Archive - March 2013

31.03 20130

The Power of Progress

Leaders spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to motivate teams.  A variety of methods are employed to attempt to obtain peak performance from organizational teams.  Tangible incentives, recognition for good work, interpersonal support and clear goals are different strategies used by leadership to attempt to maximize output from teams; however, the biggest boost of motivation for teams is a surprise to a lot of managers. The book, The Progress Principle, by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, reveals the secret to the biggest motivator of teams.  Creative work depends heavily upon emotions.  How we feel about the work, our environment and our co-workers fuel motivation.  Amabile and Kramer identify the biggest boost to motivation as the sense of progress that people experience when engaged in meaningful work.  The more frequently people experience a sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive. Although the power of progress is fundamental to human nature, few managers understand how to leverage progress to boost motivation.  The Progress Principle discusses key catalysts that help us motivate teams to their highest performance levels.  One of the strategies recommended includes recognizing the power of positive work experiences, and one way to create these experiences is celebrating progress every day.  Incremental small wins are easy to ignore given the demands of modern work, but this type of win fuels big success over time.  Every day team leaders need to take a moment to celebrate and recognize the progress that has been made.  Also, teams need to deal with setbacks constructively, viewing them as learning opportunities.  Small setbacks can really be demoralizing so they must be addressed quickly and effectively when they do happen.  Additionally, team leaders can build on progress by introducing new challenges after success. Scrum is a product development methodology that utilizes small wins and the power of progress to motivate teams.  With scrum, daily stand-ups keep teams focused on completion of daily tasks, driving to an overall two-week project completion goal.  Each day team members are able to stand with their co-workers and identify work that has been completed and progress that has been made.  These daily meetings also allow for teams to quickly address any setbacks and to help each other to overcome obstacles.  As teams deliver small goals, the team members continually push themselves to increase their velocity of their delivery of work.  At the end of each sprint, demos allow teams to display and celebrate the work completed with key stakeholders.  Scrum is an excellent methodology for boosting team motivation through the power of small wins, thus driving meaningful progress in organizations. Oscar Wilde said, “Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.”   Scrum allows team members to have power over their own ability to deliver, to recognize progress on a daily and bi-weekly schedule and to continue to develop themselves every workday.  There is no greater motivator than the power of progress driving ambitious teams under the guise of small wins.

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