November 26, 2014

AWA event – John Coleman – 25th November 2014 – Practical session

Yesterday, we held the 2nd Adventures with Agile event and it was another huge success. John Coleman flew over from Ireland to give the presentation and a huge thanks is in order to him for this, and for presenting and running the workshop.

I was slightly disappointed in the number of people who said they were going to attend and didn’t show. I did ask if people could update their RSVP if they were not coming, and some kindly did. I ordered a lot of pizza but as there was at least 20 people who said they were coming but didn’t show, a lot went to waste. I guess that is par for the course on a free event. I expect these meetup group emails go straight to spam in a lot of cases.

Gripe aside….

Having seen John at the Agile coaching exchange meetup, I knew what to expect (which is why I asked him to come!) and I knew what he has to offer is extremely unique. The insights into cultural change and how to drive that forward both from a PUSH and a PULL model is really exciting.

We discussed the push model to start with, and this is of course is the obvious way to bring in change. You tell people how it’s going to be and then they do what you say. This of course has its limits! Typically when we are talking about behavioural changes, telling people to behave differently will, at best, make a temporary change within the organisation but then people quickly reverting back to old patterns and, at worst, completely alienate the people you are trying to change.

Far better is a little bit of push, make it clear what is required, what the aims are and what is expected of people. But then, the rest is up to them.

How then, we do increase the likelihood of staff taking up these new patterns of behaviour and owning them and grow them in the right direction?

This is where John’s stuff kicks in and we looked at a couple of real world scenarios. One where the company is well established and doing a kind of Water-Scrum-Fall and the second a new start up that had its own problems.

The group split into 3 teams and each team worked out what behaviours we would want to change / adopt in the two companies in the scenarios. We then prioritised those behaviours and spoke about them out loud to the other groups.

It was quite astonishing how all three groups had totally different behaviours to each other. I would have thought that a bunch of very experienced Agile people working on the same problem would come up with more or less the same stuff but that was not the case. All three teams had a different set of important behaviours.

We then chose a single behaviour (the top one) per team and told a story around this behaviour. The story makes the behaviour memorable, real and transferable.

John then talked about tipping point change and how key influencers spread behaviours and values and that if you speak and encourage enough positive influencers then they will carry that behaviour throughout the organisation in a PULL way.

I want to read ‘the tipping point’ again by Malcolm Gladwell as that talks a lot about the different types of person that go together to make a tipping point event happen.

We had some good debate after the practical session and then carried on talking into the night.

I learnt a lot, really enjoyed the evening, met some new people and some old friends, and ate more pizza then any one person should.

The evening scored 5 out of 5 stars (as did our first event) and the comments can be found on the event page.

 

 

Simon Powers

Simon Powers is an Agile Coach specialising in large scale transformations and agile adoption. He has a background in very large enterprise architecture which has led on to organisational design and agile process refinement. Simon is the founder of Adventures with Agile.