledge and accept our natural emotion to threat: fear

Fear in the Modern (Western) World

The good news is that fear is a very healthy emotion. It is designed to keep us alive. So before going further through this quick blog post, stop and have a grateful thought for your own fears. They are ment to keep you alive. 

The other good news is that nature takes time to adapt. Nature designs for resilience not for performance. Well… not for financial performance for sure. And because nature takes time to adapt, our brain did not really emotionally adapt to our times of fast changes an multiple sollicitations. 

There is little probability to get attacked by a hungry tiger in our office, but our brain respond to our bosses critic on our performance in the last meeting just as if we were attacked by a tiger. We become frightened.  

This is the tricky point of the fear story. Fear is a priority emotion for our brain so it will take immediate action. What “immediate” means? It means it has no time to get it to the rational, aware part of the brain. What “action” means? It means our brave speed-decision unconscious part of us launches the “survival program”. The result? We have certains behaviours without knowing exactly why. 

The Modern Source of Fear : The Ego 

Fear is not something we are willing to face, therefore we give “good reasons” for our behaviours, including those we have in situations that we are uncomfortable with. . As Brené Brown would say , we show up armoured. 

Among others, fear triggers in judgmental behaviours. It may also trigger shame. We don’t like to look bad.  Hey wait, actually who does not want to look bad? The Ego. Our ego is our trickiest friend. It turns often into a liability. And as it’s smart enough, it won’t show up as  liability but with smart avoiding scenarios like :

“I won’t talk about it, it’s not very interesting what I have to say” ( smart, ego found a way to avoid exposure and confrontation).

Let’s go back to the situation of the critic boss , we are very likely to say something like “the boss was not even clear about the purpose of my role in that meeting”. Ego has found a way to blame someone else and avoid or , even more likely, hide self-delusion. 

Nowadays, when tigers don’t jump in our offices, the most current reason of our fears is our ego. Of course I’m not referring extreme situations. 

Ego wants us to “look good”. And everything that threatens our “good-looking” self  calls our ego to play the “survival scenarios”.

We armoured our Ego to avoid hurt and burry fear. Now it became our regular source of fear. 

The Change : between Ego and “Power Over” 

So change means stepping out of our comfort zone to uncertainty, which is a dangerous place. 

Alright,  and who is really at threat in a change process of our business or society? My answer to that is our Ego.It’s our Ego who does not want to step out from the comfort zone, because challenge puts us at risk of not looking good.

The deep blocker  of the most wonderfully intentioned workplace transformation program, is Ego.

 Ego is the source of our fear and it is ego who launches the “survival scenarios” to keep the status quo. 

There are many ways fear triggered by our ego manifests its survival behaviours and one of them is judgment;  we’d rather like to put the spot on some other people defaults dealing with our own fears and lack of comfort. 

I was always very uncomfortable by power games in organisation dynamics, and, maybe because of that I became interested by what is the motivator of power games.

I’m using here the term power with the meeting of “power over” , as stated by Brené Brown in her book “Dare To Lead”.

Why people are striving for power over? One easy answer is having power means “looking good” so Ego will be pleased. Even if that’s true, I think there is even a deeper reason. Having power over is an effective way to armour ourselves. And we armour ourselves because we ( or better, our Ego) are scared to show up as we are. Not because we are not worthy enough, not good enough, not wise enough, but because our Ego also whispers in our ears that “hey, you might not be worthy enough, good enough, wise enough…and you don’t want that to be known, don’t you”. So we are scared. So we armour. One of the armouring acts is to take the power and exerce it over other people.

Here is what Ego might tell you : “f I have the power, I have control, the world is less uncertain  for me, and it will prevent me from looking good. “

So power games are also a survival scenario of fears triggered by ego.

I believe most “powerful over”- like people in the world are those that are the most afraid of themselves.

From Ego and Fear to a Journey Towards Leadership 

People who are afraid cannot have a leader posture. Therefore I believe people who demonstrate a “power over” attitude are no leaders. And they can become leaders. Just like anyone else, if they accept to work on their fears. Leadership does not mean to be fearless, leaders can be freaked out by uncertainty, the lack of control, the pressure of other people around them who pushes them into their power games. Leaders are at the service of the power of the group together, the power with. 

