the Conflict Dojo

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About half a year ago I announced the Conflict Dojo on my blog and asked volunteers to try out the format. Before publishing the instructions for everybody I thought I could need some help for improving this new format.

Conflict Dojo

I’d like to thank Andrea Chiou, Ruud Rietveld,  Nils BernertSilke Rothgänger and Stefano Klinke for giving me feedback and helping me to make the format more simple, more safe and now it can be fun as well! =;-)

The Conflict Dojo is still easy to scale

You can arrange settings from 4 up to xxx people without having a facilitator for each table. Now one Facilitator can easily handle settings up to 20 people. If you have more, count one facilitator per 20 people.

As I’ve created the format as part of a 2-day conflict handling training for Agile Teams, you’ll need at least 90 minutes to run the basic version of the Conflict Dojo. The more time you have, the better it is as you’ll be able to play several rounds. On the other side of the coin, even one round can be very exhausting due to intense discussions and can take up to 1 hour.

Preperation

Create settings with tables for 4 people, 3 can be ok as well if needed. I recommend and prefer 4 people per table. For each table you’ll need to prepare the following:

  • tabletoys
  • 1 dice
  • a pile of plane A5 index cards – red – called challenge cards
  • a pile of plane A6/A7 index cards – yellow/white – called strategy cards
  • marker
  • 4 prepared plane A6/A/ index cards in yellow or white (strategy cards) with
    • fight back
    • ignore & avoid that there is a conflict
    • solution focused questioning
    • NVC (Non-Violent-Communication)

prep cards

Connection

Let everybody take some red and some yellow index cards and a marker. Build pairs. Let the pairs talk about the question ‘remember some old or current conflicts’, write down each conflict on a red Index Card – one card per conflict. Now think about how you’ve handled these conflicts, did you had a solution, have you made the conflict worse? What was your strategy? Write down each strategy / handling-type on one yellow index card. Elaborate what you have written down with your partner.

Concept

Introduce the ice-berg-model and explain how conflicts emerge. As a little help, here is the description of Paul Watzlawick’s model of communication:

A conflict exists, when the Iceberg’s collide on the level of relationship. Pure contentions on a factual level are almost handled as solvable or not solvable problems and challenges or seen as a conflict of opinion or dispute.

Tension and differences are becoming conflicts when involved parties are not able to handle them constructively anymore.

IceBerg Model

Reconnection

Find a table, 2 pairs at each table. You have 5 minutes to introduce your conflicts and strategies. Try to explain why in each situation the IceBergs’s did collide.

Concrete Practice

Arrange all red challenge cards on the table so that you can read all the conflicts. Build on pile of cards with all strategy cards, now integrate the prepared cards as well. Shuffle the pile of strategy cards. At the end place them on the table, face down.

Give a short explanation of the prepared strategies:

fight back
you feel offended and do what ever is needed to protect yourself and fight back with words
ignore & avoid that there is a conflict
try to ignore all direct addresses and speeches, talk about something else
solution focused questioning
try to find a solution, ask questions, be empathic
NVC (Non-Violent-Communication
explain the 4 part process of NVC

All 4 players role the dice ones. The player with the lowest points will start the first round of the Conflict Dojo. The first player can now choose a conflict he would like to practice. Normally this will be a conflict the player currently has.

All three others at the table take one strategy card without showing it to somebody else. They will also role the dice again to find the second player – count clockwise if you want. When the second player is found, the 2 others put back their strategy card at the bottom of the pile and they become observers.

Before starting the role play, give all 2 players about a minute to prepare and sink into their roles. The first player will have to address the conflict with the second player. As the second player will have to act as the strategy card tells him, his reaction might be not his normal reaction.

tabletoys

The player who addresses his conflict can change his strategy during the role play, the second player should stay at his ‘card-given’ strategy. The observers make notes during the conflict on an index card.

The current round is over as soon as the conflict is solved or one player shows his stop sign. A stop sign can be a raising hand, a prepared card or whatever you agree on upfront.

Conclusion

After a round is finished, make a debriefing – this might take a few minutes as all 4 players will discuss what happened and how their behavior was influenced.

