It’s true – everybody has an opinion! Big ones, little ones, difficult ones, simple ones, lonely ones and herd ones. So how do you facilitate an agile team to share differing opinions, constructively discuss options, and gain insight into each others opinions? Agile Team Facilitators use real live human interactive experiences to facilitate discussion dives, build team repore and allow product decision making.
The Interactive Human Spectrogram is most definitely a long name for a group excercise that basically gets people to stand where there mouth is!
Prepare your Session!
You will need;
- some space enough for your team,
- masking tape for the spectrogram index,
- markers to show the spectrum values
- position statements for discussion
- spectrum values
Optional support equipment;
- statement crowdsourcing technique
- discussion kanban
- behaviour guide toys
Set your space up
- place the tape along the floor; consider the number of people attending and number of values on the spectrum
- mark down the values you wish to have people allign to; for example
- strongly disagree – disagree – agree – strongly agree
- 0 – 10
- consider metaphor characters; olympic medals – gold, silver, bronze, or movie characters – padawan (for newbie learner) to jedi knight (for experienced master)
- creative metaphors help attendees to shift from their ‘stagnant mindset’ to a more creative responsive mindset – leverage these easy tools to help build the energy and collaboration you’d like
Run your session!
- Introduce the Session by framing the basics
- This an interactive spectrum
- We’ll choose the next statement & you will be asked to step to the value on the spectrum that best represents your position
A couple of free facilitation guides
And resources from the web…
Scrum of scrums
Inspect & Adapt
Supporting the delivery as a central source of trueth, Swindon Round about
Agile Values & Principles
Off-shore agile, outsourcing agile teams, distributed agile, leverageing globalisation third world markets – or whatever it is you call it – creates additional process management work for teams. The question is whats the impact to business benefits, customer satisfaction, quality product, and healthy culture?
Different clients i’ve coached have approached distributed agile product delivery in a variety of ways and yet they each encountered similar challenges that are worth keeping in mind:
– Overcomeing the distance to maintain good face-to-face communication flow
– Establishing seamless infrastructure; environments, task management, knowledge management tools
– Governing quality development and output
– Customer satisfaction mindset
Below are three interesting articles that explain well; their strategy, execution and learning by experience.
Martin Fowler of Thoughtworks shares his perspective on the Thoughtworks Bangalore off-shore agile services to their European and USA agile houses, and customers.
Martin Fowlers top learnong list;
– Use Continuous Integration to Avoid Integration Headaches
– Have Each Site Send Ambassadors to the Other Sites
– Use Contact Visits to build trust
– Don’t Underestimate the Culture Change
– Use wikis to contain common information
– Use Test Scripts to Help Understand the Requirements
– Use Regular Builds to Get Feedback on Functionality
– Use Regular Short Status Meetings
– Use Short Iterations
– Use an Iteration Planning Meeting that’s Tailored for Remote Sites
– When Moving a Code Base, Bug Fixing Makes a Good Start
– Separate teams by functionality not activity
Expect to need more documents
– Get multiple communication modes working early
– Costs and Benefits of Offshore Development
To better understand who has been doing it well and for a long time ive selected the below from Microsofts pool of off-shore agile articles. It’s short, too the point and gives some practicle how tos.
– agile practice trends
– insight to the right tools i.e. integration
– communication, communication, communication
And last but not least a nice checklist infographic to consider
attribution to QAT.com with this graphic
On large scale scrum programs or scaled agile portfolios it is often easy to have people come and go from the village without all of the community knowing. Often new people are welcomed to their immediate scrum team, announced at scrum of scrums or an email is sent around. I’ve observed that new people are often not recognised for a long while by other villagers walking past, and more commonly by the Business Scrum attendees who are often not sitting with the teams everyday. While it may seem like a small transition, eventually the newbie will settle in and everyone will know him – or will they?
The act of welcoming new people and helping them to feel settled is dependent upon the behaviours of those already here. The villagers need to actively welcome a person, not just ‘talk about’ it. Being active in welcomeing people and introducing them to the entire program helps to bring them into the culture you’d like to sustain as well as speeding up their ability to collaborate and be productive.
While there is a number of more well know activities for welcoming people into the scrum team; it’s also important for the whole agile portfolio to acknowledge they are part of a bigger village. A Town Hall or Portfolio Sprint Reviews are great places for the personal introductions however for those who work with us and aren’t regulars to turning up it’s also great to share the news at the Scrum of Scrums and Business Scrums ceremonies. We create an Agile Portfolio Billboard as a great space for profiling information to everyone. In the same way you have a Dashboard for builds, velocity, engagement it’s great to have a Billboard as a live source of communication that maintains news, decisions and changes for the entire program.
Update the team space by adding in a persona card that includes;
- A clear photo so that we associate the face with the name
- Their name, their team – and their location; especially if it’s a large spread out program or distributed teams so that we have context when the newbie speaks and we have visibility of transitions that may impact the teams
- Add in personal details that help to create ice-breaker conversations and for others to easily become familiar with the person. The more familiar we are with someone, the easier it is to have a conversation and to collaborate
- For example; “favourite bands now & when you we’re a teenager”, weekend passions, and of-course being a Melbourner, asking what coffee they like is a must!
(due to privacy laws we couldn’t show the team photos, hence the drawings 🙂 )
It’s a simple task that creates some tangible and lasting benefits;
- Give others visibility so they can say hi rather than just walk past
- Remind Business Scrum we’re real people on the project, have lives and also give them some icebreaker opportunity to engage with the teams
- Helps us old people remember the newbies names with the faces…you’ll be amazed when you work across large programs how many people don’t everyones name – we just don’t admit all the time
This is one simple step to building a welcoming, friendly and collaborative culture. There are many others available or create your own; remember to keep it simple, friendly and encouraging for people to communicate, build trust and connect with one another.