And maybe the most important power of the leader is the “power within”: the power to show up as they are are with all their doubts, Brené, who I quote the third time, calls the power within, the   “Power of Vulnerability”.  

We cannot embrace change if we want to control reality. And we cannot let go of controlling the reality if we don’t admit that it’s hard to do so. 

We cannot embrace change if we have high expectations. And we cannot  be empathic without don’t express our own needs and dreams.

We cannot really embrace change without courage. And the first act of courage is to face and admit our fears. This is the first step on the Leadership journey.


I’m enrolled in the Shakti Leadership Program for Women a program offered in collaboration with the University of San-Diego.  Nilima Bhat , who built the program refers also the “power with” vs “power over “as a healing posture for our broken (business) world built on competition rather than collaboration. The impact of fear in organisations dynamics is my project. If you think you can help me with, if this work is interesting for you, just show up.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

cOemerge wishes you a Joyful Agile-in-Mind & In-Action  New Year ! May all obstacles toward  full accomplishments that might be left over be removed so your teams may to be proud of their work and your customer delighted of your services!

A 2020 of 20/20 accomplishments !

And  , of course , “Joyeuses Fêtes” for all partners and customers from France , cOemerge’s  homeland 🙂 .

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The Cost Of Fear

CrystalBall2We need reassurance. Therefore we plan. There are situations, mainly in our personal life, when we recognise that our plans are just wishful thinking. Sometimes we are so sadly skeptic about our bold plans that we cut ourselves from our dreams. Then comes the professional life. Here, on the opposite, we often push ourselves in an extreme state of denial and believe that our wishful thinking plan is the only acceptable reality. If a little inner voice tells us that universe may care little about what our view of acceptable reality is, we seek ways to obtain some extra-reassurance via extra-plans: we perform risk management, estimation of time to complete tasks … and other complex expert analysis on everything-that-could-happen-in-the-future. All these tasks we need to reinforce our self-reassurance about our ability to control the future, have a cost. I call it the cost of fear.

The (Agile) Change: from Intention to Action

Organisations today aim to change toward a more collaborative, customer-centric, flexible format. Leaders have a genuine intention to create an Agile organisation, where people thrive, are allowed to wrong, as long as they learn from their errors:experimentation will the new way.
This is the dream, the quest, the purpose. Then, as in all stories the tension between the intention and the status quo steps in. Stories of change have the same pattern than all stories :).
Let’s look a little bit at what can bey the impact of the status quo on the aspiration fo change.
Peter Senge says that true tension is born when the theory exposed (what I aspire for) is different of the theory in action (what I actually do). There is no problem with this tension; as long as it acknowledged, learning can occur and effective alignment between the exposed theory and the theory in action can be achieved. Peter Senge, in his book, The Fifth Discipline, who is for me the father of system thinking – says that tension is an opportunity for learning.
If you’re familiar with coaching terms, seeking alignment between intentions/speech and actions is called “congruence”. So far, so good, and how can be the Nirvana of congruence be achieved?
I believe that there is only one magic formula to address the gap: becoming aware of it. Is this easy?
No! Why? Because we have a genuine state of denial that makes uns think that as long as we believe in what we say we’ll do, means that whatever we will do is in harmony with what we say we’ll do.

Our first trap is trying to achieve change with tools of our status quo.

One common example is “planning the change”. We believe planning is “a professional attitude”, when it’s only utility is to reassure us. Farer we are of our comfort zone, more we need to be reassured.
And here is the gap where the cost of fear sneaks in: the gap between the needs of the ecosystem (market, customers, teams, organisations) and the natural need of leaders to control their ecosystem.