When the debriefing is finished, the player to the left of the previous first player will become the new first player. All others will take a strategy card and role the dice again until the new second player is found. A new round of the Conflict Dojo is about to start.

final conclusion

After the last round is played, let participants pair up, if possible with somebody they haven’t talked to so far. Give a timebox of 5 minutes for everybody to have a walkabout and discuss the question, ‘what do I take with me out of this session and how will I integrate it in my daily life?’.

conflicts are for pussies

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Boxing Siberian Tiger

Have you ever listened to fighting cats, yelling at each other, making threatening strange noises when they defend their district against a foreign cat being an intruder? I hear them sometimes at night in my neighborhood and it really sounds very scary!

That is how they solve conflicts, they fight, rarely they try to avoid a conflict. It’s in their nature, their natural way of life. We’re humans, we should know better. Despite of all of our todays fortune, solving conflicts is a challenge we’re really poor practitioners at. Either we avoid conflicts at all or we start to fight, even if we don’t want to. When a conflict emerges, emotions are involved and this is an important point. Being overwhelmed by emotions makes it a hard challenge to deal with conflicts in a healthy way.

And that is exactly the crucial point, how can we deal with conflicts in a healthy way?

It doesn’t matter if I talk about personal relationships, teams or even societies, learning how to deal with conflicts enables us to discover a new way of communication, collaboration and personal development. Although conflicts can be a starting point to flourish, to grow, to overcome being stuck – as long as it is healthy and well handled.
We need to learn how to deal with conflicts, we need to face them to overcome the emotions which arise in us when a conflict emerges. This can take us to the next step of human evolution. We need to learn how to deal with conflicts in a healthy way!

Have you ever get a present from your grandparents in your childhood which not just disappointed you, even worth, you’ve hated it?

Disappointment

I remember a christmas eve in the early 1980’s. I was 9 years old and I was so excited to finally unwrap my presents. I was expecting this awesome cool Buggy from LEGO Technik and couldn’t wait to start building it. I was sure I’ll get it as my grandparents asked me a few weeks earlier what I was hoping for Santa could bring me…
Already when I received the present I noticed ‘what’s that, it’s so soft…’ It was a pullover, 2 pair of socks and a bar of chocolate. My mother directly noticed my disappointment and I was able to read in her face ‘don’t say that you’re disappointed, don’t make grandma sad…’, like it happened already a few times.

This was somehow the starting point of my vocational brainwashing training on swallowing anger and avoiding conflicts.

When you learn to avoid conflicts you’ll find out soon that in relationships, teams, organisations or societies conflicts are emerging constantly. As we’re all different, with different opinions, perspectives and values, it is natural that sooner or later friction emerges when people talk, work or life together. Human friction is a fertilizer for human development and growth.

What happens when you don’t train a muscle, a skill or quality? It becomes rudimentary! So it is with our ability to deal with conflicts when in an environment where we give everything to avoid them.

As it usually happens, sometimes we need to release that the tension of a conflict can’t be avoided anymore, sometimes we can not swallow that anger anymore and so it ends up in situations where we tend to generalizing and judging people what leads to psychological punishment and violation.

in time

Imagine, you are always in time, doesn’t matter if to a meeting, a date or an appointment, you always arrive on schedule. Your new colleague comes late to your weekly regular meeting, he apologizes and you think ok, no problem. The next week he is late again and the week after as well. Your brain will make a connection as it recognizes patterns – in this case your brain will record, ‘the new colleague is always late’ and puts that label on that person. In addition, the fact of being late collides horribly with your own value of being always in time! Having these labels in your mind for a new colleague will make it even harder for you to address this situation. And even if this colleague will be in time now for weeks and months, as soon as he will be late again the recorded pattern in your brain will call for attention.

communication

So why do we wait so long before we address a conflict? We just don’t know how to handle conflicts! We have no clue how to do it without being influenced from recorded patterns. And when we face a conflict, we’re influenced by such recordings and so we tend to generalize and judge other people. We become unfair like an awkward rookie who just started to learn how to speak.

We fear the unknown, we fear things we can’t handle, we fear things when we’ve made bad experience with them. So, do you have any clue why we have fear of conflict, one of our most dysfunctional problem in our society?

Brainwashed in our youth we tend to avoid conflicts and swallow the anger that comes with it. When the straw breaks the camel’s back, we overact and violate with words. And this just because we don’t know how to handle conflicts.

