28 January 2019

Coaching Anti-Pattern #2 - Not Being Yourself!

As a coach, you know of some coaching techniques and tools. It's easy to get lost in all of the toolkits you have and try to pick one up to use amongst many. That's one of the coaching anti-patterns that I typically see; get lost in the moment, and not being your authentic self. The coach tries to perform a technique developed by someone else.

My advice is not to try too hard to remember every single step that was taught for a specific technique. Think of yourself as a chef. Although they possess recipes, great chefs, depending on many factors, alter the recipe to the need of that moment.

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Try to be yourself. Have confidence in yourself and the way you are coaching, despite even being your first time. Keep in mind that the person you are coaching most probably won't notice if you even miss something. Unless the coachee is a coach.

18 January 2019

Coaching Anti-Pattern #1: Assumptions

No matter how good you are (as a coach), or how much your client is capable in his or her field, make sure you are not assuming anything (or to start many important things).

Always ask yourself (as a coach) what you are referring to is a fact or an assumption. If you don't have a definite Yes to your question, then the easiest thing to do is to ask your client, do not assume!

Assumptions are the trojan horses of a coaching conversation!



14 January 2019

Alternatives to Agile Coach Camp Canada! or My Recommended List of Conferences, Un-conferences, Local Meetups and More!

Agile Coach Camp Canada is very popular this year. The organizers decided to use a lottery style ticketing system. If you have not put your name on it, do it! It reminded me of Google I/O when the tickets were sold out in less than an hour. ACCCA is the Google I/O of Agile, even Agile 20xx is not sold out in that record time!

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If you are like me, i.e. not lucky at all, you probably will be left out this year. It's not the end of the world. Be positive, there are four draws, you will get four chances (as I do). You might get lucky and score a ticket. If not, it's always next year too. If you got lucked out of ACCCA this year, what are your alternative options? These are some of what I know in North America, and recommend!

Agile Coach Retreat - Toronto

A one day retreat for coaches to get together; usually, learn a new thing or two in the morning, and in the afternoon to practice coaching. Sometimes the afternoon becomes a mini-open space too. 

Spark The Change - Toronto

A two-day event focused on many perspectives and aspects of the Change! You won't leave without inspiration, guaranteed! 

Play 4 Agile North America - Cornwall

This is very similar to the Agile Coach Camp, just focused on the gaming aspect more; or not! You have to take part to know! Also, it is one day longer, you get to have fun one more day! 

Agile Open Canada - Vancouver

This used to be called Agile Coach Camp West. They rebranded to Agile Open Canada from the last couple of years. This year it is in beautiful Vancouver. A great excuse to visit the west coast with family.

Agile Coach Camp - U.S.

There is an annual coach camp happening in the US. This is a rotating coach camp, it will give you a chance to visit different cities in the US. 

Local Gatherings 

There are plenty of gathering happening locally where you live, I am sure. These are some that can give you back what you might miss at ACCCA. These are the ones I know and can recommend to you:

East

West

  • Agile Vancouver: Vancouverites around Agile! Almost as big as AgileTO!
  • Calgary Agile: A meetup group for practitioners of agile methods in Calgary

Conferences

Conferences are good alternatives to ACCCA, and in general to attend! These are the ones I would recommend if you are in North America.
Please point out any good ones that you know of! I will add them to the list.

9 January 2019

Canaries of the Intellectual World, Unite & Sing Together!


You are full of hope. You want to make changes. You want to make it stick. You are hopeful to make other people's lives better, more meaningful if you may. You are longing for getting organizations' not only to think about their bottom line but societies'. You aspire to make the flow smoother, to identify bottlenecks and improve upon them. You want to (re)build relationships that last longer. You know what's the potential. You have seen the light. You are advising on some fit for purpose practices. You have seen success because of them in other places. You are specifically selecting them for the new environment you are in. You are not shy of calling out the nonsense happening in the organization, even if it's not in your best interest. In true meaning, you see yourself against a whole lot of challenges and people in front of you.

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You are surrounded by people that do not embrace the new way of working, thinking or even knowing of what it is1. You experienced the worst that could have happened. You had given orders to follow. You were not being consulted, or even being asked for direction. You find out micro-managers are being promoted in your organization. There are politics everywhere, and people are being thrown under the bus right and left. Everyone seems to be for their own. You found out people talk about openness, and being more transparent. However, decisions are being made behind closed doors. Terms like Agile, Kanban, Scrum, etc. become another way to push people's agenda. They just label it Agile and get on where they want.

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You become frustrated. You don't attain that much joy anymore in what you are doing. You find yourself venting out more and more, especially in 1-1 settings. You are thinking of the famous quote, change your organization or change your organization. You are open about the challenges you are facing. You talked to your colleagues about your motivations. You shared with them a vision of how better the organization, and specifically your team, could be. You even opened up to your boss. Nothing changed. It seems that you have backtracked on many fronts, with no win at hand. You have adhered to many things. You have complied to many as well.


