10 October 2017

Coaching Triads - The Most Effective Way to Practice Coaching in a Safe and Confidential Space

Coaching Triads are a setting in which you can practice coaching and get better at it. It requires a safe and confidential space to practice coaching. So be clear about that.

How does it work?

In three rounds, you practice coaching as a coach, a client, and an observer. In each rotation, you play a different role. I always suggest that the coach becomes the observer in the next round and so on. There is a detailed illustration below.

What’s your role?

As a Client

  • Bring a real issue - choose something that is current and relevant to you. Something that you haven’t found a solution to it already. Do not bring in old problems that you have solved. 
  • Remember the point of this is for the coach to practice.

As a  Coach

  • Coach!
  • This is a safe space to try new and different styles of coaching, tools, and techniques and to take some risks.
  • Be clear about your intentions.
  • Be open to feedback, do not try to resist it and defend yourself. This is valuable information for you to improve on and grow. 

As an Observer

  • Remember, you're observing mainly the coach, to provide him with valuable feedback. It will be very valuable to focus on the coaching relationship and the client. However, don’t let that take your focus away from giving most of your attention to the coach.
  • Don’t interrupt the coach. Don't offer suggestions to the coach or the client.
  • Take notes of what appeared effective in the session. Write down specific things the coach said that were very helpful.
  • Provide feedback to the Coach at the end of the session. Use specific examples and try to focus on both positive and constructive feedback. 
Figure 1 - Coaching Triad - Suggested Rotations

20 September 2017

My Notes from Professional Scrum Product Owner

I have participated in a two-day course on Product Owner. These are my notes on the course.

Day #1
  • Prioritize v.s. Order
    • There could be many priority ones, there could be only one at the top when ordering
  • Task management, I have not heard that in Scrum.
  • Change is not free, there is a cost associated with it from many different directions.
  • Agility hopefully speeds up learning
  • If no one is using your product, it is unsuccessful
  • Product Manager v.s. Product Owner (in small organizations one person)
  • Ideas
    • come with an open mind, leave your daily life outside the door, at intervals lets go grab those and bring them in!
    • "How is it in my life?" Board: To have a board for people to discuss and put ideas on how it is in their lives.
    • Lean Canvas start with a problem, give them problems or a scenario or ask them to bring one of the challenges to the table
    • Felt like you needed to have experience with Business Case to go through Lean Canvas.
  • The more we work on Sth, the more we love it.
  • Debrief
    • What was that activity/conversation about?
    • What was brought up in the conversation?
  • Measurements are not to set the goal!
  • EBMgmnt Values!
  • Time to prototype ==> innovation metrics!
  • Product Box
    • Small space
    • Everything on a box, no interactions
    • Try to sell
  • Pitch to get funded
    • Large investment
    • Interactions
    • Lots of questions
    • ROI Qs
Figure 1 - Reasons to Pursue Agility
Figure 2 - Entrepreneurial Product Owner (&why it's hard to be one)

Figure 3 - Pin the Scrum! A great facilitation tool to teach Scrum

Figure 4 - Pin the Scrum in action
Figure 5 - Scrum in a nutshell
Figure 6 - Various ways to sort requirements
Figure 7 - Product Backlog with depth (top down, left right) i.e. Story Map
Day #2
  • Debrief 
    • How those conversations usually go?
  • Stacey Matrix: 3 Pillar of product development
    • Technology
    • Requirement
    • People
  • Idea 
    • Thermostat/Temperature Exercise
    • Keep at 37C
    • What are the factors?
  • Scrum Values:
    • Courage
    • Focus
    • Commitment
    • Respect
    • Openness
  • Stories to be easily consumable by the development team!
  • Excellent PO
    • Empathetic
    • Listening
    • Goot at debate
    • Good negotiator
    • Manage up
    • Articulate well
    • Work with people (customer)
    • Say No
    • Failed before and proud of it
    • Clarify well
    • Think & say what they want
    • Able to trust people
    • Do not attack people
    • Ask Questions
    • Decisiveness
    • Critical Thinking

Figure 8 - Product Box 1

Figure 9 - Product Box 2

Figure 10 - Product Box 3
Figure 11 - Lean Canvas + Product Box 4 
Figure 12 - Lean Canvas 2



Figure 13 - Lean Canvas 3
Figure 14 - Product Backlog

12 September 2017

The Role of Empathy in Leadership

"Everything is personal", Mo started his presentation by saying that. He was supposed to talk about Leadership, Empathy, and role of one in the other.
He took us through several exercises that gave us insights into empathy. He debriefed each exercise by asking the question similar to "What would you think the other person was thinking about?". This is Mo's presentation.



These are the summary, instructions, and debrief of exercises he facilitated.

