Agile Coaches go nuts

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At the end of April 2012, I attended the first Agile Coach Camp in the Netherlands. Thanks by the way to the organizers for a great ACC in a very cozy hotel with a warm and nice atmosphere. I really enjoyed the time I’ve had with you, my dutch friends!

background

I was driving from cologne to the netherlands by car which was fully packed with LEGO® and I was totally excited to meet good friends and lots of new people. Frankly, I’ve expected a great conference as I know some of the organizers and know about their passion for agile and our community.

Beside having a really fantastic and great time with the awesome dutch agile community, I’ve made some very great experiences during that conference. In this first post I’ll write about some interesting experiences we’ve gained during one of my LEGO® sessions. In a second post about the Agile Coach Camp Nethlerands I’ll write about co-creation of the Ewan McGregor game – but this will follow a bit later…

my offer

During the Open Space marketplace I offered a StrategicPlay® session based on LEGO® SeriousPlay as well as the Scrum LEGO® airport. The Scrum simulation I offered for saturday evening, as an offtrack session starting at 09:00 pm – drinks are allowed.

accnl - marketplace

I’ve created the Scrum LEGO® airport about two years ago and ran it already on several conferences all over the world, at different companies and within trainings. So nothing special. Just one fact was differrent this time. All the times I’ve ran this Scrum simulation before, lots of the participants were newbies to agile with little to average experience with Scrum. Sure, there were also agile-grey-hairs which also gained lots of new insigths, and not all but most of the attendees I’d call newbies. This was the first time that I’d run it just with experienced Coaches, Agile Coaches and ScrumMasters. So I’v expected something different this time, not sure about what in special, just something different.

the set up

The first surprise happened when people entered the room for my session. As we were about 50 people at that conference, all attendees were already experienced agile practioners and I proposed the session for saturday evening, I’ve expected about 10 people max to come.

When we started, we were 27 participants, splitted up in 4 teams.

accnl - Scrum LEGO airport setup

We did 3 full sprints within a complete Scrum framework with 4 teams, 27 people and 22 requirements for a complete airport, 4 ScrumMasters, 4 ProductOwners and 19 developers. What do you think have they delivered after 3 sprints?

You’d expect a complete airport? Yes, I’ve expected the same!

delivery

What they delivered was an ambulance car. One single ‘lousy’ ambulance car made of LEGO! Ok, a Scrum simulation with LEGO might be a little bit different to your daily work of SoftwareDevelopment. There is just one but – all Agile values, principles, the Scrum framework and the whole agile mindset is not just focused on SoftwareDevelopment – you can apply it in nearly every – let’s say manufacturing and production process as well as to build an airport with LEGO!

Ok, it’s normal in the simulation that teams fail in the first sprint. This is a regular learning phase. But normally they learn with every single sprint as we do retrospectives and the customer is available for questions. So I’m used to see teams improving already after the first sprint as they start to communicate and to deliver.

what happened?

So, what happened with my dutch colleagues? They’ve made every single mistake you can make and most important, they didn’t communicated with the customer, they even didn’t talked between teams. So they were’nt able to find out the right priorities for the airport, did not adjust cross-team development and every team built what they liked most and thought is most valuable (in their opinion!).

accnl - Scrum LEGO airport swarming

And, no surprise, during the Scrum Reviews the teams tried to sell the customer (me) every single requirement they’ve built. Starting from a Helicopter which doesn’t fit on the Heli-pad they’ve built, an Airport Tower without any space for workers and which is as tall as an airplane and so on. And every single product they’ve built had a special value – unfortunately not for me as the customer, so I had to refuse all built requirements, sorry guys! =;-)

inspect & adapt

During the third (!) sprint the first team started to ask and talk to me as the customer. Hooray, they found out that security has the highest priority for me – so before any landing-field, building or whatever is build, security like ambulances, fire-trucks and police must be available on demand.

accnl - Scrum LEGO airport - review preparation

et voilà – after the third sprint, exactly this team was able to deliver an ambulance car and fulfilled all acceptance criteria. Surprise, surprise, it was accepted! By the way, this team was the only team that delivered something!

Agile Coaches go nuts

After 2 hours of playing with LEGO the discussions between participants reached a level I haven’t expected. For the rest of the evening, this session was the top topic at the bar and people talked about what happened and why the hell nobody of all the experienced Coaches did not practiced what they pray and coach on a daily basis?

Whatever the outcome of all these discussions was, I think everybody had their unique point of view and outcome. For me it was totally great to provide participants a great time, 2 hours of serious play with LEGO, lots of fun, learning and new insights which made them think. Wow, what an awesome conference, thanks everybody I’ve met there!!!

