My thinking continually evolves as my experiences, perspectives, understandings and, most importantly, synthesising, across the variety of things I do and things I know continues. I never stop exploring the boundaries - and the beyond! :)
The muse for this particular approach came from the advice from Peter Senge's "The Fifth Discipline" on how to create a vision for an organisation that the people own and strive towards. Peter's description of the holographic view of an organisation by each individual employee was/is bind mending!
You'll see (I hope) how each of my previous posts, with alternative teaching styles and variety of learning outcomes, informs my next target state. Hence I try new and improved approaches whenever opportunity meets preparation.
In this case, even off the back of the successful approach to learning/teaching the Agile Principles 104, learners returned to their day job and forgot the goodness of their understanding and experience fairly quickly - unless there was a disciplined framework, a management mandate or a positively persistent coach (like me!) agitating them to remember, and to apply in their thinking.
This approach, I hope, causes learners to converge more collectively onto the same shared understanding of the agile principles by folding-in everyone's understanding recursively.
Its extremely beneficial that each team in the organisation evaluates themselves against the their own and their organisation's interpretation of applying the principles. By spending time as a team in "think space" (reflection) goodness follows "for free"/"semi-automagically". That's the beauty of having an aligned collective mindset - energy, thought, creativity and work flows rapidly and positively due to common understanding and knowledge of the "game rules", and in the absence of interference of any kind.
Agile Principles 5th Approach
- Timebox for 30 minutes
- Ask the learners to read, write (or complete pre-prepared sentence spines) the 12 agile principles onto index cards or similar, and to rank them from most important (at the top) to the least important (at the bottom). A single list - ranking decisions must be thought through and made according to the available knowledge everyone has at the time!
- Then ask the learners to self-organise into pairs and to read and discuss each other's rankings and understandings.
- Now ask the pairs to fold-in their lists. Together they must:
- Agree the most important principle and record why
- Then agree the least important principle and record why
- Then they need to sort through the remaining 10 to create their own agreed ranked list, similar to Agile Principles 104, and write down Why
- Then ask the pairs to self-organise into groups of 4
- Now ask the groups of 4 to fold-in their 2 lists into just 1, and to tease out (and record) the consensus "Why" for each decision they reach
- Now it becomes recursive - sub-groups keep folding-in together until the entire group of learners is once again 1 group and there is 1 list they all have participated in creating.
- ie, 4+4 = 8
- 8+8 = 16
- 16+16 + 32
- Yes, as the groups get bigger the fold-ins can take longer, but often there is an emergent consensus pattern that helps the fold-ins stay quick, energised, and positive so in my practice I don't see things slowing down, I see improvements in communication and negotiation emerge rapidly!
- Any "odd" numbers just fold-in the next round so if you started with 6 in total, you then have 3 pairs, 1 pair observes whilst the other 2 pairs fold-in, and then merge in the final round the 4+2. It is critically important to fold-in 2 lists to create 1, as this speeds up the event and deepens everyone's shared understanding and personal sense of ownership of the final ordering.
- Trying to do more than 2 lists at a time, eg 3 lists and 3 groups into 1 creates too much complexity too quickly and often causes people to disengage. There's just a little (too much) friction in the group dynamics that causes energy loss.
- The final outcomes of this approach are
- A shared understanding and ownership of the most important to the least important agile principle as understood by the group
- Clarity and understanding of why the ranking decisions were made
- Practice in avoiding group conflict by smart structuring of group work which is known to create conflict as everyone's personal perspective is a factor when working with knowledge, experience and mindsets.
- 2 Artefacts that can be referenced and reviewed inside the office as-and-when the need arises - typically retrospectives (reflection), and escalations (crisis)
- Now, do the same recursive process for ranking from easiest to hardest to achieve in the organisation.
- The final outcomes are the same 4 as above, but you have also now agreed a backlog of work that needs to be done for the organisation to become more agile.