You are looking to find fulfillment in your life. It is not about work or life, it's about all of them and more than that. It's a calling that you are answering in this world, not a job. With all this happening in your life, you find yourself to be one of the first people that decide to change your organization. You are hoping to find your true calling, in which you can fulfill your destiny.

Before answering that call, I want to ask you to think once more. I know you have already. Think once more. What else can you do to make a change happen? Is there anything else that you can try? Are there any doors that you have not knocked on yet? There must be something. I am sure you could even come up with three things, and not one, as your options. What are those? You got excited about those new opportunities, you might wait more before making a decision to leave your organization. You still have hope to see changes happen there.

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Are you in a similar situation as described above? Does this reside with you considerably? Congratulations! You are a canary in one of the organizational mines, and you might not know that. A canary in mine is very vital. It sings and cheers up all people in a cold, dark working environment. And most importantly, it will help them survive in case of a gas leak. It does that by dying first of suffocation. Canary's sound will become quiet. Not hearing the sound of a canary, is the ultimate alarm for people to leave. It sacrifices itself for the benefit of the more significant good.

In this mine, people are looking up to canaries (read YOU!). You are cheering them up, you are giving them hope. You are flying in the dark areas of the mine. They are looking up to you for your leadership and guidance. Although you might not receive it or feel it very explicitly. They cherish you being there a lot. You are thinking of abandoning them?

Do you know what might happen if you leave them alone in the mine? Have you ever thought of that? If you are a true Canary of Intellectual World, you know that it is not about you, but about the bigger picture. Leaving them alone, is sending out the signal that this mine is no longer provides essentials for breathing, yet to operate in. Can you guess what is going to happen after you abandon the mine? More people are going to leave and follow you. Then nothing great, even good can happen in that mine ever again. People will try to find their way in the mine, with no guidance and leadership. They have to find their own ways. It won't be easy for them. They might trip over in the dark alleys. They don't even have the insurance of a safe place anymore. The people that followed you most probably will leave as well, they will find another mine in search of a better one. They will find another canary to look up to. And the circle repeats itself!

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Canaries of the Intellectual World:

Find each other, and sing together. Greatness is the inevitable consequence of uniting. You can support each other, listen to each other singing, and taking some of each others' notes to your mine. You can sing for each other, and be canaries for each other. Try even to find other canaries in the same mine, there could be many in yours. The mine usually have dark pathways, try looking there. You might discover even some canaries that don't believe they are a canary, help them realize that!2



1- Some might call it Agile, Lean Improvements, Kanban, Business Agility, Lean Startup, Design Thinking, Lean Change etc. in the IT world)!
2- This post has been inspired by a very insightful leadership simulation as part of the Problem Solving Leadership course, created by Late Jerry Weinberg, Dani Weinberg, Pat Snipp, and Robert Snipp.

2 December 2018

Agile Lunch Community

ٖٖٖ is entering its third year in a week. It has been a very insightful journey. We met every last Friday of the month for the past two years, no exceptions! This couldn't have happened without the help of the innovators, and early adopters. We continued to evolve when the early majority decided to be part of the community. I am grateful for all!
First & foremost, my most sincere gratitude to all of the members of the community. It is because of you that AgileLunch is happening, and strong! Next, I want to thank the innovators and early adaptors and many more. Without your support, there would be no AgileLunch! I also would like to thank our guests who came and talked to us in a not very traditional environment: You elevated us! Thanks! And huge thanks to sponsoring space: from and from . And last but not least the volunteers ! You guys are absolutely amazing! I am not sure how this community will evolve in its third year. However, I am sure that it evolves by its members and to serve its members. Agile Lunch

17 August 2018

An Honorable Person Never Passes Away - In Memory of Jerry!

A legendary man is no longer with us, Gerald M. "Jerry" Weinberg. It's a big loss :-( . And look at, just one of his legacies, PSL workshop. There is a poem (in Persian) from Saadi Shirazi saying "An honorable person never passes away, a person is no longer alive if no one reminds of them and admire them after his passing". And Jerry is truly a person that we will be honoring him, admiring him, and talking about him, his effect, and his work for years and years to come.

سعدیا مرد نکونام نمیرد هرگز
مرده آنست که نامش به نکویی نبرند
In 1974 Jerry and Dani Weinberg designed and conducted the Technical Leadership workshop which later evolved into the Problem Solving Leadership (PSL) workshop that aimed to teach leaders the ability to think and act creatively. Jerry Weinberg worked with many respected consultants and trainers over the years to teach PSL; most recently he collaborated with Esther Derby and Johanna Rothman. With declining health, in 2017 Weinberg and Derby asked Don Gray to step in so PSL could continue. ~ infoQ
I had the pleasure to take part in PSL, and met him in person. It was truly a life-changing event for me. Thanks Jerry!


2 May 2018

Speak Up!

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.

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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.