Here are some of the sources that sum-up as important costs for organisations and that I call “the cost of fear”

Continuous planning vs continuous delivery

Planning as a reassuring activity that addresses fear of not controlling was already mentioned above.
Over planning need stakeholders and teams to be involved and spend (sometimes) an impressive amount of time in planning meetings. While planning is happening, decision to deliver is deferred.
While planning is on the agenda, value does not reach customers.
The cost of fear is the cost of continous planning

Ongoing estimation and frozen development

What about a team more that 10 people focused on estimating backlog’s User Stories for 6 weeks in a row? Meanwhile PMOs, Project Directors, CxO people and other coordinators spend at leas half of their time taking decisions on how the future will look like when the estimation will be done. No development or delivery happens before leaders are reassured with a number (estimation).The value of an approach like NoEstimates, domain where Vasco Duarte and Woody Zulli have had major contributions), lies also in reducing the delay to deliver.
While estimation is ongoing, no value reaches customers.
The cost of fear is the cost of ongoing estimation.

Risk Management vs Emerging Architecture

Locking our options in early decisions about architecture of our future product is another way we address our need of reassurance that the future will behave as we decide it. Personally I still recover of IT architecture committees I’ve been in years and years ago ;). The protocol is the following : a lot of talented experts meet to analyse all the risk of the future and address them with a list of operational actions and or adequate design. Usually these Risk Management committees end-up with a deferred decision as a new risk revealed in the just closed committee has to be addressed and discussed over in the next one.
The only decision is to defer decision£.
While analysing risks, no solution is emerging and no value reaches the customer.
The cost of fear is the cost of focusing on risk management.

The Cost of fear, a systemic description


System have self-regulating actions called feed-back loops. The feed-back loops are rather reinforcing : system behaviour is reinforced by the feed-back loop- The Cold War period is an example of a system within a a reinforcing loop – or balancing: system behaviour is regulated to stay in given boundaries.
I think the cost of fear is causing a reinforcing loop that leads to growing frustration of leaders and increasing organisation bureaucracy.

How to reduce the cost of fear?

Well, my part of the answer is in the title of the paragraphs above, and to pit it in only one word it is : Experiment!
Experiment has some magic powers for two reasons. One is that triggers a mindset where we know we are allowed: to try, to be wrong.
The second is that it puts organisations on a learning path, that addresses the systemic nature of an organisation. And by the way, true learning is fun, true food that keeps our brain happy.

Principles that (may) reduce the cost of fear

Deliver a prototype rather than plan,
Define a team capacity rather than estimate tasks
Drive by emerging design rather than performing risk management.

The cost of Delay is included in the cost of fear, as we don’t act until we are reassured.

Okay, this looks like reduce cost-of-fear just-to-try-principles cheat-sheet. It’s not enough. An additional question to answer is “How to address the fear that generates these costs?”. And this is the most tricky question. Fear is the strongest symptom that some basic needs are not met.
Just telling leaders/managers/architects/teams/stakeholders/Decision makers/ that their action is not aligned with their intention ( of delivering true value to customers fast, collaboration, self-empowerment, test&learn) is simply not enough.
Were you more brave when someone just told you “don’t be afraid!”?Addressing the fear needs compassion, listening and observation.

Epilogue : The (mostly) hidden cost of fear

Peter Senge also says the 2most powerful motivation drivers are fear and aspirations. Aspiration leads to positive vision: “We want to achieve something” , fear to negative vision : “We want to avoid something”.
Vision lead by fear trigger compliance behaviour : people do their job to be compliant to a vision issued by hierarchy its related rules and regulations. Vision lead by aspiration trigger commitment : people do their job because they want that vision, and they can empower themselves to change the rules and regulations accordingly. The 20th business “led-by-fear vision behaviour” was considered “professional”. I believe that the only thriving organisation model is the “led-by-aspiration” one. I do hope the 21st century will consider “led-by-aspitration” behaviour to be nevertheless “professional”.

Ultimately, what is your best guess about   the cost of a non thriving organisation?

