Interactive Human Spectrogram

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!

  1. 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…

Human Spectagram


Constellation Activity



Facilitation Workshops

Coaching Community Brown Bag with Chris Neesham

I recently attended a coaching brown bag featuring a conversation with Chris Neesham who offers  business psychology consultancy specialising in leadership development, organisational psychology and international speaker.  I quite enjoyed hearing how Chris career had evolved and commend his philosophy and key values that are the foundation for his approach; including, cultural familiarity, inclusive of diversity, experiencing – interviewing leadership in crisis, working with tangible concepts vs. just theoretical approach and leveraging psychology training to provide coaching depth.

Below are my visual notes from the session so you have a snapshot. (yes – I’m still practicing my artful note taking 😉 )




Coaching Brown Bag Chris Neesham Coaching Brownbag - Chris Neesham

About Lean Agile Coaching Presentation

Join Agile coach Stephanie Bysouth in a conversation about Agile Coaching.What is it? Why does it help? Chris Collins also joins Stephanie to talk about what it’s like to be coached.

An Agile Coaches journey often starts long before one claims the title. Lean Agile Coaches come from a variety of backgrounds; including but not limited to, senior developers, architects, project managers, business analysts, designers, operations. Essentially Lean Agile Coaches come from many places. What start’s to set them apart is that they normally become a team leader, a team mentor as well as a master of lean agile skills.

Lean Agile Coaches will work through a sequence of stages with new teams. The first task for coaches is to observe and learn about the space the are moving into. It’s important to understand the territory, challenges, and natural flow of their current systems before taking a company, team or even managers on an organisational change.
This presentation delves into the why agile coaching, what agile coaches do, and show real profitable examples of how a coach can benefit a team, and companies bottom line.

Lean Agile Coaching Introduction Presentation

Agile Business Analysts Melbourne Meetup Agile Coach Introduction Presentation

Using Kanban to simplify and save time on complex enterprise integration projects

Often the introduction of new methodologies and change programs are overwhelming for important professionals whom have no capacity for “another fandangle change movement” as a wonderful engineer once told me. He is quite right! All too often agile change programs are directed upon people without; compartmentalising time to complete current expectations, time to learn, and time to practice the new introduced methods.

Kanban BoardThe example below is based on an engagement with a very small and extremely important Environment & Configuration Team supporting multiple project teams through releases every 8 weeks across an 8 digit valued delivery program of work. Often these operation teams are the engines that can’t stop; they service multiple managers, teams and departments; and the last thing they (think they) want right now is to give precious time working with (another) Lean Agile coach. Add to that boiling mix of gurgling soup was a built up agile coaching resistance. I was the fourth Coach brought into to assist because previous adoptions hadn’t achieved fluidity; the combination of high demand, complex conditions, and conflicting relations had burnt through the well intentioned previous coaches.

As coaches we know that time invested in Lean and Agile methods is time exponentially returned; however, even after reviewing the evidence, many people are literally too stressed to consider new ways of working.

“I can’t make the old way work after all this time, and they said that was a new better way of working back then too!”

So I decide to go with the flow. If that was there world, then I became in rhythm with it, and rather than interrupt it with new ways of working I decided to add a new beat that was in compliment to the flow of work they had to maintain.

First I sat with them – there home was my home. I observed their world carefully – the patterns and streams of work in flow. I listened, and listened to assure that I truly understood what was happening. I listened to what was truly important to these guys and then in a briefing to the Solution Manager on the approach and why he will get value for endorsing my coaching, it came out almost like a whilted hope that had long ago become impossible. One of the guys said “I’d just love to get home to dinner with my son at least once a week”. There it was, the underlying “why this is valuable to me”. Without that why as a coach you won’t get people buying tickets to your agile journey. That become our commitment we would all work for.

Secondly, with managerial nod and a very human aspiration I negotiated just 15 minutes a day to start adding in all that good healthy agile stuff!

15 minutes a day is initially not a daunting amount of time to give up, to start focus on learning, and it also became the most important time of the day as it set the focus and created opportunity to continuously improve. (As a coach it was excellent as it also trained me to be very succinct and relevant in the teachings during that short time.)  First it was 15 minutes of listening daily (in person, fact was at that time I was 80% listening, watching, learning about them and 20% coaching).

