dear CEO, tear down this wall!

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On the 12.th of June 1987, the then US President Ronald Reagan held a speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin near the Berlin-wall. The wall separated to different kinds of ideology, the east and the west, state-directed economy and free market economy, the communism and the capitalism, state control and liberty.

The Berlin Wall, as part of the iron Curtain, was an impressive emblem of the cold war from 1945 to 1990. The Berlin Wall was an emblem, a landmark for separating, for ‘protection’ and for being intransparent.

Today, the Berlin Wall is part of the global history and notwithstanding we have to face the idea of the iron Curtain nearly every day. Almost without recognizing it.

We call it ‘the black Wall’

I’m talking about meetings, particularly business meetings. We all have to attend business meetings almost every day. The appearance of a modern bussiness meeting looks like this, a meeting room with one or more tables, chairs and lots of notebooks and mobiles.

the Black Wall

I experienced such kind of meetings for the half of my life. Being in a meeting and having the feeling that we are all hiding ourselves behind a little computer. Looking in a lot of eyes without being able to see a complete face, most people are busy with themselves, people are typing something in their notebook. Having a notebook or mobile in front of us is a kind of protection, helps us to do something different – if the current speaker is boring or I’m not interested in the topic etc. …

We protect ourselves from being in a real and deep contact and connection with all others. A basic requirement for fruitful conversations and dynamic dialogue.

You might want to say, ‘but I need my notebook – all information I need is available on it’. Ok, if this is the case why do you need a face to face meeting and what is the purpose of your meetings? Why do you attend? Is there a better way to achieve results?

What’s the purpose and what do you want to achieve?

Way too often we attend meetings without being aware of the real purpose of that meeting and if it is really needed. Could we have the same outcome with a different technique, maybe by sending an email, post infos on the intranet or having a Skype-call?

The purpose of a business meeting is about talking and exchanging ideas and opinions to come to a decision. The purpose could be also to strengthen the connection between the participants so that they can work as a team or to solve conflicts. There are thousands of serious purposes for having a meeting. So why do so many people complain about their company culture and how they handle meetings?

Way too often we have the feeling of wasting our time in a meeting. If you experience exactly that please allow me to ask you, who is responsible that the time in a meeting is used effective and efficient? The meeting organizer, your boss or even the whole company? I’m sorry, it is you and everybody else who is in the meeting!

If you are going to a business meeting and have the feeling it’s a waste of time, you need to talk to all others and to the meeting organizer how you can handle your meetings more effective and more efficient. Have you ever done that? If not, please start with it!

What can I do to improve my own meetings?

  • Tear down the wall first – get rid of notebooks and mobiles during a meeting – get rid of everything that can consume attention so tht people are fully present and can focus on what they want to achieve.
  • Agree on some meeting rules like everybody is responsible for the outcome of the meeting, listen carefully and talk with intention etc. (ask your attendees what they think is reasonable.)
  • Retrospect about your meetings. Reserve 10 minutes at the end of your next meeting and talk about how to improve it. Inspect and adapt.
  • Invite a Facilitator to create a setting for your meetings and to moderate it.
  • Try it ‘the Circle Way’ – have a circle of chairs – without tables
  • Get rid of presentations like PowerPoint-slides – visualize important information on a FlipChart or MetaWall.
  • Try serious games (yes, SERIOUS GAMES!) It can be so much fun to discuss or work on topics in a playful way

the Circle Way

I’d like to challenge you to tear down the wall, the black wall. It is the first step to transform the way you work with others. Tear down the wall and find a new way of dialogue. Tear down the wall and experience a new connection with your colleagues. Tear down the wall to find a deeper relationship with your peers. Tear down the wall as a first step for improving your meeting culture. Tear down the wall for success!

Further reading

death by meeting by Patrick M. Lencioni

the Semco System by Ricardo Semler (sorry, no link available)

Vulnerability

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vulnerabilityAbout two weeks ago I attended a public speaking training in Antwerp, Belgium which was organized by the wonderful Olivia Schofield from Spectacular Speaking. As I love to do sessions and talks on conferences and one of the trainers was recommended by a friend, I reached out to improve my speaking skills by attending a professional training. What I did not know was, that, as it often happens, it would come to a situation where I instinctively fall into a mode of showing 100% of my vulnerable human side.

