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What’s SCRUM and Agile Got to Do With Adult Learning and Leadership?


Agile__Scrum_Framework01 (4)

How organizations can remain focused and effective in an ever-changing, complex environment

Recently I have had the honor and privilege to assume a coaching role with several leaders in STEM-based organizations. To prepare myself and to better understand their world, I took several crash courses in Lean Management, Scrum and Agile Methodology. I half-expected to have to force myself to make sense of highly technical terminology and dry program management theory only to be pleasantly surprised to find fascinating parallels to cutting-edge leadership development theory.

In simple terms, SCRUM is a methodology that breaks complex scenarios (epics) down into small deliverable increments (stories) that can be completed in a short, defined timeframe (sprint). Each delivery cycle opens with a planning session during which the entire team decides what increments they will be able to complete during the cycle. The cycle closes with a review that includes stakeholder feedback and a retrospective during which processes are refined and subsequent increment specifications may be revised.

Rapid development of deliverables and regular, short-order feedback loops ensure nimble adaptations to external and internal requirement changes and quick detection of misalignment or errors. Accountability and self-governance of the team is built into the framework and communication breakdowns quickly become apparent.

Daily stand-up meetings enforce focus and commitment and team members rely on mutual respect, transparency and openness to new ideas to be able to operate at their best. The team continues to learn from and with each other. Doesn’t that sound like project management Nirvana?

While SCRUM focuses on the work of the product owner (similar role to project manager), the team and the interaction with stakeholders, Agile addresses enterprise design and leadership. More on that in a future post.

Of course there is much more to SCRUM and Agile. SCRUM professionals will be quick to admit that it is not easy to transform traditional project management and top-down leadership calling for long-term goals and defined milestones into an Agile workplace, especially when factoring the human element of resisting major change.

Yet there is a lot to be gained from taking the leap of faith:

  1. Fostering of creative adaptability, which is crucial for success in rapidly changing environments
  2. Engagement of all team members in the design and execution process, which has been proven to be essential for talent retention
  3. Encouraging dynamic collaboration, which always outperforms siloed, static work processes
  4. Continued shared learning, which results in innovation and boosts competitiveness

What excites me most about SCRUM is the notion that this way of learning, working, and creating in a collaborative whole can be applied outside of software development projects. It is a flexible and adult-learning supporting methodology that can be used for dynamic leadership development needs at all levels in an organization through effective, micro-learning deliverables.

You can deconstruct complex leadership epics into skill development sprints that focus on learning, practicing and internalizing new communication and behavior patterns, which ultimately will result in organizational learning, resilience and adaptability at all levels.

SCRUM and Agile Leadership can be an antidote to disengaged staff, unrealized brilliant ideas in the ranks, sluggish procedures, ineffective communication.

Are you curious to hear more? Inquire about our new program offer:

Butler Communication’s SOAR Leadership Labs give you an opportunity to take a closer look at the current leadership capacity in your organization, to learn and practice new communication patterns, to experience and implement collaborative management styles and to strengthen your leadership teams at all levels in your organization.

Curious? Call us: 703-599-9079

Build Committed Relationships, Shape Engaging Culture,
Inspire Agile Action, Generate Extraordinary Results



Stronger Together Into 2018

I am so very proud of the courageous women in my Women Business Owner Mastermind Group! We had a fantastic year together filled with challenges, setbacks, triumphs and successes.  We are each other’s board of directors, each other’s fiercest advocates and no-holding-back sounding boards. My business would not be as successful and well run if it wasn’t for my fellow women business owners, who have held me accountable, challenged me, supported me and provided tissues, kind words and subsequent kicks in the rear to get me back into the business arena after disappointments. I am so grateful for each of these awesome women:

Carolyn Bagdoyan – Heart Tree Yoga
Vivien Balcker – Ameriprise Financial Advisor
Martha Brettschneider – Damselwings LLC
Lisa Loggins – LeadWell Coaching Strategies
Melissa Maillett – Maillett Photography
Joann Meginley – Grassroots Fitness
Tamera Siminow – Lifeworks Consulting
Agnes Wasawski – Weichert Realtor
Emily Yahn – Tangible Designs

You rock!

For all you business owners, corporate leaders and rising change makers trying to do it completely on your own: Don’t! Find a great support group, a mentor or a coach, and feel the lift, energy, fun, and stretch that comes from shared wisdom and experience!


And for those of you, who are not ready yet to step into the spotlight of accountability and no-BS feedback, you can prepare yourself for a great start into 2018 by doing one of our group’s kick-start exercises on your own: Goal Map for Kick-Starting Awesomeness.

Are you or someone you know interested in learning more about how to set up or join a mastermind group to accelerate your professional and personal growth? All it takes is a phone call, email, Skype, letter, or visit to my office – I will be happy to talk with you and explore options with you.

Wishing all of you a game-changing 2018 with Health, Joy, and Success – whatever that may look like for YOU!

With Gratitude for my life and the people in it!


