Stop running meetings, start designing interactions

agile-coaching-logo

Stop running meetings, start designing interactions

Michael Spayd and I delivered a keynote address to the General Electric crowd at a 300+ person in-house agile conference (plus who knows how many people on WebEx).  We were honored to be among such agile community luminaries as Mary Poppendeick and Jean Tabaka, as well as several GE leaders who were keynoting on their experiences with agile.

Designing the Keynote

Designing the Keynote

Cool posters at the GE Agile Conference about our Keynote

Cool posters at the GE Agile Conference about our Keynote

Our topic was Catalyst Leadership: A New Model for Leading Teams, Products and Organizations and we delivered some pretty eye-opening material, including the fact that most organizations respond to the complexity of today’s business world through leadership that actually complicates our ability to thrive (maybe even survive) in a complex world.  The new and better model of leadership for a complex world?  Catalyst leadership as researched and written about by Bill Joiner and Stephen Josephs in their insightful and completely useful book, Leadership Agility.

After our keynote, Michael and I attended a session offered by Ken Clyne where he taught us how to play a Risk Game.  Ken has a great article on how to play the game so you can get the details from that.

Ken Clyne showcases the "product" results of the Risk Game

Ken Clyne showcases the "product" results of the Risk Game

What I want to highlight is that great agile coaches stop running meetings and they start designing interactions, instead.  They plan ahead.  They design a “meeting” to be filled with activities and games that allow the team to interact and create together.  they use their facilitation skills to help everyone play along in the meeting.  This is important because we are always looking for 2 levels of results with an agile team: product and process.  Sure, we want the product — sizing the items on the product backlog or  identifying the top risks to integrate into our release plan.  No doubt that this is the outcome we want.  We also want another outcome, and that’s a team that can share their individual viewpoints and, therefore, create a more complete and shared understanding of their real world.  That’s the process outcome.  The process we use to get there matters, too.  If we got the product result, but we didn’t get the process result through increasing the team’s capacity for collaboration, creativity and innovation then we know we only got half of the potential value.  We left money on the table.  Agile coaches…start designing interactions and help the team and the organization get the full value.

3 Comments
  • PM Hut
    Posted at 03:22h, 16 September Reply

    Hi,

    You’re saying that you’re not running meetings, but you’re doing interactions instead. Can you give an example on how you do this? What are these “games” you’re talking about?

    It’s a cool concept, but maybe if you can expand on it (for example, give us some details about your last meeting).

    • Lyssa Adkins
      Posted at 07:53h, 19 September Reply

      PM Hut:

      Great idea. In fact, you’ve inspired me to write another blog post contrasting a meeting – let’s say a sprint planning meeting – with someone who’s running the meeting versus someone who’s creating the space for interactions. Look for that in the next week. In the meantime, you can think of it like this: if the ScrumMaster/agile coach talks, let’s say, more than 20% of the meeting (I’m making that up, but it’s probably close) then they are running the meeting. And, they will probably wonder why the team is not more engaged.

      Good enough for now?
      Lyssa

      • Stephen Reed
        Posted at 20:25h, 20 November Reply

        Thats true! I have been running a few (lets call them) workshops with teams to create a team shared-vision. The first team I did this with I realise I spent far too much time talking and running the meeting – it was 2 hours long with me explaining things etc along the way and I think the best part of it for the team was when I left to go to another teams Review for 30 mins and in that time they formulated their vision together. The next team was a little better where I tried more of the pop out of the meeting while they do stuff routine, with a more hands off approach – but it still felt like I was carrying the meeting. The third team I did this with I only used models, first the “golden circle” model with What, How, Why and left them to it, then with that working away on their cerebral cortex, went in to them thinking about their individual goals for the next 6 months and the team shared-vision with a model from Lyssa’s book.
        As I went through these sessions I found the less I spoke the better, and the simpler the model used to get the team working the better the result.

Post A Comment