And, if you were one of the participants, please leave a comment and some of your insights…

Discover your inner Planet (at) Play4Agile 2012

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Play4Agile Logo

Last weekend, the Play4Agile 2012 took place at Seminarzentrum Rückersbach, a beautiful venue near Frankfurt. Our theme this year was ‘High Playformance for Agile Teams’ and as the first Play4Agile in 2011 it was a great success again. The event is reinvented itself and that makes the unique power – quote of Christine Neidhardt.

On the 2nd day of the Open Space event, Jenny Jepsen, Martin Heider and I did the session ‘Discover your inner Planet‘. The idea was to run a session with a technique from CoActive® Coaching combined with StrategicPlay® powered by LEGO® SeriousPlay™. Jenny, Martin and I are all StrategicPlay® Facilitators. Moreover, Martin and I are currently doing our vocational training for becoming a CoActive® Coach.

Play4Agile - discover your inner planet - towerWe designed the session during a lunch break and ran it in the afternoon with 20 participants. We started the session with skills building exercises. Skills building are exercises for becoming familiar with LEGO® and reaching a metaphorical flow.

Play4Agile - discover your inner planet - tower - storytelling

First, participants were asked to build a tower, share what’s special about their tower with all other participants, the storytelling, and then adapt the tower to an agile tower. Again, participants had to share what makes their tower agile with all other participants.

To reach the next metaphorical level, we then asked the participants to build a model which describes they’re passion about attending the Play4Agile Unconference.

Play4Agile - discover your inner planet - passion about p4a12 - 1Play4Agile - discover your inner planet - passion about p4a12

These two pictures are models which were built by participants, showing their passion for attending the Play4Agile Unconference 2012.

Again, each participant had to share their model through storytelling.

Now, everybody was in the right mood and flow to start their journey to their inner planet. This journey is a mental one and a technique from CoActive® Coaching, which is used as a tool for discovering individual fulfillment.

Play4Agile - discover your inner planet - journeyWe asked all participants to close their eyes and relax. We turned on some chilling out music and started the mental journey to the inner planet by telling an inspiring and visionary story for the mental journey. This took about 5 minutes.

At the end of this mental journey, we asked the participants ‘how does it feel to live on your inner planet’, open your eyes and build a model which describes this feeling.

You may ask youself now, hm, how can you build a feeling with LEGO® bricks. Indeed, this is challenging. But if you once have the chance to attend a StrategicPlay® session, you’ll discover how this works and I’m pretty sure you will be surprised and amazed!

Here is a picture of such a model which was build by one of the participants:

Play4Agile - discover your inner planet - how does your planet look like, how does it feelThis model was a rotating one, turning on it’s own axis!

As we just had 60 minutes for our session, we had to stop after this exercise. You can build up to this by start to extract individual guiding principals, fulfillment goals or start to discover your personal inner team which lives with you on your inner planet and guides you through life…

Creating a Vision for ALE – the ALEnetwork with StrategicPlay®

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ALE logoIn April this year, Olaf Lewitz asked me if I would like to facilitate an envisioning Session with xp madrid logoStrategicPlay® for the ALEnetwork at XP days in Madrid in May 2011. Primary, Olaf wanted to facilitate this Session by his own, but as Olaf is beside Jurgen Appelo one of the original Drivers for creating the ALEnetwork, several people asked Olaf to participate the envisioning Session and add his Ideas to a Vision for the Agile & Lean network Europe – the ALEnetwork. Thus he would not be able to facilitate it by his own. As Olaf knew, I’m also a Certified StrategicPlay® Facilitator and knew that I’m passionate about the techniques of LEGO SeriousPlay® he decided to ask me.

warm up exercises with StrategicPlayI was very delighted to be asked. Not only that I really love to facilitate Sessions using StrategicPlay®, it was a challenge for me. I was already experienced in facilitating, but what was special and new for me was to facilitate a Session for an audience of experienced Agile Coaches and Facilitators. Wow! I accepted without even procrastinating for a second.

storytelling for individual visionsStrategicPlay®, based on LEGO® SeriousPlay is a 3D visual thinking tool based on the power of hand-knowledge. It was the perfect tool for creating a vision for the ALEnetwork. About 40 Participants from 17 countrys all over europe attended the envisioning Session and every single person had some unique ideas to add for creating a pan-European open network for people passionate about Agile and Lean practice and thinking. All together, we created the vision for the ALEnetwork!

storytelling for individual visionsAfter some basic but necessary warm up exercises, I asked the participants to create their personal vision for a perfect Agile network.

building a shared Team modelA very important step by using StrategicPlay® is storytelling. As we started with several Teams, each participant has to share his personal vision with the Team.

