The Agile For Agilists Podcast

Breaking Agile Boundaries: Behavior Design Unleashed for Agile Transformations with Dom Michalec

May 16, 2023
The album cover for Season Two Episode Eight of the Agile For Agilist Podast featuring a picture of special guest Dom Michalec, who is a product development coach and behavioral product designer.
Agile For Agilists
Breaking Agile Boundaries: Behavior Design Unleashed for Agile Transformations with Dom Michalec

Welcome to another exciting episode of "The Agile For Agilists Podcast" hosted by Brad Nelson and Drew Podwal. In this episode, we have the pleasure of welcoming our special guest, behavioral design and product coach, Dom Michalec. Join us as we explore the elements of behavioral design and how this method can unlock the potential within your teams and revolutionize the way agile coaches approach facilitating transformation journeys.

During this insightful conversation, Dom shares his wealth of experience in creating user-centric and behavior-driven design solutions in contrast to facilitating organizational change by combining the principles of human behavior and agile methodologies. As an avid student of Dr. BJ Fogg and Tiny Habits Certified Coach, Dom highlights how the Fogg Behavior Model enables coaches to identify and align motivations, abilities, and prompts within individuals, fostering a fertile ground for agile adoption.

Dom shares how this approach can be used both for good and evil, as well as how to apply it in your own life to finally build the habits you have been struggling with for years. While this method is definitely a life hack, Dom assures us that it is not the Jedi Mind Trick. It can be just as powerful though in the right hands!

Throughout the episode, Brad, Drew, and Dom engage in a dynamic conversation that delves into the practical applications of behavioral design principles and how they can be seamlessly integrated into both product design and the agile transformation process. Listeners will gain a high-level understanding of what Behavior Design is, along with actionable tips for integrating these strategies into agile events, such as sprint planning, daily stand-ups, and retrospectives, to optimize collaboration, enhance productivity, and foster a continuous improvement mindset.

Join us on "The Agile For Agilists Podcast" as we uncover the immense potential of leveraging behavioral design strategies in driving an enterprise's agile transformation. Get ready to transform your organization into an agile powerhouse that thrives on human-centric principles!


S02-E08 – Dom Behavoir Driven Development

[00:00:00] Brad Nelson: Welcome to this episode of the Agile for Agilists podcast. I am your host, Brad Nelson. And with me as always is Drew Podwal.

[00:00:10] Drew Podwal: Hello? Hello, hello.

[00:00:12] Brad Nelson: And I’m pretty excited for our guest today. He’s one of my favorite people in the world. Dom McKay. used to work together. He is an avid, avid learner, someone that I try to keep up with and fail.

Uh, and he’s gonna join us today to talk about behavioral design. Say hi Dom.

[00:00:30] Dom Michalec: Hey, what’s up everyone? Brad, I didn’t realize I was one of your favorite people. That’s, , it’s quite an honor, man. I appreciate it.

[00:00:36] Brad Nelson: Yeah, well that’s what the podcast is about, sending some love to everyone. so, uh, let’s do a little bit of an intro from you, Dom. Why don’t you tell our listeners just a little bit about yourself.

[00:00:46] Dom Michalec: Yeah, absolutely. Uh, name’s obviously Dom McKay. right now professionally, I work as a, product coach, with a company called Pathfinder Product here in Columbus, Ohio, actually based outta Grandview. Uh, and as Brad alluded to, been studying and practicing behavior design now for a little over at this point, three, four years formally, uh, which has been great.

really enjoy the topic, really, uh, love introducing it to teams and seeing the, effects that it could have on a team, very quickly, uh, and in short order. so I’m super passionate about the topic. I think it is so applicable to not only what I do, but what other folks. do in their professions, but based upon what, you know, the habits they want to build or the new behaviors that they want to adopt.

it’s a pretty exciting topic.

[00:01:38] Brad Nelson: Awesome. And so you’ve mentioned habits, but what exactly is behavior design?

[00:01:44] Dom Michalec: Uh, behavior design is essentially a practice of designing favorable behaviors that you want to adopt. So to put it in the terms that, Dr. BJ Fogg, who, created behavior design, it’s all about really a couple things. Helping people or yourself do the things you already want to do in helping other people or yourself feel the success of doing those things so they become habitual in nature and easier to do as time goes on. Those are his three key maxims behind the idea of behavior design.

[00:02:19] Brad Nelson: Awesome. and my understanding is that this is what, social media uses when we complain about social media being addictive. They use this in what we might call a negative way.

[00:02:29] Dom Michalec: Sure, sure. Yeah. No, I mean, I think the, the reason why I even got into behavior design was because I wanted to learn why these habits or why these products were so habit forming and so, deductive of our own attention. it was just a really fascinating topic for me, especially as someone who works in product.

Not that I wanted to learn how to do it for product. I wanted to learn why it was so effective. and I would like to say, as of recently I’ve seen more and more examples of companies using behavior designed for good. there is, not to, not a promo, but there is a company here in town, in Columbus called and Health, which worked with Dr.

BJ Fogg. And learning his models and methods for behavior designed to help people reduce, instances of, , of migraines. and I think that’s just a really cool way of applying his, concepts for good, uh, as opposed to maybe the more, scandalous and more, approaches to, creating habit-forming products,

[00:03:32] Drew Podwal: So, what are some of the products for you that have become habitual?

[00:03:38] Dom Michalec: uh, for better or worse. good question, Drew. Thank you. Uh, for better or worse, habitual, products that I use, they all kind of have one key theme in common. And that is they are really, really good at prompting me to use their products at the right time. I think the most famous one, especially.

Since 2020 is Slack, right? Slack does a great job of prompting me to interact with Slack, um, and it’s become habitual. quite honestly at this point. Whenever I fire up my computer in the morning, slack automatically opens, and I get the dings, I get the notifications. so like I said, for better or worse, slack is one of those products.

another habitual product or another product I use habitually, is my phone, right? for all the different apps that I could possibly have on my phone, my phone does a really, really good job of prompting me to interact with it on a day-to-day basis. so I would say between all the products, slack and the iPhone are probably, again, for better or worse, are probably the most habitual products I use on a day in and day out basis.

[00:04:41] Drew Podwal: And so, which ones do you appreciate the most? Right? Like, I feel like there’s, I, I know for me, for instance, there’s, there’s some notifications that I get that just annoy me and at some point I’m gonna figure out how to dial them in and I will at some point figure out how to dial them to get them to the right levels or whatnot.

but what, what are some of the ones that you feel like hook you at the right time and get you in the right way?

[00:05:07] Dom Michalec: yeah, that’s a great question. I, think about it in terms of what I have agency versus what the technology or the product has agency and giving me to do something in a particular instance. So I’ll give you an example of a product that I love to use helps me do what I already want to do, and in a way has been, a product that, I habitually use on a day in, day out basis.

And that’s my coffee maker. now my coffee maker does not prompt me to use it. but I’ve created and designed, the space in which, I interact with my coffee maker to make it habitual in use. So, to give you an example, like I have this habit in the morning. The moment my feet hit the floor in the kitchen, I will go and turn on my coffee maker and it’ll brew me a cup of coffee.

and I, cause I was thinking about this before this podcast, it’s hard for me to like, think about it in that way anymore because it’s just been so habitual. I, I do it automatically. but nonetheless, I’ve designed my environment and I have prompted myself to use this product in a way by using an existing behavior like me walking into the kitchen in the morning.

To prompt me to use that coffee maker. So to answer your question, I love my coffee maker and I use it habitually and it, uh, helps me do the things that I already want to do, which is get a cup of coffee in the morning.

[00:06:27] Drew Podwal: I definitely agree with that.

you know, one of the things I’ve noticed recently is especially, I just turned 48, Monday, you know, I’m getting up early sometimes, right? There’s sometimes I get up in the morning to use the bathroom. I check my phone, and then sometimes I go back to sleep, and then sometimes I start my day.

But I feel like my phone. And the apps on my phone kind of know when I’m just checking my phone and I’m gonna go back to

bed and when I’m checking my phone and I’m up, right? Because there’s, there’s that delay after I start like checking email and checking Reddit and checking LinkedIn. And then usually after like a certain sequence of things, my phone’s like, all right, Drew’s up for the day. You know? and that’s when all the alerts like start coming in. And I, I’ve noticed that definitely dialing in right? Which is really wild and a little bit scary you know, that it knows that about me. and I appreciate that, you know,

[00:07:29] Brad Nelson: do you have an iPhone too? Drew.

[00:07:30] Drew Podwal: I do have an iPhone. Yes.