We had some great workshops on storytelling, speech structure and much more in the morning with lot’s of high valuable learnings before we came back from lunch for Olivia’s workshop on stage presence.

As so often, the energy-level after lunch is low, so it was for us. So Olivia started to challenged us participants with a new game called Rhetoric which is about public speaking. We played a very dumbed-down version of that game. As it contains two kind of card-sets, one with topics and one with challenge questions, Olivia choosed one of the participants and gave her/him one of the cards. After a short moment of thinking the timebox starts, two minutes for a story in front of the course regarding that topic or challenge question which was handed out. If possible, we can try to integrate something what we’ve learned in the morning.

I assume we were about 45 people in total and we were sitting in a hoof-shaped arrangement of tables in a large room. In the front there was a huge canvas and our stage was a position in the middle of the room. As we did the game as a short warm up exercise to raise energy, chances for me were high not to be asked so I started to relax after the third ‘speaker’ was choosen. – yes, I was nervous as I’ve found out over the morning and during lunch that all participants, except me, are Toastmasters. Toastmasters, the people who meet up every week, bi-weekly or at least once in a month to train public speaking.

If you want to leave your comfort zone, go to an event where people have to communicate and where you are a complete ‘foreigner’ related to all other participants.

In addition, during lunch it turned out, that the training was an upfront conference training. The european conference of Toastmasters in Antwerp started the next morning and was held for the next 3 upcoming days. Wohoo, I was surrounded by ‘professionals’ and as I just did conference talks and sessions in the past, where I normally integrate all participants into a learning process, ‘just’ talking and bringing a message across was completely new to me.

So, what happened during the warm-up exercise after the 3rd speaker left the stage? (And by the way, all speakers had great storys)? Yes, Olivia choosed me and my inner voice started to panic. Why did I panic? I directly felt this feeling of being vulnerable.

Nevertheless I walked on the stage and Olivia said to me, ‘ok Thorsten, prepare to be challenged’ – directly after this words a tiny bit of me relaxed a little bit as it just flashed through my mind, ok, I know a lot stories about challenges, ‘preapre to be challenged’ is a guiding principle in Open Space technology and I’m passionate about Open Space… phew, I have so many challenges from the past years… which story shall I take…’ I was thinking, my mind was self-directed searching for the right story in milliseconds when Olivia said:

‘Ok Thorsten, what makes you cry?’

SILENCE

In the same milliseconds my mind tried to find the right story, my mind realized that in the first place Olivia was talking about the category ‘challenge questions’ and that my question was ‘what makes you cry?’. I felt like an air-balloon on a fair that was just hit by a dart – I slumped down as there was the story of my life flared up. Having no other thought, I started to tell my story:

In december 1979 my sister and I were celebrating the birthday of my father. I was 7 years young and my sister was 10. We had this weekend with my father, like every second weekend in a month, as my parents were just divorced. My sister had prepared a birthday card with the words ‘happy birthday for your 40th anniversary dear dad’. When she gave my dad the card his face turned from smiling into something serious. I do not really remember a detailed face, what I remember is an changing expression of his face. Without interpretation we celebrated his 39th birthday!

Ok, something like this can happen. We were young childs and counting can be a hard challenge for kids. However we’ve celebrated my dad’s birthday with soft-drinks and whippet cookies.

About three months later, it was friday 14th of march 1980 and spring had just shown up. It was one of the awesome first days of spring after a strong and cold winter with lot’s of snow and hard freezes. It was friday afternoon and my sister and I were outside and playing games in the spring-sun with other children from the neighbourhood while we were waiting for our dad to pick us up for our weekend. Normally he showed up around the early afternoon. But this day was different. The sun went down and no signs from my father. So we went home as we get hungry in the early evening.