After some additional steps, each Team was asked to build a shared vision. Afterwards, each Team had to do a storytolling for their shared vision and present it to the other Teams.

Team visionsAfter all Teams presented their individual model to all other participants, we started to build a shared model out of all Team models.

At the end we finished the session by having a shared model of all participants, the vision for the ALEnetwork.

Have a look at the following video, we taped the storytelling of our vision for ALE, a network for collaboration of Agile & Lean thinkers and activists across europe!

click the picture for the video on youtubespecial thanks to Ralph Miarka for co-facilitating the session

Scrum Simulation – the Scrum LEGO® Airport

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you’ll find the download link for the manual at the bottom of the page

The Idea of a Scrum Simulation with LEGO®

Scrum LEGO Airport at Global Scrum Gathering SeattleIn the beginning of the year 2011 I had the idea for a Scrum Simulation with LEGO®. A Scrum Simulation which needs to be scalable. Scalable for Teams with different stages of knowledge about Scrum. Useful for Beginners as well as Advanced. Usable as a Simulation for ‘easy’ Scrum as well as a Simulation for Scrum of Scrums. Feasible to run with 1 to x Teams. Interesting especially for Software Developers and technical Freaks. In addition, people should learn the Scrum Workflow, it’s Artefacts and Meetings by having a lot of fun.

the Airport Team ILEGO® is a plaything everybody knows, all around the world. As I’m a StrategicPlay® Facilitator, a creative Problem solving Solution with LEGO® based on LEGO® Serious Play, I know how to use LEGO® in a serious context with a joshing course.

ambulanceAn Airport is a complex enterprise system with lots of complex dependencies and lots of technical interfaces. Nearly everybody knows how an Airport works or rather the workflow starting by leaving the car at the parking lot, check in the luggage, receiving a boarding-card till having a seat in a plane. And when arriving at the destination, you want to have your luggage back at the baggage claim.

Hence the idea of a Scrum Simulation with LEGO® in a context of an airport seemed for me an interesting challenge to cover my demand of a scalable approach.

Scrum LEGO® Airport @ Scrum Safari, Cape Town, 2011

Thus I created the Scrum Simulation, Scrum LEGO®Airport with the following scalable stages:

—>

1,5h Appetizer – conference format

Prerequisites: some Scrum Basics

Participants: 5 to 50 ppl + n Observer

4h stand alone Economic Simulation with Focus on Scrum Basics

Prerequisites: no background required

Participants: 5 to 50 ppl + n Observer

8h Beginners combined with a basic Scrum Training

Prerequisites: no background required

Participants: 5 to 21 ppl

8h Advanced combined with a Team Visioning Session with StrategicPlay®

Prerequisites: experience with Scrum

Participants: 1 Team

What do People learn in the Scrum LEGO® Airport Simulation?

Team Story BoardPragmatic understanding that Scrum is about self-organizing Teams, Cooperation, Communication, Understanding, Respecting People, Teamwork, Creativity and Productivity.

Understanding the Scrum Workflow by building valuable products for the customer in each Sprint Sprint demowhich can be delivered after every iteration. Understand what needs to be build first so that the customer can start transporting people after the first sprint and add value from Sprint to Sprint so that the enterprise ‘Airport’ can grow constantly and the customer can grow her business.

I ran the Scrum LEGO® Airport at

different Company’s

Global Scrum Gathering Seattle, May 2011

Scrum Gathering South Africa, September 2011

Agile Prague, September 2011

Download the manual:  Manual the password for the file is vinylbaustein

how I became a certified StrategicPlay® Facilitator

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standard LEGO brickWhen I was a child, I was addicted to playing with LEGO®. It wasn’t unusual for me to wake up at 4-5 o’clock in the morning, even before going to the kindergarten or later to school, dump my tons of LEGO® in my whole playroom and start building models, spacecrafts, airplanes, fantasy buildings – whatever came to my mind.

This didn’t change until I get my first computer – at the age of 11!

I sold all my LEGO® for next to nothing at a flea market when I was 12 years old and never was sorry about that until nearly 2 and a half years ago.

LegoStoreAt that time, I had a walk through the city of Cologne and discovered a LEGO® store. I stopped gazing at the showcase and was totally fascinated to see Star Wars models built with LEGO®. I just had to enter the store and at that moment my mind changed immediately into the mindset of a young boy.