  • First Exercise 
    • Handshake
    • 30 seconds to stare at each other
  • Second Exercise
    • Tell me the truth
      • Hypothesis question, what the other person feeling?
  • Third Exercise
    • Tell me about a time you scared/failed
    • That reminds me of the time...
      • It's not about the stories but the sharing of feelings
One comment that I made was that his exercises made us to trust the person we are talking to. It will be very hard to replicate that in a work environment. 


Figure 1 - Listening without Bias
As part of being a good leader, you need to listen. The above pictures show anti-patterns of listening actively, or as he put it mindfully listening (v.s. radically listening). It is a good rule of thumb for you to be self-aware.

Figure 2 - Wheel of Emotions 
Working on your empathy, one can think of different emotions. When you become angry, ask yourself am I angry? or am I annoyed? or am I disturbed? Try this with other emotions as well. This helps you immensely in developing your empathy. You won't be able to empathize with other people if you don't know what exactly they are feeling.

This slide reminded me of my blog post about "How to Use Check-In Protocol to Incorporate Feelings in a Retrospective". I relied on different names of colors to convey the message that we need to work on our communication and be aware of it as well.

This great presentation was sponsored by Shopify and was hosted at the #TeamLeadTO group. By the end of the meetup, you could see empathy is way more personal that you thought of. You need to work very hard on it if you want to be a good leader. The exercises helped us a lot to have a conversation about not our feelings but what we believe the others are feeling, and practice our empathy toolkit!

28 August 2017

Coaching on Goals

Coaching is a great skill to have. However, it is not easy to start with nor to master it. You can develop your style by learning it, practicing, listening to the feedback and learning from your mistakes. It is yours if you want to develop, how to, and to what extent.

If you are one of those people looking to improve your coaching techniques, I want to introduce you to a set of questions I use for coaching on goals. I am specifically not calling it coaching for performance. The reason being, as a coach going into a coaching conversation, you don't know what the coachee brings up.

These are the 6 questions for coaching for goals:
  1. What crossroads are you at? (Small Talk)
  2. What topic would you like to talk about? (About what?)
  3. What's the goal (that you want to set)? (About what?)
  4. What are you at now? (It's About Them)
  5. What does it take from you to achieve your goal?  (It's About Them)
  6. What are your options? (What's Next)
  7. What are the next steps? (What's Next)
  8. What will you do (& by when)? (Reflection) 
https://unsplash.com/photos/4jcFu1byopQ


The advantages of these questions:

Focus on the Goal & Focus Fast
  • If you don't have much time, this is a very easy way to focus on the outcome of the session. Not all of us have an hour to spend in a coaching conversation. Using the GOAL question, you easily focus on the person's goal. However, you need to always to keep in mind that the first thing the coachee is answered is not the ultimate thing they want to bring up. You might come back to this question again and again after discovering underlying layers of the answer.
  • This question also equals to asking the question "What do you want?" or "What more do you want?". It helps the focus to be changed from the situation to the person. As a coach, your role will be to ask more questions to make the shift in focus happens.
What's a good Goal?
  • I'd like to make sure we are focusing on a goal that is inspirational, challenging or positive at least.
  • I'd also like to keep the coachee honest for their goal on being a SMART goal.

  • Keep in mind different levels of Goal too. Depending on the engagement, you might be able to peel into different layers of the goal.
    • Dream Goal: 
      • This is where you, as a coach, focus on the bigger picture. To look at all that is happening for that person at the same time from a bigger lens. 
    • Targets: 
      • This is where you help the coachee to focus on the achievable. What is needed to get to the Dream goal? This step makes the Dream goal more realistic.
    • SMART Goals: 
      • This is where you help the coachee to come up with SMART goals.
What are you at now? 
  • Try not only to focus on the facts and the situation but on the feelings and emotions too. A very powerful way to help a coachee is to ask them about their feelings at the moment. 
  • A rookie coach might be fearful to ask that question and get there, as it is opening new territories for the coachee.
What it takes from you to achieve your goal? 
  • This is again to get the coachee back on track of focusing on them, rather than the situation
What are your options? 
What's the next step(s)? 
  • These two questions are very dependent on the situation of the coachee and the relation with the coachee. An option might be to find help, and the next step might be to find that person. In another situation, it might be all detailed out by the coachee and clear to them what's needed to happen next. 
What a good conversation?
  • Active Listening: 
    • As a coach, you want to listen and actively listen! You need to pay attention to all the coachee is saying, revert back from any judgments or providing any solutions, try to be in their space with them. 
  • Curiosity: 
    • Be curious about the situation and themselves. Be genuinely curious, do not try to lead them by asking questions. Do not try to give them some similar situations that you had or heard about from your other clients. 
  • Powerful Questions
    • Try to ask powerful questions. Powerful questions are questions that open up the person, help them look beyond the current layer of reality and discover what's more important to them. A yes/no question is usually considered not a powerful question. 

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)