Advanced Common Sense is the home of Web Usability Guru – Steve Krug. His website; http://www.sensible.com is a good resource for agile teams, Lean UX professionals, and web designers to leverage on their lean agile transformations. Jeremie Benazra is a smart lean agile coach who recommends visiting Steve Krugs website to assist agile teams to better understand the differences between demo, showcase, feedback gathering and actual time-boxed reviews.
The Advanced common sense website is full of useful advice and practical tools includeing;
- The do it yourself guide to finding and fixing usability problems
- A common sense approach to web usability
- Workshops to dramatically improve the web usability and return on investment for your website
- Interviews on User testing on the web, and mobile use testing
- Excerpts from Steve Krugs book; Surgery made easy: The do it yourself guide to finding and fixing usability problems
- Common Sense blog also includes pre-writings from his great book Dont Make Me Think
I’d be interested to hear your opinion on lean ux and how better to uplift the capabilities of agile teams so that usability and voice of the customer are part and parcel of everyday way of working.
Intentional Planning is a powerful and simple method for bringing clarity, outcomes and purpose back to your life. With practice and a cycle of learning, Intentional Planning Kanban cleans out the to do clutter, plugs the energy drains and allows you to get your life back.
Unfortunately we do plan too much, too sporadically or reactively to others everyday. When we feel overwhelmed we write to do lists and we manage to get a few things done for a while but then it all piles up again. Or we email ourselves more ‘to do’ things because I can’t get to that right now; however, magically, in the future my to do list will disappear and I could do it later. Reactive planning often has us stumbling through others demands and our own last minute forgotten must dos; an un-sustainable way of life that depletes our energy and stains our opportunity for joy.
All this stress is held in our heads and many are reaching boiling points of dispare. Our brain is an amazing organ that serves us incredibly well however we either treat it like it’s a magical wizardy mailbox should be able to perform magic and make everything OK with the blink of an eye. I have been tempted to ask people to start posting requests to:
Get Something Done
88 Me @mybrain
Magic brain coding didn’t work for me either, I was still lift with all those to dos’.
I really needed to simplify even further planning to get back ownership of my time. What does work for me is a clear framework that visualises all that heavy workload and demand into an easy to do Intentional Plan.
- Make every to do thought, request visual and tangible in one place so it’s not sitting in your head,
- Build a real touchable tangible in-box
- Group all into themes, categories or roles
- What’s the pattern or pairs in your lists
- what’s the result you specifically want
- Can you measure it, achievable, tangible outcome
- why is this theme important to you?
- Whats it giving you? why does this satisfy you? Why is it in your best interest?
- Whats the 20% that’s going to get me the 80% difference? Which have the most beneficial impact
- Whats the essence of effort to achieve the beneficial effort
- Will doing this myself be the drain of life, wealth and health – can I outsource for the same outcome?
- How can I get leverage – timebox, focus on one thing, eliminate distraction?
- Literally tick off the item!!! Close it off in your mind.
- What’s left over – can be it cancelled or move to the inbox
- What was the outcome – does it match the intention?
- What can shift to gain improvement next time?
“activity without purpose is the drain to your life, drain to your wealth, drain to your purpose” Tony Robbins
It’s on again! One of the best “unconferences” you’ll ever have the joy of experiencing. LAST – Lean Agile Systems Thinking Conference – is organised by two of Melbourne’s great agile Champions – Craig Brown & Ed Wong. The emphasis is on:
- sharing of practical skills
- real experiences of lean and agile adoption
- the latest in systems thinking practice
- gaining inspiration from your fellow practitioners
Date – 11 July 2014
Venue – Swinburne University, Hawthorn
Participation cost – Affordable!
As much as I would love to travel the world only attending agile conferences and agile unconferences I simply can’t. Instead i’ll review the outputs and create learning snapshots to add to my coaching tool kit. These are some favourites from the Agile Coach Camp held in Canada June 2013.
Note: If you recognise any of your words in these snapshots please let me know so that I can assign you credt. Some of the videos don’t give presenter names.
How to teach anything;
1. The first lesson of teaching is to teach them where they are at
2. We need to discover what their hurdles are – emotional & knowledge
3. Understand what their motives – work with them to find that motivation
Motivation is where you will get the engagement
All learning is made through meaningful association
How many coaches does it take to change a light bulb?
1. Well, it depends
2. Why do you ask?
3. Who’s willing to pay, i’m tired of freebies
4. Who has the problem
5. Do you mind if I ask you 5 questions first
6. Lets visualise this
7. How do you know the light bulb is the problem
8. How do you know it’s fixed
9. We need to add some disciplines to this so we can scale
10. Do you know what your organisation culture is?
“Solve problems, real problems and don’t just focus on agile as the only solution…cause I just want to make the world suck a little less”
“What ever you are scared to do on stage – is exactly what you should do! Is there anything in your life, in this conference come up and do it. The more you get out of your comfort zone, the more you’ll get out of it.”
10 steps to proper motorcycleing cornering, and leaning into the corners of your life – using motorcycling as a metaphor
1. position yourself so you don’t catch your toe
2. prepare your body before the corner
3. use counter-force to lean into the corner
4. set your sites on the next horizon
5. and release into it
“As a coach we ask questions that allow the student to come up with the answer.” (Questions that lead to the insight needed for the student to learn.)