User:Sidstamm/Notes August 2013 TRIBE

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Related: People:TRIBE

I attended the "Awareness of Self" session of TRIBE and found it pretty useful. Clearly not all of the stuff I learned will apply to everyone, and I probably disregarded some nuggets of information you may like, but the tl;dr is: I learned a bunch of stuff about myself and some tools I can try to work better with others. YMMV, but I bet it's useful for you.

These are some cruddy notes from my experience. There's a lot more in the workbooks.


The group was small, 30 or so people, and unlike LEAD we won't be following them around to the other TRIBE sessions. I met a bunch of people who I had never worked with and that alone was worth my time. We're all part of Mozilla, and it's interesting to see how things fit together (and how our teams could fit together more tightly). My main takeaway is that most of the teams at Mozilla have fundamentally similar problems (not necessarily the same tech or the same projects, but the same people issues) and we can learn much from each other.

Strength Finder

We all took a Strength Finder test that asks you a bunch of questions and then tells you (based on how you answered) what are your .. surprise .. strengths. My results were a bit horoscopic in that most people could probably identify to each strength somewhat, but it was an interesting way to self-reflect and identify strengths and challenges.

I have Analytical, Relator, Individualization, Responsibility and Futuristic.

Find some grains of salt; you'll need them for this next bit.

This means my strengths are essentially:

  • Motivated to disassemble things and improve upon them (like many security engineers)
  • Strong at being open and building close relationships with those around me.
  • Adept at identifying how different individuals can excel based on their unique qualities.
  • A man of my word; I take strong personal regard for my commitments and work incredibly hard to be genuine.
  • Excited and creative about whatever's next.

But it also means I'm challenged by:

  • It's tough for me to identify when design should be done and execution should begin. Tell me if I'm over-engineering something.
  • Saying no is hard, especially in moments of criticality. When we're rushed or being pushed, let me pause and reflect before committing.
  • I need time with people to feel successful. It may feel like a waste of time, but I'm learning when we talk.
  • I do not always treat people equally enough in my aim to leverage everyone else's strengths. Tell me if you think I'm unfair.
  • Sometimes it's difficult for me to explain the merits of my ideas. Bear with me and ask me questions.

Levels of Listening

We discussed a framework for thinking about different ways to listen:

1 Internal Listening 
relating what you hear to yourself
2 Focused Listening 
sharp focus on the other person, feeling empathy, asking deep questions, ignoring self
3 Global Listening 
what the environment like, what's the unspoken message, what's missing?

The levels aren't really levels but are angles. You don't "elevate" from one to another, you just adjust. What's your default? Mine's 3.

Shift from Problem-Reacting to Outcome-Creating

In essence this is about stopping to think about the bigger picture and plan before acting. You can read more about it in the workbook, but the gist is this: if you just react to stuff that gets thrown at you, you bandaid patch it and it will cause future problems. Instead you should think about the underlying problem and get to the root cause to solve something once and for all. This also helps reduce conflict, anxiety and the problem space.

Problem-Reacting is fighting the bad -- breaking it down. Outcome-Creating is making new good, paving the way.

Reactive Tendencies

Like there are strengths, there are Reactive Tendencies. Here are the three presented to us:

Avoids disharmony. yes-man, playing it safe, being cautious, giving away power. Relationship Builders.
Avoids closeness. either confrontational or avoiding. very critical/cynical, enjoys arguments, "my way is the only right way", sitting back watching stuff blow up. Big Picture Thinkers.
Avoids Failure. Get out in front of the problem, pull others along with you, leverage authority, winning is everything, perfection. Powerful Achievers.

I'm usually complying. That means I often don't have a clear picture of my own vision (though may have one for others or a team). I spend a lot of energy looking for approval, doubting my instincts, and avoiding conflict by going along to get along. But the good news is that I know about this and am working on it. I'm often reliable, loyal, approachable, and there to help you out. Come say hi!


We also spoke about mentoring and what a good mentor/mentee relationship should look like. Is it bad that when I write "mentee" I think "manatee"?

We talked about who's accountable, what a mentor is supposed to do and how to choose one. A mentor isn't necessarily a role model, but may have a skill you want and has time to help you learn it. I have lots of mentors, do you?

My personal takeaways

I wrote down a bunch of random crap during the sessions, and some of it still makes sense. Here's a few scribbles I had in my book:

  • Rules can often be a source of inspiration, not just barriers. The rules may exist to define the limits and you may find a solution very close to a limit. For example, we did a team exercise. In order to identify the "trick", we had to look at what was forbidden and focus on how to follow the rule by modifying our behavior just such that the spirit of the rule is followed but we still get the effect we want. It's like negotiation with yourself.
  • Outcomes may move as you set long term goals and strategy, but getting everyone to agree it's a good target "for now" improves focus and unity.
  • Pause and reflect before reacting. Your knee just jerked. Don't let it hit your chin.
  • Balance participation and listening. If you actually listen and don't just wait to talk, you may have a better insight to contribute than your initial thought.