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
I am very happy to help bring Michael Spayd and Michele Madore to Toronto. Michael and Michele are coming to Toronto for Transformational Leader Workshop (Apr 4-6). And they are generously offering a very special promotion rate for the Agile community, the lowest in town!
How to Register: To register please visit the registration page, and don't forget to use the promo code: AgileLunch.
Just for Toronto: Michael and Michele are also including a free online seminar for all TORONTO registrants.
About Transformational Leader Workshop
The Agile Transformational Leader is a three-day workshop for Agile Leaders, Managers, and Coaches that work at the enterprise level in Agile transformations, transitions or improvements.
Designed by Michele Madore, this workshop is built on Michael Spayd's Integral Agile Transformation Framework™ (Ken Wilber's Integral models), including Integral approaches to Leadership, and an Integral organizational change model, all of which are whole-system frameworks. The course provides a set of thinking tools and a roadmap for guiding Agile Transformational Leaders and Coaches with a broad and holistic approach in their organizational environments. It is ideal for companies who wish to increase the capabilities of their Agile Leaders, Agile Managers, or Agile Coaches to lead Agile Transformations in order to sustain the change after external coaches leave.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES (Some of them)
- 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.
To learn more about the workshop please visit Trans4mation Coach.
FYI, this workshop if ICAgile certified for Enterprise Agile Coaching, and can be used toward your CSP certification from Scrum Alliance.
Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions/comments you might have.
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.
Posted: 19 Feb 2018 07:54 PM PST
I ran a coaching program at Points. This mini-coaching program, which I called it Simple Coaching Program was mainly designed for Scrum Masters. However, Scrum Master Managers, Development Leads, and Project Managers joined the program as well.
The Simple Coaching Program consisted of the following topics:
I chose above topics as I believe they are the top differentiator between a being good Scum Master and a great one.
Would you be interested in a similar program to elevate you, your colleagues, or your employees? Do you want to learn more about it? Please let me know and I'll be happy to answer your questions or discuss details with you.
I thought you might be interested in learning about some good events that I am attending. I have attended them in the past. I am talking I am speaking at some, volunteer at others, and lead one. I hope you find these information helpful.
Where I speak
Envision Agile - February 22nd
On February 22nd, I am going to talk at a local Toronto meetup on coaching, and how to use it in your daily life. I am going to introduce the audience to the Simple Coaching Model (http://www.simplecoachingmodel.com). The event is full, but there might be room. You can find more about it @ https://www.meetup.com/Envision-Agile-Meetup/events/245626132/
Agile Games 2018 - April 9-11th
Carlos and I are going to facilitate the Modern XP Game session at the Agile Games 2018 in Boston, New England. It is happening on April 9-11, 2018. If you have not seen the original XP game, we highly suggest you to attend the Agile Games and watch that play out. It is a highly engaging activity that gets people talking about core Agile values. And we took it to the next level. You can find more about it @ https://agilegamesnewengland.com/index.php/agile-games-conference
Agile and Beyond 2018 - May 16-18th
I am going to present at Agile and Beyond 2018 as well. It is happening on May 16-18, 2018 at Eagle Crest Conference Center (Ypsilanti, MI). My session is "Your Inner Leader and Coaching". If you are interested in learning how coaching can help you become a better leader, make sure to join me for this session. I am also co-presenting with Shawn Button another session on change and community, called "Community-Driven Change". Join us and hear what we have to share when it comes to a sustainable change in organizations. You can find more about it @ http://agileandbeyond.com/2018/
Where I Lead
Agile Lunch - February 26th
On February 26th, we're going to have Peter Lepaine for the Agile Lunch. He is going to talk about experimentation and answer any question you have. Agile Lunch is in second year. And this is the third session we have an honorary guest. We had great speakers such as Jason Little, and Gil Broza. You can find more about it @ http://to.agilelunch.org
Where I Volunteer and Organize
GTA Coach Retreat - April 7th
Are you interested to learn more about Coaching? Do you want to practice it in a safe environment? This is for you. This year we are going to have guest speakers Michael Spayd and Michele Madore. Come on, learn from the experts in the morning, and practice in the afternoon, create connections and become better at what you do. You can find more about it @ http://gtacoachretreat.wordpress.com
Spark The Change - June 7-8th
Spark the Change is a global event for the whole organization. It brings together leaders from across the business to explore how they can work together to create lasting and total change. To learn more about the previous year's events head to http://sparkthechange.ca. You also can benefit from the very early bird tickets.
