Strategies to reduce drama at work: Part 3

Part 1 offered some ideas on how to get away from blame and towards responsibility.

Part 2 looked at dysfunctional relationships and games.

I am wrapping up my notes on workplace drama with thoughts on gossip, bullying, and power dynamics. Of course, there are entire books written on each of these topics; these are just short stories to give some inspiration for your own research.

People love gossip

A few years ago, I read an interesting book [1] that explained how much of the dysfunction at work emerges from the fact we bring to the office behaviors that originated in our “first organization”…


Strategies to reduce drama at work: Part 2

Part 1 was about finding ways to get past blame and towards a position where we can understand others, adopt responsibility, practice stretch collaboration, and diffuse drama in the process.

I will continue exploring similar dynamics in Part 2. It’s also an attempt to look at broader topics, touching on dysfunctions that can perpetuate unhealthy cultures.

Playing the Drama Triangle Game

If people or teams are in blaming mode, what happens to those that receive the blame? Will they feel bad about themselves? Will they fight back? Are they hoping someone else will come and help them out of this bad situation? …


Part 1: From Blaming to Problem Solving

Drama at the office seems to be a constant presence. People keep looking for solutions to conflict, toxicity, clash of personalities, cliques, antagonizing factions, and other problematic behavior. Many times we simply work around these issues and hope they will solve themselves, but it’s good to have a few tools to actively reduce the drama.

This series of posts (it was just too long as a single piece) are not surefire solutions for a total drama-free workplace. I believe drama at work is not something you solve; it’s something you manage. …


“It’s not bragging if it’s based on facts”

I discovered #IamRemarkable at the end of 2018. An article online made me immediately curious about this initiative. I read how it had originated internally at Google with a mission to foster self-promotion skills in women. As it gained traction, underrepresented minorities felt that the principles behind it resonated with them, and the movement extended its target audience. The idea eventually opened up to people outside Google as they realized the importance of the message couldn’t be contained.

The #IamRemarkable workshop has been the mechanism to spread the initiative and connect people to it. I am hoping not to spoil…


Structure learning and content to help when you need it

Many people ask me about learning habits. I honestly never thought what I do in my spare time can be classified as a learning habit, but when I started thinking about it, I realized that yes, I do have a structured routine. And now I am writing some of that in here. What I am describing is knowledge “acquisition” and can’t be confused with developmental growth. I already wrote briefly about the differences between learning and growing.

If you don’t want to read ahead, I will tell you right away what makes these habits work for me — I structure…


How to strategize, design and execute user-centric hiring.

I recently sat down with a friend who wished for her talent acquisition team to be more strategic and aligned with company needs while maintaining the operational flow. She wanted to make sure candidates had a great and coherent experience regardless of the different styles of the individuals in the team.

My suggestion was: think of talent acquisition as a user-centric service product.

There are excellent resources now out there [1] describing what it means to be a decent recruitment function, although they don’t explain a lot in terms of how to get there. In this post I won’t explain…


The case against marathon workshops

There are plenty of books, articles, and other advice on launching new teams. You will be instructed to believe a kickoff has to be a discrete event. Everyone drops whatever they are doing for a day or two, go somewhere, run some activities, follow up with dinner and some drinks. And come back the next day, a happy and functional team ready to kick ass and conquer the world.

I don’t believe this format works as we hope it would. Not for every team, at least.

I’ve participated, observed, facilitated, and organized many team kickoffs and reboots — Software Development…


Sense and Sensibility and Storyboards

It’s interesting how popular Design Sprints still are as a topic almost four years after the Sprint book came out. I used to talk about them all the time, less so in recent times. I haven’t facilitated one in a while, but they were on my mind this week after reading a couple of books where the practice makes an appearance.

Beyond The Prototype by Douglas Ferguson is a lovely read building on the foundation of sprints and asking what happens after the sprint ends, and how to make it better. …


One of the most interesting yet puzzling organisational innovations I’ve seen in the past couple of years is DesignOps. There are tons of articles, free ebooks from every design system shop, meet-ups and conferences. And yet most people I speak with still seem confused about what it is.

I’ve observed many practices championed by product design work just fine for game development. We can map a parallel between the design function in tech organisations and the art discipline in the gaming industry. There are many differences, but they have more in common than they think they do.

I would like…


Many times in my career in games, I have encountered this situation: game art teams ruled by benevolent dictators who failed to codify what they considered ‘acceptable quality’. Teams ended up dependant on their subjective opinion which to make things worse often lacked alignment with end-user needs and production realities. Over time these people either became a bottleneck or made an exit leaving someone else to pick up the pieces.

Some art directors have more in common with Marlon Brando than they think.

But I have also encountered a few bright spots in the past few years. Art leaders that were genuinely interested in improve the way their people gave feedback on the…

Luis Cascante

Loves mint chocolate

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