Agile Tips and Tricks

O&D Cards

I recently found a deck of cards with great Organizational Development techniques from a previous company where I was employed. I think they were used for workshops, but since so much is online now, I thought I’d share them here since they’re not copyrighted and pulled from public materials. I’m missing a bunch of them (thus the discontinuous numbering) so I’ll add if I find them or make up new ones:) Enjoy!

3. Causal Loop Diagramming – Causal Loop Diagramming is a method that provides teams with a framework for productive conversations about recurring business problems or issues. This technique allows us to see dynamic interrelationships rather than linear cause0and0effect events. Typically, most causal loop diagrams are combinations of reinforcing and balancing loops. here is an excellent example:

Causal Loop Diagram [CLD] | Agile Pain Relief Consulting

4. Community – A community is a group that exists for the sake of a common goal, value, or interest. A community has an identity, a common purpose, and guiding principles that serve as the orienting philosophy for the community.

5. Compelling Story – Compelling story is a narrative that relates an irresistible and necessary reason for the change. For instance, the compelling story might be getting to Mars, we need a 1000-year vision. What research and development do we need for a 1000-year timeline? Will Technology increment X get us closer to that? These are great vision questions.

8. Feedback – Feedback is the return to the input from the output of a machine, system, or process. A feedback loop is one in which each element is both cause and effect ( is influenced by some and influences others) so that every one of its effects, sooner or later, returns to roost.

10. Four Levels of Listening – The Four Levels of Listening is a practice that exercises the tools of reflection and inquiry and the discipline of Mental Models, Team Learning, and Systems Thinking. It is a model and tool that moves groups in conversations from nonlistening, to openness and learning, to listening without judgment to see the world from someone else’s perspective to innovation and generation of new ideas.

20. Network thinking – Network thinking is a perspective focusing on the use of roles and the exchanges between them to define and/or analyze how work is accomplished. It addresses both tangible (i.e., decisions by the documented process ) and intangible ( i.e., decisions by tribal knowledge ) transactions. This can help teams discover and understand roles and optimize the relationships and processes required to accomplish work.

21. Personal Mastery – Personal Mastery is one of the five disciples of a learning organization. This discipline is about the practice of clarifying and deepening our personal vision with an objective sense of current reality. Creative tension fills the gap between the desired future and current reality. It is observing our behavior to see hour our actions support or hinder our ability to attain our personal vision.

24. Shared Vision – Shared Vision is one of the five disciplines of a learning organization. This discipline is about the practice of unearthing shared “pictures of the future” that foster genuine commitment and enrollment rather than compliance. This practice generates more enthusiasm for their vision and their leaders’ vision.

29. Systems thinking – Systems thinking is one of the five disciplines of a learning organization. This discipline is about the practice of using a conceptual framework that integrates the other disciplines (Personal Mastery, Mental Models, Team Learning, and Shared Vision). Thinking systemically is used to see the”Structures” that underlie complex situations and to discern high- from low-leverage change

30. Team Learning is one of the five disciplines of a learning organization. This discipline is about the practice of aligning and developing the capacity of a team to create the results its members truly desire.

32. Value Network Analysis (VNA) is a method through which roles, relationships, and exchanges (transactions) are identified and analyzed for understanding and possibly redesigning a network. Formal (tangible ) and informal (intangible) exchanges are part o the method. VNA is a powerful method of analysis that helps teams have quality conversations.

33. Value Network Map – A value network map shows the flow of transactions from role to role throughout a network required to produce a deliverable. One Network Map typically shows many deliverables.

Tips and Tricks

Welcome to Remote Agile Coaching!

Like all of you, I’m sheltered in place, hunkered down in my bunker in Seattle, waiting for things to get better. We’re fine and healthy and I’m grateful for that. And, like many others, I have the motivation to give back, so I’m going to start putting more stuff on this website about one of my biggest passions, Virtual Agile Coaching.

Socrates for the win

Back in 2017, when I registered this domain, I realized that we were on the cusp of a sea-change in the industry. connectivity and capability have been driving more and more industries to leverage remote work. Now it seems ever more timely.

