The Wisdom of Drinking Games

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About two years ago, I met a marketing professional at an Agile conference and we had a lengthy conversation about creativity and ways to encourage innovation. After sharing with him the Cognitive Network Model taught to me by Dr. Robert Briggs, he responded that his firm was using “a drinking game“–sans drinking–before every major client presentation. In his opinion, the mechanisms of the game seemed to align perfectly with Dr. Briggs’ theory: as images are called forth in working memory, particularly in new combinations, people generate thoughts they didn’t have prior – leading to new ideas.

A drinking game for creativity? I had to know more! As he explained the game, I realized this short, twenty-minute activity had all the elements of a good Agile activity: fun, collaboration, and useful lessons. Continue reading

Agile Practices: Judge & Jury

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I recently participated in a podcast recording over breakfast with friends in the Southern California area. While enjoying a mix of smoothies, acai bowls, and coffee (lean coffee, that is), we discussed a variety of topics – among which was mine, “if you could, which Agile practice would you eliminate?”

This is not to say I think practices should be removed from use. In fact, throwing away practices that Agile teams have found success with reeks of the worst kind of waste. Instead, I wanted to explore the extent of subversion within the group’s collective experiences and gather insight into contributing factors.

During our conversation, I placed my condemned practice on the chopping block: the “daily stand-up” meeting. Enthusiasm for removing this tool was (enthusiastically) not shared. Continue reading

Tic-Tac-Pairing

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The other night, I met up with my programming partner-in-crime, Deborah, to pair program and finish the great tic-tac-toe project. I’m both embarrassed and ashamed to admit, after uncountable years advocating and observing the benefits of pair programming, this was my first time ever navigating / driving “for real.”

Before setting a timer, we started with a bit of instruction on how to pass and receive between methods. I was under the impression that I couldn’t create a method to return something (bool, int, etc.) without first receiving data of the same type. Why did I think this? Your guess is as good as mine.

With that bit of futility squashed, we set a timer (10 minutes), and started pairing to update my “computer makes a move” method to select a random location on the tic-tac-toe grid (from current state where computer simply chooses an index in ascending order). Continue reading

If Only to be Heard

Image courtesy of Renate Dodell via Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dorena-wm/

Image courtesy of Renate Dodell via Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dorena-wm/

In starting new engagements or meeting co-workers and team mates for the first time, one of the first interactions I seek is deep listening to two simple questions:

What do you feel?
What do you need?

These two basic questions contain so much potential for discovery: there is nothing so fundamentally human than our feelings and desires. And, as my experiences have taught me, these are two of the most often neglected (even discouraged) aspects of humanity in our places of work. Continue reading

It Has Begun

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I’ve started my first C# project — with a peer reviewer / guide — and I’m feeling especially embarrassed over how challenging this simple exercise has been for me. I promised to be as transparent as possible, therefore this post explains the project, provides links to my code (in GitHub), and describes my thought process and feelings. Continue reading

Be My Peer Reviewer

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“Getting lost is just another way of saying ‘going exploring.”
― Justina Chen, North of Beautiful

Today, I finished the 25th lesson from Bob Taber’s “Core C# Fundamentals” course. A total of 22 hours of video instruction on the most basic, beginner-level concepts of the .NET framework.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my novice background in programming, coupled with zero prior experience to object-oriented design, has made this journey of self-study somewhat daunting. The obvious lack of technical knowledge aside, I feel like my questions and observations will be in the realm of irrelevance: that the entire programming world is light-years ahead. Who has time for a novice? I don’t like feeling useless and alone.

Armed with 22 hours of knowledge in writing simple console applications in C#, I have a request: would you be my peer reviewer? Continue reading