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Product Storytelling Canvas – Innovate Business through Storytelling

Storytelling Product Canvas-Act2.001Product Storytelling Canvas is a Product Envisioning and Development tool based on storytelling techniques. The first post about it helps you to clarify your vision: why do you think you can offer a product that can improve the life of your customers? Then it invites you to go outside in the customer world and gain empathy or at least enough observations about your customers. If you’ve completed these 2 steps, you’re ready to start crafting the your product’s story whose heroes are your customers. So let’s get ready for the Customer Journey using the next 2 steps in the Product Storytelling Canvas: from what are the customers needs to how your product may fulfils them. This post journey is about understanding what are customers aspirations to build your product achievements.

Aspirations over Needs

Henry FordCustomer needs are immensely quoted in all Product Development, Innovation and Lean Startup alike approaches. Anyway, disruptive innovation rarely revealed from stating customer needs accurately. As Henry Ford coined it, if we stick to customer inquiry we’ll all get incremental improvement ( e.g. of horses performances) over disruptive evolution. It is highlu probable that no hairy customer asked for a hair dryer before they were invented.
So if not customer inquiry, what else? The first attitude of an entrepreneur that leads to innovation is genuine observation. Observe users ecosystem, be in there world, use the powerful idea of “get out and have walk”. Don’t ask, just see. Then, after have written down your observations, let’s inquire about the behaviours of you’ve seen, and seek what are your customer aspirations.

Turn Problems into Aspirations

Many techniques in Lean Startup focus on identifying customer problems. The bias with “problems” is that it puts us ( and the customers) in a “we’re may be in trouble” state of mind and focuses our brain on task-handling the present. When focusing on what would a great world rather than a list of things to fix about the current world, human beings attitude changes. So customer inquiry, yes, and instead of asking problem focused questions let’s try aspirations focused questions.
So here is an behaviour-aspiration customer interview, with a twist: rather than asking all questions in the category:”What do you need to? What is more important to you?”,
inquire about the actuel behaviour you’ve observed and what customers would like to change about it:
“Why did/do this like this? What would you dream to do differently?What stops today to do it differently”
In every well formed epic story, the characters have a quest. In your Product Story, customers aspirations are their quest. Every story can exist because there is the tension between the current status (status quo) and the quest. When you know what is your customers aspirations and what keeps them in a current user journey they are not happy about, you have the driver of your product story. Eventually you may want to call it Business Model.
Also, when you have an idea of what are customers aspirations are, and you can align your product features with them, you may have found the way to customer’s long lasting delight.

Success Factors : Turn Aspirations Concrete

The most common trap right now is the “getting something done” one. As an entrepreneur, I have vision, who are my customers,what are their expectations so let’s start building!
Here I invite you to take another moment to perform an imaginary conservation. All the questions ans exercices until now was about who are your customers and how looks a better world for them like. Before starting to design the product, let’s focus a little bit more time about this “happy end” : your product allows your customers the access to a better world. To ensure that this has a chance to become true, let’s picture this better world. Project your entrepreneur experience in the future and picture it as a fully successful one. What do you observe? What is now your customers behavior? What is the impact on their ecosystem and your ecosystem as an entrepreneur?
Stay with that moment, write down your imaginary observations and mark down the key elements.
They will be your success factors. And you’d better be clear about those before we dive into the playful world of designing features of your product and implement them. Or with a storyteller’s words, draft how your story will unfold before writing it.

To Be Continued

If you’re happy with this series of posts, let me know, so I’ll go further with the next sections of the Product Storytelling Canvas. If I don’t have any news from you, I won’t ;).

Related Posts

Product Storytelling Canvas, from business Model To UX

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From Storytelling to UX: The Storytelling Product Canvas

Storytelling Product Canvas.001.jpeg The secret of humans success is their capacity to create fictions and largely cooperate around those. No other species are able to align themselves around non real things such as “values”, “laws”, or “Business”. Our brain capacity to organise effectively around imaginary things developed in us an unique capability that became the main driver of human history : storytelling.

Business development is not appart of it. A successful business is a good story about entrepreneur’s mission, her client aspirations, and the unfolded offering of products and services.

A Canvas or A Story ?