It must have been around 6:00 pm when we had a bite to eat when the telephone was ringing. My mother stood up and went to the phone. All we heared was a huge, loud and distressing ‘OH MY GOD’ …this scream curdled our blood…

What happened? The phonecall was from the german police, searching for the identity of a dead body they’ve just found in the forest. They assumed it was my dad and somebody had to identify his dead body… The bitter truth was, yes, it was my dad and he died by suicide in march 1980, he was 39 years old.

All my life I was missing a dad, a father and best friend, somebody a young boy can look up to. As a young man, still something was missing. Nobody to ask what’s right or wrong. Too many topics I didn’t want to talk about with my mother or sister. Women, I never wanted to talk about women with my mother or sister in the past. I don’t know why but for me it was just a topic for men.

All my life, 40 was a magic number, like 39, 07 and 10.

Last year I turned 40. An age I thought I’ll never reach as this would mean that I became older than my father was when he died, something what was not possible for me in the past as this w’d mean to be longer on this wonderful planet earth than my father was allowed to. But even if I had hard and very challenging times in my life I turned 40 last year and something wonderful happened. All my life, what made my cry was thinking about my dad, that he left me when I was seven, that he gave up life. When I turned fourty I had to cry because I felt a big release.

That is what makes me cry!

I felt like a samll mice when I finished my story, I did not hear that people applauded. Olivia gave me a hug and I went back to my seat. During my way back to my seat two people stood up and gave me a spontaneous hug and thanked me for sharing my story. One last speaker followed before we started with Olivia’s workshop on stage presence.

In the next coffee break people came to me and thanked me also for sharing my story. Something had changed in the relationship between other participants and me. As in the morning there was somehow just a professional distance in talking with each other, in the afternoon it seemed that a distance was broken and much more personal and ‘intimate’ stories were exchanged. It was a different level of relationship than it was before. I felt the empathy of others for me and that made me feel having trust. Face to face talks changed and were much more open and personal.

What I’d like to say with this post is, even if you feel to be in an threateningly environment, show vulnerability first if you want to make a difference in relationships – if you won’t do it, who will???

Agile Golf

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Time: ~ 90 min

Requirements: StickyNotes, IndexCards and felt-pens and hour-glasses

For continuing the ‘Agile Olympics’, I created Agile Golf. You can use this exercise for Retrospectives, ‘blue sky thinking’-sessions and strategic meetings.

Agile Golf drawing

Basics

A golf course contains normally a track of 9 or 18 holes. In this exercise of ‘Agile Golf’ we played for 6 holes, but you can vary and take more if you have enough time!

Please feel free to adapt this exercise to your own needs!

Preperation

Preperation

An ‘Agile Golf’-hole represents a topic you want to improve or perfect. In this exercise we used the following topics as golf holes:

  • Materials
  • Equipment
  • Environment
  • Management
  • People
  • Process

First, prepare the wall with your ‘golf holes’. Make sure there is enough space below the topic to post IndexCards. In addition, make sure there is enough space between all topics as there will be also StickyNotes posted.

Hide all topics with a white sheet of paper so that nobody can see what comes first and will be the next topics – this is important for participants to concentrate exactly on one topic at a time – the one you’re trying to ‘hit’.

Room Preperation

Make IndexCards available for the team and reveal the first ‘Golf hole’-topic. In our exercise it’s ‘Materials’. Set a timebox of 1 minute and ask participants what should we do to perfect the materials we’re aroking with? Each participant should create 5 topics at least!

arrange topics

After one minute, let participants post their topics below the ‘Golf hole’. Let them remoce doubles and make a dot voting on the topics. Find out what are the ‘top 3’ and remove all other topics from the wall.

dot voting on topics

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Reveal the next topic and repeat the process of creating improvements until you have found out the ‘top 3’ improvement for every single topic.

You can see the three topics of each ‘Golf hole’ as a challenge you need to tackle in order to perfect that ‘Golf hole’-topic. You have now prepared Agile Golf Course! This should be handled within 30 minutes.

In the next step, you introduce the golf clubs on StickyNotes to the team, there are 3 available. The colours you are using are important as each colour represents a special golf club!

Golf Clubs

Every patricipant has these 3 ‘golf clubs’ available. These are called ‘company’, ‘team’ and ‘personal’. After introducing these golf clubs you can start the Agile Golf Tournament.

