21 July 2017

Simple Lean Coffee Flowchart

Introducing Simple Lean Coffee Flowchart V1.0, what I have created for describing Lean Coffee to engineers, including myself, and others. This is a simple version of Lean Coffee. There is no dynamic time allocation happening. I will create another one for that reason.

Lean Coffee is a very basic way to manage a discussion, get together and talk about different topics.

If you want to facilitate a meeting, I would suggest you take a look at the Better Meeting Canvas.

You can find better visualizations than a flowchart on Lean Coffee, the one that I recently noticed and liked is Lean Coffee by Jan Ernsting.

20 July 2017

My Notes from Agile Coach Camp / Spark the Change

Community: not competing for resources, no anger or hostility, we're in this together

Mark Bowden:
Facilitation Notes:
  • Have a conversation with me! 
  • Hand gestures
  • Moving in the crowd, and moving! 
  • Voice up & down. 
  • Look at many! 
  • Humor!
Hair is a history of your health and diet!
We consistently create behavior to create advantages
Optimism has been ... for our brain stem cells => we are pessimists
Brain cells no history, no memory
no ... for many years for survival
No one ever listening to you, they are always judging you!
Brain is a guessing center, the better it guesses more chances you survive
Your guess is based on your ideas of me
We change ideas
Change is extraordinary and because of that you have to do extraordinary behavior
Environment decides your behavior
If I control my environment, I can decide as who to show up
Insufficient data you default to negative
Your environment decides most about your authentic you than everything else if affects your behavior the most
your language predicts and omits if decides based on behavior
--bias remorse

19 June 2017

My Notes on Situational Frontline Leadership

The level of competence v.s. the level of commitment
  • be prepared to be called upon if I don't hear from you (facilitator technique)
Self-esteem includes:
  • Your self-worth
  • Your self-respect
Self-esteem at work influenced by
  • The thing you say to people
  • The way you treat people
Self-esteem builders
  • Providing sincere and specific praise
  • Asking about a work or personal event
  • Asking for ideas
  • Describing the specific contribution brought to a task 
  • Listening & acknowledging concerns 
Self-esteem is how u feel about yourself.
It is your confidence in your ability to handle life challenges

Trust is personal and its definition is different from one to one

leadership is what you do with people, not to people!

On Listening
Listen when your tendency is to
  • Reject
  • Ignore
  • Defend
  • Disagree
  • Take it personally 
(Coaching Tip, this is where you need to grow)

1 June 2017

My Notes on Change Leadership 2017

Paul Alofs

  • Transformational change needs disruptive leaders!
  • You can never step into a river (the same) twice.
  • Disruptive leaders most valuable asset? Passion Capital!
  • To read: 
    • J&J Creed 
    • Deloitte Change Survey

John Maxwell

  • One man with courage is the majority!
  • If you are good you don't need an introduction, and if you are not it won't help you.
  • A level-2 leader listens better and in depth. 
  • Get off vision & focus on culture. Vision is what you want to see, culture is what you actually do.
  • A level-2 leader is a terrific servant leaders.
  • When you stop loving people you should stop leading them.
  • A level-3 leader has moral authority.
  • If you want to be a leader get good at what you are doing. People will line up to be your follower.
  • A level-3 leader lead by example. He/She leads out of what you learned today, not yesterday's. If latter, you are a history teacher.
  • Momentum is leader's best friend.
  • A level-3 leader attracts better people.
  • For level-4 leader reproduction is key
    •  On level 3 you add On level 4 you compound
  • Level-4 leaders are best recruiters Good at training & equipping people
  • 5 step equipment process (simple)
    • I do it (& be good at it) 
    • I do it & you are with me 
    • You do it & I will be with you 
    • You do it 
    • You do it & somebody else is with you (The Magic Step).
  • For level-5: people on company put you on this level
  • Their response is based on what level they are on with you.