I walked through the store and was looking at all the bricks with the eyes of a 10-year-old. Incredible!

After this event I found myself more often in the toy department when I went shopping. And even more often, I bought LEGO® bricks or sets instead of buying food.

One year ago a key event happened. As I have been an Agile Project Manager and Certified ScrumMaster for about 3 years now, I was participating in an agile training in my company in spring last year as we are currently working on an agile transition to change the way we work.

We had a three-day training on agile principles and methods with external coaches. On the second day there was an agenda topic which was strangely called hands-on solutions with LEGO®.

I was delighted by the prospect of playing with LEGO® but had no idea which serious background this might be.

Olaf Lewitz, a StrategicPlay® Facilitator, did a workshop based on LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY™ (LSP). InStrategicPlay logo the beginning Olaf explained that LSP is a methodology for exploring and dealing with real opportunities and issues in real time and that it’s a process for groups and teams for thinking, communicating and problem solving. Amazing!

We had an interesting session with lots of fun in team building with StrategicPlay®. What a great experience. We used LEGO® for getting insights we never would reach by a simple discussion. My brain starts sprinting by these exercises. Awesome!

After this three-day training on agile principles which I helped organizing, Deborah Preuss, one of our agile coaches, asked me if I would be interested to help organizing a conference for agile games. I was delighted that she asked me and as I love to play serious games it was a pleasure for me, even if I did not know how such a conference could look like.

Some weeks later I was invited to participate in a two day planning workshop for that conference.

Hamburg WappenI arrived at a Friday morning in Hamburg and was a little bit late. When I entered the office where all the organizers for that conference met, I started to realize where I was: It was the office of Jens Hoffmann from Hoffmann Consulting and his wife Katrin Elster from StrategicPlay®. They share a big office. Was that real? I was at the heart of StrategicPlay®, the heartbeat of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY™? I was overwhelmed and daunted in once and a little bit nervous. There were 10 people sitting around a large table and I took a seat too.

This was the beginning of two days full of creativity, inspiration, energy and pure passion. Katrin, Mrs. StrategicPlay®, facilitated the planning workshop as a large StrategicPlay® session based on LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY™. It was incredible; we created the vision for the unconference for games for agile teams.

Katrin did an amazing job. After some warm up exercises with LEGO®, everybody started to build his own vision for this unconference. Afterwards we all build a shared model together where all individual relevant vision parts were put together to one common and broader vision. The Play4Agile was born!

We all had a great weekend in Hamburg and at this point I’d like to thank all participants for this experience which was unique for me. Thanks to Katrin Elster, Christine Neidhardt, Deborah Preuss, Ilja Preuß, Jens Hoffmann, Olaf Lewitz, Martin Heider, Jens Korte, Heiko Stapf and Andreas Thier. From the start of these two days I felt like arriving at home!!!

Some weeks after this impressive experience, Olaf facilitated a second, more extensive session with LSP in our R&D Site in Trier at my employer. Topic: ‘How to build a framework fit for feature teams’. And the outcome was one more time absolutely incredible! All critical voices from the beginning, ‘we don’t want to play LEGO®, we need to work on our issues’ went silent. Out of this second session we extracted guiding principles we’re still following.

My third session with LEGO® convinced me that I had to learn these StrategicPlay® Facilitator skills because it is such a great tool for gaining insights about oneself, impacts you’re struggling with and how to solve them. It creates a valuable outcome which no human brain is able to obtain by discussing, brainstorming or even just thinking about. You design strategies you should concentrate on for reaching a special goal. And most of all – it seemed that this tool was especially created for me!

passion in StroyTellingThus it was unavoidable that I participated in the StrategicPlay® Facilitator training by Katrin Elster and learned how to use this fascinating tool in a serious way. Last week I received my Certificate as a StrategicPlay® Facilitator and I’m looking forward to create my first workshop on my own to help teams and organizations to focus on realizing goals by using creativity.

In addition, at the last weekend the Play4Agile (#p4a11) unconference for Games for Agile Teams, which we started planning last year in Hamburg based on StrategicPlay® took place in lovely Rückersbach, near Frankfurt. It was a great success, participants loved it and I see so much overwhelming comments on Twitter about #p4a11. Great!

Today, three days after this unconference, I’m still totally energized by this happening, meeting friends, new friends and most of all we are all loving Serious Games and also some silly games which were just fun.

Yes, Serious Play rocks and I’m looking forward to facilitate my first workshop with LEGO®! Huuuuuuaaaahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!