You start at the first ‘golf hole’. Provide the coloured StickyNotes. Each participant need to have enough StickyNotes of the three golf club colours.

Again, you set a timebox of 1 minute. Now the challenge is that each participant need to create as much solution-combinations as possible. For each improvement a valid solution-combination means to have used all three golf clubs for providing a valid proposal. For example, for improving a topic, I could/should do… (green StickyNote for persoanl), the team could/should do… (orange StickyNote for the team) and the company could/should do… (pink StickyNote for the company).

As a variation you can use more than three golf clubs – just use additional colours for additional roles like Management, Sales, Marketing… Feel free to adapt as it’s useful for you!

Agile Golf TournamentLet participants post their solution-combinations of StickyNotes diretcly beside the relevant topic of the golf hole improvement as you can see it on the right picture! As you can see, there is just one valid solution-combination for the first improvement, non valid for the second and 4 valid solution-combinations for the third.

That does not mean that the non valid solution-combinations make no sense, absolutely not – perhaps I don’t need an action from one of the roles to solve/improve a topic. On the other side of the coin, this exercise has the intention to involve all roles represented as golf clubs!

Each participant should now explain her solution-combinations shortly – no discussion about it at this point!

As a ‘little motivator’ you can give candies for each valid solution-combination.

Repeat this for each single ‘Golf hole’. At the end you’ll have a wall full of improvements, possbile solutions and roles of people need to be involved in order to improve/perfect a special topic. It’s now up to you and the participants what you’ll do with that outcome. You can ask each participant to take responsibility for one single topic, let them decide by their own which one. You can keep the outcome for more discussions or futher improvements. …

Feedback from participants

  • great to have golf clubs representing roles in the company
  • awesome structure for generating creative ideas
  • candies
  • results are concrete actions
  • little time for thinking
  • tough timeboxing
  • creates spontanous outcome

Variation

Use as much roles as possible and don’t take care of valid solution-combinations to find out which roles need to be involved to improve/perfect a special topic…

Agile Bowling

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Time: 80 minutes for 5 participants

Requirements: sticky notes, IndexCards and felt-pens

Preperation

Agile Bowling - preperationPrepare a space for every single participant. You can use FlipCharts or use a dedicated wall-space:

Agile Bowling SetUp

Be sure you have enough Sticky Notes available and Markers or felt-pens as well.

Start the Game

Ask Participants ‘Regarding the last Sprint, what would I like to change in the next Sprint?’ Create 20 Ideas/Topics within a strict TimeBox of 5 minutes. Use one StickyNote for each Idea/Topic (5 min)

Agile Bowling - create topicsWhy 20 Topics at least? This sounds challenging. The reason for this challenge is quite simple – Participants need to do a real Brainstorming and be creative. If you want to be creative and collect as much Ideas as possible you’re not allowed to judge on an Idea as it come up. If you start to judge your Ideas during creating Ideas you kill Creativity! Write down everything as it pop up in your mind!

Let Participants do this in silence!

By forcing yourself to come up with 20 Ideas/Topics in a short TimeBox, you put your internal critic on hold and write everything down, including the obvious and weak. The first third will be the same old Ideas. The second third will be more interesting and the last third will show more insights, curiosity and complexity. (Cracking Creativity by Michael Michalko)

After this ‘Blue Sky thinking’ regarding change, give Participants a TimeBox of 3 minutes to prioritize their Ideas. (3 min)

Let Participants write down their 3-Top-Ideas, having the highest Value, on IndexCards – each Idea on one Card. (2 min)

Start Bowling

Ask a volunteer to start the Agile Bowling. The Volunteer read aloud her Idea/Topic with the highest value and let her give a short comment on that – TimeBox (1 min)

Now, give all other Participants a TimeBox of 3 minutes to create at least 10 effects – question: ‘If we change this Idea, what effects will have that to our Team?’

Write down every effect on one single StickyNote! (3 min)

During this TimeBox, let the Volunteer post her Idea/Topic on the Wall. Make sure their is enough space for the upcoming StickyNotes!

