NEW WEBINAR

How SAFe® flow accelerators help agile teams

Watch Now

Podcast

43 min read

Easy Agile Podcast Ep.19 Combining Ikigai and OKRs to help agile teams achieve great results

22, Jun 2022
Robert O'Farrell
Written by Robert O'Farrell, Developer

Robert O'Farrell

"Leandro shared many amazing insights, it was great to understand Ikigai and unpack the impact it can have when applied to teams" - Robert O'Farrell

In this episode, I was joined by Leandro Barreto - Lead Software Engineer at Miro. 

Leandro is responsible for helping engineering and product teams to be more productive through metrics and KPIs with a focus on increasing their operational efficiency. Before moving to Europe, Leandro worked for an Atlassian partner company in Brazil as Head of Technical Sales.

In this episode, we spoke about;

  • Ikigai - what is it and how do you achieve it?
  • The benefits of OKRs
  • How can we combine agile, Ikigai and OKRs?
  • How Ikigai can help agile teams achieve great results and stay motivated

I hope you enjoy today's episode as much as I did recording it.

Listen now on:


Transcript

Robert O’Farrell:

Welcome, everyone, to the Easy Agile Podcast. We have an episode today with Leandro Barreto who is a lead software engineer at Miro. I'm your host for today, Robert O'Farrel. I'm the Growth tech lead at Easy Agile. Before we kick off this podcast, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land from which we broadcast today, the people of the Duruwa-speaking country. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and emerging and extend the same respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Islander, and First Nations people joining us today on the podcast.

Robert O’Farrell:

Leandro currently works as a lead software engineer at Miro where his responsibility is to help engineering and product teams to be more productive through metrics and KPIs with a focus on increasing their operational efficiency. Before moving to Europe, he worked for an Atlassian partner company in Brazil and acted as a head of technical sales with the mission to increase the service offers in Latin America. Welcome, Leandro. It's great to have you here today.

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah. Thanks, Rob. Thanks also for the Easy Agile for the invite. It's a pleasure to be here today.

Robert O’Farrell:

Fantastic. You're here to talk about Ikigai, objectives and key results or OKRs in Agile, so let's kick it off. Ikigai, what is it? Can you give us a brief or a long explanation of what it is?

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah, of course, of course. So, Ikigai I use it to say is a philosophy of life that means like a reason for being or the meaning of life. So, the world Ikigai originates from a village in Southern Japan, where the average life expectancy of people is over 100 years old. So, Ikigai is basically divided in four components. The first, things you love. Second, something that you are good at, then something that pays you well. And finally, something that the worlds need. So, when you put it all together, then you have the Ikigai, but this is not easy. So, let me explain a little bit of each of these companies.

Leandro Barreto:

So, the first thing is something that you love, something that makes you be present, something that you must ask yourself what do you really enjoy in doing? What makes you happy? What holds your intention that makes you lose time and forget about time? So, for example, reading, dancing, singing, painting, learning, teaching, et cetera. So, maybe it's a little bit difficult to answer right now, but understanding and seeking what you love must is fundamental so that you can have a healthy balance between learning, putting it in practice, testing, failing, trying again, and keep the circle repeating itself.

Leandro Barreto:

So, an example that I can give you is, for example, I had a jujitsu teacher that no matter the day, he was always training. And one day, I remember I got my arm hurt. And in the next day, I had a message from him like 6:00 in the morning, he was asking if I was okay. And I was waking up and he was texting me like, "Hey, are you okay? Are you going to be able to train today?" And I was like, "Whoa, take it easy, man." This is very funny because our class is 6:00 p.m. And he was punctually at the tatami or dojo. I don't know the English word for that.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yeah, dojo. We have dojo. Yeah.

Leandro Barreto:

Dojo. Awesome. Yeah. And he was always punctual. And after the classes, he always said that he wants to get home earlier after the classes because he has private classes. So, from morning to night, he always keeps training and you can see the passion in his eyes when he talks about jujitsu. "It's a passion for me". A little bit exaggerated.

Robert O’Farrell:

Something that definitely got him up in the morning and kept him going throughout the day to the late evening, by the sounds of it.

Leandro Barreto:

Exactly. Yes. And then, you have the second component, which is something that you are good at. Something that you can always improve with yourself. So, for example, what you are really good at. It's quite hard to answer, but what the people say is that I'm do... something correct or what they say something positive that what I do. So, for example, I remember the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell that says that usually, you have to spend 10,000 hours in something practicing to be good at.