[00:07:32] Brad Nelson: I’ve worked in mobile apps for a while, so I’m a L, like it’s changed since then. But I know that the different operating systems act differently and Apple is much bigger on trying to decide when you’re busy and when you’re not.

[00:07:45] Drew Podwal: yeah. with the newest release of Ventura on O S X, , there’s a setting that allows me to select that, like when I’m using certain apps, it’ll change, the notifications. not just whether or not I can be contacted or not, or I’m gonna get notifications or not, but , when I’m using certain apps, I can set it to, certain other apps.

Are silenced and other apps aren’t silenced. Or I can have different user groups where if I’m using a certain app, then you know, my family can still reach me. and I’ve been using that for the podcast as well. I have a, a focus setting on Ventura now that’s called podcast, that, that just shuts everybody out.


[00:08:28] Dom Michalec: yeah. You’re, you’re reducing the prompts. It’s funny you bring that up, Drew because, um, Brad, you, you, you and I, we went to Product Camp Pittsburgh last year, and I used this example with the, with the phone, to drive home the fact that there’s only really three key main variables that drive every single human behavior out there. So I asked everyone in the crowd, I was like, Hey, you know, think about the last time you received a phone call or a text message, and you didn’t answer it right away. I want you to write down all the reasons why you didn’t answer that text or that phone call. And so I gave everyone time to do that and blah, blah, whatever.

And then, and then I stopped everyone. I said, okay, I want you to raise your left hand. If you wrote down a reason or multiple reasons around the fact that, you saw who was calling you, maybe was your father-in-law, mother-in-law, someone, a phone number that you didn’t recognize and you weren’t motivated to actually answer because you just knew it was gonna be an awful conversation.

And, you know, everyone put their left hand up. And I said, okay, now hold up your right hand. If the reason why you didn’t answer the phone call or text message is because your phone, you just weren’t able to, it was too hard to answer the phone call. Maybe you’re running on a treadmill, or, were carrying a bag of groceries and you couldn’t get to your phone.

Whatever the reason is, it was just too hard to answer the text of the, or the phone call. And the vast majority of people put the right hand up. And I said, okay, now put your two hands together if the reason why you didn’t answer the phone call or the text message, cuz you didn’t hear, you weren’t notified.

You weren’t prompted, you didn’t hear the phone going off or you didn’t hear the little ding and everyone clapped their hands together. Like there you go. And that, and, and really what it boils down to is all human behavior. And this is, this is obviously, Dr. Fogg’s model here. So I’m speaking on behalf of, someone who’s put in the decades studying this stuff.

it’s a very elegant model where if there’s enough motivation to do something and that behavior is easy enough to do, the moment you’re prompted to do that behavior, you’re gonna do that behavior. The motivation’s low or it’s too hard to do the moment you’re notified, you’re not gonna do the behavior and you’re probably gonna get frustrated if you continually get prompted.

So I tell that story cuz Drew, you had mentioned, you know, you, you know, sometimes you get prompted to do something, you get the dings, you just like, you’re just annoyed. Well, it’s because you’re not motivated. You just know that they’re annoying to you cuz you’re just not motivated to take action on it.

Or it’s just too hard or too frustrating for you to take action on it. And that’s where you notice a lot of times when people don’t do behaviors. It’s not because one way or another they, it’s too easy or too hard, or they have too much motivation or not enough motivation. It’s just the right mixture of motivation and ability.

At the point of being prompted to do something will dictate whether or not someone will actually take, do that behavior.

[00:11:11] Drew Podwal: You know, and we were talking about ADHD before we started recording today, and, and we were talking about the, the, the ways that we capture the ideas that come floating past our front of mind. and, and I take the same approach with managing my own adhd, is that like I want to have systems in place that allow me to grab that thing out of the air, that idea, and put it into the right bucket so I can grab onto it later, or, Or if I’m sitting on my couch just lollygagging, cuz I do that sometimes.

and I suddenly get an idea to do something and I do want to jump on it. I want to make sure that I have the things around me to then take those steps into action so I can get moving into action on it right away. like a, a classic example for me is if my desk isn’t clean, I have a hard time doing certain types of work, right?

So keeping my desk clean is important because it’s keeping the space open for me to jump into action. When the, and I’m using the idea of like a thought or an idea passing as a notification, right? My own internal ding system that, that says, clean your closet or whatever that is, you know, it’s, I, I like to look at it as my energy level and the idea intersect. with the pathway of ease to actually jumping into action. And I think that’s kind of like what you’re describing as well, right?

[00:12:38] Dom Michalec: Yeah, a little bit. And I think you hit on something really interesting there, Drew, in that not all prompts are created equal, and not all prompts happen outside the context of yourself. There are times where you have internal prompts, there are some times where a behavior that you take prompts you to do another behavior.

And then there are, there, there are those more external prompts that come from elsewhere. But you mentioned like an internal prompt or this idea that, that you’re remembering to do something. those are very common, right? I think the most common one that every human across the world can appreciate is when you have to go to the bathroom, that’s an internal prompt.

Your body is telling you, Hey, It’s probably a good idea to go to the bathroom right now. as well as behavior prompts. I’m sure a lot of folks out there, uh, the moment they close their front door, they immediately lock it, right? Or they take some action. They, you know, whatever. I, I, in a lot of cases, they don’t even think about it.

The behavior of closing the door prompts them to then lock the door, And we don’t think about these things, right? We, we don’t, we, there’s no, we’re not thinking like, oh yeah, I was prompted to lock my door. But the behavior of constantly doing one behavior followed up that with a similar, or, or, analogous behavior that you are being prompted you.

So there’s three different types of prompts. There’s the internal prompt, there’s the context prompt, which we’re laden with all day, every day. And then there’s the behavior prompt. Uh, uh, doing a behavior prompts you to do another behavior immediately after that.

[00:14:05] Brad Nelson: it makes me think of smoking. so 10 years this month. Since I haven’t had a cigarette. but I did smoke for 10 years and so there’s definitely some of those things where it’s like you get in the car time to light up.

[00:14:18] Dom Michalec: The moment you closed the door, right?

[00:14:21] Brad Nelson: Yeah. And there’s definitely those prompts. You start to notice more, like even if you just had a cigarette, when you put yourself into one of those prompts, it’s like, oh, doesn’t matter. I want another now.

[00:14:33] Dom Michalec: yeah. And you were motivated and you had the ability to do it. You probably had cigarettes readily available, and cigarettes are really motivating you to have another one, so Yeah, 

absolutely. Absolutely. 

[00:14:44] Drew Podwal: So like thinking about like PR product design, right? And I also want to back away from the conversation a little bit with my questions and give you the floor to, to tell us like, and drop all this great knowledge, but like where do you bake this in from a digital product development perspective?

[00:15:02] Dom Michalec: Yeah, two levels to this. There is, so in, in my work, I work primarily with product teams, right? So I’m working with product managers, engineers, designers, to help them and coach them on building great products for their users. But there have been times, in my career, even, with Pathfinder, where I have been tasked with building a product and, being that product manager, for a company that needs help in some area.

so to answer your question, uh, I’ll start with the, the first, or I guess I’ll start with the second, flow there. When I approach product, I am the product manager. I’m working with a great team to build a great product for users. How do I, how do I use behavior design to create a successful product? And it really boils down to those two main maxim. So every, every conversation that I have with a potential user, a customer or whomever, I’m always asking myself, what is it that these people ultimately want to do? regardless of, what I plan on building, regardless of, uh, what I could possibly, ask my engineers to build for them, what are they ultimately trying to do and how can we make it easier for them to do that? So I’ll give you an example. I was working with a company, this time last year. Can’t name the company, but if you’re wearing jeans, They might’ve invented those. Um, but, uh, regardless, uh, I was tasked with helping to build out an internal product for, their internal team who is responsible for global planning, and specifically they’re responsible for ensuring that the right amount of product got to the right store at the right time, in forecasting they needed, they needed instrumentation or to do their job successfully. In working with these folks, it was clear what they ultimately wanted to do was they wanted the ability to quickly and easily build out these things, which are called like size curves. these size curves are basically visual representations of the volume of product relative to the percentage, that they plan on sending to a particular customer at any point in time.

they wanted the ability to quickly and easily create these. So that’s what they wanna do. They, they were motivated by this because this was a big part of their job, but it was a very cumbersome process for them right now. they knew how to do it. they could use Excel and I think it was like four or five different systems to come up with, pretty close to what they think would be an acceptable submission for this piece of work. So I focus in on, okay, how can I make it easier for them to do this? And not just me, I had an entire team. I had a great, oh my gosh, my, the guy, the guy I worked with who my, my UX designer and researcher, he was incredible at surfacing insights and understanding what it was these folks really ultimately wanted to do. And come to find out, we were able to basically make it as easy as possible for these folks to create these size curves. We use, ai, we use machine learning models. To essentially take, I don’t want to overstate the, the impact here, but we took a, we took a process that, that involved using five different systems and essentially distilled it down to one to two clicks to create these size curves. it was fantastic. Um, and not to say like, you know, they just adopted, uh, whatever the machine learning model, presented to them and spit back to them in this one click. They, they had human discernment to adjust things as time went along, but nonetheless, we focused in on how can we make it easier to help them do the things they wanna do.

