Posted: 02 May 2018 05:27 PM PDT
I took a three-day course on transformation, agility, and leadership. It was called Agile Transformational Leader. There were lots that I learned throughout whole three days. It was a great stop on my professional journey, to step back, and be more mindful of where the journey is taking me. I was in the course with some of the greatest thought leaders of Canadian, and even World, Agile World.
One of the highlights of the three days was to be coached by Michael K. Spayd. I was giving him a hard time, and I was transparent in front of 15 people. It was a first for me. I didn't hold anything back regarding the situation I had. It was a true turning point for me. I was uncomfortable thinking about sharing a real-life situation and be coached on the spot on it. However, it is those moments of uncomfortableness if you cherish and push yourself through that you can grow. People helped too. One of the greatest group of people that I saw gathered, which benefited me to navigate through the uncomfortableness.
The biggest highlight of the three days for me was learning to Speak Up. Throughout the whole three days, I was learning, being encouraged, and was being asked to Speak Up! There were instances that my team encouraged me to speak up. It was moments that I spoke up and observed the reactions. Even if people didn't understand my thought process, it wasn't a very big deal. They asked more. However, the feeling of me contributing to achieving was far more elusive, when realized, to lose it again and again. Even if it ended up diverting conversation in a different direction than intended, it was a greater feeling of accomplishment rather than holding in.
You might think to yourself, why is it a big deal? Could it be? To go on a three-day course and the biggest takeaway is to learn to Speak Up. It was for me, and I tell you why. It was the single most feedback I received throughout my professional career. I have been told several times that I know a lot of things, and I need to speak up for others to know. If I keep it to myself, not many people can figure out based on the chain reactions what led to it, and appreciate my part in it. It took me a personal journey to internalize that and be changed in the moment and amongst the trusted friends.
Put this alongside what I learned at Agile Transformational Leader, Speak Up, with what I learned at Problem Solving Leadership back then, Ask Questions, Please! and it becomes a magical recipe for success.
It is worth mentioning that other people that took the PSL had the same thought and reaction about this course as myself. We were mentioning that this course could have similar effects on our journey even after three days of the in-class training.
It isn't enough how many times you hear about Responsibility Process. I have learned it years ago when Christoper was giving his keynote at Toronto Coach Retreat (it was the same session I presented Simple Coaching Model as well). However, I decided to refresh my knowledge and attend one of his webinars, in which he talks about the Responsibility Process and he is trying to convince you to buy his educational module. This is a great personal tool to use for yourself. However, coaches, scrum masters, and other leaders please do not try to use this on others.
The following are some of the slides that I found important and a video from Christopher.
Posted: 15 Apr 2018 07:14 PM PDT
If you are not in the Agile world, It might sound like a gaming conference and a very fast one! It might be! Depending on what session you attend and your perspective. Agile Games is an annual Agile conference in Boston, Massachusetts; held by Agile New England.
I was invited to the conference as a speaker for two sessions; "User Stories by Collaboration" and "Modern XP Game", the latter one co-delivered with Carlos Oliveria. If you want to learn more about the sessions please visit User Stories by Collaboration and Modern XP Game on my homepage.
This post includes the highlights of the Agile Games 2018 from my perspective. I hope it is valuable to you.
Tim Ottinger - Opening Keynote - Somewhere Between Frivolity and Dread: Psychologically Safe Training GamesThe AgileGames2018 started by Tim Ottinger's keynote. He talked about Games, how we are using them & mainly safety around it. Games are fun, engaging and can easily transmit the message you want to deliver. They even can end up with very unexpecting results.
However, it is very easy to dive into the game and forget the main point. You don't want to facilitate a session using lego on Scrum, and when the team members go back to the work and their boss asks them what they did, reply we played some lego! The games need to have a goal attached to them.
Also, a great point to consider about designing a game or running activities is safety. Don't assume safety. When you are taking a picture, you might be making one person uncomfortable. When you are asking about the worst fear you can imagine in your facilitation, you are doing a very unsafe act. There are many aspects that you want to take into consideration.
You don't know what people have gone through. Tim shared a personal experience of himself, which was very touching. Don't assume safety. It's very hard to design a safe game/simulation. But good ones are out there and you can find them.
Woody Zuil - Coding Dojo
I attended a session with Woody Zuil. Based on the request of the people in the room, Woody has facilitated a coding dojo. We picked converting numeric numbers to roman numbers. We have gone through some discussion about coding, pairing, and mobbing.
Woody talked about Driver and Observer v.s. Driver and Navigator. A navigator is a person that it thinking and navigating the development. However an Observer is a person that is sitting silent, and mostly thinking in their head, look at this idiot, he/she is not doing it right. I could have done a better job. You don't want to become an Observer. Keep in mind that the driver is just an extension of the keyboard. He/She is an extension, a smart extension, to the input.
We also have gone over the rotation, and how it works. How the next navigator is thinking of solving the problem and how the navigator at the time becomes the driver next time to have some time off.
