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.
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.
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.
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.
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.