I e create these, these models and how can we make them feel successful? How can we help them feel the success of doing that? So they wanna do it over and over and over again. Even though it’s their job, it’s still a job and it’s still something they have to do. So how can we make them feel successful? So it creates that motivation to come back and do it again and again and again, and become even more successful.

And quicker and faster to produce these models than it was previously.

[00:19:11] Drew Podwal: I love that your example there is a back office system and not like something that gets sold to a customer. Right? Because I think that that was where my mind was going first was, well, you know, how do you fit behavioral design into a back office 

system Where, where maybe there’s not as much recognition for creating these systems that are habitual, that encourage, focus on an outcome and and guide people down.

The, the rabbit hole to the place where they’re trying to actually get to, you know, you see that a lot more in, in front end 

product design as opposed to like back office product design. 

[00:19:51] Dom Michalec: Yeah. No, I, and I take a pretty, for better or worse, I take a pretty broad definition of outcome. For me, an outcome is, a newer change in a current behavior, regardless of who’s doing the behavior, regardless of, who we’re trying to create this outcome for. At the end of the day, we’re trying to create a new behavior or change in existing behavior in some way, shape or form. One of the rallying cries for this product was, you know, when we were doing our, our problem discovery with these internal folks, uh, we heard a lot of stories around, you know, I have to, I have to stay up at night to do this stuff. And we had this one, one gentleman, uh, he was awesome and he was telling us a story about how he had to, debate whether or not he was going to go on a brewery tour trip with his friends or, or continue to work.

And we kind of used him as like a rallying cry. It’s like, okay, how can we help him not have to decide between going to a brewery tour and doing his work? which had nothing to do with product as you think about it, but. It was a great empathy exercise, and it became like our rallying cry. It’s like we had like this mantra almost of like brewery tours over work.

 but we had a problem to solve, but we had a behavior behind the problem that we’re ultimately trying to change. And the outcome of that was, he didn’t have to choose between going on brewery tours with his friends, and work. He’d get his work done at a reasonable hour and have both.

So it was cool to kind of have that, that outcome be the rallying cry behind the product work that we did day in and day out.

[00:21:23] Brad Nelson: Yeah, behavior design for good, getting us to the brewery. I love

[00:21:27] Dom Michalec: yeah. yeah. No, i, behavior design, whether you use it at for yourself or you use it, to influence behavior change in other people, I think that there’s something that needs to be said here. And I think it comes to the ethics behind behavior design. And, and Dr. Fogg to his, to his credit, acknowledges this and he talks about it a lot. If the goal of the person trying to change your behavior is different than your own goal, then we have an ethics concern. Like for instance, um, if you’ve ever watched, the Social Dilemma at this point by Tristan Harris. Tristan Harris, for, for Context was actually a student of Dr.

Fogg’s at, at Stanford. And he has this 

really interesting example of, uh, Snapchat and, how it is extractive, in nature of, of young teens. And the example he used there to describe the ethical dilemma is that the, the company, Snapchat has a very different goal than young Susie Q or Timmy using Snapchat for entertainment purposes, right?

You have like 10,000 developers behind a screen trying to extract and trying to make things easier. For young, young teens to do for a completely different goal than the user does in this case. So for me, that’s where the ethical concern behind behavior design surfaces. But if you’re aligning your goal for behavior change with the goal of the person that you’re trying to change behavior of, you have some really exciting possibilities there.

for good in, in a lot of cases.

[00:23:01] Drew Podwal: You know, I’m thinking about, like right now I’m working with a company and we’re creating a, a pipeline, an end-to-end pipeline with their, uh, they have multiple sales floors that then lead into a delivery, mechanism where, where they’re doing a service for, for customers. And, we’re creating two primary systems.

One’s a CRM and one’s a work, work management for delivery system. And, uh, we’re, we’re designing it so that. The salespeople can stay in the CRM and the delivery people can stay in, in their work management system. But sometimes there’s an instance where there’s an 

overlap and, you know, I’m trying to create this scenario where, where we’re feeding back the right information back and forth across the aisle that allows for everybody to stay in their, system of record.

and I’m sitting here thinking about this, in contrast to what you’re saying and, and, you know, trying to create a transitional workflow potentially instead of going straight to that ultimate state where I’m like forcing everybody to adopt new methodologies, but doing it in a more iterative and slow rollout way where I can change the behavior over time to keep, to, to move people into the system where they should be.

[00:24:21] Dom Michalec: Mm-hmm.

[00:24:22] Drew Podwal: As opposed to creating that hard divide, is that like, are we talking about the same sort of thing here when I’m thinking about it in that regard, or, or, or am I off the

[00:24:32] Dom Michalec: you you said something interesting. No. Uh, on the Mark Drew, but you said something interesting there. there’s a difference between helping people do the things they want to do and even ourselves, and a difference between that and a difference, between what we think they should do. Right? so what I want to do and what I should do can be two completely different things, What I want to do, is, I want, you know, I want to go out and get five guys burgers, but in my mind, like, oh, I should really have a salad and not say like, you know, I’m just gonna make it easier for myself to get a five guys burger. or I’m gonna make it easier, for what I think people should be doing.

I’m gonna make those behaviors easier. But I think it’s, it’s really interesting to think about it in terms of, okay. When someone interacts with one of these systems, what do they ultimately want to do? Not necessarily what, what we think they should do, but what do they ultimately want to do and how can we design it in a way that helps ’em do those things?

CRMs are very interesting. personally, I, uh, I’ve seen a lot of cases where people just don’t use it for whatever reason. It’s not because they don’t think it’s great and valuable, but it just doesn’t help them. Like they’ve already, they’ve already done the work and now they have to record it in a system.

But regardless of, of that, action, what do they ultimately want to do? Well, they want to remember, they wanna be able to remember what was said and what was discussed and what was decided, during a client site visit. It’s like, okay, well how can we help them do that? do we have to design a system that requires them to spend an hour every single day at the end of the day trying to remember what they did and didn’t do at a meeting and record it?

Or is there another more elegant way where we can help them? Still remember and trigger their memory for what transpired having to be explicit about it, I don’t have the answer, but I, what you said was really interesting.

Cuz should, and you know, what they ultimately want to do can be two completely different things and with

behavior design, it’s focused on helping people do the things they want to do.

[00:26:28] Drew Podwal: One of the things that I’ve helped them to kind of shift a bit is, initially if you ask them what they want, what they want is to close sales. All right? But what they should want, and I know I’m using should, what they should want is to close the sale in a way where it results in, um, a more likely successful delivery of, of the services that have been sold.

and I’ve helped them to realize that what they should be looking at is that more successful. Because if it’s not successful, then it winds up coming back to them, which takes them away from their ability to make money by selling, 

because they’re spending more time. And so I’ve, part of the way that I’ve designed that system was to help them to see that part of it, as opposed to just seeing the, the closure of

[00:27:18] Dom Michalec: sure. Okay. That, that’s a lot clearer for me and I appreciate you explaining that. I think what we’re talking about here is the difference between an aspiration and a behavior. I’ll give you an example. want to run a marathon. That’s an aspiration. That’s not something I can just up, stand up and do, like right this second, right?

I, I wanna be able to save $500 right? Now, I can’t just pull up my wallet and, put it in my phone and have that electronically sent to my bank. Like, those are, those are aspirations. At the end of the day, we talk about a behavior, we’re talking about the very small thing that they could possibly do right this second with no intervention, So the behavior is, or the aspiration, if you will, is built up of a bunch of little different behaviors. At the end of the day, if I wanna run a marathon, well, what could I do? I could put my shoes on right now, that’s a behavior. Um, I could tie my shoes. That’s a behavior. I could quickly stretch all these things culminate to the aspiration eventually of me running that marathon.

So I think that’s the, that’s the nuance we’re talking about here is the, the aspirational aspect versus the tiny behaviors to, to reach that aspiration.

[00:28:36] Drew Podwal: Got it. That makes sense.

[00:28:37] Brad Nelson: Interesting. So does BJ Fog have anything I’ll say in kind of like a OCM sense of how do I get people to want to do something?