Agile Bowling step 1Now, let Participants post their StickyNotes with the effects below the posted IndexCard. When all effects are posted, let them read aloud the effects and let them remove all duplicates!

Make a dot-voting on the effects, every Participant has 3 dots. Let them dot-vote on the effect with the highest value for the Team.

Write down the count of all effects on an extra StickyNote and post it under all the other StickyNotes. Below the count, post the effect with the most dots, as this is the effect with the highest value for the Team. (6 min)

Agile Bowling step 2Now, repeat this Agile Bowling with every Participant. Make sure that every Participant has a unique Idea/Topic – that’s the reason why People choosed 3 top-ideas with the highest value!

After finishing Agile Bowling with all Participants, you can calculate the score. For calculating a score for a Participant, multiply the count of effects with the count of dots on the effect with the highest value.

The Participant with the top-score wins a bar of chocolate.Agile Bowling step 3

Winning a bar of chocolate is just for fun – it has nothing to do with the overall outcome!!!

At the end, ask every Participant to take their effect-StickyNote with the highest value for the Team and let them make this effect happen in the upcoming sprint.

Agile Bowling step 4

Debriefing

Make a debriefing of this Retrospective and let Participants give you Feedback on the exercise.

Participants may feel exhausted, as it is really challenging to be creative.

As I did this Retrospective with a Team in Germany, the points on the following picture are in german. Read the translation below!

Agile Bowling Debriefing

  • strung out
  • exhausted
  • creative
  • productive
  • inspired
  • happy
  • motivated
  • guilty conscience about using so much StickyNotes

The Feedback of the Team was awesome. There was just one negative point as some People had a guilty conscience about using so much StickyNotes!

Variations

You can use Agile Bowling also as Empiric Experience, just modify the questions! In addition, you can play more than just one round of Agile Bowling, depending how much time is available!

Agile Tennis

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Time: 70 minutes for 6 People

Requirements: HourGlasses, sticky notes and felt-pens

Agile Tennis SetUp

Introduction

Based on the concept of Tennis, I created Agile Tennis for creative problem solving and usage in Retrospectives and Team Meetings

Agile Tennis draw

The Purpose of this Empirical Experience exercise is to create discussions among Participantsin a ping-pong style for grasping different perspectives for challenging situations which need to be handled. In addition it trains TeamWork.

Constellations

Depending on the count of Participants you can do single Agile Tennis or an Agile Tennis Tournament.
For a Single Match you need 3 People – TennisPlayer A, TennisPlayer B and one Referee.
If you have 5 Participants, you can create Tennis Teams playing a ‘double’ – Team A (TennisPlayer 1 & TennisPlayer 2), Team B (TennisPlayer 3 & TennisPlayer 4) and one Referee.

See the following Picture for Constellations:

Agile Tennis Constellations

  • the min. of Participants is 3 People
  • Having 4 Ppl, you have the Set of 3 plus one Observer
  • Having 5 Ppl, you can play a ‘Double’ as shown in the Picture
  • Having 6 Ppl, you can play the ‘Double’ with one Observer or twice the 3-constellation
  • Having 7 Ppl, you can create one regular 3- and one 4-constellation (3plus1 Observer)
  • Having 8 Ppl, you can create one 3- and one 5-constellation

Preperation

First, give all Participants some IndexCards and a TimeBox of 5 minutes to create as much as possible ‘Problems’, ‘Challenges’, or ‘Situations’ they are/were confronted with. Let them wright them down in keywords. Let them do this in silence so that every individual collects her own ‘library’ of ‘ProblemCards’

Let Player A and Player B, resp. Team A and Team B, sit on a table facing each other. The Referee is sitting at the table too.

The Referee has a basket with little ‘motivators’ – some sweets -as she gives each Player who wins a Point one ‘KinderSchokoBon’, representing that Point.

Referee

The Referee has also two different colour of StickyNotes available, a pen and a hour glass for 30 Seconds – you can also use a watch, but it’s even better when every Participant is able to see as time goes by.

