The Core Protocols and CheckIn

This is an extract from “Software for Your Head” – Jim and Michele McCarthy

We are fortunate as a project team to be sitting close by, shoulder to shoulder. Yet distance is always a central issue among collaborators and of course, the solution or remedy to distance is presence.
The primary task with any team is that of surmounting distance, the psychological distance or “Headgap”. As the size of the people in the team grows this headgap aggregates.
Team performance has less to do with the teams physical proximity, but with everyone’s degree of engagement with one another and our work.
A team using the CheckIn pattern and its associated protocols(there are 11) will be more aware of team presence than teams that don’t. A presence-sensitive team will be more likely to address and consequently surmount the challenges of a project. Presence-insensate teams will continue to address the wrong issues. Because presence trumps distance and distance is the enemy of collaboration, teams using CheckIn will prevail.
The CheckOut protocol allows an individual to take a break from the intense levels of productive engagement.
The Passer protocol serves as a safety valve for the entirety of the core protocols. It allows for anyone to decline to participate without being questioned by other team members.
Why do we need to share our emotions, why can’t we just have a beer or lunch?
A large percentage of people believe that expressing emotion at work is inappropriate or unprofessional, so they maintain an emotional facade, usually presenting a diminished emotional effect. When emotions are expressed indirectly at work, the distance between people increases. Emotional self-repression reduces both team efficiency and product quality. When you hide behind any kind of facade, you are necessarily less present than you could be, and that intentional ambiguity, made of human energy. Any awareness that you exercise is usually required to monitor the layers more completely and/or to build up the facade even more.
You CheckIn to benefit yourself. It is the first step along a team’s path to a more effective and enjoyable life. It is the first thing to learn. It is also the last thing to be mastered.
The benefits you will realise include
  1. Increased self – awareness
  2. Greater capacity for engagement
  3. More time
The Protocol
It’s a commitment to be present.
  1. Each person takes a turn when he feels it is appropriate until everone is “in” or has “passed”
  2. Each person says “I pass” or “I feel [sad and/or mad, and/or glad, and/or afraid]”.
    1. It is optional to give an explanation
  3. Say “I’m in” this statement seals your commitment
  4. The group responds, “Welcome” to acknowledge that they heard your CheckIn and accept your commitment.
Person checking in:
Team Member: “I feel afraid and glad and sad. I feel afraid that this new project won’t be exciting or that it won’t turn out well. But I feel glad that we are starting a new project. Also, I feel sad that I’m not with my family today. And I’m in
Team: “Welcome”
The Core Protocols
  1. Pass – Used to decline to participate in something, use it anytime
  2. CheckIn – Used to begin meetings or anytime an individual or group see it adding value(explained below)
  3. CheckOut – This signifies that your physical presence always signifies your engagement. You must CheckOut when you are aware that you cannot maintain the Core Commitments or if it would be better if you were elsewhere
  4. Ask For Help – Use it to efficiently make use of the skills and knowledge of others.
  5. Protocol check – Use protocol check when you believe a protocol is being used incorrectly
  6. Intent Check – To clarify the purpose of your own or another’s behaviour
  7. Decider – Use anytime you want to move a group immediately and unanimously towards results
  8. Resolution – When a decider vote yields a small minority of outliers, the proposer quickly leads the team, in a highly structured fashion, to deal with the outliers. The resolution protocol promotes forward momentum by focusing on bringing outlines in at least cost.
  9. Perfection Game – This protocol will support you in your desire to aggregate the best idea’s. Use it whenever you desire to improve something you’ve created.
  10. Personal alignment – This protocol helps dive deeply into your desires and find what’s blocking you from getting what you want. Use it to discover, articulate, and achieve what you want. The quality of your alignment will be equal to the quality of your results.
  11. Investigate – Allow you to learn about something that occurs in someone else. Use it when an idea or behaviour someone is presenting seems poor, confusing, or simply interesting.
The Core Commitments
  1.  I commit to engage when present
  1. I will seek to perceive more than I seek to be perceived
  2. I will use teams, especially when undertaking difficult tasks
  3. I will speak always and only when I believe it will improve the general results/effort ratio
  4. I will offer and accept only rational, results-oriented behaviour and communication
  5. I will disengage from less productive situations
  6. I will do now what must be done eventually and can effectively be done now
  7. I will seek to move forward toward a particular goal, by biasing my behaviour toward action
  8. I will use the Core Protocols or better when applicable
  9. I will neither harm, nor tolerate the harming of anyone for his or her fidelity to these commitments
  10. I will never do anything dumb on purpose

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