As the days progressed the team were able to expand their ‘learning listening’ to take on doing personal kanban – a wonderfully simple Lean framework to initiate agile principles and a good coaching engagement.  Stage by stage, day by day I guided the team through visualising ALL their work, and to build understanding of the demand tunnels that previously drove their work. Identifying where they create value, and how much they do to fix failures. They practiced flow through concepts, experimenting with their WIPs. They achieved an extraneous amount of work in their first month. Not necessarily a massive chunk greater overall, that wasn’t important. They did it without having to do the normal amount of overtime.  Not only did they surprise themselves, the key reward was being able to sit back and actually see their achievements on the wall, share those achievements, understand their capacity and start to go home proud.  Previous to seeing their accomplishments visualised on the wall they stated “I’d just go home and pass out on the coach wandering if I was ever going to get on top of it all”.

Over the second month the team tested out concepts of focus, noise deflection, prioritisation models, retrospection and request methods to really hone their self organising skills. The 15 minutes would occasionally expand as the team needed. The beautiful thing was that the time extension was their choice based on their needs. They were experiencing a return on their 15min time investment for themselves and as a coach I was accessible, available and pulled the knowledge they needed when they needed it. If I didn’t know the answers on the spot I would research, investigate and find the resources or people that they needed.

In the third month the team felt confident enough to initiate their own program group stand-ups. The team pulled together the key doers from the multiple areas they serviced. The content focus of the stand-up was their shared work area. In essence the team – who three months earlier was too under the pump to learn Lean & Agile methods – was now hosting their own stand-ups, running an improvements backlog and teaching others what they had learnt 15 minutes a day.

In my following articles I’ll share how they become the base rhythm by which everyone else followed, and the third key element in their journey, Continuous Integration successes.

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Agile Outliers are never in, no matter how cool agile inliers think they are

Being at the frontier of an agile change movement can be a hard place to be. There is an old saying that rings true for many cavalier agilists out there and that is “That the first man through the wall is the bloodiest”.

Or for the geeks in us –  think Star Trek and having to go into the Borg alone. BUT instead of having the most awesome of weapons, scotty to back you up, an amazing crew to rescue you at the last minute and a counsellor to help you cope from the post traumatic stress all you have is your self!

So how do you cope? How do influence a revolution? How do you teach the assimilated to become un-assimilated and start to think for them selves? Especially how do you engage those who don’t want to be freed from the systematic rhythms of the Borgs that they are now an effective component of?

One day at a time, one sticky at a time, one conversation at a time you will erode the cubes of the systemic organisation…What does help is to cause the change, the erosion with a team of bots working together across that system to weaken it’s key strong holds. Unfortunately, what can happen at the initial stages of agile adoption is very much the ‘born again’ blind euphoria. This euphoria experienced by those that are baby agilists is wonderful to watch, and really quite enjoyable to experience because you are literally going through a rebirth of you working world. The world that you knew no longer has to be, and a professional freedom is being embraced.

During this infant stage unfortunately the definitions of value are still not matured so ‘adopting agile’ is purely about winning faster within the old systemic metrics of time, hierarchy and cause I said so – NOT because they are actually driving customer value. I say unfortunately because what happens is those bots become annoying bots, they just want to win according to their boss, win according to the old paradigms and are not excersing the agiles values of collaboration, individuals & interactions etc over plans, documentation or exclaiming or awesome lean principles are without actually practicing.

This is why I call them inliers – they are part of the in / cool new agile movement and those who are truelly addressing the tough questions, highlighting waste that could be eliminated for example are still outliers. These wonderful authentic characters that appear in our professional world deserve to be nurtured for there ‘whistleblowing’ for they are the true heros of the agile frontier.



Introduction To Agile – Adelaide PMI

Project Management Institute – Adelaide PMI Charter Presentation: Introduction_to_Agile_Delivery

As the audience was from a broad spectrum of industries and included project managers of varying experience I focused the presentation on introducing the evolution of agile, followed by the key paradigm shifts between traditional project management & scrum practice, agile principles.

Introducing Agile is the same as introducing a person that you want to give a good impression. Not too over the top to turn people away, and not to lifeless to put people to sleep. Agile history is important to give context as many believe agile is just ‘a new .com movement’. Where as it’s actually got quite an history stemming from the mid 20th Century.

To sum up everything in a 20 min presentation that the entire audience will grasp isn’t always easy. None the less, here’s a summary in under 2 minutes.


Agile = (Tools + Practices) / Practices

Culture = (Values + Principles + Environment) / Community

Practices = (Priority > Delivery < Release³ < Value > Feedback < Learn)

Stephanie BySouth History