28 September 2016

LeSS of an Introduction, More of an Implementation!

I was so touched by the LeSS framework that I had to implement it. The perfect opportunity presented itself, a big team (or shall I say a group of teams) that were working toward the same product.

I'm sharing with you a presentation I prepared to move a team from a ScrumFall into more of a LeSS framework. Prior to this presentation, you could think that many conversations took place, many questions got asked and many thoughts put into it.

It is not easy to work with LeSS, as similar to Scrum, it leaves many of the questions unanswered deliberately to leave it to you.

The link to the presentation can be found here.

If you like to read more about starting point of my journey with LeSS, you can find it here. You can also find my profile on LeSS website here.

12 September 2016

A Great Coach is a Lazy, Curious & an Often One - Notes on Michael Bungay Stanier's Talk

I had the pleasure to meet one of the greatest coaches in the world, Michael Bungay Stanier. As the second greatest coach in the world, as per introduction & here, he used some spectacular techniques in facilitating the session with at least 200 people. I am sharing some of them here with you.

First of all, you wouldn't find any presentation for his talk. There were only 6 or 7 titles written on a chart paper.

At the beginning of the sessions, he asked everyone to stand up and greet another person that they don't know. Then he asked us to answer this question talking: "What cross roads are you at?". At the end of the 5 minutes, he asked us to repeat our names once again. We have repeated this exercise after a while with a different person and question: "Talk about your high points in the last week", on your foot!

Then he asked us to give a number from 1 to 7 for the following questions (7 being the highest). We didn't share the answers but just to have an idea of where we are standing. The questions were as follow:
  • How much engaged and active you are going to be in this session?
  • How much risk are you taking with me (Michael)?
  • How much effort are you going to put in to know other people?
This helped me to align my thoughts with my goals in the session. It will be a great tool to use in the start of a meeting / session you are facilitating. 

Then he talked about the bad, good and great work, based on his book. He used the following questions to engage the audience in checking the process: "Let me do a quick check, doesn't anyone know what I am talking about?". 

One of the definitions of the great work that I really liked was "more impact, more meaning". You can start your conversation with just this and then get into details of how a great work might look like. 

Some of the cool learnings from the session are the followings: 
  • Advice Monster: This is the reverse of Active Listening 
  • Advice Giving Maniacs: You can tell what that is, this isn't something a good coach would do.
  • The first thing that shows up is not the real challenge most of the time.
  • The first answer they are giving is usually not the best answer. 
  • Coaching is to be lazy, curious and often!
  • Nothing is more scary if there is there is only one option you got
  • The person with the longest hair / longest feet / more hair / more colorful goes first
Great Resources:
  • You can listen to Michael talking about the last statement here.
  • A great article in Globe and Mail summarizing the "coaching habit" from Michael.
  • The session by Michael (embedded below)

2 September 2016

What and Why You Ask Is Very Important!

I was shouting "do not give out the solution"! The worst part was that I shouted right at the beginning of the meeting. I felt like I was derailing the meeting even before it even started and I wasn't very happy about it. Before getting into what happened consequently to make me do this, let me tell you the whole story.

In a meeting that I was part of, the facilitator was asking participants to make a fan. It wasn't a norm for people to make fans while in meetings at an IT firm1. Most people looked confused, they were just looking at each other and no single sign of creating fans was on the horizon. At that moment, one of the participants took the initiative and started to guide the others on how to make a fan. Let's call him Strive. Strive was telling people in detail what they need to do; That they are going to pick their favorite color paper, any color that they want, fold the papers, glue them together and then glue a piece of stick to them; and the result would be a fan.

Don't we all like being told what to do? And in detail? This was when I felt the urge to say something. I raised my voice to stop Strive on providing one of the possible solutions. Then I brought out my cell phone and loudly said to myself: “I don’t know how to make a fan… but I am going to search how to make one.” This was followed by one of the participants asking if they are allowed to use their phones. The answer was yes. The crowd then became busy, everyone with his/her own style of coming up with a fan. Fifteen minutes later, everyone made a fan. I think it’s important to mention that not even two of them were the same. One person used staples instead of glue to make fans2. Another one didn't fold the papers at all. One person decorated her fan with drawings, another one used a prototype on a plain paper to test his skills and the outcome before committing to creating the fan.

The followings are some of the fans created by the individuals.

Let's think what would have happened if Strive continued leading the participants on. People in the room probably would have followed his instructions or most of them at least. I predict that most of the fans would have looked similar to each other as a result of following same steps. What about taking ownership and being proud of what you’ve created? Would you think that they could have been proud of what they have built? Proud of the thought and craftsmanship they put in? Would you ponder if there is any pride following the instructions blindly?