In entrepreneurship and business areas, defining a Canvas is THE THING. I do like canvases it’s a good tool to describe a container, and containers are every change-maker’s tool. For example, I love Ash Mayura’s Lean Canvas. I wrote a bunch of articles on Lean Canvas one of the the most effective business awareness enabler’s in the Lean Startup landscape. Canvases is reassuring for our linear cause-to-effect thinking. And it’s not enough to trigger stuff our fuzzy-creative thinking enjoy like inspiration, innovation and enthusiasm. Our brain is story-wired. What makes us move forward are stories. Therefore, here is the challenge: transform a canvas into a story. A mix of storytelling techniques mapped on the Lean Canvas, I decided to call the “Storytelling Product Canvas”.

Step 1: Envisioning: What is the (product) story about?

When a novelist writes a story, the first think is to decide what kind of story she wants to write:
“Boy meets girl?”
“Girl meets success?”
… and so on.
When an entrepreneur wants to build a business, ultimately she believes her idea will make the world better, at least for someone. If you think this is a too idealistic way to see the world and believe entrepreneurs have ideas only to have money and be successful, I invite you to test the market by launching an idea with the outstanding outcome to make you rich and successful.
While waiting for the market study mentioned before, let’s name the first section of the Storytelling product Canvas, “Envisioning”. The question to answer here by an entrepreneur starting her business is “Why will my product create a better world?”

Step 2: Customers: Who’s story is this ( product story)?

When decided as an entrepreneur what is your vision about your business building a better world, the very next question is: “Who’s world?”
Just like heroes of a story, your product is aimed to create a compelling story about its users. This story is sometimes called User Experience.
Just like a writer who makes tons of studies to shape a good character entrepreneurs should observe their users and customers to be. An entrepreneur organises “customer safaris” to observe their life and their environment, to note their behavior without judgment.

Modesty – the key of a balanced business

A big challenge of an entrepreneur is to push her judgments over customers behaviour. In our easy path of blaming others, biasing what customers should want, is an easy trap to fall into. For this reason, one of the main skills an entrepreneur should develop is Active Observation along with Active Listening : Listen to understand and let surprising ideas emerge, rather than observing to confirm our former ideas. Confirmation Bias is one of the main daemons of Entrepreneurship.
Customers’ Status Quo

In a good story, a novelist sets the stage: describes what is the environment of the characters, what is appealing and or constraining in that environment so that characters stick to it. The same apply to entrepreneurship. A “customer Safari” is an enabler to discover their “status quo”. As an entrepreneur, you can find out how your users to be deal in their current daily context with the activities your business is aimed to improve.
Status Quo has always an emotional load. Find out what is that load: is it painful, soaring, joyful…
Making a better world through an eventually innovative business will necessarily have an emotional impact on characters , euh… users and customers , of course. Start early by observing those!

Temporary 😉 Conclusion

The former paragraphs describe the initial 2 steps of starting a new business with a “product storytelling” perspective:
Envisioning: What is your vision of a better world?
Customers : Who are they? What is their actual context ( Status Quo)?

Dear reader, if this post raised some curiosity and interest, let me know and.I’ll develop the other sections of my “product storytelling canvas” in future posts.
Until then here are some related posts:

Why Agile Development Hooks US

Lean Startup: Customer Development is a Kind of Customer Coaching
Listening To Awareness
Product Storytelling
Manage Like A Pirate
Storymapping is the plot of your product story

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Metrics Coaching

Whatever goal of improvement teams and organisations have, whether is  adopting new practices, create a culture of innovation, foster a joyful workplace  we all want to 1238567975know how well we are doing on our way. We love to measure progress. Unfortunately, in enterprises’ day to day life we have fallen in love so much with metrics, that measures became what matters a instead of measuring what matters. So we a flooded by numbers, KPIs and our own… cognitive filters. To mention Julie Weston, metrics are like a knife : they can be useful , and they can be injuring if not manipulated with caution. I’m working with organisations to implement their own meaningful metrics so they can:

  • Define what matters and why it is important. Measure what matters.
  • Challenge metrics against reality every day : does what mattered last week matter still today  ?
  • Think how to “decrypt” the data collected : when we create a metric we have an intention, but does the observed environment care about it? Does our intention/metric  alter environment behavior?