Some of the learnings from Woody:
Ellen Gottesdiener - The Contracting Two Step: Patterns and Actions for Successful Collaborations
Ellen talked about contracts and how social contracts in teams work. We started talking about trust, trust interactions and how does that help team. She introduced a canvas for people and teams to use to build social contracts. The canvas introduced was very similar to the skills marketplace introduced by Lyssa Adkins.
Alex Harms - Cultivating Psychological Safety: the Hard Parts
I didn't take part in Alex's session. However, I learned from it. Through a very clever set of questions that gets into you, it helps you understand the situation better and connect with the conflict that you have at hand.
Dana Payelava - Closing Keynote - Team Up To Eradicate Fear!
Dana talked about fear and how to deal with it. She introduced to us some tools. One of the tools is the "Fear Resetting Plan". In this plan, you think of the one fear that you want to face, or you can face. Then you think of different aspects of it and find three ways to deal with it. Then you decide on one action. It was very nice seeing Dana delivering her first keynote. I was so excited to see her talk as the keynote speaker. She handled a stressful situation of running out of time, or the assumption of it raied from the volunteers very well.
She then introduced us to another set of cards on fears. This is a set of cards that can get you toward dealing with fears in your organization, and gives you some suggestions called "Safety Enhancement Cards". It is a nice game to play for and in a safe situation to talk about potential unsafe ones.
The closing keynote, as always when Dana facilitating, included lots of discussion and group activities.
The image above was just one of the rooms for the keynote. This conference would not have happened with the great work of Agile New England and its volunteers. Thanks to them a lot.
In addition to the people, I mentioned above, It was very nice to meet old and new friends of Johanna Rothman, Paul Boss, April Jefferson, Richard Kasperowski, Carlos Oliveira, Jon Odo, Andrea Chiou and many other great people there.
Posted: 15 Apr 2018 07:04 PM PDT
I presented "User Stories by Collaboration" at the Agile Games 2018, a very interactive session. It was delivered the first session after the Keynote; I am truly humbled by the audience and their level of energy and enthusiasm that they brought.
What's most important about a user story? Collaboration! How many times have you heard about INVESTing in user stories, making them SMARTer, breaking them into SPIDRs, or biting the whole HAMBURGER? All great! Let me take you through an interactive game for the most important aspect: collaboration!It was a great session, with a great audience. I really enjoyed the discussion as well as the discussion with the audience. Although there were many challenges, such as not moving the tables around and not sticking papers to the wall.
You can also use the Google Slides to view the presentation or even present it!
The following are the pictures from the session:
Posted: 15 Apr 2018 07:23 PM PDT
Carlos and I presented "Modern XP Game" at the Agile Games 2018. As we mentioned in one of the opening slides, we took the original XP Game and added more concepts to it. In this specific instance, we added experimentation and modern collaborations to the original gameplay. The following from Alistair Cockburn resonated with us and we applied it to the XP Game.
AGILE IS AN ATTITUDE, NOT A TECHNIQUE WITH BOUNDARIES. AN ATTITUDE HAS NO BOUNDARIES.
~ALISTAIR COCKBURNIt was a great experience, with a great audience of course. We really enjoyed the talk. It was great to have people with experience or running this game prior being part of our talk. It was a true pleasure to learn all enjoyed the session, were engaged. We had people even were engaging with us after the session.
This is one of the feedbacks that I am really excited about. It says "Carlos + Shahin are excellent presenters at one excellent game". Thanks! It really made my day.
Take part in Modern XP game, a new twist and refined version of "XP Game", to get a strong understanding of the principles and practices of "agile," and a robust toolbox. We incorporated feedback after many iterations of facilitating it to make it fun, exciting and thought-provoking for everyone.You can use the following material for facilitating a session on Modern XP Game. Please take a look at the presentation below. It is both embedded from SlideShares and Google Slides.
Modern XP Game (Experimentation - Collaboration - Change Curve) - Agile Games (Agile New England) from Shahin Sheidaei
The following are the pictures from the session:
A Very Special Promotion for Transformational Leader Workshop in Toronto - Michael Spayd and Michele Madore
- Shift from managing an Agile Implementation to consciously leading Agile Transformations.
- Gain an understanding of Organizational Change, the types of change, and how to apply Conscious Change practices to successfully coach through the transformation or transition.
- Understand your role as an Agile Change Leader in consciously designing your transformation approach, including starting with your own personal breakthrough.
Posted: 06 Mar 2018 07:00 PM PST
How Would You Measure an Agile Coach? This question is very tricky. The obvious answer is a question. What dimension are you talking about? Are you talking about the height or length? or the Volume? Then you need to have the proper tool to measure an Agile Coach. After all, all human beings are being measured the same; Usually, with a measuring tape, stadiometer and a weight in doctor's office would do the trick.
If you heard such an answer, you were most probably talking about a very unique version of a human being, an Agile Coach. They tend to ask questions rather than answering questions, and when answering, you find many questions that you need to ask next.