Leandro Barreto:

So, don't take it as an obstacle but as a motivation to keep going, and understand this part of what you are good at. It's a good way to improve. And the third part is what pays you well? So, money is what... Some people say that "Hey, money don't bring... It's not... how can I say that?

Robert O’Farrell:

Money doesn't bring happiness?

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah, exactly. But it puts a roof in your head. It makes you provide a good life for your family. It makes you travel. It makes you have a hobby. So, according to Maslow, for example, one of the bases of human beings is to start thinking about security. So, we have to have this security in order we can improve as a person. So, money helps you to achieve it. Yeah. So, find something that makes your life as comfortable as you desire to, as you wish to. So, otherwise, you'll always be looking for something that you never had. So, for example, time.

Leandro Barreto:

So, you will spend so much time thinking how can you have more money? And here's the glitch, you will never be paid because you will be stuck on your daily basis thinking on how to get money instead of how to improve your skills to get money. Right? And then, you have the what the world needs. So, here, the idea is to find a proposal for what do you do and what is value to the society, your proposal. And sometimes it's quite difficult to find precisely because of the plurality of positions and responsibilities that we have nowadays. And even more today with the full expansion of technology that every month we have new positions to be filled by companies that needs different type of skills, soft skills and hard skills.

Leandro Barreto:

And here, the keyword is to serve. So, I will give a personal example. For example, one of the things that I missed most when I was a young teenager was having someone who could help me to explore the technology so I can get a job. So, it was in the early 2000 and it was quite hard.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yes, very much so.

Leandro Barreto:

The internet is starting, everything is new.

Robert O’Farrell:

People on dial-up, internet was slow.

Leandro Barreto:

Do you remember that sound like prshh?

Robert O’Farrell:

Oh, yeah. It comes to me in my dreams I think. I heard it so many times in that era.

Leandro Barreto:

My family and my friends, they wasn't in the IT field. So, there is no one to help me that. So, I had to learn it by myself. Seems impossible. But it took me time to learn it and enter in a company with a good position let's say that gives me money and the possibility to learn much more faster. So, since 2013, I dedicate part of my time to teach young people, acting as a mentor to help them enter in this market so they can learn new skills. I can open paths for them, put in contact with the right people, people which is going to be important for them, and all aiming to accelerate their dev development and giving them the opportunity.

Leandro Barreto:

And this for me is very meaningful because I'm helping those who don't have any references also, and sometimes don't have a chance. And the more I serve them, the more I earn and I grow with them. So, I came across like when I was introduced to Ikigai for example, another personal example.

Robert O’Farrell:

Sorry. Before we get to that, just reiterating. So, the four components, so there's something that you really lose time in doing, something that you get into the flow of doing very easily. And then, the second component is the thing that you are very confident in doing, something that you do quite well. The third one, being something that pays you well, and the fourth one, being something where there's a need for it. So, just reiterating that. That's correct?

Leandro Barreto:

Correct. Correct.

Robert O’Farrell:

So, I guess getting to that, our second question that like for yourself, you can apply obviously in a business sense, but in a personal sense, what's been your journey there, and do you believe you've achieved Ikigai, I guess, would be my next question?

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah. Well, actually personally, I have some things that's very clear in my life. I'm still not there, but let's say that I'm in the process.

Robert O’Farrell:

Work in progress

Leandro Barreto:

Exactly. Work in progress. So, I have clear goals and I have clear in my mind where I want to go in a few years, so I don't get disencouraged if the weather is cold or warm, if the stock market goes up or down. And the only thing that I focus is to be 1% better than I was yesterday. And this provides me a security that prevents me to wasting time and things that doesn't make any sense or simply doesn't matter for me in the future. So, I take my career very, and also my personal life very serious on that point. So, yeah, let's say that work in progress.

Robert O’Farrell:

I love that word security that you use there. It draws a parallel, I think, to a word that we also use when it comes to that plan that we have, which is that focus element, making sure that we do the things that matter. Do you think that it's also given you a sense of focus too on what you take on and what you say yes to and what you say no to with regards to your personal and professional development?

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. When you know where you want to go, it's more easy to say yes or no to something that came up to you. Another personal example that I remember was something like 12 years ago, 12 to 13 years ago, my focus was to learn Java, for example, Java programming. Because I know in the midterm, I would like to be a Java architect. So, I have to improve my skills on that programming language.

Leandro Barreto:

So, during that time, the company that I was working was making some changes and then they asked me, "Hey, I know you are good at Java. You are learning, but we need you to start learning this another language, Ruby on Rails during that time. But you have to at least for the moment, forget Java." And then, I was like, "Mm-mm. No, no."

Robert O’Farrell:

It's not what I want to do.