Start Wimbledon

Start the first Game – you play two Sets of 5 Minutes each.
In the first Set, Player A (resp. Team A) serves first, in the second Set, Player B (resp Team B) serves at the beginning.

To Serve means to state one(!) Problem/Challenge/Situation. The Referee writes down that Topic on a red StickyNote. Players have exactly 30 Seconds to state their topic. After the Serve of a Team, the second Team has now 30 Seconds to state a possible Solution for the Serve of the first Team!
The Referee writes down the possible Solution on a green StickyNote. Now it’s the first Team’s turn again and they have to state why they can’t do or accpet the Solution of the other Team. The Referee writes down the Refusal again on a red StickyNote and afterwards it’s again the turn of the second Team which needs to state a possible Solution for the Refusal, Referee writes down and son on…

Rules

In worst Case, the whole Set, ‘5 Minutes’, every Player – or Team – try to win the Set and states a Problem, Solution, Refusal, Solution, Refusal, Solution and so on until the Time is over. That’s exactly the point where the rules need to be applied.
There are just 3 simple rules:

Agile Tennis Rules

  • The Statements should be ‘spontaneously’, despite the Preperation of the Individual-List in the beginning
  • The Statements should be ‘OpenMinded’ and People should OpenMinded during the Game, let the flow flow!
  • All Participants go for ‘FairPlay’ (Statements – must be realistic and should be accpeted when appropriate)

The Referee has the last word – if she decides to score a Team or Player then it is as it is – could be discussed after the Game, not during!
The Referee controls the HourGlass, when 30 Seconds are over she turns it or has to decide if a Team / Player scores.

When does a Player / Team score?

  • If a Team / Player wasn’t able to state within 30 Seconds, the other Team / Player scores
  • If a Team / Player accepts that a Solution is appropriate, the other Team / Player scores
  • If a Team / Player accepts that she don’t has a Solution for a Problem/Challenge/Situation, the other Team / Player scores

The Referee can and should decide if one Team / Player need to accept the Statement of the other Team / Player
When one Team / Player scores within the Set, she has now to Serve and continue by stating a new Problem/Challenge/Situation.
The Referee distributes the Sweets when a Team / Player scores.

After the first Set of 5 Minutes, the second Team starts the next Set by Serving a Problem/Challenge/Situation. The Facilitator keeps this TimeBox of 5 Minutes and is the overall responsible as there might be more than just one Team Playing Agile Tennis at a Meeting, maybe you’re doing an Agile Tennis Tournament…!

Visualizing the Outcome

For visualizing the Outcome of this exercise, create a ScoreBoard, as known from regular Tennis, or create something similar which fits you.

Agile Tennis - visualizing the outcome

Debriefing

At the end of the Meeting you make a debriefing with all Participants

  • How do you feel?
  • How did you felt during the ‘Tennis-Discussion’?
  • How did you felt when Referee decides to score the other Player / Team?
  • Did you felt as a TeamPlayer?
  • What shall we do with the outcome?

Agile Wall Street

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Time: 60 minutes for 5 people

Requirements: a stopwatch, sticky notes and flip-chart paper

Agile Wall Street preperation

Introduction

This Game is inspired by the ‘Give- and Take Matrix’ mentioned in the book ‘Game Storming’ and was initially inspired by techniques used in engineering, chemistry and design.
Agile Wall Street works for TeamBuilding, motivation, diagnostic of flow and energizing your Team.

I adapted it a little bit to my requirements and it can be used for TeamBuilding, Motivation in Teams and also for Retrospectives. I just call it ‘Agile Wall Street’. It is a diagnostic tool and helps players explore value flows through the Team or a Group.

Agile Wall Street Agenda

Creating the Matrix

Create a Matrix as shown in the following Picture. Make sure you have the same count of rows and columns – one row and one column for each Participant.

Let every Participant write down her Name on a large StickyNote, two times and put them on the Matrix as shown. Make sure to post the Names vertical and horizontal in the same order!

Agile Wall Street - the Matrix

Write down the personal Motivation

Now, ask all Participants to write down their Motivation of beeing in the current Team on a large StickyNote, take a new colour for that.

