Posted tagged ‘Asking for Help’

McCarthy Bootcamp and The Core Protocols – Experiencing a Team with Shared Vision

June 30, 2015

I attended Jim and Michele McCarthy’s team-building workshop – in April 2015.  It was an amazing experience learning how to create great teams within the span of one week using the The Core Protocols.  If you’ve never read of them before or want to familiarize yourself with them, you can download or print the Protocols here or buy a small printed version here.

I went to Bootcamp because I am tired of workplaces where I cannot see the innate energy, skills and gifts people have.  I see lifeless disengaged employees and I want that to change. I wanted to experience working in a different way, for a week, where people feel connection. I want others to benefit from what I learned is possible.

In this Bootcamp, experimental learning requires an individual commitment to use the protocols, including all of the built in safety features. One of the first instructions to Bootcamp participants is: You are entering a simulation and you must pretend that the Protocols will work during the simulation.  There is no doubting their efficacy during bootcamp. Use them. Experience them. You will see the results.  It’s like entering a new building. You cannot appreciate fully from looking at the floor plans alone.  I believe it is in the doing that we learn how and why.

Before Bootcamp, we had a 100 page pre-bootcamp reading assignment to prepare us for this journey. We came from about 7 different nationalities and continents – we were about 15 people in total including a 13 year old. Below I share just a few salient aspects of Bootcamp and below that some other links for those who are still curious. 

Personal Alignment

During the Bootcamp itself, before working on the product that we were assigned to deliver by the end of the week, team members get to know each other.   The Personal Alignment itself takes the the form of articulating a virtue (love, courage, trust, presence, joy, health/self-care)  – one that if the skies rained down this virtue in abundance, all the ‘blocks’ to your personal achievement would be removed.

This aspect is about individuals discovering what they want, disclosing it, and then asking the team for support in the form of a signal/response pair.   Supporting each other in getting those virtues allows the team to be be strong!

I see a lot of analytical, technical, engineering type problem solvers slaving away at their day jobs. I wonder if they find joy, connection, support, and a sense of being ‘in’ with their team on a daily basis… I wonder if they know that over time, they will burn out from not feeling connected to others at work in a deeper way.  One of the reasons I value the Protocols, specifically Personal Alignment, Check In and Ask For Help so much is that they bring this me a strong sense of being connected to each member of the team.  Work should bring joy, and with the connectedness and safety, people will produce at their best.

At camp we used the Investigate protocol to learn more about each other. It is a time of deepening relationships on the team as the Alignments are explored. One person on the team at my Bootcamp wanted more Courage.  When he shared his signal throughout bootcamp: ‘I want Courage’, anyone present at that moment would yowl like a wolf as that was the response he asked for!  Alignments allow for personal growth.  Folks are encouraged to write down the evidences they will have when they know they are exhibiting more of their virtue. They are encouraged to report those evidences to team members, and ask for help when they need it.  This is incredibly powerful.

Web of Commitments

After personal alignments, the team performs a  web of commitments ceremony in which all the alignments, signals and responses are shared. We also share our desired evidences.  It’s a beautiful creation – coming from the increased bandwidth, self-disclosure, getting to know one another.

Shared Vision

Before making products, we create a shared vision. This is a brief statement about what we want the world to be like as a result of the product we are making. We create the vision before we even know what product we will be making… it is very aspirational, very inspiring as well.  One feels lifted above the dross and worry of procuring the stuff we’ll need…. and we did need stuff – read more about that later in the Managers section.

Making Products

After the Web of Commitments, we go to work producing. Now that we are more deeply connected with one another, we will reflect our best selves in our products.

We continue to use  Ask For Help, Check In, Check Out, Investigate, Intention Check, Decider, Perfection Game, Resolution, Protocol Check liberally as we produce stuff – in addition to to sharing our alignment prompts. We are completely self-organizing using our communication tools and discovering and sharing our talents.

Our team made a lot of cool things. There were sub teams of people creating things like a Gong stand, a robotic proximity sensor with stuff bought at Radio Shack, paintings, a Greatness Manifesto, an emotion/check in cube, a game, music and so forth.  By the end of the week, our goal was to showcase our best product to the ‘Managers’.