Leandro Barreto:

Exactly. I totally understand that was a company's decision. But during that point, it begins to separate my focus on what I want to achieve from the company's purpose. So, it doesn't make any sense to continue on that company. I asked to leave. And again, best decision ever, because then I entered in another company that I learned so much. And then, in three years I became a Java architect.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yeah. That's a fantastic example of that focus. I'm quite curious out of those four components that you mentioned before, what have you found quite easy, I guess, to achieve or to at least get clarity around personally? And what have you found more challenging?

Leandro Barreto:

Good question. Good question. Yeah. So, learning something that you don't know, it's always a challenge but when you have a desire or a clear focus where you want to go in a few years, things start to be clarified for you. For example, in 2014, I did extension of my MBA in United States to learn about entrepreneurship and things that for me was really, really important. But totally new field, I have no idea what to expect but it provides me the vision to... I always had the idea to have my own company in other words. So, I know that in short term, not in short term, but in midterm at least five years to four years, during that period of time, I would like to have my company.

Leandro Barreto:

So, after I did this MBA, I came back to Brazil, and then I started to put myself in situations that makes me learn these new things. And in 2016, I open up our restaurant in Brazil. So, when you have an objective, things, and it's quite funny because the universe starts to help you.

Robert O’Farrell:

You make your own luck in a lot of regards too, I think.

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah.

Robert O’Farrell:

So, if you had somebody who was looking to learn about Ikigai and came to you for some, for your experience and your advice in how to apply it to their lives, what do you think your advice to someone would be who doesn't know much about it?

Leandro Barreto:

Good question. Great question. So, one tip that I, or advice that I can give is, and I think that this is fantastic and I apply it in my daily basis. Don't waste time in small decisions on a daily basis because every day we have thousands of decisions to make and our brain capacity is limited daily, at least daily. So, there are some times that we feel like mentally exhausted after, for example, you have six meetings in a row in a day. In the end of the day, you were totally tired. Right? And I once read that the greatest minds don't waste time thinking on small things, for example, Steve Jobs always wore the same jeans and t-shirt every day. And he didn't need to think to use it. He just took it and reuse it.

Leandro Barreto:

So, during that time, what I did in 2018, more or less when I was presented to Ikigai. So, what I did, I lived alone in an apartment in Brazil. So, I decided to change it, my life. What I did, I donated my entire wardrobe of clothes with things that I almost never used. And I was only wear eight t-shirts and two jeans.

Robert O’Farrell:

Quite a collection.

Leandro Barreto:

So, I avoid making those small decisions, especially in the morning, because in the morning, you have a clear mind and you don't have to spend those in small things, because if you think on small things, probably it'll grow during the day. So, for example, another thing that helped me a lot is plan the week. So, Google Calendar exists to be used, right?

Robert O’Farrell:

Yeah. Yes.

Leandro Barreto:

So, everything that is very important for you, events or plans that need to be done, put on the calendar. And also, talking about the clothes, separate your clothes a day earlier before you go into bed. So, you wake up more calmly, you drink your coffee calmly, and you focus your efforts on what really matters. And once you have freed your mind from thinking about these small things, you can focus your time and energy on learning new things or getting things done the way it should be. And whether it's learning a new language or a new skill, or you can also read a book in the morning because you have free time, let's say. You can focus on what matters to you exactly.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yeah. I'm quite curious about this aspect of finding something that you really get consumed by. And I think in this digital age, we have so many things that distract us. Our phone has a lot of notifications where we have a lot of information at our beck and call and sometimes it can be overwhelming to know what we should focus on, and I guess what we can really get passionate about. I'm curious, do you have any insight into that as to how people can find that thing that they just lose themselves in and that they're super passionate about?

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Another thing that worked very well for me is to turn off all the notifications.

Robert O’Farrell:

Get a dumb phone just so you don't have that level of notifications coming through. Yeah.

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah. Because I read... I don't remember where exactly, but your brain took something like 15 minutes to focus on something. So, if you don't spend 15 minutes of your time, focus on what needs to be done. You cannot focus at all. So, what I usually do, I turn off all of the notifications from my phone. So, the principal one, I just took it off and I don't care about notifications. Also, one thing that I noticed is that when I, for example, when I had Apple Watch. In the Apple Watch, even if you turn the notifications on or off, the iPhone, it keeps doing on the phone. Oh, my God. So, this is one simple device that I can say, because otherwise, you will enter in a black hole in a community and social media and news, and then you'll lose yourself.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yeah. I found that personally with the Apple Watch, having something on your wrist that vibrates is incredibly distracting. And I was always very big champion of technology, but that was one area where I just moved away from it, went back to a mechanical watch, just didn't want that level of interruption when I was trying to focus on things. So, I think it's a really key insight to focus.