I suffered from conflicts a lot of times in my life and I know I’m not alone with that challenge. After attending a training on conflict handling earlier this year, I started to think about a format which enables me to practice what I’ve learned and enables learning for others without the need of attending an expensive 3 day training. And after talking with some other coaches I’ve created the conflict dojo. A framework for teams and groups of people to learn and practice facing conflicts. By facing own real-life conflicts in a safe environment, with people who react with different strategies, we’re able to experience different ways of handling conflicts. We analyze what has happened and how to improve facing such a problem. I know that a lot of people might think now, that sounds like learning non violent communication. No, that’s not. Non violent communication is one of the strategies which are available in our conflict dojo, but not the only one. Even if you will discover that #NVC is one of the best ways, if not even the best, to address a conflict, you will also experience other strategies and behaviors so that you’re able to become aware of your own best way how to handle a conflict.

handle it

I’d like to challenge you to become a pussy, to find your natural way of how to deal with conflicts and that facing conflicts does not mean, like for the cats, to start fighting! I’d like to invite you to train your conflict handling muscle and try out a Conflict Dojo. Learn, grow and let conflicts be your own flourishing fertilizer!

I have facilitated the first Conflict Dojo the last week in germany and it worked out very well. If you’re interested to try it out and help improving the format please send me a mail: thorsten@kalnin.net – I will publish the full instructions for a Conflict Dojo within the next weeks. As it is completely new I’d like some people and teams to try it out  first and help improving before I publish it.

connection before content – get the fire startet first

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‘Good morning all you supernumeraries’ said one of the participants of a team development workshop to his colleagues when he entered the room.

colored pigs

Their boss already told me upfront that this workshop will be challenging and that there are some problems with the relationships between the participants. That is one of the reasons why their boss thought, ok, we need an external facilitator for a team-intervention as the relationships in the team are highly crusted over. Every piece of work feels like a little war fight and communication, better not to mention communication – people in the team prefer to write eMails to each other while sitting just on the other side of a desk or shoot each other if they are angry as they have soft-air-guns (!?!) in the office…

the Challenge

I knew, the very first challenge w’d be creating a safe space for all participants – without such safe space, where people feel comfortable to state the painful and to talk about the home truth, I could skip the day and w’d end up in what some poeple would call – ‘just another wasted day’. During the briefing for the workshop I was informed that this team already tried several things out and one of the biggest problems was, that past activities concentrated on visualizing the problems and dysfunction in the team with the outcome of some action items. At the end, any appearing motivational energy fizzled out after a few days back at work. Does this sound familiar?

sail boat

Ok, challenge accepted, I just have one sinlge day to transform a highly dysfunctional team into something new, where dialogue is possible and the motivation to change something on the current situation should last longer than a few days. I am aware that I can’t change the complete world of a team that has dysfunctional grown over the past years in one single day, even I’m not able to change their behaviors for one day, but maybe for the duration of the workshop. So the only chance I’ve had is to create an impact, a tiny little thing that could be the starting point for making a huge difference.

When I started to think about the design of the workshop, I asked myself 2 simple questions – which I always ask myself when creating a workshop, training or even just a meeting:

  • Connection: how to connect participants related to their status quo?
  • Content: when participants leave the workshop, what has changed, what is different for them than it was in the beginning?

Connection

Visiting…

  • …a foreign city and asking the way.
  • …a conference where I know absolutely nobody in person, all I know is the theme for the conference and that there’re a lot of experts in the room – so as I.
  • …a grandmother and all others of the family for a family afternoon.
  • …a best friend to talk about the girl you’ve just met.
  • …a colleague to discuss the upcoming project.

In all of these situations, there are different kind of cennections in place, a different kind of a relationship. If you imagine you meet all these people/situations listed above, try to imagine for every single situation:

  • what kind of relationship is there?
  • how does this relationship influences the way I talk with the other person about the subject?
  • how would the talk be different, if I simply replace the existing relationship with one of the others?

perspective

You don’t need to have an outstanding power of imagination to grasp the fact that different kind of connections will have different kind of impacts to your behavior, and even to the behavior of yours opposite. It doesn’t matter what kind of topic I talk about with somebody else, the first and biggest impact on our communication is our connection! A second important impact on our connection and communication is the environment, but the impact of the environment to our communication is a different topic – and a different post…

Content

Did you know, there is a purpose why people have meetings? Yes, it’s true! I know, for some people this sounds very surprising as they discovered meetings in the past as a complete waste of time… But there’re meetings that are different, they very often feel like little workshops and without any surprise, successful workshops, meetings and trainings have something in common, not just the environment nor the connection, no, somebody had deep and powerful thoughts about the content, about the message being transferred, the one and only piece of knowledge that makes it possible for me to see more or less of my entire world totally different than I did before.

key

Content, like connection, is key. So, one of my most important part of work when designing and creating a new workshop or training is, to answer the question -‘ at the end of the workshop, participants will…?’

What is very interesting, recently I’ve learned that exactly this sentence is also the most important question for any public speaker when creating a new speech… I just realize what public speeches, meetings, trainings and workshops have in common…

WorkshopDesign

After evaluating all information which were available, I ended up with a design using tools and methods from LEGO® SeriousPlay and parts of the discovery-phase of Appreciative Inquiry (AI). My Agenda was to create an environment where people can overcome old habits and feel safe to try new ways of collaboration so that participants are able to create solutions in a way they never did before – with a complete new perspective and connection with each individual and the entire team, that was my mandate.

For discovering individuals, the team, it’s purpose and to create a team identity we used StrategicPlay® based on the tools and methods of LEGO® SeriousPlay. So, for the purpose of building a new connection across the entire team I choosed to use a very playful and safe environment to break the crusted over connections so that new and fresh ones can occur.

For working on the content – topics were around how the team works and behave together – I choosed the discovery phase of Appreciative Inquiry (AI). One of the core principals around AI is to concentrate – and put focus on great experiences and what people want to have more of in their life instead of concentrating on all the problems which are present and how to tackle them. As working on the content was up to the participants, I decided to choose the AI framework to create an environment where participants feel safe to share their thoughts.

You might think, phew, this won’t solve the problems they have. Sounds like another waste of time… I need to disagree! On a short term current problems won’t be solved, yes. What is much more interesting than tackling current problems is how to behave and how to avoid situations that leads to these problems – as most challenges that we call ‘problems’ have patterns in common, we start to learn a new culture, a new way how to deal with situations which are challenging, a complete new behavior! While we create a new kind of culture, we also start to deal differently with the current challenges. This norm

As we just had less than half a day left to start the content phase, I didn’t explained the whole AI approach. For time savings I just explained the challenges for an appreciative interview, what is the first part of our AI-approach.
After the interviews were held, we gathered in groups and I gave a short introduction in the upcoming process as it was about to choose a top story the groups wanted to work on and then to discover the situation of the interview, find out success factors and possible action items to get more of that in the current team.

team rafting

That was more or less the whole day!

Debriefing

At the end of the workshop we gathered in a circle of chairs, by the way there were 13 ProductOwners of an international IT company.

After a harvesting of the AI-discovery phase I closed the workshop and invited the participants to give a last comment, feedback or anything they would like to say and how they would like to continue.

Most of participants liked the complete new approach they discovered over the day and they had the feeling that this was a milestone in their development phase. Some were sceptic as they discovered in the past that after such a great workshop the motivation which occured during the team intervention disappeared a few days later when people were back at their daily work. This fear clearly was present. One participant stated clearly that he has didn’t like the morning while ‘playing’ with LEGO and that for him this was a complete waste of time. But the afternoon has made it up.

It made me happy when all participants committed to continue the team development work upcoming monday – the next appointment was in place, good.

I totally respect if somebody does not like something about the framework I deliver, even if the dependencies between the exercises are not clear in detail for everybody. Important for me is that at the end, the framework made a difference, created new possibilities and opened the bridge to new perspectives and communication.

Connection first? why?

Remember the beginning of the post when I gave the examples of visiting a situation. Do you remember how your behavior changed when imagining the different situation in different relationships? Most people discover that as more powerful the connection is , as deeper and more fruitful a conversation can go. You can challenge the content, never challenge the connection!

That is why it make sense to build a connection first before I start to talk about crucial topics. That does not mean that I have to feel love or lots of sympathy for everybody! What is important is that I respect everybody in the team, I need to understand them, how they behave in different challenging situations and what kind of connection we have together so that I’m able to adapt my behavior if necessary. If such a connection exists in a team and teammembers are committed to the same targets and environment, communicate open-minded and have the courage to let the leopard change his spot, a team will learn how to fly!

very little aviation

Epilog

Last week I’ve received a mail from one of the participants of the workshop of this post – about 7 weeks after the event. The Team has still some problems but something crucially has changed, they work together differently than the years before. They are more respectful with each other and still work on the outcome of the workshop – towards of what they want to have more of. It seems that the fire is still burning and that people in this team have discovered that nobody is a supernumeraries, our team is star!

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???

Learn to walk as a Coach

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Team Coaching

Antecendent

I started with team coaching in 2008, without having any experience in coaching. The only advantage, I’ve already had a deep knowledge of human nature. My approach was to change the complete development framework of a software-development team towards agile.

At that time I was not aware that I was doing team coaching, I experienced this later.

In 2009 I get more and more in contact with the term coaching itself as I started to go to agile conferences and become active in agile communities. It is usual in the agile community to work with coaches.

I was very interested in learning, practicing and experiencing professional coaching skills. But not only for becoming a professional Coach – it was also important for me to experience the role of a Coachee and experience how powerful coaching can be.

Reality

In the beginning of 2010 I started working with a professional Coach. I was coached on a regular basis and was able to help the Coach working with other teams as she was hired as an internal Coach for the company I was working for at that time.

Now as I experienced the magic of coaching to the full, it became more and more clear to me that I’d like to do a vocational training on coaching. But wehre shall I learn all these skills and tools, there are so many coaching institutes out there, lot’s of them say they are the best… hm, somehow this didn’t sound serious to me. In addition, I knew that there are also lot’s of bad coaches out there and I wanted to make sure that I get the best education I could get.

After some investigation on the web, I was able to take a step further. I discovered the ICF Code of Ethics.

The ICF – the International Coaching Federation – founded in 1995, is the leading global coaching organization and it’s core purpose is to advance the art, science, and praqctice of professional coaching.

Looking for a training on coaching which is accredited by the ICF decreases the relevant coaching institutes to an overlooking amount of addresses.

At the same time I received the recommendation from my Coach that a training on Co-Active® coaching could be a great next step for me. Ok, normally Coaches don’t provide any recommendations, but in my case it was ok and I asked for it.

The next step

In 2011 my plans became more concrete, by investigating on Co-Active® coaching I found out, that Co-Active® coaching is a registered method of CTI® – the Coaching Training Institute. And, what a surprise, I already knew some Coaches who finished the Co-Active® coaching training. So it was easy for me to follow their footsteps for a while and learn the skills I need for becoming a better Coach – and, last but not least, to start feeling comfortable by calling myself a Coach!

I discovered that there is a Co-Active® coaching Intermediate programme which could fit my needs perfectly. This programme contains 5 modules and is not really cheap. In addition, my employer, even if he profits from me doing this training, was not willing to pay for that training. So, I’d have to invest ap. € 7.000,–, lots of money, so how can I make sure that this is really what I want to do and to keep the risk as low as possible not to invest money in something wasteful?

Luckily, CTI® had a really great solution for me! The first module out of 5 is ‘Fundamentals‘ and this is the only module of that programme which can be booked separately! What does that mean? I was able to attend the Fundamentals module without booking the full course. This reduced my costs to a minimum and I was able to find out if this programme is really the right one for me.

Part of the Fundamentals-training is the Co-Active® model. There are 4 cornerstones in that model, I don’t want to go to much into detail – this is part of the programme – but I want to mention them shortly:

  • people are naturally creative, resourceful and whole
  • dance in this moment
  • focus on the whole person
  • evoke transformation

These 4 cornerstones are carried by 5 areas – listening, curiosity, intuition (yes, even men have intuition!), self-management and deepen/forward. The core of the whole model are fulfillment, balance and process.

Co-Active-Model by CTI

Beside getting a deep understanding for the Co-Active® model and it’s requirements, the fundamentals training also contains an introduction into coaching, the core competencies of coaching, differentiating between being and doing as well as the three levels of listening. Beside learning all these stuff on a theoretical level the training contained also lots of time for practicing.

For me this already sounded very promising so that I was sure, ok – investing in 3 days of fundamentals coaching training is a good decision. Whether I continue the programme or not.
And, it turned out that it was worth the investment and after these 3 days I was sure that I’d like to continue with the full programme.

After 5 month I finished the whole Co-Active® Intermediate course, packed with lots of tools and experience – during the whole training course you will perform as a Coach as well as a Coachee. This means as an attendee I profit two times – I learned and experienced professional Coaching skills. In addition, I was coached by other attendees.

Coaching Experiment Time

If you want to find out if coaching is the right way for you or if you are passionate about coaching and want to find out how to take the next step – I can highly recommend the Co-Active® approach – even if you find out after the Fundamentals that coaching is not the right way for you – it’s worth the effort!

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…

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

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