First-time in a Foreign Country – From the U.S. to Taiwan and Back with Grace and Gratefulness

When you have a positive impact on a client and open new doors … best feeling!

US TaiwanIn late August, I coached a young professional in preparation for her first ever international trip – a 10-week work assignment in Taiwan. Introverted, cautious, self-declared foodie, not wanting to turn down a unique offer to support the company’s team in Taiwan for 2.5 months. We spent 8 hours together to explore communication style differences between American and Taiwanese culture, different beliefs and traditions based on the two countries’ history and social norms, sights to see, food, workplace etiquette, and the emotional stress of culture adaptation.

She just got back and sent me a long email.

Yes, she became homesick after 4 weeks as expected but the practical tools and awareness of what restores her energies and effective self-care practices enabled her to work through it and still enjoy her unfamiliar environment. She discovered new favorite foods, boosted her self-esteem with solo excursions, made new friends and thanked me for preparing her so thoroughly for the trip that showed her how beautiful and diverse the world is and that also awakened her desire to explore more now that she is back in the U.S. She feels more confident, stronger and more capable through this experience.

She was an exceptional, bright and motivated client, who was willing to stretch and step into the unknown.  I feel honored to have supported her and she is ready to think bigger and explore more!

Two missions accomplished!

Employees as Consumers

Employee Experience 2

What is it like to work in YOUR organization?

How are you stacking up against other organizations competing for the same talent pool?

Last week, I attended an interesting event hosted by HR Alliance DCCreate an Engaging Employee Experience presented by Shaara Roman and Jennifer Ives. Captivated by a talk about organizational culture and HR strategies, I was taken by surprise by a compelling argument for organizations to shift their thinking and strategy around hiring and staff retention strategies towards seeing employees and job seekers as consumers.

Let me unpack that bold statement: The generational demograhic of the labor market is changing considerably with already more than a third of the current workforce being comprised of Millennials, defined as (34-22-year old) and Gen Zs (21 years and younger as of 2015). Those age groups in particular are looking for personal career development options, a good fit for their individual talents around purposeful work, and they want the organizational culture of their place of work to be compatible with their personal values.

 Labor Force Statistics

With further diminishing job security and dwindling employment benefits, the younger workforce generations generally feel little loyalty towards the companies they work for. More than half of the younger workforce is looking for opportunities to work for themselves. Furthermore, as highlighted in a previous post, 75% of all employees are disengaged and are one foot out the door at any given time, looking for more appealing job opportunties with the help of employee experience-transparent jobsites such as glassdoor.com.

From the organization’s perspective, successful hiring strategies, employee engagement and retention are essential factors for organizational success, especially in the professional services industry. Specialized jobs are very expensive to staff and a high employee turnover can cause serious project delays and blow deep holes in the budget.

The idea of viewing employees and potential hires like consumers with distinct behaviors, preferences and expectations makes sense and may be a sensible business practice for many organizations. Creating a positive employee experience is therefore becoming increasingly important for organizations looking for a competitive edge in today’s business climate. This does NOT mean high-end espresso machines, ping pong tables and nap rooms.

The most important employee experience differentiators are:

  • Inspiring Leadership + Empowering Culture
  • User-friendly Technology
  • Flexible, People-centric Workspaces

In response to changing employee expectations and upon seeing positive ROI upon investment in organizational culture improvement, traditional management models are being turned upside down and inside out. Performance management is shifting from formal annual review models to frequent informal feedback coupled with mentoring and coaching. Intrapreneurship, an entrepreneurial mindset within the organization, is encouraged and traditional top down management is taking a backseat to servant leadership approaches.

Companies will have to take an honest look at the attractiveness of their organizational culture if they are looking to hire and retain top talent in today’s competitive job market.

  • How does YOUR company measure up?
  • How are you relating to your staff?
  • What does your employee engagement strategy look like?

Butler Communication’s SOAR Leadership Lab gives you an opportunity to take a closer look at your leadership skills, to practice new communication patterns, to experiement with collaborative management styles and to strengthen your resilience and flexibility capacity.

Curious? Call me: 703-599-9079

Build Committed Relationships, Shape Engaging Culture,
Inspire Agile Action, Generate Extraordinary Results

With best wishes for bold and courageous culture shaping,


Friderike Butler

Chief Potential Catalyst 
​Leadership Development & Executive Coaching

Your Bait is for the Fish – Not for You

BaitThe most recent session of the Vienna Women Business Owner Mastermind Group focused on incorporating our individual business story in the heart piece of our business websites. We invited the talented business writer Jan Whiteley to speak to the group about crafting a compelling business story. Of course our group members are all well-versed in telling people what we do. The previous months we had explored our Simon Sinek WHYs, so we thought that this was just the logical extension the version of our individual WHYs and an easy check on our year-long business building agenda. We were in for a surprise!

Come to think of it, the expression of my personal passion may not necessarily be the answer to my client’s needs and desires. My vision of building “communication bridges between people” and releasing “positive energy in a world full of possibilities and choice to powerfully benefit humankind” may get me out of bed and ready to excitedly dive into my work every morning but it may not be a motivator for my individual clients and not at all their reason for looking for a coach or leadership trainer.