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah. In addition to that, when you, for example, when you are in a meeting with someone and you are actually expecting a message for, I don't know, maybe your family, and then it pops up on your phone and you are in a meeting, and then you take a look into the watch and the people notice that you are not paying attention because you are looking into watch. No matter why you are looking, if it's a message or et cetera, you do provide a psychology... How can I say that in English? Oh, my God. Psychology interference. Let's say it.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yep. Psychological interference.

Leandro Barreto:

Interference. Yeah. Thank you. That will provide a negative influence to other people. So, yeah, that's why you made the right choice to move into the-

Robert O’Farrell:

Yeah. I've heard some people that will actually ask people to leave their phones outside when they go into meetings or leave their laptop outside so that you're present and that you are engaged in the conversation. Because I think even the mere fact that you have your phone near you is a distraction. Even if there's no notifications, its presence is enough to ensure that you're not 100% present in the conversation, which I think is quite interesting from how we focus and our dependency on that rush that we get or that endorphin rush of getting that ping on the phone or that notification.

Leandro Barreto:

Exactly.

Robert O’Farrell:

I thought we could move on to talk about objective and key results. Or for those people that may not have come across this term before, OKRs are collaborative goal-setting methodology and used by teams and individuals to set challenging and ambitious goals with measurable results. So, to break that down further, the objective part of the OKR is simply what is to be achieved and the KR part of it, which is key results, benchmark and monitor how we get to the objective. So, getting to the heart of setting successful OKR is establishing it clear and compelling why. Is there a secret formula to creating a powerful why to get everyone on board?

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah. Great question. So, OKRs, it's all about action and execution. And I think the secret formula, let's say it's having a well-defined proposal and also everyone engaged in seeking the result as the main objective. So, companies in my opinion are made of living ecosystem called human beings. And every human being has its own desires, proposals, goals. And en suite, unite all of the objectives of both the companies and all the people together. That's when we can achieve best results. And that's why some companies are focused on the cultural fit.

Leandro Barreto:

And this is one thing that I see growing a lot in the HR area, companies and persons that must, which the cultural fit must match. It basically means that the person has the same values and desires to achieve results as most of the people in the company or what the company understand as their force that they need to keep growing as a company. And I have seen many technically good people failing in selection, in process selection, simply because they don't adhere to cultural fit. And this is much more than a psychological issue because you don't know how to say like people that cannot work as a group.

Leandro Barreto:

So, it's better for the company to hire someone who can play as a team instead of someone who is like the lonely wolf that keeps working alone. And the results is for only him and not for the entire company. So, yeah, this is the classic example that I can see. And also, one thing that is good for that is nowadays, our fault tolerance is quite good because today at least serious companies don't punish failures. So, they even encourage you to learn.

Leandro Barreto:

And the Spotify models, I remember they say like, "Fail fast and learn fast." So, that was the fail wall was born. So, where everyone shared their failures and they can learn as a team, as a clan, guild. And this is quite beautiful because you can create such an environment where everyone can learn and grow together because humans can fail. And this is normal.

Robert O’Farrell:

Do you think that-

Leandro Barreto:

And-

Robert O’Farrell:

Sorry, I'm just curious. Do you think that companies are more focused around the why these days, or that why has become more important in their measure of success? And you mentioned cultural fit and I love this idea that more companies are much more sensitive to what is their company culture and how does this person work within, or are they going to fit into this company culture? Because the existing people in that company are aligned around their why. And if someone is coming in and doesn't align with that, they understand the impact on their success. So, do you think that company's becoming more and more aware of this and more sensitive to this?

Leandro Barreto:

Yes. I think they are. So, as far as they have the right people in the right environment with the right proposal, no matter the why they will find it blindly, let's say. I think it's like a sense of behavior for the people. Because if you see someone from, as your peer, let's say, that's running to an objective that was defined by the company. And you are aligned with your values and goals. You will follow it.

Leandro Barreto:

So, this is good for both persons as human beings and also for the company because they show the proposal, they show what is the why we must be, for example, the first selling company for our product in the market, why, and then people who is working on it, they will take it as a personal objective. And this is when you make the connection between the company's objective and the people's objective because when the company grows with this why, with this north star, the people will grow together with you.