[00:28:48] Dom Michalec: how do I get people to want to do something? yeah, I th I mean, there is, he has some really, really cool kind of mini workshops that you can do with yourself. but the idea here is to tie this together is to state the aspiration and clarify the aspiration, right? Instead of saying, you know, I wanna run a marathon. Um, maybe, maybe the true aspiration is I just wanna live a healthier lifestyle, whatever that may look like, I don’t know. 

But really really focus in on clarifying that aspiration. And then, if you read the book Tiny Habits or, or you practice behavior design, he has this really great exercise, I think it’s called behavior swarming, where essentially you just write all the little different behaviors that you could possibly do.

You don’t, and you don’t edit yourself all the different behaviors you could possibly do to reach that aspiration. And on the vertical axis, you kind of map out, okay, relative to other behaviors, is this behavior going to, uh, help me, achieve this aspiration? Is it, is it highly likely that if I do this behavior, it would help me achieve this aspiration?

Now on the horizontal axises, the likelihood that I actually want to do it? Right. So anything in the upper left-hand quadrant are kind of like, what, what he refers to as like your golden behaviors. They’re, you’re, they’re, they’re gonna be instrumental in helping you reach that aspiration. You actually want to do them. and there were a lot of times where even my own personal life, there was a lot of things that I didn’t think I wanted to do, but when I saw it laid out against all the little different behaviors that I brainstormed on my desk, I was like, oh, wow. I actually, relative to some of these other things, I actually do want to do this.

so in that respect, it’s if you identify all the possible, not all of ’em, but you know, you identify a, a, a magnitude of behaviors that could help you reach an aspiration relative to one another, you’ll be really surprised that some of the things that you thought you didn’t want to do, uh, you ultimately end up wanting to do.

At least in my own personal case. I think everyone’s mileage will vary there, but I hope that answers the question.

[00:30:48] Brad Nelson: Yeah. I’m trying to figure out if I can Jedi mind trick people, with BJ Fogg’s approach to it. And I’m just curious, when I think about, if we go back to social media,

[00:30:57] Dom Michalec: Mm-hmm.

[00:30:58] Brad Nelson: before I used social media, I never knew that I wanted someone to click an imaginary thumb right on a post, and that wasn’t something that I desired.

However, it’s designed in a way to trigger the dopamine release of, oh, somebody like that. I like dopamine, so I am going to start hunting for likes. Even though that wasn’t something I ever knew that I wanted,

[00:31:24] Dom Michalec: Mm-hmm.

[00:31:25] Brad Nelson: especially for those of us that are older than social media, we didn’t have that growing up.

So it wasn’t something we expected. It wasn’t something I would say we were indoctrinated in. It was a behavior that was kind of put on to us. And I’m curious if this, if that aligns with this same kind of approach to behavior or if there’s something else going on there.

[00:31:46] Dom Michalec: this hits the bedrock of behavior design actually. There has been a mountain of evidence to, and, and BJ’s been a part of this. Dr. Fox has been a part of this research, in a lot of cases, leading this research, that debunks the idea that repetition creates habit, doing something more often, it becomes habitual.

You know, if you do the same thing for 27 days, it’s gonna become a habit. What actually creates habits are emotions and more specifically positive emotions. So when your brain expects a certain reward for doing something, and the actual reward exceeds what your brain like you said, it opens up the dopamine chain and it creates a sense of euphoria and pleasure.

And you have positive emotions, you feel happy, you’re more likely to do that behavior again in the future because your brain is now wired to think, Ooh, I like that. I wanna do that again, because I like how it made me feel. So when we talk about behavior design, I, I think BJ puts it out, across a, a spectrum you know, decisions all the way towards the left hand side and reflexes on the right hand side and a behavior.

And there’s no mathematical mathematics behind this, but you’ll notice that a behavior moves closer to a reflex, the more positive the emotion you feel while you do it.

[00:33:06] Brad Nelson: Mm-hmm.

[00:33:06] Dom Michalec: Um, so in that case, Brad, what I’m saying, what I, what I think you’re saying is it felt good for people to interact with your content,

which made you feel like you wanted to create more content.

And it became habitual because you were, and a lot of people do this, like they, they, they, they hunt for likes, they hunt 

for interaction, they hunt for people. To, to feel something, uh, based upon what what you provide to them. but that’s, that’s the emo that, that you’re feeling positive emotions.

And whenever you log in and you see the little, red icon, you click on it, you say, Hey, someone else liked my post. Like, that feels good 

and you’re probably gonna do it again in the future to continue to feel that way. Um, so I think what you’re talking about is actually the bedrock of behavior design, is that it’s not repetition that creates a habit.

Repetition just makes a behavior easier to do.

[00:33:53] Brad Nelson: Mm-hmm.

[00:33:54] Dom Michalec: you feel while doing it or immediately after doing it, that will indicate whether or not that will move closer to a reflex as opposed to a decision and ultimately become a habit or not.

[00:34:05] Brad Nelson: it makes me think a little bit of change in an organization as a coach or as a manager. When I’m trying to promote a certain behavior. I recognize that behavior.

[00:34:16] Dom Michalec: Mm-hmm.

[00:34:17] Brad Nelson: Right. Somebody does something that I’m trying to get them to do. I, give them appreciation of some kind, right? I give them praise. I’m like, oh, that was amazing.

I, I publicly announce it to the team. Or I do something, I give them something and it can be even something that I’ve asked them to do. But then I’m like, well, let’s make a big deal about that. And then when they do something I don’t want them to do, I don’t, I don’t really respond.

[00:34:41] Dom Michalec: Hmm.

[00:34:42] Brad Nelson: and, and that’s something that I’ve definitely, I would say, used throughout my career. And I’m kind of having a little bit of an epiphany moment here where it’s like, I, I think that is similar where I’m creating this reward for this behavior that makes people feel good, so they’re more likely to do the thing I want them to do.

[00:35:01] Dom Michalec: Yeah. and, and that goes a long way in, motivation. So we think about motivation. Uh, we’re really motivated by one or two things, the reward. Or, the assurance that we’re not going to be, hurt in any way. Right? And if you remember what we talked about, I think earlier in the podcast, this idea of helping people do the things they want to do and helping them feel the success of doing that. The reason why that second maxim is there is because that is what’s going to hardwire that behavior into becoming a habit. More and more and more. If you help people feel the success of doing the things they want to do, it’s gonna create that dopamine rush. It’s gonna create that, reward prediction, fault almost, where it’s like the brain expected it to, to feel this good, but actually felt, you know, even greater.

It felt awesome and I feel great. I I want to do this again. what you said there was really insightful because for me, when you talk about transformation efforts or you talk about, changing people’s behavior, whatever it may be, it always starts at that very, very small level of. not necessarily me praising you, but helping you feel the success of what you just did.

Cuz my praise is only gonna go so far. But if you feel the success that’s gonna create success, momentum for you, it’s gonna move you along the behavior model. And, uh, you’ll, you’ll notice you’ll be able to do harder and harder behaviors because your motivation is going to stay fairly high. Now, motivation fluctuates.

That’s why even in behavior design, we, we kind of shy away from honing in on motivation and, and motivating people to do things because that’s the least, predictable of the three variables between ability and prompts. But nonetheless, it, is a variable in behavior. It’s something we need to keep an eye on.

But if people feel their success, it’s gonna shoot their motivation through the roof and it’s gonna allow them to do even bigger, bad or better things.

[00:36:55] Brad Nelson: Yeah, when we talk about like, parenting is what I’m gonna go with. And Simon Sinek has said that his favorite leadership books are parenting books. And so I think it’s relevant to the workplace as well. We often say that people are motivated by, I’ll say, pain avoidance

[00:37:15] Dom Michalec: Mm-hmm.

[00:37:16] Brad Nelson: or rewards. And it seems, and I’m definitely no expert in this, although psychology is a, a passion of mine.

Uh, I have no degree self-taught. So probably not the wisest. Uh, however, when we think about it, you know, we tend to think of kids of like, I, I touched the hot stove. It burned my hands. That sucked. I’m not doing that again. Does this, uh, behavioral design, BJ Fogg, does he talk about that at all, like pain verse reward, or is just everyone motivated in his eyes or in his approach with the reward?

