The Responsibility Process in Remote Teams

Sven Latzel
Apr 30 · 4 min read

The Responsibility Process

Right now, I’m reading The Responsibility Process of Christopher Avery. A book about the psychological process of how we take or avoid taking responsibility for what we don’t want. It is a quite powerful and generic model, that can be applied to the business world and the private life as well because it is about our innermost behaviors and how we can shape than in a way we benefit from.

In general, it describes that our response to things we don’t like is always going through these stages and perhaps finally are taking responsibility:

Copied from https://www.christopheravery.com/responsibility-process

Denial
Ignoring a topic

Lay Blame
Blaming someone to be responsible

Justification
Blaming the circumstances to be responsible

Shame
Blaming myself and my shortcomings

Obligation
Doing it because I think I have to

Quit
Giving up

RESPONSIBILITY
Taking responsibility for myself and start acting

Cristopher Avery is persuaded that everybody has the capacity to reach the RESPONSIBILITY stage is motivating us to follow a 100% Responsibility intention in our lives. In order to train and learn this he sees three keys for success:

1. Intention
Setting a strong intention to learn to be 100% Responsible and the compassion for myself, that I’m human and that I will sometimes fail.

2. Awareness
Training the capacity to become earlier and earlier aware of my own mental responses to changes I don’t want.

3. Confront
At the moment I get aware of my response see what I can learn and how I can react differently.

Especially the three keys are for me very interesting when I think about virtual teams. Therefore let me elaborate on that a bit more.

Intention

For me, the Intention expressed in The Responsibility Process is very close to the heart of the agile movement. It is about the commitment to learn and reflect and to accept and even embrace failures as the greatest source of learning.

Therefore setting a clear intention as a team agreement with all voices heard and targeting of learning and compassion for the team and its members can be a very fruitful step in shaping the team culture and spirit.

Awareness

This is a more tricky thing in a remote setup if we talk about self-awareness of the team itself and not the individual members. Typical tools for team self-awareness are retrospectives, but for me, it needs more than a remote retro every two weeks.

Insights are a result of reflection, these means pointing the focus of awareness inside, on the team, on the organization. It is very beneficial to engage and support times for reflection in order to make the team more self-aware.

At the moment, I see a lot of focus in retrospectives and other times of reflections on pragmatic impediments and topics. To tap into the space of responsibility for me the emotional part is even more important.

Here some strategies I’m using for more emotional self-awareness:

  • Short daily meetings focusing also on emotional impediments.
  • Retrospectives with a higher level of emotional engagement. (e.g. Love-, Shit-, Do-Storm)
  • Peer Reviews (from Sociocracy 3.0)
  • Radical Feedback (from Radical Candor)

Confront

As soon as the team gets aware of something that should be changed it is time to confront. This means to look into the eye of the dragon and face it. This is normally the most exhaustive and most difficult part I observed for myself and the teams I’m part of, but it is the key to great reward.

Confront means for me to confront the team with my observation and by this inviting them to take the responsibility to make a change.

From a systemic point of view, every team member is a voice of the team. At the moment one of them is getting aware of something through reflection and is sharing this insight with the team and making it aware of it, it is the responsibility of the team to confront themselves with it.

As a coach, I’m the one who is inviting for this confrontation, but not responsible to solve it for the team!

Final Thoughts

I’m convinced that there is a lot of wisdom in The Responsibility Process and what it can do for remote teams. For me, it is very useful to use this model and use it on a systemic team level and see how to support responsibility.

A remote team that is trained in taking 100% Responsibility is a successful team. At least this is my own experience so far.

I’m just reading the book right now and all my thoughts are based on my current understanding and can deviate from what is published around The Responsibility Process, so thanks for your understanding for wrong interpretations.

If you want to discuss this in person join our free Virtual Team Work Meetup at https://www.virtual-team-work.com

Sven Latzel

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I’m dedicated to invent, explore, collect and use principles and tools around the new ways of working together. May it be on site or in virtual teams.