Robert O’Farrell:

I completely agree. I'm quite curious too from the opposite point of view. Do you think that employees are becoming more aware of understanding the company's why before they join the company? Because we've seen with the pandemic that a lot of companies are now moving to this remote recruitment. And so, the possibilities for employees to work for a much broader range of companies now have increased. And do you think that employees are now finding better wire alignment when they're looking for new jobs because they do have a broader pool to play in per se?

Leandro Barreto:

Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that's why Glassdoor is so popular. So, when you are invited for a meeting or for an interview, you can see everything from the company. Like from salary to feedbacks from the people who works there or is not working anymore. And then, you can see if there's a match. And this is quite funny because like 10 years ago, which is not so popular, we are blindly thinking to work, let's say, in a position like software development. So, I have to be a software developer. I have to be a...

Leandro Barreto:

So, it was more focused on the position instead of the purpose. And now we are seeing the opposite. Now, the people are looking for the purpose, what the company can help me achieve. And it's more like a win-win-

Robert O’Farrell:

Situation.

Leandro Barreto:

... situation let's say, situation. Exactly.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And I think also a lot of people are really focused on how the company takes care of them as a person. They're very sensitive to the fact that they are committing their time to that company. So, there has to be that alignment around professional goals and personal goals. And I think that it's a great shift to see, to come back to the OKR side of things. I'm curious about what benefits do setting OKRs within an organization give or provide?

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah. I think OKRs, they are very, very simple. They do not require a specific knowledge to implement it. So, when you have the people committed and engaged to the goal and the why they want to achieve, then the implementation and using of OKRs became naturally. So, company can benefit because he's straight to the point. He's like, "Objective, it's the direction. And the key results are yes or no." So, keep it simple. That's the main benefit of the companies.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yeah. I love that. The fact that there's no gray area. You either succeed or you don't, and there's a lot of clarity around that as well.

Leandro Barreto:

Exactly.

Robert O’Farrell:

I think that with that aspect of OKRs, in your experience, have you seen OKRs set that tend to stretch the team further than they normally would be stretched in terms of what they attempt to achieve than companies that don't set OKRs from your experience?

Leandro Barreto:

Yes, but I think it matters on what the company, what's the culture of the company, because I have seen companies that is setting OKRS in the good way, but I have seen companies that is setting OKRS because it's fancy. When it's fancy, you don't have a clear objective. You don't have a clear vision. You don't have the right people. And then, it's very tricky and you will never achieve what you are proposing.

Robert O’Farrell:

I'm curious to dig into that a bit more to get your insight on that. Because as somebody who would come into a company that might be setting OKRs, how would you determine that the OKRs are probably not as clearly defined or that they're implementing a process that don't necessarily have the depth or the belief in doing? So, how would somebody come in and determine that?

Leandro Barreto:

Good question. Good question. So, the idea to have a objective is like to have something that can be... How can I say that, can provide you like a, not a fear, but it's going to be like, provides you a direction for, but the people who sees it, they think like, "Hey, this is quite hard to achieve I think." So, one example for Google, for example. So, Google in 2008, they tend to launch the Google Chrome. And as I remember, the first year was like, "Hey, this is the objective." Like, "Hey, we want to launch the best browser in the world." And the key result is the number of users because the users will tell you if the browser is good or not.

Leandro Barreto:

In the first year, they didn't achieve the key result. But the second year, they rise at the bar again, like, "Hey, now we are much than double the objective." And the second year, they still didn't achieve it. But it was very, very close to it. And the third year, they pass it. So, keep in mind that the objectives must be something that seems like a challenge, a huge challenge, but at the same time, it's very inspirational.

Robert O’Farrell:

Inspirational.

Leandro Barreto:

Inspirational. Thank you so much. For those who are working on it. So, I think this is most of the point.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yes. And what do you see as some of the pitfalls when setting OKRs for an organization?

Leandro Barreto:

Awesome. Awesome. So, the pitfalls from my perspective, there are some common mistakes when implementing OKR. So, for example, as I said, not having a clear vision of the goal, so people cannot engage. And especially when you have senior engineers because they don't want to work in something that don't bring purpose for them. Right? So, this is the first one, for example. The second one could be like a system that supports the monitoring of the results. So, you cannot follow up, which is quite important to keep following it if you are, we are close to achieve it. Yes or no? So, a good point.

Leandro Barreto:

And one thing that seems quite strange, but it's very, very common in the market is that your product is not finished yet. One personal example that I faced not quite recently, but do you play video games?

Robert O’Farrell:

When I get the time. I have two young boys, so I get very little time to do that these days. But yeah, I do.

