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    Entries in agile (16)

    Friday
    Jul312015

    When seat kicking is a good thing

    Lengthy meetings, short on outcomes can be frustrating time wasters.

    You'd think we'd have the hang of how to make our interactions in groups work better for us...it's nearly 50 years since Bruce Tuckman's team performance model suggested we needed to form, norm and storm before we'd perform.

    Oh yawn! Who has the time!?

    No wonder we look for a digital drug fix on one of our devices in dull meetings and workshops. Zzzzzzzz!

    Low levels of engagement and poor participation isn't 'their' problem... It's up to us to fix it, every time we are in a meeting that isn't working. In 2012, web conferencing company SalesCrunch, created a “Don’t Suck at Meetings” guide
    based on more than 10,000 meetings hosted in their online meeting platform. The guide revealed
    that people’s attention and participation starts to decline after the 30 minute mark and they begin to give 1/4 of their attention to something else. It also showed that 92% of the attendees
    participate in the discussion if they are actively engaged.

    Andrew Knight, a business school professor at Washington University in St. Louis, headed a study on the impact of standing meetings in 2014. He wired participants with small sensors to measure their physiological arousal - defined as how their bodies react when they get excited. Participants were asked to work together in teams for half an hour to come up with a new university recruitment video. Half of them collaborated in a standard meeting room, complete with chairs and tables while the other half worked together in a space with no seats.

    Yes, it was seatless!

    Knight and his team evaluated the results for their collaboration and creativity.  The results were dramatic. Knight found “teams who stood had greater physiological arousal and
    were less territorial about ideas than those in the seated arrangement. Members of the standing groups reported that their team members were less protective of their ideas. This reduced territoriality, led to more information sharing and to higher-quality videos.”

    It’s time to stand up.

    Your meetings will be 34% shorter if you're on your feet. This kind of meeting is also widely used in Scrum methodologies and practices in agile technology teams. They're high on collaboration and killer at delivery!

    We spend a lot of our day sitting so 30 minutes or less of standing won't hurt. And people who sit less have a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases.

    So kick that seat.

    Propel your meetings forward with productive, collaborative and creative action. A meeting with the team that's like that deserves a standing ovation.

    Friday
    Jan302015

    A P.S. to the Standup

    Good news! The team I talked about in my recent post The best meeting : 10 minutes, no water bottles, no chairs, no tables, has now had four stand up meetings... FOUR.... and they're hooked!

    Yes there was uncertainty. There was doubt. There was disbelief.

    But there was also focus, clarity and progress.

    They laughed. They even applauded spontaneously at the end of the first meeting.

    And then off they went and started... doing! Hooray.

    I'm still standing by them as they stand up, mainly to guide the leader with some facilitation skills. Of course, that leader already has some great facilitation skills, but you know what it's like when you're working with PEOPLE! :-)

    We're all human and so the human leader just needs to deliver some more human to the humans in the stand up.

    So a little coaching, guidance and debriefing for the leader on the fine art of 'handling the sh*t that goes down in groups' is what we've be doing after each of the stand ups.

    I'll keep standing by their stand ups and look forward to seeing them getting on with great progress and celebrating - whether they stumble, fall, get up, fail, or go wildly beyond what they were expecting.

    Are you standing up yet?

    Monday
    Jan122015

    The best meeting : 10 minutes, no water bottles, no chairs, no tables

    At a client workplace this morning I saw a group of colleagues heading off to their Monday morning meeting. They were all carrying note pads and pens and water bottles full to the brim. Into the meeting room they walked, they shut the door, sat down and they got into two hours of ..... yawn. 

    I'm working with them to help them become quicker collaborators, clearer communicators and faster problem solvers. 

    The first thing we will 'delete' (before we create or add to a 'do' list) is their lengthy Monday morning meeting. 

    Starting tomorrow they'll be having a daily stand up, or a huddle; a quick (5 - 15 mins) standing meeting that reports on what each individual is working on and if there are any impediments to them getting that done today.

    They'll meet again the next day, same type of meeting. And the day after, and every working day onward. 

    This 'stand up' approach to meetings is efficient, quick, clear, focused, progressive and helps get stuff done. 

    It's a no nonsense, no blah-blah and no bullish*t approach to producing outcomes and getting over hurdles. 

    Borrowed from the worlds of agile and scrum and highly effective in software development, the daily stand up answers three questions and everyone reports in on them, quickly: 

    1. What did I accomplish yesterday?
    2. What will I do today?
    3. What obstacles are impeding my progress?

    A team in financial services I helped set up these meetings got started, but then they started shifting the time of the meetings to 10am and midday and then sometimes it didn't happen. 

    The key is same time, every day, no matter who is or isn't there. The meetings get people used to communicating frequently, face to face and clearly. 

    It's so great to see a team get some momentum with this approach. They're relieved at the time they're saving; they're motivated by the progress they can see they're making. 

    And the team leader can see quickly which areas need their input and leadership to unblock or remove impediments. 

    You don't need a meeting room. Stand up in your working area. 

    Try it at home. Have a daily stand up meeting at home to work out what's happening today and what obstacles are in the way. 

    There's so much more to read and learn about stand ups. Start with this awesome piece from Jason Yip on Martin Fowler's website and you'll find plenty of insights, learning and tips on how to make it more than just about standing up. 

    Your team's culture and collaborative effectiveness can change. This is one strong way to impact and lead that change. 

    Will you stand up?

    Friday
    Jan022015

    Put the 'Changes Welcome' mat out

    Do you put the welcome mat out during change or are you running off down a path with the gate locked behind you?

    Welcome changes from customers, clients, end users, no matter what stage of the process of design, development, delivery or sale of your thing, product, change, transformation or service.

    Welcoming changes is a philosophy of the software development field of agile. They welcome changes because they are on a path of iterating and editing and reviewing and releasing changed and improved versions of the software, website, app or technology. Even if it's later in the process, changes, comments, and responses are welcome. That means what they’re creating will be more useful, more suitable.

    This is about acceptance, flexibility, adaptability. It's this input that keeps people engaged in what you're doing and makes what you're doing more tailored to the people who are using it.

    When changes come to you today, tomorrow, next week, take a note of how you respond - if you're welcoming or you're locking yourself away from them.

    Tuesday
    Nov252014

    Fixed or Agile - Which one are you?

    You were born with an agile mindset – a way of thinking that says ‘I can grow and learn and be challenged. I can improve.’ Think crawling, walking, talking, reading, riding a bike. So much to be challenged by. 

    But somewhere along the way, you might get derailed and think that you either ‘have it’ in this life or you don’t. (But that my friend is a ‘fixed mindset’.)

    Linda Rising presented at the Agile Singapore conference recently and (my visual notes of her keynote above) remind me how her messages about the Agile Mindset were inspiring, relevant and … a tap or slap on the shoulder. There are some vital characteristics that are required to make work work in today's competitive environment. 

    She asks: 'who told you what you can and can’t do'… and warns us to ‘watch out what you’re thinking’.

    An agile mindset is one that is looking for opportunities to grow, learn, experiment and improve. Failure simply gives us some information.

    Our mindset need not be fixed; this agility is ideal for the volatile world we live in today. 

    Our teams, customers, clients and organisations need us to be agile, flexible, adaptive, responsive. It’s through challenge that you grow.

    Look at where you might be fixed in your thinking. How might an agile mindset see it differently? What could you experiment with, test out or be challenged by?

    Go…. flex, bend, shift and grow. Keep challenging your own view of things.