Exploring the filed of metrics is already changing people’s behaviour, the effects are similar to coaching . I decided to share my metrics coaching experience on a specific Metrics Coaching section, where the A/B Testing is the first topic approached.

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The Bias of Analytics

A/B testing is fooling you

boy-making-choice-decision.jpgSince Lean Startup became a fashion thinking for hipster entrepreneurs a Validation Run installed itself in our habits. Through (more or less…) Big Data Gathering we scan users behaviour on our site… Ok , I’m too judgmental here am I not? But hey, wait a little, awesome dreamers of successful startups, do you remember that “step-out-of-your-comfort-zone”- oh, sorry “out-of-the-building” I ment – attitude? How many times did you get out of the building to talk to real people ? How many times did you say “Nay, my users are not outside of my office door, they are … elsewhere. How much do you prefer to stay a little bit hidden behind data collected on your website to make an educated guess about what that data might tell you about your customers ? How may times you longed for a good “how-to” on implementing A/B testing. But you know what ? A/B testing is narrowing your options. Here is why I think it does so.

I wonder whether or not …

YesNo.001.jpegWhen was the last time you had this type of dilemma : “I wonder wether or not” .. do a specific action. Then eventually agonise on the decision. Then build Pros and Cons lists. Then throw them away ( or loose them…) , because we’re not quite happy with what that list is telling us. To be more specific, let me give here a set of examples , hopefully you will recognise yourself in one of them at least :
I wonder whether or not I should take that hob
I wonder whether or not we should let go this member of our team
I wonder whether or not I should buy a new smartphone
I wonder wether or not I should go into that mountain hiking

The “whether or not” situation is not a real decision making situation, because we position ourselves in a one-dimensional Two-ways option type. Having only one option is not an option. Having one option and its opposite it is not either.

The “whether or not” situation was coined beautifully by Dan and Cheap Heath , who say that “whether you are asking yourself “whether or not” step back”. You don’t have enough of the big picture. In this case focusing to much creates blind spots of other options we might have at hand.

“I wonder if whether A or B”

AB.001An “advanced” form of “I wonder if whether or not” is the “I wonder if A or B”. Now, this might seem different to you, but it is not really. You are still in a kind of one dimension decision making process, because not doing A means implicitly doing B. Choices are narrow and you’re stuck in your options.
So let’s see some examples here :
I wonder whether I should buy a more expensive smartphone or stick to a basic one
I wonder whether I should accept the offer from Harvard or Stanford
I wonder whether I should pick the blue shirt or the white one
I wonder if web users will like a green call to action button or a red one?
I wonder if I should write a new blog post or prepare dinner ,
I wonder if my customers want a call-back button or a chat space….
I hope that I recognised at least one of the situation you eventually were in. And I hope for you that the majority of you were scanning for the answer to question number 2 🙂
The business experimentation movement accelerated by LeanStartup has came up with receipt to answer questions like #4 and #6 in my example : The A/B testing! Yey, shiny! A/B testing says that we will implement non A or B , but A and B and then we wait and see.

The Answer To A Question That Was Not Asked

So here is the moment of gathering the data after the A/B testing. To all that implemented A/B testing I ask a question:
What did you ( really) learn?
The feed-back I have after each A/B testing starts with “hmmm…”.
Then it can go like this :
“It seems A has more hits than B. But B is used heavily from 8:00 to 9:00 am. We should understand why” or/and
“It seems that A has more hits , but hey , isn’t it because it’s right in the middle of the page. B has very few hits but it gets traction each time.”
So, the global conclusion is we have collected very interesting data, just we don’t have a clue what to do with it.
In the “Whether A or B” situation we are still in a narrow focus situation , where we only think of A or B as options. In the specific case of A/B testing tool, the results are confusing because they just feed a behaviour data that blows at our face because they are not in our narrow scope of focus. That data simply answers to questions that we didn’t fully ask. It’s like having a lot of indices , but no clue how to solve an enigma. The gathered data is just like the messages intercepted by the British secret services: encrypted by the Enigma machine during WWII they sound like gibberish.
Once again , stepping back to have a bigger picture is necessary.