Rather, my clients experience roadblocks in their professional lives that they are unable to remove or circumnavigate on their own. They may be stuck in a dysfunctional team and are looking for ways to cope, or they may just have been promoted from a technical management job to a leadership position and they fill ill-equipped to create alignment between divisions and don’t know how to move from managing projects to leading people.

The perspective from which we tell stories to connect with others is immensely important in almost all aspects of our lives where we want to create buy-in and alignment. What about this project or request will resonate most with the person that I want to enroll? What excites them and what is their desire that my project may satisfy?

Here is an exercise that you do to see how well your offering and a respective story aligns with what your audience is hungry for:

  1. Write “What if …” questions that reflect your audience’s most pressing desires on individual sticky notes. Example: “What if … my team members would be able to meet all the ambitious deadlines that the executive suite has laid out for us?” or “What if … I was able to unlock all the hidden talents and strengths in my team and we would collaborate effectively and create the next breakthrough for our organization?” or “What if … I could create a work environment for my organization where everyone feels invited to bring forth new ideas?”
  2. For each sticky note, think of your offering that can turn the What If question into an I Can statement. Write your response on another sticky note and match it with the What If sticky note.
  3. See which match stands out the most for you and and whether the associated service/product offering represents the core of what you have to offer.
  4. If you identify a clear match and if it does fall into the sweet spot of offer, create a compelling story around it.

Some women in my group found that they had far too many different “What if … ” questions and some struggled to even create “What if … ” questions that could easily be matched with their core business offering. Needless to say, the exercise gave food for thought around our core business stories and how we communicate what we have to offer so it attracts the ideal client.

Figuring out what your ideal clients are looking for and what their ideal world is missing that you can provide will always be work in progress. The business landscape keeps changing and so do the needs and wants of your clients. Staying in touch with what moves your ideal clients and crafting a business offering that will resonate with your ideal services seekers will go a long way to ensure your business story and your offerings stay current and relevant.

What does your most compelling What If … and I Can … pair look like?

Warm Bodies in Seats – No Sign of Life – Now What?

2015 Gallup Poll

Do you know what it feels like to tread water in churning seas, to work in an environment where people are disengaged and have stopped caring for the work they are hired to do and for other people? When countless meetings bring little relief, behind-closed-doors-talks create a suspicious, unhealthily competitive environment, and the best talent is one foot out the door while others hide behind busy work and computer screens? I certainly do!

I have also seen how heart-wrenching it is for managers, who have a great team and who are trying their best to operate in an environment where ambiguous communication and constantly moving goal posts makes it nearly impossible to succeed. Their staff feels like they can never score a win and the atmosphere just kills all creative thoughts and fresh ideas.

It does not come as a surprise then that the 2015 Gallup Poll on Employee Engagement in America reports that 31.5% of the corporate workforce is engaged, 51% is not engaged and 17.5% is actively disengaged. That means almost 70% of the workforce in corporate America is just going through the motion, unmotivated to put in their best efforts or has resorted to reactive and negative behavior. That is a tragic waste of talent, energy, and resources.

If you are seeing indicators of this downward spiral in your organization, if you are regularly feeling dread as you prepare to go to work in the morning – be encouraged, there is a better way. We have studied what sets great companies apart and we know what conditions energize management and staff to courageously and actively pursue big visions that excite and inspire their customers.

At Butler Communication, we know how to generate unrestrained creativity and innovation with a fully awakened and engaged work force and we can show you how to create that for yourself and replicate it at all levels in your organization. READ MORE

Let us help you move from reactively addressing problems to creatively solving complex challenges.

Creative Leadership Conversations can turn the Ordinary into Extraordinary!

  • Build Committed Relationships
  • Shape Engaging Culture
  • Inspire Agile Action
  • Generate Extraordinary Results

Call me to schedule a Complimentary Consultation
or a Discovery Coaching Session!

Be Well and Think, Be, Do the Next Bold Thing!

Friderike Butler
Chief Potential Catalyst
​Professional Development & Executive Coaching


Is there Room at Your Table?

German Beer Garden

If you are traveling from the United States to Germany for the first time this summer, I suggest you get comfortable with the idea that in most German restaurants and especially in Biergartens and other outdoor eateries, you will dining with strangers if there are open seats at your table.

Unless you have reserved a table in a restaurant in advance, tables are not considered private. If seating space is limited, wait staff and patrons will try to utilize every available chair. So if you are seated at a table for 6 and you are only occupying two chairs, don’t be surprised if someone asks you politely if the chairs are taken or if they are available fully expecting to hear an equally polite “Please have a seat!” if you indeed have no need for these empty chairs. In most cases the joining party will carry on their own conversations and while one is expected to share the table, one is not expected to share the conversation – in fact that would be considered slightly strange if not rude if you were to butt in on the other party’s conversation.

What do you suppose German and American Public Dining Customs might tell you about the respective Cultural Values?