Let Participants post their Motivation-Note along the diagonal, where every Individual intersect with themselves.
In addition, call the vertical ‘Give’ and the horizontal ‘Take’.

Agile Wall Street - the Matrix - motivation

Open the Agile Wall Street

Give Participants a short moment to choose the first TeamColleague they want to start with. Each Participant can start with any other TeamColleague she would like to start.

Ask the Participants to write down a short statement about the Person they have choosen regarding the question: ‘what could I contribute to this Person, how could I support her or what could I offer to her?’

Give a Timebox of 5 minutes!

After finishing for the first TeamMember, ask the Participants to continue with the next TeamColleague, answering the same question on a StickyNote. Again provide a TimeBox of 5 minutes. Let Participants repeat until everybody has an personal offer for all other TeamMembers.

Let Participants put their StickNote-offers on the Matrix, everybody puts her notes in a horizontal row at the intersection according to the names:

Agile Wall Street - the full Matrix

The Stock Exchange

When the Matrix is completed ask Participants to have a seat.

Now you start to facilitate the ‘Wall Street’ offers. Start with the first TeamMember from the horizontal. This Person should listen carefully what her TeamColleagues want to offer, without commenting. Ask all other Participants, one after another, what they want to offer to this Person and let them shortly explain what they have written down.

After all offers are explained to a Person, ask her how she feels right now. Probably this Person will have a smile on her face and just feels good.

Repeat this until all TeamMembers have introduced and explained what they would like to offer to their TeamColleagues.

After this exercise the whole Team will be enrgized and TeamMembers will follow up to the offers they received self organized. If the Team agrees you can put the Matrix somewhere in the Team room.

Agile Speed Dating

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Time: 70 minutes for 6 participants

Requirements: IndexCards, felt-pens and a flip-chart

First, all Participants need a Topic they would like to improve or a Problem which need to be solved, their personal improvement Topic for this Retrospective.

Give Participants 5 Minutes to write down up to 5 KeyWords/Sentences on an IndexCard which helps them describing their Topic they want to improve or Problem to be solved. (5 min)

Afterwards you ask Participants to flip the IndexCard and give them again 5 Minutes to draw a Picture, a Metaphor, for their Topic which helps them describing their Topic in a best way. No prizes for Artwork and nobody else will see their Picture, it’s just a reminder for themselves. (5 min)

Start the amazing Speed Dating

Agile Speed Dating exerciseAfter this first exercise, which takes about 10 Minutes, you have all Participants in the right flow and mood for a discussion about their Topic. You have activated both sides of their brain, the left side for rational thinking by writing down the 5 KeyWords/Sentences. And the right side of their brain, the creative part, by drawing a Picture. This is the best starting Point for what is coming next.

Let Participants pair and give them a strict TimeBox. Every Pair has exactly 10 Minutes. First 5 Minutes to discuss the Topic of Person A and finding possible Solutions or Improvements – write them down on your IndexCard – if needed take a new Card.

After 5 Minutes the Pairs change, what means that now Person B will discuss her Topic and write down possible Solutions or Improvements.

After 10 Minutes you build new Pairs and start the exercise again, first Person has 5 Minutes and Person B has 5 Minutes as well. Build new Pairs and repeat until every Participant has talken exactly once to all other Participants!

Debriefing

Agile Speed Dating Debriefing

  • how does it felt, how do you feel right now?
  • what was different?
  • what outcome have you created?
  • can we improve this Process?

Action Planning

Agile Speed Dating - Action Planning

After the Debriefing we start the Action Planning. Every Participant should have at least one IndexCard with possible Solutions or Improvements for her personal Topic.

Ask every Participant to choose just one Action she would like to adress in the next Sprint, choose the most powerful Action and write them down on a FlipChart – Topic, Responsible and due Date.

Variations

If you have an odd count of Participants just invite another Stakeholder or a TeamMember of a different Team. This Person has no own Topic to discuss but can contribute, comment and add Value from a complete neutral point of view!

Instead of doing Speed Dating with pairs you can also ‘pair’ with three people if you have some more participants. In that case you can call the exercise ‘Agile Swinger Dating’… lol

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