[00:37:53] Dom Michalec: Uh, so there’s a, there’s a couple, I think this is touched on more. When he talks about motivation, there’s motivational vectors, right? You can have, opposing motivations or conflicting motivations, for the same behavior or motivations for two completely separate behaviors, right? You can be motivated to both have a bowl of ice cream and also go on a run.

so those are two different behaviors and, and your motivation is gonna be conflicted as to whether or not you do one of those two behaviors. But also even for like the same behavior, you could be motivated and demotivated to do a behavior and. Again, I don’t know the research like the back of my hand, but I do know, that he espouses reducing the demotivators, focusing more on removing demotivators as opposed to creating motivators to spur behavior change.

And I, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with focusing on motivation. I just agree with the fact that it’s probably the last variable that we need to focus on and not the first, because it is, gosh, how does he call it? I think he calls it the motivation monkey, uh, in the book where it’s like motivation is like that a really awesome friend you had in college, great for a night out, but don’t expect him to come pick you up at the airport at two o’clock in the morning, uh, because it’s just so unpredictable.

It’s so unreliable. Um, so what can we focus on instead? Well, we can focus on ability making things easier to do, giving people new skills, teaching them new skills, giving them tools to make a behavior easier to do, and focusing on the prompt and making sure we’re prompting them at the appropriate time.

In conjunction with motivation and and ability as well.

[00:39:28] Drew Podwal: there’s a bunch of ways that we bake this into Agile coaching, and 

Scrum and whatnot. the first way is, I know for me, I’ve talked about this before in a retrospective at the end of a sprint, It’s not just what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what should we do differently.

But I always add a fourth column for shout outs. Like, who, who did a great job this sprint? And what do we appreciate about somebody else on the team? Right? The other way that we bake this in is in the system demo or the, the sprint review, right? Where we want to make sure that it’s not the product owner who is doing the demo and showing the functionality to the stakeholders, that it’s the actual developers who had their hands on the keyboard that are doing that, and that the stakeholders are there in the room, and that the developer gets that feeling of 

pride to say, I did this for you.

Right. and, you know, I think the other, from the other side of the coin, right? The other way that we approach this in Agile is there’s no more mistakes. We don’t make mistakes anymore. There’s no more failure. Failure is an opportunity to 

learn, right? So there’s no more shame around making a mistake because we’re now looking at it as well, what do we get from that experience?

You know? So, um, I know for me, and I’ve told this story before, I’m not gonna go into it again, but like, I definitely not because you’re not worthy of it, Dom, but, um, because it’s a long one, and

I don’t know how to tell stories in a short way. Um, but I am the kind of coach that I’m always looking for. how do the people I’m working with want to feel recognition?

What, what type of recognition, do they like? and then tapping into that to then give them that recognition and making sure that I’m pressing that button on a regular basis.

[00:41:14] Dom Michalec: Hmm.

[00:41:15] Drew Podwal: Um, 

[00:41:15] Brad Nelson: Yeah, that reminds me, I think it’s Gary Chapman has the five love languages. He also has the five love languages colon appreciation at work. I don’t know how much, I don’t know. I feel like the map to work might just be, maybe not the most in depth. It was just like, Hey, how can we apply this to another situation?

Cause as soon as you start talking about physical appreciation, it gets really weird in the workplace. and even more difficult virtually. But I like that you said that, and that’s something that I’ve been doing research at my own company for recently as well. but one of the things too that you touched on, Dom, was ability.

And it sounds like that’s just as important as the reward piece. And that makes me think of transparency. That’s a big thing in Scrum, making it knowledge and everything available to everyone. So you have no excuse not to be aware, not to do something, not throw something in the backlog. But it also makes me think, Drew, you’ve said multiple times in the past about your retros, how you open your retro board at the beginning of the sprint so people can just throw stuff in as they go and they don’t have to try to remember all of them at the end.

[00:42:17] Drew Podwal: Yeah. that’s true too. That’s like me intersecting. somebody’s thought, right? To do something with, their capabilities. I just butchered that. But you guys know what I’m talking

[00:42:27] Dom Michalec: Yeah. What if, what if I were to tell you guys that there is, well, they’re distributed, but there’s a team of engineers out there where their favorite meeting is the daily Scrum. Would it shock you if It shocked me when I, when I saw it transpire, but there’s a team out there and I, and I’ll, and I can dive into the story, but there’s a team out there of engineers where their da, the Daily Scrum is by far their favorite meeting of the day. And it’s 


[00:42:55] Brad Nelson: it their only one?

[00:42:58] Drew Podwal: Capture them, bring them back to the lab. We need to 

study them. 

[00:43:03] Dom Michalec: So we had a, a retrospective. Um, and we were playing around with behavior design and I, you know, this was after I had, you know, kind of taught the core principles to them. And during the retrospective, And this was a very mature group to begin with. Not just in terms of agility or, or practices, but just there’s a lot of wisdom on this team. And they’re, they’re like, you know, we, we, we aspire to just have a sense of comradery and feeling like we can share anything with one another, like that’s our true aspiration. And a handful of them actually created a tiny habit recipe that they would practice during the daily Scrum. And I thought it was really eloquent. Their tiny habit was after I log off from the daily Scrum, I will tell one of my team members one thing that I appreciate about them every single day.

And, and this is a team of seven engineers. Two of them did that. That was just that that’s what they wanted to do. That was a habit that they wanted to have.

[00:43:59] Brad Nelson: Mm-hmm.

[00:44:00] Dom Michalec: After I log off from the daily Scrum, I’m gonna go to Slack and I’m gonna tell one of my team members, something I appreciate about them. And within a week, all seven of them were practicing this. All seven of them were sending each other these great little notes of affirmation. And it was very easy to do, right? It was like, oh, and it was prompted by a behavior. At the moment, I log off, boom, Hey, I really appreciated what you contributed during the Daily Scrum.

It’s really gonna help me out throughout the day. And eventually all seven of them, by the end of the week, all seven of ’em were doing this. And then within a month we had done a retrospective. It was like, oh yeah, we, we love the daily scrub. Like there’s no prompting whatsoever to do the, like, they are looking forward to doing the daily scrub because they’re looking forward to just hyping each other up and getting, and getting hype messages back and forth afterwards.

And it’s like, it’s just really cool to see. It’s like, you know, but it started with that aspiration. And it, and it got so this tiny little, this little ten second behavior turned the daily scrum into their favorite meeting as a team. No scrum master there to tell them, Hey, it’s time for standup. No product owner saying, Hey, you know, it’s time for, time for standup.

No, they wanted to do it because they knew, but by the time it was, it was about the end or the moment they logged off, everyone was gonna start sending each other awesome notes to one another a little, Hey, great job. Hey, I appreciated that. Hey, I think you’re doing a great job, um, keeping us on track, whatever it may be.

So I just thought that was really cool and I wanted to share that, um, 

with you guys. 

[00:45:27] Drew Podwal: That is really 

cool. I I, I am envisioning those scenario where there’s a standup of like five people and they’re each saying, the house is on fire, the house is on fire, the house is on fire, right? This is what I did yesterday. And they get off and they’re like, I loved your shirt today.

[00:45:43] Dom Michalec: I think that’s an important point too. I’m not gonna say like the daily Scrum was like, uh, It was like all sunshine and rain, but like there were some like, yeah, we’re off track or Yeah, we’re not gonna hit this goal. Or Yeah, I can’t do this because x, y, Z team can’t get their stuff together to, to get me unblocked, whatever may.

On the surface it looked like your normal daily scrum. Uh, but under the surface it was being driven by these little tiny habits of affirmation and appreciation and you know, sometimes they just send each other like funny jokes, but it always happened literally within 30 seconds of the daily scrum ending.

Uh, yeah. And we got, we heard back like, yeah, the daily scrums, like our favorite me. I’m like, that is the first time in my career I’ve ever heard a group of engineers say that they enjoy, not only enjoy the daily scrum, but look forward to it every single day, which I thought was pretty cool.

[00:46:34] Brad Nelson: Yeah.

[00:46:35] Drew Podwal: oh, go on Brad.

[00:46:37] Brad Nelson: One of the things that I love about that too is that it touches on one of the four or five things that Shawn Aker says. People should do to create happiness essentially. He’s a positive psychologist and he’s got a book called The Happiness Advantage. Read it multiple times, probably need to read it again.

But these little tiny habits, one of them is just send a message of gratitude to someone every day, and that helps you feel happier. And the reason why it’s called the Happiness Advantage is the happier you are, the more likely you are to succeed in what whatever it is you’re trying to do. And we tend to think the opposite way.

We tend to think I achieve the thing, I’ll be happy. And the reality is that’s not the case.

[00:47:15] Dom Michalec: Yeah. Yeah. No, yeah, absolutely. There there’s a, the positive emotion behind a behavior definitely plays a huge factor. I, I think it’s important to note not, and I’ll, I’ll put a cap on this. I think it’s important to note that. This behavior was not dictated by anyone on this team. It was literally just two engineers who were like, I just wanna do this.

