25 April 2019

Agile Games Canada; An Open Space

It is an Open Space! 

It all started over a quick conversation on Twitter. The first outcome was a post highlighting all the Canadian and American noteworthy conferences, unconferences and meetups. The second was a twitter poll that revealed great support from the community to hold an Open Space around games. The challenge was to find someone to share the same vision, volunteer their time, and make Agile Games a reality! It was not easy to find a partner to start it with. Luckily, I found two awesome people and on the same date! Very soon after that, the Agile Games Canada was born; on March 21st, 2019 (i.e. It's the start of Spring and the first day of Persian New Year, Nourouz).

Lean Startup Approach

We started with a webpage inside another website, not even a stand-alone webpage. When we started, we didn't know what location we are hosting it, nor did we know if we are providing food and beverages for the day. However, we took an execute and learn in short iterations approach. It was amazing, still is. Now we have a great registration list, a location, food & beverages are decided upon, and we have a website! We now even have a twitter account.

40 under 40

From almost 40 days ago when we announced Agile Games Canada, we have seen great support from the community. We are truly grateful for that. We have sold more than 40% of tickets and we are very close to the 50% mark. I, on behalf of the Agile Games Canada Leadership team, want to thank all of you who supported us by purchasing a ticket, telling your friends to do so, or even by just liking our posts. You are why we are thriving to make this happen!

LoyaltyOne, Special Thanks!

We are thrilled to announce that LoyaltyOne is hosting Agile Games Canada 2019. We are excited to be at their amazing location on June 15th, creating a safe space to practice, learn and share what we learned. We have seen a great amount of enthusiasm from other sponsors as well. We will announce them in a short while.

Agile Games Website & Twitter

We have a redesigned website at www.agilegames.ca (or www.agilegamescanada.com). Please take a look, let us know if we can improve anything. Contact us if you have any questions or concerns. Also, follow us on twitter for the last minute updates. 

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 Games Canada - Toronto

A one day of open space. You can learn, contribute or even invent new games. It is not limited to the games only, it's an open space after all. If you like to talk about anything agile and beyond and if you like a good audience this is for you.

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 - Toronto

Ceased to Operate:

East - Ottawa

West - Vancouver 

West - Calgary

  • 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.

Unconferences


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.