The power of unlearning

Can you believe it’s December? I’m sure I’m not the only one noticing the days racing by. I think it’s a sign that a lot is happening

If I thought I would coast through November in the wake of the glory of my book launch (I didn’t think this fortunately!) I would have been wrong.

While I was lucky to have so many people show interest in my book prior to the official launch, the interest in my book was amazing! Before I knew it I was surrounded by Australia post satchels and piles of books. Lucky I had a system to act on orders quickly most people got their hands on High Performance Executive Leadership quickly.

The highlight of the month was spending two days with Barry O’Reilly learning his Unlearn workshop and being accredited as a facilitator. I almost casually mentioned it at the end of last newsletter and failed to convey how excited I was about it. It was amazing. I have been a long time fan of Barry and his work. I gave him a copy of my book, which, as you know, talks a lot to the importance of unlearning old habits and beliefs. He even offered a photo op which I said yes to!



Last month we talked about focusing on the important things – the work that brings benefit over time. I know I knuckled down hard and progressed Agile Quick Start and am thrilled to announce that it is officially live (and being purchased!). How did you go? Did you take some time to focus on your most important work?

This month, I reflected on what it meant to live aligned with my values – I found it valuable in helping me prioritise not just the work I do but the feedback I receive. You can find the blog I wrote here.

With this laser sharp focus in mind, welcome to the November Stand Up! I’m looking forward to sharing more about my month, and of course, looking forward to hearing about yours. Let’s calibrate, collaborate and iterate together.

Warm wishes,


The Agile Project Manager

P.S. Missed the October Stand Up? You can find it here.

  • Being accredited as an Unlearn facilitator has to be a highlight. Barry’s workshop is fantastic, and not only talks to WHY it’s important to unlearn, but also how to do it. There are heaps of interactive exercises, and plenty of opportunities to reflect on how to use the concepts personally. Big takeaway: It starts with my behaviour. Because, well, we can’t change others’ behaviour no matter how hard we try!
  • I ran a leadership offsite in the Mornington Peninsula. A stunning setting to talk all things 2020 goals and capability building with a motivated, high performing leadership team. It was a privilege to be invited back after running their offsite earlier in the year.
  • I’m working with a newly formed team to build their Agile capability through Agile Ready workshops, and it’s great to witness them form around some exciting goals and establish their operating rhythm. Nothing is better than hearing someone describe their job as “the best job in the world”. Because we all deserve that don’t we?
  • My take out summary from facilitating (and participating!) this month:
    • Being clear on the outcomes you want from participating in training is so important. As a trainer I see the benefits, and as a learner this month, it was essential for me. I got so much more out of Implementing SAFe as I knew exactly what I wanted from it.
    • One course/method/practice will not solve all your problems. If you don’t have a team/organisational operating model, Agile will not provide it for you (there are activities that will help facilitate it though). If you don’t have a way of capturing and managing delivered risk, SAFe does not magically provide it (although again, there are activities that will provide opportunities to discuss it).
    • You haven’t truly learned something until you have put it into practice. A training gives you enough to go out into the world and ‘do the do’.
    • Learning from others’ experience at applying their learnings is incredibly valuable at creating more reference points of understanding.
    • You are definitely doing better than you think. Rather than focus on the technical elements of your Agile team practices (is our stand up going for longer than 15 minutes etc), ask yourself: Are you getting the results you are after? If so, keep doing what you’re doing. If not, look at how your team is working – what could be improved?
    • You cannot change the opinion of someone who has not reached that opinion through reason (heard on a podcast, fine-tuned by a barrister). Still pondering this…
  • Strengths workshops have also continued to be important – as Agile teams recognise Strengths as a potential secret sauce, or the extra ‘fuel’ needed to lift capability and engagement. I was asked to contribute to a Meetup and share my experience in this area, and it was great to share how I have coached Agile teams to utilise and leverage their Strengths to great effect. I’ve summarised the offering here. It really is a super power!
  • I’ve continued to get some great feedback on my Agile online course (Agile WOW). If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s easy, and a great way to get up to speed on the behaviours critical to working in an Agile way. More modules to come!

Working on

Continuing to refine my workshop offerings (in between delivering them of course!), and planning/scheduling next year. After becoming SAFe Certified, I have a number of Leading SAFe courses booked in as well, so lots to look forward to in 2020!

I’m also continuing to build out Agile QuickStart and have a few bonuses planned which is exciting. If you haven’t checked it out already, please do!

I’m also recording the audio version of The Agile Project Manager. You can find the Introduction chapter here. Let me know what you think!

Getting in way

Last month I worked on taking the time to work on things that are not immediately beneficial to my business but have great long term benefits. This continues to be important this month. Especially as December is very much about finishing ahead of fresh new challenges in the new year. Finishing often means focusing on that last 10% that feels like it’s lasting forever. So my focus is getting through those finishing tasks so open more space for creativity and opportunity. I use the concept of ‘Admin Sprint’ in my day where I set a timer and focus on nothing but administrative ‘finishing’ tasks.

How do you ensure you get through these commitments without taking too much time away from creativity?

Next month




Agile Ready and Leading SAFe workshops feature at the start of the month. I’m also publishing the final modules (and bonuses) in Agile QuickStart and continuing recording of The Agile Project Manager audio. In the week before Christmas I’m taking a week out to spend at Elysia – a health retreat full of yoga, meditation and amazing food. Most importantly it provides the space to do my 2020 goal setting.

Are you taking time out this month to set your intentions for 2020?



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About Emma Sharrock

Emma is the author of The Agile Project Manager: Thrive in Change with Agile. An experienced change leader, Emma is passionate about working with people to facilitate successful change. Emma utilises Agile techniques, coupled with the Agile mindset to coach leaders and teams to achieve their business goals.