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah. I love doing, I don't have also time, but when I have a litle bit of time, I can spend. So, this little time I try to spend in the best game that I found in the market. And here is the point because some years ago, there was a game that was released and before released, there was several gaming platforms, new sites, and et cetera, that was telling us that, "Here is the game challen... no, the game changing for the gaming market, because it's going to be very good. The marketing for this game was really, really good. And the game was like highest expectations for that. It was always in the top. "Hey, you have to play this because it's going to be very great. You are going to be having a great experience on that."

Leandro Barreto:

And the funny thing is that after they launch it, a few hours later, I notice some YouTubers who start testing the game. They began to post videos about so much bugs that they are facing. And within a week, the game had to stop selling because that was a disaster.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yeah.

Leandro Barreto:

And... Yeah.

Robert O’Farrell:

I was just going to say, I can think of a few games that come to mind that fit that criteria.

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah. Probably we are thinking the same, but I can say it, so.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yeah. Yeah. Do you find that people get OKRs and KPIs confused within an organization? Or have you ever come across any examples of that, where people misunderstand the purpose of between the two of them?

Leandro Barreto:

Yes. One thing that came up to my mind is the key result is a simple measure to understand if you are going in the right direction to your objective or not, but KPIs is it's more a performance index for performing for your team. For example, if they are performing in a good way, if we have the right resources for delivering something. And so, I think this is mainly the difference is the KPI, it's a measure for you to, maybe to bonus, to create a bonus for your team or et cetera. And the KR must be not linked to bonus or salary, et cetera. Must be like a direction. Something that, yes, we are achieving it or not. Or if not, what we have to do to correct the direction.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yeah. Fantastic. So, coming around to Agile, I'm curious about this marrying of the two, of OKRs and Agile together. How can we combine Agile and OKRs in your experience and your understanding to achieve results that drive high performance?

Leandro Barreto:

Awesome. So, as the Agile manifesto says, "People over process," so I believe whenever you maintain a fail-safe environment along with a good leadership, you can get the most of your team. So, connecting what I said earlier regarding the Ikigai and when you have a good leader, for example, in a safe environment and colleagues or peers who shares the same values and goals as you, then you can extract maximum efficiency because high-efficiency teams are teams that are focused and committed with the company results, and that will achieve great business results. Sorry.

Robert O’Farrell:

I also love that aspect with the OKRs, with that clear definition, too, that Agile, that processes is that sprint by sprint activity where you're going back and you're looping around and looking at the results of that sprint and going back to the customer and getting customer feedback and that real alignment around what you're trying to achieve as well, to give you that clarity of focus that when you are going through that sprint process, you're coming back and saying, "Okay, are we acting on the initiatives that have come out of these key results that contribute to that OKR?"

Leandro Barreto:

Exactly. And also, adding to that, that's why we have the goal for the sprint, right? So, we have the direction for the sprint. So, every sprint you can measure if you are achieving this goal or not.

Robert O’Farrell:

And I love it as a mechanism, too, to link back to that, that why piece to really give a clarity around why, which I think a lot of software development sometimes doesn't focus as much as they can on. So, I'm curious, so how can Ikigai mix into this? So, we've talked about that at the start and we talked about the components of it and it was a great framework about understanding a purpose, but how can we use that to achieve better results and stay motivated as a team?

Leandro Barreto:

Great question and also quite difficult. But yeah, I believe there are two thin lines that eventually met in the future. For example, the first one is like the individual as a person. So, how he seems himself in, within the organization and how can benefit, how this relationship can benefit from this win-win relationship. And also, the second one is like the individual as a professional. So, based on the skills that he already has. How can he help the company achieve the results more efficiently?

Leandro Barreto:

So, in a given timeline, these two lines will cross and then you will be able to extract excellent results because you will have a person with excellent internal knowledge, internal as a person, and also engaged with the companies is seeking as a greater objective, as a north star, and also helping your peers to grow all together.

Leandro Barreto:

And I think this is quite like a smile. When you smile at someone unconsciously, you make the other people smile too. So, when you have someone who is genuinely working with a proposal, that person will contaminate other in a good way. And then, you have a continuous string of people delivering consistent results. And I think this is the most important.

Robert O’Farrell:

Have you experienced that yourself where you see someone working with purpose and contaminate or infect how you... infect is again, not a great word, but inspired is probably the best word there, inspired the people around them to work in a similar fashion. Has that something that you've witnessed yourself?

Leandro Barreto:

Yes, yes. I remember back in the company that I was working in Brazil, that was my first day. I was like, "Hmm, there's something strange here," because everyone is so passionate on delivering their best results for their customer, that this thought influenced me in a positive way to start being like hungry for good results, not only for the company but for me as an individual, as someone who have to learn and teach others. And nowadays, I see these companies, it's achieving a great results with a great leader because even if we have a good team, we have to get someone who is a servant leader, who you can follow and maybe follow blindly in a good way. But yeah, I experience it.