Jeremy Gutsche


29 May 2017

My Notes on Crucial Conversations

I have participated in a two-day course on Crucial Conversations. These are my notes on the course and the facilitation skills of the instructor.

Day 1

  • Video workshop
    • Conflict
    • Body Language
Facilitator's Note: 
  • Do you mean that? She used it when someone referred to crying as emotions. I have noticed the same behavior from another facilitator redefining a phrase to less painful.
  • She was laughing, had an Open Face
  • She used to demonstrate push back, asking people stand up and pushing their hands together. (& then debriefed on body language and then talked about the fight on a corner)
  • She used the following questions to check in with the audience:
    • Is this fair?
    • Does that sound OK/fair?
    • Does that make sense?
Idea: How you do that when you were a kid? Actually, this is a very good opening if you want to emphasize the effect of childhood development to who we are right now. 

  • Level of Personal Effort:
    • Owners
      • Excitement
      • Commitment
      • Co-operation
    • Renters
      • Compliance
      • resentment
      • retaliation | quit 

Our motives changed before our actions changed
(if you don't act it out, you will act it out)

Intent v.s. Impact

  • Might be different from time to time
  • Might be perceived differently 

What do you mean? 
If you are hearing this question being asked, you most probably are telling a story rather than stating facts. 

Three Clever Stories:
  • Victim
  • Villian
  • Helpless
Idea: As a coach, you can use this in helping the coach understand where they stand. 

Day 2

Ta*****'s funny and annoying stories is a reflection of your own behavior.

Behaviors come from emotions and those from stories you are telling yourself.

Silence Kills

People rarely become defensive about what you are saying. They become defensive because of why they think you are saying it! (intent v.s. content)

on safety: stay small, stay safe

Restart your brain:

  • What am I behaving like I want?
  • What do I really want? 
    • For myself?
    • For others?
    • For the relationship?
    • For the organization?
  • How would I behave if I really did?

Unbundle with CPR
  • Content - single instance
  • Pattern - a recurring problem
  • Relationship - how the problem is affecting working relationship

Silence v.s. Violence
& the behaviors sampling them

Care continuum
From civility to fondness

Mutual purpose: care about their best interest
Mutual respect: care about them as a person

17 May 2017

Effective Yet Effortless Meetings, Introducing Better Meetings Canvas!

Have you ever been in a meeting that was a complete waste of time? Have you ever wondered how did that happen? Why did such meeting take place? Have you ever heard that meetings are not effective and we should avoid them? Being in the software world for quite a while, I can assure you that happened a lot for me as well. I have asked why couldn't or wouldn't the meeting facilitator have done a better job several times. Why can't he or she get people more excited and engaged?

But these days we are in the Agile space, you might believe or hear that there are not many meetings need to be facilitated. There is stand up which doesn't count as a meeting, people just need to stand up and talk. There is sprint review which the team will take care of it. There is a refinement meeting which is the role of the Product Owner to run, and it is basically his or her turn to ask questions and answer any ambiguity, so basically it is a Q&A session. There is the retrospective which is different, but the Scrum Master found it easy to run, there is this website you go to and it gives you many ideas on how to run your meeting. Are these resonating with you?

It doesn't matter in what space you are operating. Whether it is a manufacturing company or a leading tech company running state of the art high performing teams. If you want to have a great meeting you need to prepare for that meeting, be present as a neutral facilitator to that meeting and then follow up if needed after that meeting.

Achieving a way to run an effective meeting effortlessly, I have come up with a canvas called Better Meetings Canvas. It is basically a collection of questions. The questions are simple but necessary to be answered for any meeting. There are chores that need to be done before the meeting, during the meeting, and after the meeting. If you are scheduling a meeting, I suggest you think about all the sections of this canvas. After a while, you don't even need to look at it. It becomes a habit of yours.

You can also find a Google Docs version of the Better Meetings Canvas.