Jim and Michelle McCarthy who hosted the Bootcamp I attended played the ‘Manager’ role.   They showed up at times, as managers normally do, seeing how things were going, to see if we were using ‘Ask for Help’ protocol.  One of the big things folks get wrong with respect to management is not asking for help enough!  This is true on every Bootcamp they’ve ever run – and I’ve been noticing this a lot as a cultural phenomenon back at work. People who need things are afraid to ask for them! We had several team members who had been to a handful of bootcamps before, and they were not shy – and whatever support we needed (stuff to make our products), we asked for from Jim and Michelle, or just procured the items ourselves. Like some of the other newbies, I fell short of asking for help enough at Bootcamp by my own admission, but I’ve been practicing more since then. For example, I asked for a new laptop at my coaching gig and got it (the desktop I had was horribly outdated and slow, but I hadn’t thought to ask). 

I’ve been observing this lack of asking by others at work. It is a pervasive phenomenon that I had not really noticed much before. 

Closing Ceremony

At the end, we presented our best product to the managers.  We had everything available to see, but getting to unanimity on the product to showcase was HARD work.  Folks had invested a lot in some of the products, but because we had the ‘Decider’, ‘Resolution’ and ‘Intention Check’, ‘Check in’ and ‘Check out’ protocols, as well as our alignments, we were able to get all onboard and the best product out the door on time.  You can see our product, the Greatness Guild, and follow it as it continues to grow as an outcome of our team’s work.

McCarthy Bootcamps  demonstrate that installing ‘software for your head’ (the Protocols) magnifies a team’s capacity by helping people communicate!  See this invitation to the Fall 2015 Bootcamp and sign up now if you want to experience it.  

If you want to dig deeper on your own after reading this post, read Software for Your Head or listen to the McCarthy Show podcasts. A good podcast to start with is an interview with a Bootcamp grad who started using The Core Protocols at Microsoft. 


Intro to the ‘Ask for Help’ Core Protocol – I’m modelling how!

May 24, 2012

Asking for Help is one of the key skills your team members need to have if they would like to have successful outcomes, agile transitions, or superb products. Sadly, many people shy away from asking for help due to cultural conditioning as well as  rewards and compensation based on individual performance.

I am going to model for you the ‘Asking for Help’ protocol. This post is really about my asking you for help (see below in a minute). But first, I would love to share with you a little background on the Core Protocols for great teams.  If you are not familiar with the Core Protocols that originated with Jim and Michele McCarthy, pick up a new and valuable  book called ‘Creating Time’. In this wonderful introduction to the Core Protocols and Commitments, Vickie Gray tells us the story of the  Time-Eating Monster that lurks around every meeting and every interaction in the workplace feeding on the slightest opportunity to gobble up your precious time. The monster does this by feeding on dissonance, indecision and inaction, insecure egos and more.  But you can slay the monster and indeed you must.  The Core Protocols, of which ‘Ask for Help’ is one, is the way to slay the monster. And one of my offerings to you is to teach your teams the ‘Core Protocols’. The book does introduce a subset of the full set of protocols, interwoven with the storytelling. It makes a compelling case for improvement that you will relate to!

Now I will model the ‘Ask for Help’ protocol myself. It makes me fell a little vulnerable, but it will help me succeed!

Will you help me find an agile transformation gig in the DC area?

Saying No is perfectly ok. The Core Commitment for this protocol is not to discuss the request further once someone says ‘No’.

To help you out in answering my ‘Ask for Help’ question, I have summarized what I want to work on below.

  • Coach your teams to greatness with better communication skills, using one or more techniques such as:
    1. Introduce the basics of effective two way communication using the Satir Interaction model
    2. Train the team on Core Protocols patterns that make Good teams Great
    3. Help you develop the agile mindset/culture within your organization
    4. Teach  the principles of a ‘Thinking Environment’ culture (based on work of Nancy Kline)
    5. Teach retrospective techniques, principles of self-organizing teams, servant-leadership, and high trust cultures
    6. Teach you how to climb down the ‘Ladder of Inference’ and break down assumptions within your communication.
  • Train Kanban (using a combination of simulation games, Version 3.0 GetKanban board games and training material – I have two sets so can train up to 14 people in a 1/2 day session)
  • Coach Kanban Transition: help you model your current processes on a Kanban board and coach you through a Kanban adoption
  • Teach theory of and application of Scrum; coach Scrum teams
  • Introduce you to Principles and Practices of Radical Management
  • Help you navigate the use of social media outside your organization to improve your network of learning and support in your new initiatives
  • Make you aware of other resources, books, articles, blogs, specialized consultancies and conferences to augment your learning opportunities
  • Guide you, your team, or your executive leadership on a Temenos retreat to create a basis for developing strong teams and missions.
  • Coach individuals at all levels of your organization

Please contact me at if you know a place that needs my help!  My preferred work location is still in the immediate DC metro area. If you can’t help, thanks for reading anyway, and hopefully you have enjoyed learning about one of the ‘Core Protocols’.