Tag Archives: Deborah Hartmann Preuss

AgileCoachCamp Germany 2010 #accde10 – a reflection

Even though I have tons of work to do these days, I was very looking forward to being at JAX2010, and, before that, attending AgileCoachCamp Germany (ACCDE10), which had been organized by me and a dozen of great agile enthusiasts.

AgileCoachCamp is a series of open space unconferences, which are organized all over the world. You can find them in the US, in India, and next July there will be one in UK, as Rachel Davies announced at ACCDE10. This was the first which happened in Germany, by the way.

Being involved in the organization of the camp makes it harder to me to write something about it. Because it’s difficult to be objective. But: Do I *have* to be objective? No, this is just one of my favourite mindf…. concepts.

Ok, so here is my short, personal, un-objective reflection:

– I liked to be there over the weekend, because it freed my mind from day-to-day stuff and made it possible to step back and reflect on how I do my work and what/how I can improve.

– I met many people I like very much – and I was so happy to see them again. Some of them give me inspiration, some make me think about my personal perspective, from some of them I’ve learned new techniques, some of them make me just laugh (which is IMO not less valuable)

– I got in touch with many new people, and it was a pleasure to meet them!

– I had some very interesting sessions, e.g. the illustration & visualisation session with Christine Neidhardt and Joseph Pelrine, the session on retrospectives, which was moderated by Rachel Davies, where I got some inspiration for my own session on retrospectives at JAX Agile Day. “Out of the comfort zone” was another very interesting topic, brought up by John McFadyen, with a lively discussion about what the comfort zone and what the safety zone is (and whether there may be a “safe zone”, which is different from the safety zone). Joseph Pelrine’s session on self-organization (of course, from a western perspective) made me thinking about the Sanskrit term “Purusha”, which means -among others- the spirit of a group as an autonomous being. I’ll check this and maybe I’ll write something about the parallels of western group dynamics theories (as far as I understand them) and the spiritual Hindu perspective. Deborah Hartmann-Preuss gave a very insightful session on how their work as coach has changed the last years. Again, Christine Neidhardt gave us the opportunity to find out something about our character in HBDI scheme (that was much fun, but also a bit scary, because I found out that my character/mindset obviously has changed nearly 180 degrees during the last 10 years). Martin Heider initiated a session called “Sharpen the saw – how to improve as agile coach”, which is the topic I’m interested in the most. Did I forget any interesting sessions? Yes, probably. There were so many things to join!

– Christine’s Tai Chi Session reminded me being more in the body, not just in my head. Why the h… do I forget this simple but powerful truth again and again and again??

– I found out that beer-driven development and single-malt-driven development belong to the same family of techniques, but differ in details (by the way: Praise Joseph for inventing story pints instead of story points :)).

– I had interesting discussions on agile architecture and special roles in agile environments which helped me to analyze our own process and working environment.

– Even though I 100% enjoyed the camp, my imagination of a quite different unconference grew further by seeing my vague idea of what it might be, confronted with the reality. I still can’t express how it should look like, but after ACCDE10 I’m one step closer to a concrete idea (different story, separate blog entry).

– Open Space: Just to say it in three words: I *love* it! :-)

It influenced my own interactive session at JAX2010 very strongly, because I already knew in advance that I didn’t want to do a session which is well-prepared and has a fix agenda. But just after the camp I was able to let things flow very spontaneously – and visitors’ feedback to this format was very good. Again, a different story.

– Finally: Thanks a lot to Pierluigi Pugliese, who really challenged me with questions right after the end of the camp. We didn’t plan to do so, but it came spontaneously and was so valuable for me to get a clear perspective on some things.

To come to an end: Thanks to all who joined the camp, shared their ideas and gave their energy into it!

PS: If I’d live in the ideal world and I had one free wish, I’d appreciate if participants wouldn’t leave before the closing session. I know, sometimes you have to do so because of train/ flight timetables. But if you have the choice – then choose staying there a bit longer, as an expression of respect towards the facilitator & organizers. Thanks :-)

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XP Days Germany, Day 2 (part1)

Day two is over and I’m lying in my bed, happy but tired, and try to keep my eyes open until I’ll have clicked the “publish” button in ScribeFire.

First things first: Some people said to me that they had read my blog posting on day one. What nearly everybody told me was that they’d had the discussion about either German or English talks in the past. And that they’d had more English talks some years ago. And that it is a strange scenario if Germans talk to an audience of just German people but speak English (and some listeners have difficulties to understand it). Ok, I have to admit: In this case German may be the better option :).
Just to make it clear: I respect this decision, result of experiences in the past. I’m sure that this is pretty well thought-out. And I didn’t want to blame people who had made this decision. It was less about criticizing something or someone but more a public reflection on my own personal feelings and thoughts. Personally, I really love getting in touch with an international community and I’d really appreciate it if this also would happen in Germany. Nonetheless, even more than that I appreciate a well-organized conference with happy people on it – and that’s what XP Days Germany seem to be.

Anything else? Oh, yes, there were some sessions today – two dozens in four parallel tracks, to be precise. I attended “Creating Leaderful Teams to Achieve High Performance” by Deborah Hartmann Preuss. It was a great talk on changing mental role models – as a member of a team, but even more important: as a manager. Because that’s the topic I’ve been obsessed with for nearly one year, it was very valuable for me to hear from her insights, compare, adapt and question her points. To be honest: There is just one I question (and I needed some hours to think about it): I’m not very happy with the term “egoless team”. I know, many trainers make use of it. Maybe I’m too sceptic because of my personal spiritual background. Every time someone starts talking about “egolessness”, I become very carefully: In most cases this is the beginning of deliberation, of suppressing individualism. It doesn’t have to be used this way in Agile, but I know that talking about “egoless …” can be a mighty weapon.
Back to the point I agree with: The key thing is that the term “Agile Manager” is an oxymoron. But what is needed instead is an “Agile Leader”.
A leader as a
– Meaning Maker
– Catalyst for Growth
– Model of Integrity
– Cultural Change Agent
– Facilitator
Deborah Hartmann Preuss explained in detail how she understands each of these roles.
I could mention many details of this talk, but I’ll pick out just two more points: The meaning of retrospectives. “If you wanna do just one agile practise, choose retrospectives.”, she said. Why? Because this is the most important opportunity to step back and reflect as a team. To remind Albert Einstein: A problem cannot be solved on the same level where it has been caused. Stepping back means changing the perspective, the level. Same thing for leaders. Integrating a retrospective in the working routine of the team extends work from single loop to double loop. Single loop work means working on efficiency (doing things right). Double loop work means working on effectivity (doing the right things), because you reflect on your work and learn more. But a decision for effectivity on costs of efficiency has to be made as a top level management decision. Once again, an act which needs a step back and some reflection.

Furthermore, I had other very good talks today: “TDD with iPhone OS” by Tammo Freese and “Science Scrum: Agile Project Management in Science” by Michael Podvinec and Joseph Pelrine.
In addition to that, a very entertaining final of “TDD with the Stars” and Alistair Cockburn’s Keynote on Hard-Agile (subtitled with “Agile is for wimps!”…).

I hope I’ll find some time tomorrow to write more about these sessions. Now it’s time to close my eyes (and hopefully not to dream of Agile Jeopardy: “Was sind Haftnotizen?”)

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