Robert O’Farrell:

That's fantastic. But I'm interested, is there anything that you wanted to talk about personally with regards to either of those three topics or even outside of that, that has been inspirational, I think, in your professional development, in your personal life?

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I think Leandro five years ago was totally different person. And when I started looking, not only by myself inside me, but also outside and the opportunities that the world can give me and how can I serve back this, or how can I provide this back to the world? This is very funny because good things start to happen. For example, I never imagined to be working here in Amsterdam. And now, I'm here in Amsterdam, working in a great company with great people, delivering such great results, which is giving me a lot of knowledge to keep learning and keep the wheel turning on, keep the cycle.

Leandro Barreto:

And I think today, like performing the best Leandro's version ever, maybe tomorrow, a little bit more, and I can provide this knowledge to other person and I can also learn from other persons, from other people. And that's very exciting. I think that's what motivates me to wake up in the morning, do my sport things like running and jujitsu, and then let's do the work.

Robert O’Farrell:

That's fantastic. I love that, that reflection on the past five years, how far you've come. It sounds like you've had a lot of inspiration from a number of different sources, but is there something in there that you think was key to that? Or was it just a general progression over that time?

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah. Yeah. Actually, I tried to focus on people who have positive influence on others. So, I try to be more not equal because if you are equal, so you are the same person, so it doesn't provide value to the others, but try to be quite different in your own way. So, yeah, basically, that's what motivates me to get different sources of references and trying to be the best version of myself.

Robert O’Farrell:

That's fantastic. I love this mix of the philosophical, which is for me, the Ikigai, and the concrete, well, not concrete, but the workflow aspect of the Agile side of things coming together. Have you traditionally worked in Agile methodologies or did you transition between that may be starting, because if you're from the 2000s, so you probably touched on Waterfall at some point in the past and then came into Agile. Was that your professional progression over that time?

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah. Yeah. Actually, I worked a lot with the Waterfall methodology in 2008, when I was introduced to the Agile methodology with Scrum... no, actually 2009, then I saw. "Hey, this is very, very interesting." Let's learn more about it. And then, during this time, I keep working both with the Waterfall methodology and the Agile methodology. And the more I work it with the Waterfall, the more value I saw in the [inaudible 00:54:24]-

Robert O’Farrell:

In Agile. Yeah.

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah. And that was quite fantastic because then I also learn about SAFe and how to scale it, and yeah.

Robert O’Farrell:

I'm quite curious, like because we had a similar path in that regard and I reflect on where we are with OKRs and Agile, and it's interesting that Agile brought us closer to our customer and we speak to our customer on a more regular basis, which I thought was a massive win over Waterfall where you might have months and months of development, and you've got a requirement that you're trying to put into code, and then suddenly, you have this big delivery and that's when you talk to the customer. And usually, the customer comes back and says, "We want all these things changed." And it's a real pain.

Robert O’Farrell:

Agile was instrumental in that, but then going up from there and putting that layer of why on top of that, which I think is, again, one of those big fundamental shifts on how we focus on what we are doing. Do you see anything emerging from your experience, your professional experience that is tackling another key challenge with regards to, I guess, how we work and how we deliver value?

Leandro Barreto:

Yes. And for example, the customer, they want to see value on what is going to be delivered. They don't want to spend six months to wait something to be delivered. So, I think that's why cloud start being so popular, like SaaS companies, because when you are working on something that is on cloud, for example, you always have the last version. And no matter the day or the hour of the day, there will come new features. And usually, it's transparent for you. And internally from the engineering perspective, the more you deliver, the more quickly you can correct and the more you can understand the market.

Leandro Barreto:

And also, that's why some strategies, some release strategies came up so popular like Canary release. So, you deliver a few things to a particular person, and then you can test it. And if they provides you good or bad feedback, you have time to correct it. So, that's why it became so popular. So, I think during this time from now on, we must see a lot of SaaS companies starting to growing because things are in real life now, real time now, so I think it's natural.

Leandro Barreto:

By the way, there's a good strategy that was implemented by Spot 5 if I'm not mistaken that was like, but this is more for engineering perspective. They have some robots that keeps doing bad things to the servers.

Robert O’Farrell:

Oh, that's the Chaos Monkey.

Leandro Barreto:

The Chaos Monkey.

Robert O’Farrell:

That was Netflix. Yeah. Yeah.

