Everybody’s got something to hide, except for me and my monkey

You know the Beatles track with the longest name “Everybody’s got something to hide, except for me and my monkey”?  I find this is the “retrospective song” (follow link for some tips and tricks on retrospectives).  “Everybody’s got something to hide” means we’ve all made mistakes, now it’s time to face the results.  No matter how bad it turned out to be we tried our best, trying out crazy new ideas.  For those ideas that turned out to be a success, now the time has come to celebrate what we’ve achieved, time to slow down and “Come on let’s take it easy” (retrospective time). Let the monkey out of your sleeve (a Dutch saying) meaning “finally the truth comes out”.

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Knowledge management is dead, long live experience sharing!

I love learning, and that is probably the reason I got obsessed with knowledge management. I used to idealized people that seem to know a lot of things. I believed if we could build a database that contained all information from all those wise people it would be a wonderful idea to have all that knowledge available at the click of a button. I don’t believe that any more. I was wrong to think we could manage knowledge.

The internet contains an immense overload of information and yet we’re spending more time searching than finding. Why? Because all these statistics are exactly that_ data. Documentation which is useless when it comes to real life application. You cannot learn to drive a car by theoretic knowledge alone. In every aspect of learning, there will come a time that we have to put the theory in practice. That’s why there is this thing that called OJT (On the Job Training). Even the most seasoned sales manager finds it impossible to sell something new without addressing customer needs first. The same applies to knowledge, what it is that they say? Before you can administer a cure, the person has to admit that he’s sick.

Building knowledge works better when learning from experience. How to achieve this goal?

  • Identify learning goals for all team members
  • Encourage experience sharing
  • Decide how individual targets will fit in day to day work
  • Set activities for learning and assign leaders
  • Work together
  • Evaluate what has been learned
  • Conclude and set new learning goals

Any team could easily attain this objective by stimulating open communication, encouraging everyone to experiment and to put fresh ideas into practice, and giving honest feedbacks.

We could dream the dream of changing, improving what has already been done but unless we put our thoughts in action, it will remain a dream.

There is no better time than present to set and reach our goals. so, go on… join me, practice what you preach walk the talk and motivate.

Remember:

“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.” – Bruce Lee

Exploring your Goals and achieving them

With all that social media hype, we’re in a world of overflowing information and communication streams. There are mails, texts and so many other feeds constantly competing for our attention. It’s a real challenge to keep focused especially when it comes to product development where complex disciplines like analysis, design and testing meet. More and more, experts from other fields like healthcare run into similar communication difficulties like how to decide which information is relevant, accurate and valuable?

“In order to work together the people (involved) and the powers-that-be must share the same vision.”

Communication issues are among the top 10 reasons for project failure, another one being a lack of clearly defined responsibilities.

When working together ensure the communication is structured and clear. Keep it simple and keep it human. It has to base on mutual understanding and check whether those needs and goals are truly understood. There is a time to define, teams to inspire, vision to explore and goals to conclude.

“One Goal, One Vision, One Mission”

Oh, if you can plug into people’s emotions by making them see their own needs, go for it… Make them talk about their issues. Nothing is more powerful than intrinsic motivation.

In my experience, what is working when creating shared vision?

  • Define the Needs
  • Inspire the Team to Explore options to address those Needs
  • Explore team Goals

What’s my inspiration writing this? Queen – One Vision, thinking on team level rather than a single man…

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Yes it’s f*cking Political, everything’s Political

Skunk Anansie inspires me to write this short post on behaviour patterns and how they are affected by political motivations.  We are all wearing many different masks for different people and changing them according to the situation for our own personal gain, nothing wrong with that right?  That is understandable behaviour for anyone that’s trying to make the best out of their own lives.

However, it become a different story when this behaviour is present in organisations, since the values of these organisations often don’t match, the goal of personal gain for yourself becomes an obstacle for reaching team goals?  For example our famous “Delivering working software or Shippable Product Increment?”.  That’s in conflict with the laws of putting together successful teams (Ref: Benne & Sheats).

We have to maximize team dynamics by taking into account vision and goals of all involved individuals.  Translated in political terms it’s Glasnost or transparent management, open to debate.  Organisations should open up their management and be completely open about their policies (yes, from highest management, involving all).  By using the S-model and experience coaching teams are directly involved in reaching goals, self-organising with management support.  Experience coaching can work in matrix style, horizontally forming groups that create value.  In efficient organisations that care about their employees there is no room for autocracy.

S-model: Coaching Growing Teams

Leaders help teams best by unlocking their potential enabling them to grow.  Coaching techniques enable teams to grow.  The S-model for Self Coaching teams help teams & Agile Leaders to constantly be aware about evolution of team and individual maturity. Furthermore it provides transparency to the team about their performance and growth path.

S-model for Team Self Coaching
S-model for Team Self Coaching

Coaches need to adapt to personal situation in teams. Depending on their personal experience and confidence they have certain needs for coaching in order to reach goals.  Coaching poker is a helpful tool for the team to see the experience present within the team.  Interaction between team members will indicate their uncertainties and needs in a highly efficient manner.  Just as with planning Poker we form an image on where we position ourselves in the S-model.  Depending on the outcome one of several approaches may be chosen by the Lead Coach:

For each topic / Coaching domain (Example:  Requirements and test management using a new ALM application)

  • The team still needs to grow towards their potential but we have the required experience within the team (expertise with a few people).  In this example the ALM application expert would be available to help out the team.  Experience coaching provides the backbone for the team to grow.
  • The team is currently unable to cope with the provided challenge, external help will be required in order to build up the required expertise.  For example when there is no testing specific ALM experience available.
  • Too many objections lead the team to find another option to do the same in more efficient manner.  Experience coaching is ideal to frame this innovative exploring by the team

In upcoming blogs I’ll discuss the behavior patterns for different teams and how they affect team dynamics.

Continuous improvement with Agile Profiling & Experience sharing

Agile Profiling is a coaching technique founded by Davy Benoot to realize continuous improvement for self organizing teams.  The main goal of this technique is to focus on optimizing activities that provide value to teams and the individuals within the team.  Unlike traditional process improvement models that are focused on documenting stable work processes (To-Be situation) practical coaching and NEO value structuring those activities that are under constant change.  While the team explores ways to cope with the challenges at hand the practical coach makes sure this happens in a organized manner.

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