It’s a habit I wanna build, I think it’s gonna help us reach this aspiration. But no one else was like, they didn’t want, it wasn’t like we were forcing them to do this, but it was very interesting to see again, they were doing the things they wanted to do. They felt great doing it cuz who doesn’t love sending people awesome notes of appreciation.

Um, and then within the week everyone was doing it. But again, they wanted to do it. No one was telling them what to do, they just wanted to do it. They wanted to adopt it. So that’s kind of how it spread. And I thought that was really cool. But to your point, Brad, about, about happiness. Yeah. The happier you are, the more motivated you’re gonna do.

You’re gonna be to take on bigger batter, harder behaviors, um, as time goes on.

[00:48:18] Drew Podwal: So we were talking about, before we got on and started recording this, we were talking about like, what’s the tangible takeaway? And I think this is it, right? Like, cuz th this is something that I, I’ve tried to do in, in many of the organizations I’ve worked for, not as like, as simple. As, as you’re talking about it, and it’s definitely something I’m gonna start using in the future, but like, what, what’s the name of the, the psychologist or psychiatrist who did that experiment where he had everybody going into the waiting room and there was a bell that went off and one person stood up every time the bell went off, and then two people, and then by the time the waiting room it, do you know what I’m talking about?

[00:48:56] Dom Michalec: I don’t know the name, but I know what you’re talking about. Yeah. I thought you were gonna bring up the Stanford project for a second. I was like, Ooh, I don’t know if I want to go there, but,

[00:49:02] Drew Podwal: Oh, no, no, no. I, I think it’s, it might be the Milgram experiment, but that might be the one that might be the bad 

one. Uh, with this one, you know, I forget what it’s called. I’ll remember, but, um, you know, the, the first person goes into a waiting room, right? And they’re an actor. or rather, no, there’s, there’s seven actors in a waiting room and the first person goes in who’s not an actor, and when the bell goes off

All the actors stand up, and that last person then kind of feels weird. And so they stand up too. And slowly, one by one, the actors are called into the doctor’s 

office. And so now you get to a point where the only people in the waiting room are no longer actors. They’re just people who’ve come in. And now they’ve learned this behavior of when the bell goes off, we all stand up.

And now it’s just become this norm in this waiting room that this is what happens. Because every new person gets indoctrinated into that. And, and I try to look at that kind of thing when I’m trying to build transformational habits with my 

teams, right? Like, I know I’m never, never gonna walk on site into a, an Agile coaching engagement where everybody’s like, Hey, Drew, we’re so glad you’re here.

Like, let’s talk about this. Right? But I know that there’s always gonna be two or three, or hopefully more than that, right? Who are, and instead of trying to focus on getting. All seven people to start changing the behavior of standing every time the bell goes off. Right. I focus on just those three people, And, and the approach I’ve always taken is, is to highlight all of the great things that those three people have been able to achieve by adopting these new capabilities and these new, new principles and ways of working as a way to then get those other people to then wanna start standing up every time the ball goes off.

So I, I do think the tangible takeaway from this episode, though, it that’s really simple, is if you’re a scrum master out there is listening to this episode, right? You can try this experiment. Find, find somebody else on your team who you think is like, Hip chill, you know, ready to like do this kind of thing and create this tiny habit of after your standup, right, the two of you guys send messages to the rest of the people on the team.

and just tell ’em how wonderful whatever it was that they did was for you. And, and try it as an experiment to see if you can now get a third person to do that, and a fourth person and a fifth person, and now get your whole team to be developing this habit of gratitude bombing at the end of standups.

Like, I think that would be really super cool thing to, to try to experiment with.

[00:51:51] Dom Michalec: Yeah, absolutely. I agree and I think thank you. Hit on this idea of you can also clarify a common aspiration and people can take different behaviors to reach it. Right? So my modality for creating cohesiveness and camaraderie might be to send you Drew a slack message after did daily standup. Yours might be, once a week inviting someone out on the team to lunch if you’re more of like an in-person type of person.

So Ev everyone can, can do different behaviors to reach this common aspiration. But I think, I think what you’re talking about is really, really important. You can have a common aspiration as a team. That doesn’t mean everyone has to do the exact same behavior. They’re invited to do it, but it doesn’t mean you have to do the exact same behavior to reach that common aspiration. help people do the things they want to do. I wanna send you a slack message through telling you how awesome you are. You want to, you know, when you, when you sit down in the morning and you put your coffee cup down on your desk, you’re gonna pull up slack and, and invite someone out to lunch later on.

Know that Friday, two very different behaviors, but we’re both driving towards the same common aspiration. So I think it’s a very salient point. And yeah, that’s, that. That’s really the takeaway for me too, is start small scale back, the change you want to see, make that change easier for people to do. And help them feel the success of creating that change for themself.

Absolutely. Totally on board with that.

[00:53:20] Brad Nelson: And, and I saw you at Product Camp, which is my only on conference experience, and we were talking about that a few episodes ago with, uh, Ron and, and Todd. You know Todd, because Fast is based off of open space. But at the conference, you gave a little bit of a breakdown of how you would apply it to yourself, like, if I want to become healthier.

And I felt like that was a really good, lesson broken down in a very simple way where it helped me to understand kind of like making it easy, having a, a prompt and rewarding myself. So if you wouldn’t, if you would indulge me, can you give your, uh, I mean, it can be your pushup example or it can be a different one, but I think it’s

[00:54:04] Dom Michalec: How about we avoid the embarrassing example that I gave, and I’ll use one of the attendees examples, uh, which, which, which drives him the exact same point. So to, to pull the, the talk together. And at this point, it was almost a year ago, so the details are gonna be fuzzy, but I’m gonna try my best. Uh, there was a gentleman in the crowd, he, he told me, Hey, uh, you know, At night, I, I do a really poor job of brushing my teeth before I go to bed. And, I want to change my behavior. I want to be able to go to bed at night, feeling like, you know, I did everything, my nightly routine and I ended it with, uh, brushing my teeth. I said, okay, well, what do you normally do at night?

Like, what, like what is your routine at night? What is like that one thing that you do every single night before you go to bed? He’s like, well, I definitely go to the bathroom. I walk, I at least walk into the bathroom, every single night. Okay. So we kind of, we designed this tiny behavior. and then he brought up floss.

He’s like, you know, I really wanna like floss my teeth more. I’m like, okay, let’s, let’s focus in on that. How about this? Try this. Let me know if it works for you. After you walk into the bathroom, you will pull out the floss. Just pull it out, and then look at yourself in the mirror and say, I’m the man.

Like, like, give yourself like a positive affirmation. And he looked at me kind of confused. He goes, well, what do you mean? Like, I, I, don’t need to floss my teeth. I said, no, no. I know what you wanna do, but consider it extra credit. At the very least. Just pull it out. And then as time goes on, maybe you already have the floss out on the table so you don’t have to pull it out anymore. And he’s like, okay. So by the, by the end of it, I think the punchline was by the end of it, everyone was kind of laughing because it truly, we’re truly talking about small, tiny behaviors. Like we are not talking about. Boiling the ocean. We’re not talking about flossing all your teeth every single night.

Cause that’s much hard to do than just flossing. Maybe one or two teeth. and I think, I think even BJ brought it, the reason why I was excited by that example, cuz it, even in tiny habits, BJ talked about this idea of like, yeah, I just started flossing one tooth a month. And I thought, I was like, so awesome and I was giving myself like positive affirmations or like, after I go to the bathroom, like I do like two pushups or something.

And the idea is to scale the behavior back, make it as easy as possible to do and help yourself feel successful in doing it. yeah, uh, I mean I’ve, I’ve used, I’ve been using it for so long, uh, I think not to, this isn’t a, you know, hey, look at Dom Dom’s so awesome. But I, I, I’ve lost over 60 pounds myself doing tiny habits and it all started with me just putting on one shoe after work every single day. Just put on one shoe, one running shoe, and eventually it turned into this. It, it grew, the habit grew into me doing bigger batter, better things. I would go on runs, I’d go on walks. you know, eventually started signing up for, group fitness classes. so there is a lot of power in starting small, and I would say especially for Agile coaches, scrum masters, anyone out there who’s working with a team and you’re trying to get them to adopt, practices that are gonna ultimately b uh, help them start as small as possible, celebrate the small wins and watch the success momentum build up,

[00:57:14] Brad Nelson: Yeah, I don’t remember now if it was Tiny Habits or Atomic Habits, which is based off of BJ Fogg’s work. Right. But it’s a different guy, is that correct?