Many of the people I’ve spoken to over the nearly two years I’ve been doing this fall into three distinct camps, at least before COVID-19.

Camp 1- Remote training sucks and coaching is nearly impossible. How do you read the room? Get engagement? Do the exercises?

Camp 2 – Remote is okay, in limited amounts, but the real work gets done in the office.

Camp 3 – Remote is the future! There are so many upsides that virtual work and work anywhere movements are the only way to operate in the 21st century.

I have moved sequentially through those camps: a skeptic, like any good Agilist, then a tolerant leader of those who wanted remote work, and now, full-throated support of such workstyles. No, it’s not for everyone, but remote work was here to stay before, and this type of work is center stage.

Remote work is getting tried at a scale never seen before. It’s a massive test of the networks, the abilities, and creativity of those who are executing the training. Remote learning requires patience at the learner’s end. It’s not the same, but it’s still effective. I personally have trained hundreds remotely and continue to support them with coaching.

I launched this blog at the outset of Agile 2019 in beautiful Washington DC on the topic of remote coaching. I’ll be pulling out lessons from that event, and reporting and sharing new tools as they pop up. We’re going to have a Cambrianesque explosion of tools and techniques with the advent of quarantines for the next month or so.

For now, let’s summarize what the crowd I had at Agile 2019 was saying about remote work before it was cool/necessary 🙂

  • Techniques – ceremony or deliverable specific ideas
    • Katrina T. – Interactive retros – example Playdoh – “build an image that describes the last sprint
    • Gisela M. – Measure happiness with the decisions they make at the beginning
    • Carlina A – We celebrate holidays with remote teams and share pictures
    • Melinda S. – Virtual Happy hour
    • Leslie K. – Remote ice breaker games
    • Gabriela V. – Have standup followed by core hours (15 min then 45)
    • Melinda S – Always use cameras for all meeting
    • Rebecca Wirfs-Brock – Review and start clear agenda before starting
    • SEB -Short segments, six trumps (Bowman), self-paced, individual and collaborative (this is from Training from the back of the room).
    • David K – I have had some success with web cames over physical boards.
    • Bill Wake – remote mob session – make sure tools ready before you begin
    • First 15 min for “Pets and babies” – this is the idea to show family members, either human or otherwise, in the first fifteen minutes of a meeting. (ed note: I love this one!)
  • Tools – a favorite topic
    • Carlina A – we use IdeaBoardz for backlog retrospectives for remote teams
    • Leslie K – Encourage video chats rather than voice, with Zoom or whatever is out there.
    • David K – tabletop board game simulators can be used to recreate some in-person exercises
    • Gabriela V – Slack Channel – Different topics one for sharing things outside of work and one for knowledge sharing
    • VR – This is a growing field and one is pursuing. Nothing to show…yet… 🙂
    • Joe F: check out Mural and other tools that allow for HUGE spaces for sticky notes and such.

  • Advice – general tips to get it done
    • Ellen – try to learn their language if possible (Ed note: I’d be terrible at this)
    • Rebecca Wirfs-Brock | Agile Alliance – Show and tell in remote training ( share other students work and discuss)
    • Shalini – Stop multitasking and focus on one task at a time – add commit time to review other people’s work
    • Leslie k. – Bring the team together 1-2 times during the engagement (ed note: when possible)
    • Jim C. – Train onsite coaches and use them as co-coaches we call them Agile Champion
    • Having remote teams together for 1 week. Ether at the start of the projector once a year for the ongoing team.
    • Dwight K – When you are on-site in-person spend as much time as needed to develop relationships and trust with individuals. #1 priority.
    • Gabriella – Take pictures of everyone smiling on a video call and send it on the slack channel
    • Elizabeth M – Small group experiments and present learnings back to the rest

Okay, that’s it for now. I hope you found these tips useful. I and a few other experienced coaches will be chiming in more frequently to get us all through this difficult time.

Keep it fun and positive and you and your teams will thrive!