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    Entries in scrum (7)

    Tuesday
    Oct042016

    The Visual Agile Manifesto - refreshed

    A few years ago I created a visual representation of the written Agile Manifesto.

    It seemed to resonate with people; it got printed out, pinned up on walls and was shared and talked about in workplaces all over the world.

    I've updated the visual - with the same elements - but looking a little more refreshed.

    Here it is...

     

    Thursday
    Jan282016

    When your meeting culture sucks: 8 ways to refresh

    The meeting culture in many companies sucks. It’s no surprise given how last century some of our meeting behaviours are. We have meetings that are too many, too long, too little achieved, too much talk, too frustrating… it’s all too much!

    The culture of how we meet can be deeply ingrained in an organisation. There are plenty of unwritten and unspoken rules that get followed simply because that’s how it’s been done for years.

    And because we expect (or hope?) that so much will get done in our meetings, we owe it to our schedules, customers, colleagues (and families) to get as productive as we can.

    Here’s how to inject some fresh thinking and behaviour into your workplace meetings for this week, month, year:

     

    1. Have less: Say ‘no’

    This is a classic piece of advice. Start fresh this year. Don’t meet if you don’t need to and if you do need to...

     

    2. Have shorter: Time box it

    Ok yes, you’re going to meet but keep the duration shorter. Use the technique of time-boxing; set a timer on your phone and go for the surprise of a seven, 16 or 23-minute meeting. I like to use a humorous ringtone for the alarm like zombie noises, spaceships or the theme from a well-known sit-com. It always gets a laugh, breaks the tension and inspires people to refocus for the next topic.

     

    3. Go visual: Show me

    Help people cut through all the blah-blah. When people can see what you mean, they’ll understand quicker and you’ll make faster progress. Everyday I work with leaders and teams and use sensemaking or mapping techniques with them. You don’t need to be able to draw. Pick up a marker and capture the key points, those ‘in-a-nutshell’ comments on a flip chart, whiteboard, tablet or note pad. What shape is their idea? Map that. The meeting will be 25% shorter once people can see what they’re talking about.  

     

    4. Follow a process: This then that

    Too many meetings follow an agenda - if you’re lucky - but no process. A process outlines how you’re going to handle each agenda item.

    The default tends to be ‘let’s all talk about it’. Here the whole group of the meeting talk (or interrupt each other) to put their views forward. But it’s so challenging to move from the talking about your opinion, to the brainstorming solutions part and then try and get to making a decision – all in the one breath. 

    Borrowed from the world of professional facilitators, a process will help you confirm the facts or background, then hear opinions, then generate ideas and finally, agree to actionsHere’s my advice on an Accelerated Meeting Framework that just works and how to do it. 

     

    5. Stay creative: Yes and…

    Aim to include more creative techniques in your meetings, workshops and sessions. I’m not talking about ‘Pass the Orange’ or ‘Bust the Balloon’ party games by the way! I love to borrow from the world of improvisation. The Improv Encyclopedia is a rich trove of creative loot for groups and teams to be more innovative, ingenious and collaborative when they get together.

     

    6. Get inspiration: good better best

    It’s practical to aspire towards ‘better practice’ if you can’t quite get to best practice yet. Do this by learning from other fields and businesses that nail their meeting productivity and culture 

    There is a lot to learn about productive collaboration from the Scrum methodology used by many software and tech companies, and increasingly other industries and businesses. This is thanks Jeff Sutherland – one of the inventors of Scrum and his practical book ‘Scrum’. 

     

    7. Stand up sometimes: No chairs required

    A popular scrum approach is to have a daily standup meeting. Simply start by removing the chairs and tables from your meeting; you’ll have shorter, more focused and productive meetings right away. You don’t even need a meeting room for this! Stand up in your workspace. I saw a Zara retail team having their morning standup huddle between the shorts and the shoes!

     

    8. Change your environment: Love thy neighbour

    Break your habits and patterns of same/same; the same rooms for the same meetings. In workplaces where it’s challenging to find a meeting room, why not go outside? Try walking meetings, go to a cafe or other unusual and inspiring venue like sports courts, community colleges, bowling alleys, community theatres, swimming pools, the beach or lake, local park or other recreation facility. Take a deep breath while you’re there!

    A client recently hunted out some meeting room locations in the businesses that were next door or nearby. Now they have some inspiring collaborative ventures up and running that started just by finding out who was in the neighborhood and whether they might have some meeting space available.

     

    9. Bonus tip: Stay open

    If someone else in the team brings along some creative and cultural shifts to the way you meet, collaborate or communicate this year, take it… stay open. Say ‘yes’. Experiment, test and try.

     

    Try hitting ‘refresh’ on your meetings, workplace, collaboration and communication habits. Test and experiment with things to find what works and keep at it. Avoid falling back into lazy meeting habits or you’ll have the same things, creating the same outcomes and getting the same results. That’s so last century!

    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?