[00:57:22] Dom Michalec: uh, James Clear? Yeah. Yeah.

[00:57:24] Brad Nelson: Yeah. Uh, one of them gave the example, I believe, where you walk by the weights, do one curl

[00:57:31] Dom Michalec: Hmm.

[00:57:33] Brad Nelson: odd. Zara, if you do one, you’re likely going to do more, but just like doing that one.

Right. It gets you, gets the motivation going.

[00:57:41] Dom Michalec: Yeah, anything more than one is extra credit. That 

doesn’t mean you have to continue the, the day you do two or three, you have to continue doing two or three moving forward. Always just come back to that one. Um, I always like to use the example, what, what would you be willing to do if you were sick laying in bed?

Could you still get up and do one squat? Probably, you’re probably not gonna go work out that day, but you could probably at least stand up, do one squat and maybe crawl back into bed because you’re so sick. That’s how tiny I’m talking. Like even when your motivation is so low, what is that one behavior that is so easy to do that it becomes repetitious, becomes habitual, and you feel good while you do it?

[00:58:20] Brad Nelson: Awesome.

[00:58:21] Drew Podwal: called habit stacking, right?

[00:58:23] Dom Michalec: I think that’s what James Clear calls it, if I’m not mistaken. Yeah. Uh, habit chaining. Habit stacking. I think that, yeah. But it’s 

basically, yeah, 

it, it’s this idea of the best prompt is a behavioral prompt. It’s the most reliable because the moment you do something, you’re, that is a good trigger for you to do something else again or do a different behavior, um, in that case.

But, yeah, I think James Clear, honestly, if I’m being, if I can be open for a moment, I have not read Atomic Habits. I know a lot of people who have, uh, I’ve heard great things, but I, I have, I myself have not read Atomic Habits, unfortunately. 

I heard it’s a great 

[00:58:57] Brad Nelson: Oh, that’s it. No longer, uh, a professional

[00:59:01] Dom Michalec: Nope, nope, nope. Exposed. Exposed, yeah.

[00:59:06] Brad Nelson: on I guess the knowledge or training topic though. You are a part of BJ Fogs training program. Like he’s got an actual training program with coaches and you meet regularly and it, it seems pretty in depth. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

[00:59:21] Dom Michalec: yeah, yeah. So it’s called Tiny Habits Academy, if you go to tiny habits, it is a program for folks who wanna become certified in, tiny Habits. and what’s really cool about it, my favorite part is you have the ability to work with bj, pretty much on a monthly basis where he kind of brings back his latest and greatest research from his Stanford, uh, research lab, his beha, uh, behavior design research lab.

And you kind of walk through some newer concepts that maybe you don’t necessarily read about in the book, or you, or you double down and you learn, you go deeper into the, uh, The what behind a lot of things that you read in the book. But yeah, it’s a great program. I would say, especially if you are interested in this idea of behavior design and tiny habits, it’s definitely a great program to go through.

You build a lot of really great connections with folks and you ultimately get to use his models and methods and great visualizations that you can use as well. But, he allows you to use his work in your practice, which is, which is pretty cool. On top of the fact that you get to work with bj, he has office hours q and a invites you to a lot of different stuff that he’s a part of.

It’s, it’s a pretty cool experience.

[01:00:25] Brad Nelson: That is pretty cool. So, so you hang out with BJ Fog regularly and then like a month ago you’re hanging out with Marty Kagan like, man,

[01:00:33] Dom Michalec: Uh, 

yeah, that was, that was in December. That was a long time ago. 

Yeah. Uh, so Marty, Yeah. Marty, Chris, and. Christian, Leah and the whole, the whole s u g partnership gang was, uh, they invited us out to New York and yeah, that was a, that was a good time. I got to meet some really great coaches and obviously met a, got to meet up with a lot of, a lot of the partners at Silicon Valley Product Group and, uh, yeah, it’s a pretty cool group.

[01:00:54] Brad Nelson: Yeah, I, I’d be curious what Marty would think of our podcast cuz he’s, I don’t know, he’s like, don’t say the word Agile, but the things I’m teaching you are Agile type person.

[01:01:04] Dom Michalec: Yeah, you know what, I like to think of it. You know, you, I’m a product coach. There’s Agile coaches out there. I would say this much. I, I’ve worked with a lot of really awesome Agile coaches and we speak the same language, maybe just a little bit of a different dialect, but we’re all driving towards the same things.

Now, I’ll admit, I’ve worked with some Agile coaches who are more process and framework oriented and like, that’s their bread and butter, and that’s what they. That’s what they make their, their their mark on. But I, I, I do have to admit that I have been pleasantly surprised, especially working with larger companies, over the last couple years.

I don’t know what’s happened over the last couple years from an Agile coaching perspective, but I’ve noticed that a lot of Agile coaches are, um, I don’t wanna say getting away from frameworks. They’re definitely still utilizing them to teach and help people learn concepts quickly, but they’re focusing more on the principles behind the frameworks, which is just like so awesome to see.

Cuz the, the, the, principles are what are, are gonna be enduring. Those are the things that have been time tested. Those are the things that everyone kind of aligns around. So I, I do like the principle first approach and I’ve noticed a lot of great Agile coaches doing that as of recently. Maybe, maybe it’s my own perception, maybe, maybe I’m just now starting to notice it.

I don’t know, but it’s really encouraging. So if Marty were to comment on the podcast, I would definitely say between the three of us, we. Maybe speak the same language as different dialects, but we’re all driving towards the same thing, right? Creating value for both the customer and the business. So

[01:02:33] Drew Podwal: Well, and, and that’s the thing that I’ve noticed, right, is that, it is the principles that matter the most, right? and, and like we, you know, we were talking about. Fast a few weeks back with, with Todd and Ron. the thing that I really took note of is that, you know, fast as a methodology, you can’t just do fast without being the principles that are behind it.

Right? and like the same thing with Silicon Valley product group, right? Like, you’re really being, you’re embodying this idea of, of product development. first right. Product. First customer first, right. very user-centric. Most of the companies that, that I get to work with, They don’t want the principles, they just want the process and the methodology and, you know, What is it?

The underwear, noms, uh, step one, collect underwear, step three, profit. Um, that’s where the misalignment comes into play with Silicon Valley Product Group and the Agile community is that as, as Agile coaches, we don’t often get that unicorn engagement where they’re ready to just dive into like the dogma and the principles of, of value stream, you know, mapping and, and customer centricity and behavioral 

design, right?

Um, why when you brought up the idea of that unspecified, uh, jeans brand, you know, with their back office system where you were having the time and the space to actually do behavioral design, right? Like, I don’t find very often that, that. organizations and companies want to really bake in that degree of, of dogma and principality in trying to create habits for a backend system for somebody who is, you know, scheduling loan payments or something like 

that, right? Like, 

[01:04:31] Brad Nelson: I think you and I were talking about this the other day, Drew, where it’s like you we’re trying to help corporations get back to that startup mindset. Startups know very acutely you have to work towards outcomes, you have to deliver value, and then as they scale, they tend to forget that they tend to lose that.

However, I think that there’s people who have only worked in corporations once they’ve reached that scale inefficiency. Because corporations have been around for, you know, a hundred more years. And so you have people who, their whole business experience, their whole resume is working in these, I’ll call ’em less than ideal systems.

I don’t wanna call ’em broken, less than ideal systems. 

And I think coaches, okay, you can call ’em broken, but I think there’s Agile coaches that have grown up in those environments as well, where all they’ve done is fixing process or half pm half scrum master. And so they, they’ve, that’s all they’ve experienced, so they don’t understand that they’re supposed to be more to it.

And those are the people that I’m guessing Marty has interacted with and other people interact with, with are like, I tried this and it didn’t work.

[01:05:45] Drew Podwal: I agree with that.

[01:05:46] Dom Michalec: yeah. There’s this, there’s this idea, and this concept that I, that I wholeheartedly agree with, that if you want to create an environment where people feel empowered to solve tough challenges on behalf of the business and on behalf of the customer, you don’t scale process. You scale leadership. Scale, the ability to lead. That doesn’t mean create more managers, it means create better leadership across the organization. And a lot of companies, uh, and I’ve noticed this, maybe not, maybe not in the recently since, you know, uh, since the Pandemic, but even before the pandemic, I saw a lot of people wanted to scale process, but they didn’t wanna scale leadership.

And what I’ve noticed is, a lot of managers misinterpret their role as leaders. As a leader, it is your job to do two things, coach your teams, and develop your people in becoming the best possible version of themselves and their role today, and a lot of managers, they think that, what got them to where they are today is what’s gonna get them to.

