Fly me to the moon…

And get me back. Before the decade is out. Kennedy’s challenge to the US was, whatever its political motivations, all the more remarkable in that when it was made the US had amassed less than fifteen minutes of manned flight in a single sub-orbital mission.

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Desire paths, social networks, shadow organisations

Prompted by Scott Berkun’s recent post on thinking in desire paths, here’s a picture of a Finnish equivalent:*

Desire path at Kera station, Helsinki

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Complexity - the new Behaviourism?

Thinking on organisational change comes in two varieties. On the one hand, there’s a body of work and practice that focusses on deep group and individual reflection, on the questioning of assumptions and identities, that I’ll characterise as analytical, as it’s mode of operation, and the positions taken and strategies followed by its practitioners, stem directly from the world of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. On the other, a set of concepts and interventions that grow out of both the behaviourist psychology of the mid- 20th century, bolstered (though I’m sure those holding these current ideas would be loth to admit it) by more recent developments in systems thinking and complexity science, which I’ll name behaviourist (acknowledging that this is not the whole story by any means, but for now it serves my — admittedly oppositional — purposes).

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Jazz, Agility, Innovation

I was intrigued when I heard about Adrian Cho’s book The Jazz Process: Collaboration, Innovation and Agility. Over the years I’ve enjoyed working on development projects with many, many colleagues who’ve astonished me with their musical intelligence and experience — as players of all sorts of music, composers, or simply with extraordinary deep knowledge. Late night talks with friends and fellow developers in the pub, at meet-ups and conferences, makes it clear that this is a widely accepted phenomenon. So when an active jazz musician who’s also a senior development manager at IBM writes a book on the subject, maybe — just maybe — there’ll be some useful insights, particularly about collaboration and innovation in a large organisation.

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On coaching and being coached #acguk

As last year, the UK Agile Coaches Gathering was both a great community-builder, and a total ideas-fest. In particular, Tobias Mayer (Presentation is not Facilitation) helped reinforce the poverty of presentation as a training technique, and Petra Skapa’s question about what we can learn from other coaching disciplines elicited some great stories about experiences of coaching and being coached.
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Teams, coaches, coachees

Diana Larsen recently tweeted about an ideal team being one which everyone can be a coach — a mutually coaching team. There’s an important corollary to this: such a team must be a team of people willing and able to be coached. Often not a characteristic of software developers (and — dare I say it — not as prevalent amongst coaches as we’d like it to be). Requires humility, a willingness to accept that someone else’s way of doing things might be better than yours, a readiness to learn (yes, maybe from someone younger than you, or who you consider to be less experienced) and to change.

Kent Beck and Software G Forces

At ScanDev 2010 last week, Kent Beck spoke about Software G Forces (slides from an earlier version of this talk are here. Observing that the move in our world is towards more and more frequent releases to users, Kent asked the question — what does this mean for our organisations? (agile in organisations this was the focus of the track - he said he’d tackled the implications for teams and team practices in earlier versions of the talk).

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EPIC goals of coaching

Coaching doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and it isn’t purposeless. I’ve found it useful to think about coaching in terms of goals, and in particular what kinds of goals we can establish.

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Games and Simulations

I spent a fair amount of time last year participating in, and running, games of one sort or another. It’s always interesting introducing games into a team or organisation: you run the risk of appearing “out to lunch”, and you can’t, in the end, force a group to have fun and learn at the same time. You need to be sensitive as to what will work with a particular team, and maybe more to the point find a context to introduce a game or simulation where it makes sense as part of a team’s practices. Retrospectives are clearly a good place to start, as are any more-or-less formal workshops or training sessions you’re running.
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Notes from Improv for Agile Coaches #acguk

The improv day for agile coaches was a blast - many thanks to all who came, and special thanks to Tom Salinsky for inspiring teaching, and Mike Sutton for helping organise the day.

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