Jokes aside, I want to talk about how to measure an Agile Coach and how you can make sure if that person is effective or not. It is a very hard task but I'll do my best to give you the best possible answer. You don't need to look no further. There are many people that are asking what a good coach looks like, and once for all I want to make sure they have their answers.
Metrics for an Agile CoachThe following are the factors you need to consider:
LeadershipAs an Agile Coach, you need to have capabilities to lead people. It has to be coming from inside. You don't want to and can't go on a course to learn those. If you don't have this, then it is not for you. Forget it all at once. Leading means you can get things done and make people get it done for you.
MotivatorAs an Agile Coach, you need to be able to motivate people. They know how to do their job. You are not there for just watching them and thanking them. You are there to motivate them to do their job better and produce better results. If you don't have this, again, you are out of luck for being an Agile Coach.
Process FriendlyAs an Agile Coach, you need to be very friendly with the process. You don't want to change it that much. You want to move it become friend with it and change it here and there, only and only if most people are ok with it. If they are not, you probably have not motivated them enough. Go back one step.
ManagerYou need to have the capability of managing people. As an Agile Coach, you are going to work with Scrum Masters mostly. If not, then who you are coaching? The teams? There are going to be so many changes in them that you don't want to coach them. You need to have authority on your Scrum Masters and be able to order them into Agile.
Change Agent or Chaos MasterAs an Agile Coach, you want to change people, process and whatever you see in your way. If you are not changing, people might ask questions why do we have the coach still? Everything is stable and very productive. A trick for the unstableness is to make chaos. So when I am writing Change Agent, please read it as Chaos Master. You need to create chaos, in order to lead and motivate people.
Community ArchitectYou want to have a strong community behind you. Whatever you are suggesting, you want all your Scrum Masters and others that might be reporting to you (also usually referred to you by resources) agree to. You would want to build a community of people, that when get together and at the end of each session, have an action item to work on.
Last ThoughtsYou have other thoughts? You don't think these are perfect measures for an Agile Coach. Yes, you are right. Not all of them has the same weight. In some circumstances, you might want to have a more managerial side of an Agile Coach and in some, you want to have more of the Community. For sure, there are always negotiations for which one has the most weight. However, there is no other factor that you can think of that is needed for an Agile Coach to be measured on.
Still not convinced? Don't take my word, go ask an Agile Coach and see how they are measured. I am sure you'll find something very close to this.
For the Sake of Measuring?
I hope you read this and enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. The factors above might be a factor for an Agile Coach in an organization. It was all for an imaginary organization. However, I don't be surprised to find one. One thing I am sure about, I don't want to be part of it. If you are looking for Metrics for your Agile Coach, you'd better ask yourself in the first place what was the reason that I was looking for an Agile Coach. Could I at that moment tie my goal to a measurable metric? If so, how much the Agile Coach helped me to reach that goal?
If you are just measuring your Agile Coach for just the sake of measuring it, stick to the recipe above!
For the Sanes
How can you measure coaches? If you are asking this question, you might have to the point that your need for a coach has been resolved already. They have assisted you with whatever situation you had. Now, you are asking this question to make sure you have a justification to have them around. You might like them, want to learn more from them, or just simply have the obligation to keep them employed. Ask yourself, what need has been fulfilled now that you are asking that question. And if you have to hire an Agile Coach tomorrow, what needs you would hire them for? Have an honest conversation with yourself, and them. They are very good listeners and questioners. They can even help you figure out your next need.
Posted: 04 Mar 2018 03:19 PM PST
I talked on one of my favorite topics, Coaching for the Torontonians in an event organized by Envision Agile. The audience was a group of Agile enthusiasts. The organizers were present at one of my prior coaching talks, reached out and asked me to give a talk at their event, and I gladly accepted it.
This time, I changed my typical routine of coaching talk (The Effective Yet Effortless Coaching). I presented the audience with two sets of questions to go over the Simple Coaching Model. One was aimed at getting the coaches to get deeper into their coachees thoughts and lead them through their underlying layers. The second set was more about getting them focus on what's closest and had a biased to action. I also shortened the time for the activity to less than 45 minutes.
Both sets of questions are following the Simple Coaching Model. It showed an example of how it is diverse and can be used in different circumstances, with diverse or even unpredicted outcomes and/or goals in mind.
As it is obvious in the pictures, this time I asked people to self-arrange into groups of three instead of two. I introduced the role of an observer to be able to give the coach and coachee feedback based on the two sets of questions. Also, the session was way shorter in time and debriefing.
I am glad that with all these changes, people found it very useful. If felt like a completely new session to me. By the end of the session, I have passed on sheets of paper to gather feedback. And I am very glad that I have received great positive feedback. I didn't ask permission to share the audience's feedback. However, Yen posted some of the picture above on the LinkedIn and stating it was a great event. It is great to see such promoters after a session, it is the best feedback for itself.