Leandro Barreto:

Netflix, yeah.

Robert O’Farrell:

Netflix. And it would take down bits of their infrastructure and break things. Yeah, yeah.

Leandro Barreto:

Exactly. It's quite hard to see in some companies, but I think this has become to be more popular during the next couple of months or years, because it will teach the engineers how to deal with that because no one wants to stay working in the weekend. You stay with your family.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yeah. I completely agree. I remember when I first heard about the idea of the Chaos Monkey, that it shocked me that someone would inflict that upon their business and upon, I guess, their systems, but then it only takes a production incident to realize that if you had something like that, that you would've built in some provision should that eventuate. And I think that there's a lot of wisdom to it. And so, I absolutely love the idea. I love this, what you were saying about real-time delivery of value to customers.

Robert O’Farrell:

And I think back to how Agile has really been fundamental in pioneering that, well, not pioneering it per se, but with the release cadence that you get from one to two-week sprints, you're putting yourself in a position where you are delivering more often. And you mentioned Canary deploys, I think within that. Is there any other deployment strategies that you've come across that also support, I guess, that immediate delivery of value to customers?

Leandro Barreto:

Yes. There is another strategy which is called the Blue-Green release, but the difference between it is like the Canary release, you deliver something in the small portions, but the Blue-Green, you, like a switch that you turn on and off.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yes. Yes. Right.

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah, you can test it. You can deliver new version of your environment or your tool, and then everyone can use it. And if something goes failed, then you have the plan B, where you can just turn on and off, and then you can rearrange the traffic to your tool. But this is very technical.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yeah. Very interesting to me, but we might lose a few of our podcast listeners. One last question from me, just within your current professional engagement, were they implementing OKRs before you joined the company? Or was that something that you've seen introduced over that period of time?

Leandro Barreto:

From my current company, they are currently working with OKRs, so I didn't participate and implemented it. So, I'm just more focused on helping the teams in implementing the KRs. There were some companies that I worked in the PEs that I helped to build it, and also to build not only the objective but also the KRs. And the objective, it's you spend so much time because you have to understand where the company wants to be in the future.

Leandro Barreto:

So, you have to know inside what we have, what we can improve, where we can improve, and then we can base it on that, base it on the objective. We can build up to four key results to be more precise in achieving this. Yeah. But it's quite challenging, but at the same time, very exciting.

Robert O’Farrell:

I think that was going to be my question in your experience in seeing a company go from not doing that to then implementing it, what were the real challenges in doing that? And how long did you see that process take before they really got good at doing that? Because it is not only setting the meaningful objectives and obviously measurable key results but also then getting the alignment from the teams around that. What were the big challenges there and how long did you see that process take?

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah. I think it depends from company to company. I remember back in Brazil, I had to work with companies that spent months on deciding, but at the same time, I remember my own company took three months to start implementing it. So, I think it depends on the commitment of the people who is responsible for this objective. So, yeah, depends on the maturity also of the company, the people who is working, and yeah. Because the OKRs are quite old, but at the same time are quite new for people, for the companies. Right? So, this is like very challenging. And how do you balance it?

Leandro Barreto:

There are some people who doesn't know how to set the correct objective. And then, we came up with the same thing that we are discussing earlier. Like if you don't know where you're going to go, if the objective is not clear enough, no matter if you have good people or bad people, the people will not see value on that.

Robert O’Farrell:

Yeah. And you won't get your alignment because people don't either understand or don't believe in the objective.

Leandro Barreto:

Exactly.

Robert O’Farrell:

That's fantastic insight, Leandro. And I really appreciate your time today. Again, is there anything that you'd like to chat about before we wrap it up? I'm just conscious that we have been chatting for about an hour now and gone off script a little bit too.

Leandro Barreto:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. No, actually I'd like to thank you, Rob. Thank you, Agile team, everyone. I don't want to spend much time talking also. It was a pleasure and thanks for invite again. And I hope we can think good things in the future. Like, "Hey, I hope I can provide good insights on this."

Robert O’Farrell:

That's fantastic. You certainly have. I've learned a fair bit today as well. So, I'll be going back to revisit some of the talking points from this chat. So, thank you very much again for your time, Leandro. I really appreciate it. And, yes, have a great day. It's kicking off for you and it's ending for us. So, yeah, really appreciate it, mate.

Leandro Barreto:

Thank you. Thank you. I really appreciate it too. Thanks again. See you. Have a great day.

Robert O’Farrell:

You too. Cheers.

Leandro Barreto:

Cheers.

    Subscribe to our blog

    Keep up with the latest tips and updates.

    Subscribe