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

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Can I Change Your Mind?

hypnosis

Recently, I had a very enjoyable conversation with a group of successful, talented software leaders regarding Agile. More specifically, many of the topics shared underlying assumptions about the role of Agile to create structure in the place of chaos and align people towards a common goal.

As part of the conversation, we eventually reached a point where a question was posed (in my best paraphrase): “How can we measure a person’s effectiveness in changing people’s minds?”

I felt that all-too-familiar sense of discomfort and asked if “changing peoples’ minds” is a responsibility or requirement of a job, whether it be a change management role, team coach (e.g., a ScrumMaster), or anything in-between. Some in the group expressed the validity and importance of such a measurement; thus, I’ll explore a question within: should it be our job to change peoples’ minds? 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

The Veil of Transparency

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“In the spirit of transparency,” she said, “be sure to send me an update by the end of the week.”

He glanced at her, casually responding, “Of course. And to be transparent, I’ll present the slides to the team at our next meeting.”

Despite the fact I am not clairvoyant, I am quite certain that the above conversation happened today. Perhaps it even happened in your respective place of work. Just like no company executive today would dare admit “we’re not agile”, the popularity of “being transparent” guarantees we assign transparency to everything we do. And so it goes: as everyone becomes “agile”, transparency becomes yet another buzzword in the great agile sea of expected change in peoples’ behavior. Continue reading