Enigma Encryption Machine

The Vanishing Options Test

What if instead of picking from that 1-dimensional-2-ways options ( Yes/No, A/B) we just force our brain to unfocused a little bit to get a bigger picture? Because, one field where focusing doesn’t help is exploring (or identifying) real options.
My favorite tool to” unfocus” to unfold creativity ( ie new options) is the Vanishing Option test , also defined as such by Dan and Cheap Heath.
The test goes like this :

Imagine that all the options you have thought about are gone. E.g. you’re stuck with an Yes choice, there can be no A and nor B, or there is only A….
Now think at the following question :
What would you do in this situation to reach your goal?

Let’s take an example : imagine you’re sucked with a “light green colour/white text” call-to-action button on your page. Can’t change that! How would you improve your hits?

Leave The Data Basement

Collecting data is good, but remember, data is encrypted. Just like having the Enigma Machine, didn’t help allies to understand the messages, having a (BIG) data is simply not enough. We need a decryption key, don’t we? The bad news is this : the only decryption keys available for us are our own cognitive biases. So we turn gibberish to very probably distorted messages.
Nevertheless, there’s good news , and it’s called hope. As in many situations ( just like in Enigme decryption story, by the way), better answers come from changing perspective. There is one simple way to change perspective for data interpretation:
Leave the deep basement behind your complex data graphs screen and go observe real users in the light. Talk to them. Ask them why A ? What does B mean to them?

And enjoy the sun!

I’m organizing “Data Gathering and Inspection” workshops and can coach your teams on “Data UX driven Interpretation”, just contact me!

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Storytelling for Agile

IMG_2717Our brain is wired for stories. A story is the most effective way to meet our brain somehow contradictory needs of logical sequential reflection ( this happens because of that, then comes other …) and emotional involvment.

If Agile Adoption may turn in circles in your organisation, in spite of all great feed-back and proven evidence , it is mainly because logic, data and information is not enough to take action.

As Dan and Chip Heath say , action is ignited when  you speak to your emotions elephant while giving the direction to your rational rider. There nothing better to do both that an involving story. If you want to on-board people in Agile Adoption , you’d better tell a good true story where they can picture themselves as heroes.

logo_InfoQHere is the “Storytelling for Agile” interview I gave  on InfoQ , facilitated by Ben Linders.


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LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® 1 Day Workshop In Paris

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Were you ever at stuck with new ideas about your awesome new product or your team ? Did you ever get the fancy advice f “think out of the box” without having any clue how tu jump suddenly out of yourself and change your mental patterns on the fly ? Instead of wishful thinking recommandations ,  LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® offers  a hand-on  practices that allow to creatively solve problems and highlight what you already know  without knowing that you do.

WhyLEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® works ? Because it’s based on a reality observation on ourselves :

“Our Hands Know More Than Our Brain.”

This is a workshop proposed by Stelio Verzera from Cocoon.


Whether you are investigating a new product idea for the market or working to improve an existing product, one thing is sure: your customer has the answers you need. This workshop has been designed to provide participants with a powerful combination of cutting edge tools to deeply dig into what the end-user wants, needs, feels, and connect these insights with your product value proposition design.

Through the combined usage of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology and the Value Proposition Canvas tool it is possible to extract and organize knowledge and attitude of the engaged users towards the product to be envisioned, both at a rational and irrational level. This workshop will show you how.


You would like to come if …

– You’re an entrepreneur, seeking for a substantial advantage in the product-market fit.
– You’re a product manager willing to improve your R&D efficiency evolving the User Research tools at your hand.
– You’re a product designer looking for ways to maximize your result/effort ratio in the design process.
– You’re a Strategic Marketing stakeholder and you are looking for deep insights to validate or discover new opportunities.
– You’re a User Research passionate, willing to experiment new ways to use stories to get precious insights.

When will it take place ?

The workshop will take place if you’re are interested and let us know you do , by filling the form.


Posted in Customer Discovery, Product, Product Management, Product Ownership, Training, Workshop | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment