Category: Agile

Agility Café 7: Creativity, Engagement and New Breakthroughs

Agility Café Topic / Action Mind Map
Agility Café Topic / Action Mind Map (click image to see larger version)

We met for the first time at the Downtown Association, in their spacious board room overlooking Queen St, the sunlight pouring in. Combined with the quiet and large table for note taking, this created an ideal space for rich discussion. This was the best café yet, just keeps getting better.

See the mind map for most of the details. Note that:

  1. Each topic is listed, with the challenges, observations and ideas captured.
  2. Each person whose topic is discussed selects one or more actions to take in the next week. Those action steps are circled in red.
  3. We also check in at the start. Cindy had a lot of exciting breakthroughs to share (highlighted in yellow). That’s what makes this all worthwhile, seeing people get excited, moving past obstacles and closer to their goals.

Topic: Creativity in the Workplace

Darren gives a one minute summary of what we discussed and action steps he plans to take:

Overall scores out of 10:

  • 9, 9, 8, 10
  • we liked: no noise, sun, focus and flow of conversation

Improvements to get a perfect score:

  1. better parking
  2. more people for next session

Want to know more about Agility Cafés? Read when they happen, what you’ll get out of them, and how to register.

Agility Cafés 5&6: what we learned

Why go to an agility café? People keep coming back because it’s

  • a chance to connect and collaborate with a diverse group of people
  • get useful, practical tips and support to apply immediately
  • fun 🙂

Next café is on Feb 25 @ the Downtown Association. Read more and register.

Topics from the last two sessions:

  1. End of road discussions – requests for assistance outside of our capacity
  2. How to create more chances between each other to collaborate?
  3. How to handle marketing multiple services?
  4. How to prioritize projects?
  5. How to manage committees as clients?

And… the results:

End of road discussions – requests for assistance outside of our capacity

Key takeaways:

  • Make it clear what can and can’t be done, in a friendly way. FAQs are useful, provide information in form of scenario/response.
  • Not all customers can be served and satisfied. It’s ok to choose who your customers are.
  • Choose not to listen to ongoing complaints – set boundaries

How to create more chances between each other to collaborate

How to manage marketing multiple services (or, how to gain focus and traction when dealing with many choices)

How to prioritize

Prioritize attributes
Attributes to prioritize on

Key takeaways:

  • Decide on the prioritization attributes that matter, and use those to compare options. Profit, capacity, deadlines are a few examples.
  • Give yourself breathing room to be able to make choices, to re-prioritize as needed
  • Don’t try to please everyone! Making choices means choosing not to do some things, or to delay responding to requests until more important stuff is taken care of.

How to work with clients who decide everything by committee

Ideas for working with committees
Ideas for working with committees

Problem: committees taking too long to make decisions, or re-visiting decisions again and again, thus delaying project and value, increasing cost.


  • Find a lever to motivate decisive action: project cost, schedule, or scope reduction due to increase costs and delays.
  • Set up contracts to provide incentive to collaborate. There are examples of Agile contracts that do this, encouraging both sides to work as a team to deliver faster, reduce cost and increase value.

Agility Café #4: How to support remote sales team?

Mmm good soupBob Bonell

At this café, we came up with 3 topics, and got through two:

1. Functioning on a board of directors
2. Linking remote sales efforts / people
3. Marketing multiple services

Bill Murphy shared his situation, with sales agents working individually in various parts of Canada, and a desire to have them as a group better share ideas, build camaraderie and feel connected. Listen to his 1 minute video summary for what we came up with:

About Agility Café

The Agility Café happens every Friday at Dish, 12 – 1:15 pm. Register here to get one of the limited seats. Drop-ins welcome too.

We eat business obstacles for lunch. What’s in your way of delivering more value, at higher quality, with wayyyy more fun?

Format is simple. Come with a topic or two in mind or just an open mind. We’ll brainstorm at the beginning all the topics people want to discuss, then prioritize them. We’ll try and get through as many as we can. Learn from each other, and get your caffeine fix. When it’s over, it’s over. 🙂

This is a free event, an experiment in informal coaching and mentoring, and building community.

Agility Café #3: Being Overwhelmed and Discovering the Root Cause

Agility Café has found its home! Fridays at noon at the Dish. Last week we tackled two issues raised at the café:

  • how to avoid becoming too overwhelmed
  • how to nurture the creative process (though we discovered a deeper underlying need)

You can watch short 2 min summaries of both discussions below, starring the lovely Darren Jorgensen.

The café this Friday is the last one this month, sadly as I will be away the following two Fridays. If you have something you want help with, or just want to get out of the office, then come out and join us this week. 🙂

RSVP for Café #4 on Friday, Jan 14 @ 12 pm, or just show up.

Biz Agility Café #2: Sustainable pace, timely invoicing and the multitasking monster

Jessica and Darren

Jennifer Wendling from Fuzed Notions and Darren Jorgensen with his partner from Molly Media Studios joined me last Friday for warm eats and dialogue at the 2nd ever Business Agility Café. It was as fun as productive since Jennifer and Darren know each other so well. Darren was beaming at how reducing multitasking is helping Molly Media get more stuff done, something he learned about at the Business Agility workshop a couple of weeks ago.

Topics we covered:

  1. From Jennifer: how to decrease time from completing projects to getting invoices out? Some of Jennifer’s projects take one or even two months before the invoice goes out, creating cash flow issues and awkwardness asking for payments well after the project is done. We quickly recognized that there are many steps in the process, with Jen involved in most of them, leading to delays. I left Jen with the task of documenting the workflow from project completion to invoice sent to see visually what is happening and how long each step takes. A favourite quote of mine is you can’t manage what you can’t see.
  2. From Darren: using a task board for video production projects. We discussed adding checklists for each status of a task, so that a task cannot move from one status to another. Looking forward to seeing photos!
  3. From Darren: how to find a sustainable pace – too much work leading to burnout. Darren’s new studio will be ready in then new year (yay!) making it less tempting to do work from home (when the equipment isn’t there). I talked about how time boxes and Scrum can create a rhythm and flow that provides the confidence to know when things will get done, lessening the need to work around the clock due to worry about uncertainty.
  4. From Darren and Jennifer: how to reduce feast or famine cycles. Jennifer made some excellent points about nurturing relationships on an ongoing basis, keeping in contact with people so they think of you when a need for your services arises. Most of all Jennifer drove home the need for a marketing plan, so these activities align with company goals and are baked into the work plan instead of being starved for time. Good points that I took home with me!

Having done two of these cafés now, in the spirit of inspect and adapt, I’m planning to make the following improvements for future cafés:

  1. At the start, give returning participants a brief chance to update others on their experiments since the last café. Participants can use the Business Agility group to provide more-indepth information if they want to.
  2. Provide concept maps for people to jot down information as it’s discussed. Concept maps are a visual tool useful for capturing small bits of information in relation to each other. Writing down helps to retain learned information.
  3. Record and publish a video summary of each topic discussed, with new insights gained and planned next steps.
  4. Use the last 10 minutes to reflect on what we learned, the format and next steps for each participant.

Would you like to join us for the next Business Agility Café? Join the Business Agility group to be notified when the next one will be scheduled in the new year. It’s a low-volume email list for sharing and supporting each other in our experiments to increase value for our clients, our teams, ourselves and the world. What more reasons do you need? 🙂

Introducing Agility Cafés: inspect and adapt, with a latté

Today a few of us from last week’s Business Agility workshop gathered at Dish to tackle issues getting in our way to delivering more value for ourselves, our companies and the clients we serve.

The format is simple: bring a topic or two you want help with, together we’ll prioritize them and tackle them in order of importance to the group. When the owner of the topic is satisfied with the response, we move on to the next one.

For our first gathering, we had 3 excellent topics:

  1. How to get management to buy into the full power of Scrum (and not just window dressing)
  2. How to satisfy customers
  3. How to make time for high, important but less urgent tasks aka why does the urgent always seem to take priority?

At the end, everyone rated the hour from 1 to 10 on a value received scale and shared what would have garnered a perfect score. Everyone scored high. The only improvement offered was one person’s wish to be more prepared with questions. All in all, a great first experiment.

Want to come to the weekly Agility Café? Contact Gerry to be put on the mailing list.

Food tip: the eggplant peanut soup at Dish pure awesomesauce

Business Agility Workshop – Decision Making @ The Speed of Modern Business

Reposted from the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre web site:

Join the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre on Monday  November 29, 2010 for the Business Agility Workshop. This full-day workshop will be held at the Algoma Water Town Inn from 9:00 am until 4:30 pm. The cost to attend is $100, however if you register by November 17 you can take advantage of our early-bird discount and pay just $50.

Learn how to accelerate business performance by:

  • Eliminating bottlenecks to increase productivity
  • Embracing change for competitive advantage in an increasingly fast-paced world
  • Fostering creativity and innovation in the workplace
  • Delivering higher value faster by focusing on what is most important
  • Cultivating a motivated and happy workforce.

The workshop will feature interactive and hands-on learning exercises, focused instruction on techniques, time to discuss unique challenges, and practical tools and knowledge that you can begin using in your workplace immediately.

This workshop normally has a value of $400, but is being made available here for $100.
Register by November 17 – You can save even more with our early-bird discount and pay just $50.

Download the registration form here


Register by contacting:

Angie Wagner: (705)942-7927 ext. 3133 or [email protected]

Workshop facilitators:

Gerry Kirk helps organizations and groups self-organize to generate creative and innovative work spaces for higher productivity and happier environments. He works as a coach, trainer and consultant, specializing with small medium enterprises and distributed environments. Before coaching Gerry spent 10 years as a developer, QA manager, then project manager. His passion is building a community where everyone can reach their true potential and together create astonishing results. Locally, that includes Ignite Sault, Soo Podcamp and on a bigger scale Change Camp Sault.

Selena Delesie: Selena Delesie is a coach, trainer and consultant who runs her own company, Delesie Solutions. She has more than 10 years of experience in the software industry, primarily coaching, leading and managing for a broad-range of leading-edge technologies. Selena facilitates the evolution of good teams and organizations into great ones, using individualized and team-based coaching and interactive training experiences. She is an active speaker, participant and leader in a variety of software associations and conferences. Links to Selena’s published works, blog, website and contact information can be found at

Coaches: crowd-sourced solutions for starting Agile transitions

Agile 2010 is just around the corner, and I’m doing a little happy dance as this is the first time I’m leading a session at a major conference. Yeah, that rocks, and I’m team up with the talented and equally good looking Michael Sahota.

Agile 2010 Session: Look before you leap – Agile readiness assessments done right
When: Thursday, 1:30 pm (90 minutes)
Level: Expert
Who should come: Geared to experienced coaches hired to help new clients transition to Agile

Why attend?

A common approach to help get clients started with Agile is to undertake a readiness assessment to:

  1. Understand current challenges and goals
  2. Understand the environment and technical practices
  3. Decide what techniques (Scrum, Kanban, collocation, pairing, etc) might be suitable
  4. Build a plan with them of what a transition to Agile might look like

Unfortunately there is very little written about how to go about this. Hence, this knowledge-sharing workshop to define this better.

The workshop involves active participation so come ready to share your experiences and learn from others.

Workshop road-tested

We’ve overhauled the session twice, after taking it on the road to Agile CoachCamp Canada and running a condensed online session. We’ve discovered that what coaches like more than anything else is a chance to connect and share stories, so we’ll provide ample opportunity for that, and the connections to keep the conversation going afterwards.

The photos are from the online workshop. The final product was a collection of specific activities coaches are already using. Given how much was done in a short time virtually, we’re anticipating a huge wall of collected wisdom at the conference!

Reasons given why coaches conduct readiness assessments (click to view larger)
Assembled bag of tips and tricks for assessments (click to view larger)

Learning Outcomes

  • Have a clear understanding of assessment objectives and purpose
  • Leave with a variety of experienced-based approaches to assessments, understanding strengths and weaknesses of each, as determined by participants
  • Become aware of challenges and pitfalls, and steps to mitigate them
  • Have greater confidence in conducting your next assessment
  • Expand your connections with others doing assessments

There are lots of great sessions in the program on agile adoption, ranging from specific approaches to case studies. This workshop is the only one specifically on how to get started with an engagement by using an Agile assessment.

We do plan to post the results of the workshop, possibly in an e-book, so come contribute your knowledge and become famous.

P.S. This post is also on the Agile 2010 Community web site, which I put together to help people share, connect, organize. You can promote your session there too.

What does being a team really mean?

Yves Hanoulle is asking a question each day for people to think about, through his @Retroflection Twitter account. Each day someone is invited to respond, and today I have been asked to answer:

What does being a team really mean (as opposed to the way the word is often misapplied)

To “be a team” in my experience, means to:

  • Share goal(s), to have a common purpose for working together
  • Commit collectively to getting work done, in a spirit of collaboration
  • Respect each other’s differences
  • Trust that each person is competent, will raise issues and follow through on commitments
  • Have the courage to remove obstacles in the team’s path, including resolving conflicts within the team

Those familiar with Scrum will notice my team attributes are based on the 5 core Scrum values.

These attributes are not easy to attain. It takes time to become a team, and a lot of hard work. Just ask my wife.

Now it is your turn to answer: what does being a team mean to you?