6 April 2017

Open Space Technology, The Unconference & Facilitating Solving Complex Problems

Have you ever been part of a coffee break talk at a conference when you missed the planned sessions? And you didn't feel bad about it? You actually were enjoying your talk much more than attending the planned session. You talked and talked until you felt there is no more value you can get out of it and it's time to move on to the next stage. And then, you pull out your phone to look at the agenda and find another topic to attend to. On the way there, you are looking to see if there are interesting talks are happening in the hallways or a familiar face to talk to instead of attending a planned session, which intuitively you feel you would not get much value out of it.

Holding Space

That's basically the idea behind Open Space or the Unconference (or in more general term Holding Space). Open space has no agenda, to begin with. The participants built the agenda the first thing. It has four (or five) principles and one rule.

What is it good for?

You might ask yourself, what this is good for? When to have an Open Space? Open Space helps a lot if you are encountering the following or similar challenges:
  • When there is an urgency and the problem on hand is a complex problem to solve, Open Space can help. 
  • When you want to use your team member's time to their best interest. Instead of having a set agenda, to help them with creating their own, exploring their own and growing the way they see fit.
  • When there are several ways to go about it, there are lots of option to consider, when one unique or small set of solutions won't suffice. 
  • When the outcome is not anticipated, when the light at the end of the tunnel is not yet visible. 
  • ...

How to Initiate Open Space?

At the start of the Open Space, an initiator invites everyone to Open Space and welcomes everyone. Note that it is called an initiator and not a facilitator. Usually, Open Space starts with a round circle with nothing in the middle, a symbol for no agenda planned for the participants. The initiator, usually walking in a circle, will address everyone and in a calm and peaceful manner. This highlights the space ahead and helps people become more present. 

An invitation to an Open Space starts with a circle

The Unconference 

The initiator then invites the participants to step into the center of the circle and build the agenda together. The participants then tell everyone what they want to talk about and fill out the marketplace wall. The marketplace is a wall or a whiteboard with time slots and space names. When one person proposes an idea/topic, they write it on a sticky note and post it on the marketplace wall. The wall then represents the agenda of the Open Space.

The initiator needs to make sure that everyone is aware of the logistics, space names, timing, snack, coffee, breaks, washrooms etc.

A marketplace in making

Let The Unconference Begin

When the building of marketplace is finished, the initiator invites people to start talking, if needed! By this time, there is so much energy in the room that you don't need to invite people to start talking, some of them might have already started talking about the topic they want.

The initiator can take part in the discussions but is recommended to sit back and sense the space and help if there is anything needed, any facilitation or negotiation between the presenters, any new spaces to set up, any new initiatives to bring to the attention of others etc. By this point, the Open Space machine started and the initiator just needs to let the people drive it. 

Open Space in Action #1

Open Space in Action #2

Butterflies & Bumblebees

There is two distinct type of participants that can be found in Open Space. One is Bumblebee and the other one is Butterfly. The butterflies are the ones wondering around, most likely standing at a coffee table, talking to someone or even wandering around, they are not necessarily showing interest in the discussions. The Bumblebees, on the other hand, fly from one discussion to others, invisibly taking ideas and spreading the ideas to many groups and sharing the wealth. The Bumblebees and the Butterflies are the ones that are creating action-free-zone, which is completely allowed in the Open Space.

These personalities and any type of them are all welcomed to the Open Space. The whole point of Open Space is about each person maximizing the value they are getting out of and contributing to the session. 

Butterfly at Open Space

Bumblebee at Open Space

Principles & A Rule

Open Space has principles and rules, there are debates on the number of principles ranging from 4 to 5. However, there is one and only one rule to Open Space. 

Open Space Principles
  1. Whoever comes are the right people
  2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened.
  3. When it starts is the right time / When it's over it's over
  4. Wherever it takes place it's the right place
Open Space Principles
The Law of Two Feet
  • If you find yourself in a situation where you are not contributing or learning, move somewhere where you can.
    The Law of Two Feet - Open Space