Where I Take Part
Agile Coach Camp Canada - June 1-3rd
Agile Coach Camp Canada is a friendly, enthusiastic and safe environment. We encourage diversity in people, ideas, opinions, and points of view. I am going to be there, learning with others, connecting with old friends and making new ones, filling my tank and most importantly having fun. You can find more about it @ http://agilecoachcampcanada.ca
Posted: 22 Jan 2018 04:04 PM PST
Everyone has an idea of what Agile is and what it will look like. It depends on their journey, what they knew before introduction to Agile, where they want to go with it, what they like about it, how they are using it and so many more factors. Some people might not even use it correctly.
You must have heard discussions about what Agile is and what it really means a lot. Some people argue it is a Verb. Some might even argue it is even a Gerund. Some even is expanding Agile and making derivatives from it, i.e. Modern Agile. For one, it might be mostly about the Product and not really about development. For some, it might be more about learning from a feedback loop. For others, it might be about technical best practices and DevOps. I am not going to argue which one or ones are the most suited from my perspective.
What I want to advocate is to keep in mind that Agile is not a Religion. True, some might not even understand Agile correctly and believe they are practicing it and they are expert at it even. However, their interpretations of whatever Agile is is working for them. Let's assume it is a Religion for a second. Even then, unless you build a strong relationship with that person, you can't convince them to convert.
I am writing this as it happened to me twice in my career, once as a Scrum Master and once as a Coach. While back, I had transitioned from a developer into a Scrum Master. When facilitating Retrospectives, or having 1-1s with team members, I tend to provide them with solutions, instead of building trusting relationships and then together digging in what could have been done/improved. I preached to them what the best way of performing is, compared it to their problem, showed them what their approach was and where in their thought process was not aligned with Agile (i.e. at that time XP practices). It was very hard to move away from providing solutions and believing on the team to get to their solutions. It was much easier to do the prior. However, if you can do the later it is immensely more powerful.
I have once more caught myself as a Coach to act as a hard extremism. I got into discussions about who shall facilitate the daily stand up; who needs to be in retrospectives; who can be standing at the daily scrum; and what a sprint goal might be. What I lost sight of were the underlying reasons why we are having these conversations. I jumped into my perfectionist mode, tried to provide my audience with reasoning to convince them into my way of Agile. What I should have done, was to listen to them, ask questions, understand where they are coming from, maybe even walk with them in their world of Agile and then suggest very subtly a new way of doing things.
What I am glad at, is that I was self-aware about my behavior way back then as a Scrum Master and now as a Coach. It is true that in the eye of other observers this might have been a normal conversation. However, the fact that I could see a great potential that I couldn't reach it through the conversation satisfies me that there was a better way.
To remember it, I will always keep in my mind the following (and I suggest you do too):
Posted: 08 Jan 2018 10:53 PM PST
Better Meetings Canvas is not anything new. It is what every good facilitator knows by heart. However, it is not easy to rely on your heart all the time. Sometimes you want a straightforward structure to follow, or maybe when in doubt to rely on, or use when delegating the facilitation to someone else, or keep a secret recipe of how you run your meetings.
I have introduced the Better Meetings Canvas in "Effective Yet Effortless Meetings". I have been using this model myself facilitate sessions, and also teach other facilitators to become better at what they do. Throughout these, I have come to update the canvas to have a very important part "Feedback Mechanism During". I have also updated the questions and the descriptions below each section.
If this is your first time using the canvas, read it from top to down, left to right, and answer the questions in that order. And always ask yourself the first question "How important is to have a meeting really?".
You can also find a Google Docs version of the Better Meetings Canvas V2.1.