The next level, right? So how do, how do most people become managers will become, they’re great individual contributors on teams. They produce, they produce, they produce, they, build trust in their production of building value in a company. Great. You should lead these people. So what do they do?

Well, they, they think, well, what got me to this leadership position is producing, so produce these things here. I’m going to manage what you do here. I need you to build this. Why isn’t this done yet? You notice a lot of managers who are attracted to stuff like that because they used to be really great individual contributors, and they think that producing is going to help people, in their careers, and it’s gonna help them get to the next level.

But as a, as a leader, you have to coach and develop your people like that is the only reason why you are there. In a lot of cases, in a lot of great strong product companies understand that great managers who are great leaders, who can coach and develop their teams are the ones that stick around, the ones that they want to stick around because they’re able to do that.

but yeah, quite the conundrum. I’ll give you that.

[01:07:49] Drew Podwal: Management is essentially just the concept of management is essentially just a pyramid scheme, right? Whereas, whereas leadership, Leadership principles. And I think I would add like the third thing that, that a leader should really do is ask their team, what can I do for you? Right? What do you need for me to do for you in order to help you to do your job better?

in, in a management base system, everybody is pointed at serving the person above them, right? Whereas in a leadership principle where we’re serving each other, and it doesn’t matter, where we are on an org chart.

[01:08:25] Dom Michalec: Yeah. I, I do empathize to assert to a degree though, with a lot of people in management positions in that no training man manual out there for how to be a manager.

[01:08:36] Brad Nelson: Mm-hmm.

[01:08:37] Dom Michalec: There’s no, no one knows innately how to manage other people in a corporate, in a work environment. So I empathize with them and, and a lot of people are learning on the job and they’re doing the best they possibly can do. it’s like, you know, when you practice, practice layups the wrong way a hundred times, well, eventually you’re gonna think that’s how you perform a layup and, you know, that’s how you like lay up a basketball.

But it’s, it’s concerted effort in practicing the right way. And a lot of people don’t know what good looks like. No one, there’s a lot of people out there who have never experienced a good manager. So how can we expect them to be good managers that they’ve never experienced it themselves?

[01:09:15] Brad Nelson: Yeah, I think it was the Harvard Business Review, but it may have been Gallup or Pew or, or one of those other research bodies. I don’t even know. Now, A decade ago had this research where they found that a lot of the people that were going to their training program were in their thirties, but a lot of ’em started as managers 10 years before, which means they’ve been a manager for 10 years with no training.

And so I do think there’s a systemic problem of we’re not giving leadership proper training. however, I do feel like we’re starting to almost move to another topic. And we also, definitely have a full episode. I can’t believe it’s already over. it’s been a fantastic conversation with you, Dom.

So I do wanna wrap this up, 

and I do wanna give 

[01:09:58] Drew Podwal: wait. I, I have, I have one more thing that I want to add to the mix before we wrap it up 

because I think it’s really apropo that we’re actually having this episode today.

Um, in that The website had the wrong SMTP for our email. And we’ve talked about the idea of like, and I’m thinking about this Dom as we’re talking about the episode.

if Brad and I want to reward our listeners. We want to provide them with feedback. We want them to know that you email us, right, we’re gonna talk about you on air. So we get more emails and, and all of that. And now that I’ve fixed the SMTP issue, I’ve realized that the reason why we weren’t getting mail was not because nobody was interested.

It’s just because I gaffed on it, right? So I do want to call out. And I think it’s really apropo that we had this call to a woman named Emily Tobias, who sent us an email this week, and it was the first one that came through and I was really, really excited for it. She gave us some really cool feedback.

Um, she’s a big fan of the episode. she really liked the one where we were talking about, Chris Lee’s, uh, instructional design. you know, one of the things that we did on our feedback form is we, we broke it down like like a retro.

So what went well, what didn’t go so well, and things that we should do differently. And so, uh, what works well is, uh, she says, great discussions. We should do an episode on IC Agile. And I agree. I think that maybe I’m, I’m friends with Damon Pool. I’m gonna see if I can get him to come on, cuz he’s an IC Agile trainer.

and, uh, she said that we touched on it briefly in the certification episode,

which was one of my favorite episodes as well. Uh, she says what doesn’t work out so well, and I think this is gonna be interesting for you, Brad, is that she says she needs a trick to remember who Brad is and who Drew is.

Maybe we need to do a video episode. So this is Drew’s voice. And Brad, this is,

[01:11:52] Brad Nelson: This is my voice. 

[01:11:53] Drew Podwal: that’s Brad’s voice. Um, and maybe we’ll do in a, a video episode. We were thinking about potentially releasing the, um, the bonus episode where we did our season retro at the end of last year. so yeah, Emily, thank you for providing us with feedback and we’re going to read feedback every single week.

so Dom, what, what other ideas do you have for us to bake in some behavioral design to reinforce the idea that we want this kind of feedback?

[01:12:22] Dom Michalec: I thought that was actually really interesting feedback. and I was, I was on mute, but I was kind of laughing because I’ve been listening to, uh, this, podcast for years now called My Favorite Murder with, uh, Georgia Hard Stark and Karen Kil Gareth.

And come to find out, um, I didn’t know who was talking for almost, 18 hours worth of episodes. I, I thought Karen was the, the lower voice and Georgia was the higher voice. Like I totally with that feedback. But, uh, anyways, I’m getting off track. Yeah. Uh, I would say before your sign off, remind people, uh, do, do the Bob Barker, uh, before you sign off.

Uh, but, uh, maybe 

[01:12:55] Drew Podwal: Spay a new to your 

pets. All right, Brad, sorry for interrupting. I’ll pass it back to you.

[01:13:01] Brad Nelson: Yeah, no, I, I think we have a survey feature, at least in Spotify we could set up too, that I’ve been meaning to play with for like polls. I wonder if they, we can plug the form into that as well

[01:13:11] Drew Podwal: Yeah.

[01:13:12] Brad Nelson: with a look into it. We’re learning as we go. We’re trying new things all the time. All right. We have audiograms now, so people are starting to see those.

I wonder if there’s even an opportunity to do, not an audiogram, but email read as its own little clip. You know, there’s different ways we could, we could do things. still wanna do our AI episode at some point, but, yeah. So to wrap it up, Dom, thank you so much for joining me. You did join us kind of last minute, last week.

I was like, Hey, you, you available next week? So I appreciate that. And, uh, do you have anything going on? I, I know you tend to present a lot. I know you have some stuff coming up. Why don’t you share with everyone how they can engage with you?

[01:13:56] Dom Michalec: Uh, yeah, yeah, outside the standard LinkedIn, find me on LinkedIn. I’ve been really passionate and, um, been going on my second cohort now of teaching a course on how to facilitate productive meetings. been really spending a lot of time doing that. been really rewarding. The first cohort was like, so awesome.

I had so much fun doing it. Um, but it’s agnostic. It’s not really geared towards anyone agility or product or there, or, or otherwise. It’s more just, hey, if you feel like your meetings are, uh, unproductive and you’re not getting to your work until two 30 in the afternoon because all you’re doing is sitting in meetings all day, every day, they can probably be productive.

So let’s, let’s learn how to facilitate productive meetings. But that’s my passion project Right now. It’s, uh, I’m having a lot of fun, but on the personal side, this is my last day before I’m outta the country for two weeks, I’m, uh, taking a. Awesome trip with some friends overseas. So I’m got got, we got a chance to do this now, otherwise it would’ve been, uh, well after my return back from, from Europe.


that’s pretty much of it, what I have on my plate these days.

[01:14:58] Brad Nelson: Perfect timing.

[01:14:59] Dom Michalec: Yeah, that was, I, I was so glad we could do it, uh, do it this week. So appreciate it

[01:15:03] Brad Nelson: Awesome. 

[01:15:04] Drew Podwal: This was a great topic. I, I really. Enjoyed I soaked up a lot of what you said and, uh, I, I really appreciate that.

[01:15:11] Dom Michalec: all. Awesome. Yeah, no, thanks for being gracious hosts Drew Brad. I had a, had a lot of fun and uh, kudos to you too for, uh, hosting an awesome podcast and making me feel comfortable and, uh, open for sharing.

[01:15:23] Brad Nelson: great. Thank you.

[01:15:25] Drew Podwal: And stay tuned on Slack for a, uh, a message from me saying, I like your shirt.

[01:15:32] Dom Michalec: Perfect. I’m looking forward to it. Looking forward to it. Awesome. Thanks again 

[01:15:35] Brad Nelson: Awesome. Thank you Agile for Agile Agilists dot com. Give us your feedback. We want to hear it.

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