Sunday, 15 April 2018

Agile In Three Or 3 Words

"Can I help?"

For agile in 3 words its as simple as that! The implication is that everyone proacting to help each other all the time with everything from making tea to delivering the most complex system requiring 100's of people interlocking and aligning.

As coach one of the things I look/listen out for when assessing the agile fluency of an organisation is how many times I hear the followup to the typical outcomes noticeable in environments where there is a great deal of proaction - namely:

"Thank you!"

Sunday, 8 April 2018

My favourite coaching tools: Free online Kolb Learning Styles Assessment

As always when dealing with any kind of model that helps us communicate and understand the abstract world of our minds, our existence and relationships with each other, nicely summarised by George EP Box: "all models are wrong, some are useful".

This is a free assessment, and there are several others that you can freely download. I liked this one as it is a "1 stop shop" document that you print out, fill out, score quickly on the reporting sheet, and finally receive additional insights at the end. And anyone can complete this simply and quickly. 

Internet access
Printer and 8 pages
Quiet space
10-15 minutes

Step 1:
Give the link or 8 page print-out to the coachee: Kolb Questionnaire. Again I think the best time to do the assessment is in the morning, before work really starts.

Step 2:
When the assessment is complete, the coachee and you will have the coachee's 4 Kolb styles - Activist, Reflector, Theorist and Pragmatist allocated to very strong preference, strong preference, moderate preference, low preference or very low preference.

You now have material you can use to support the coaching goals and plans where learning is required. You also have the approach you need when explaining concepts to the coachee - a real time saver and much more enjoyable experience for you and the coachee as compared to approaching from the worst angle.

Personally, once I realised what my preferred/natural Kolb learning approach was, I realised how I could learn better and more quickly in the same amount of time.

The future no longer belongs to those who learn the fastest. The future now belongs to those who learn the right things the fastest. Kolb learning styles assessment is just another practical tool to help me and my coachees discover their best learning method, and give us some "Slack" to identify what are the right things. Really useful stuff!

Sunday, 1 April 2018

My favourite coaching tools: Open Question How

I've been reflecting on a multitude of interactions over a number of years trying to improve my speech metaphors, better questions, less leading and less inference.

Along the way, learning about the simple Open Questions / Closed Questions model used a great deal by Business Analysts, as well as facilitators of new ideas and group consensus.

Open Questions are divergent - they cause the person asked to provide new insights from their own subjective experience or beliefs. Typically these are the Where, What, When, Who, How. And not the Why as it is too aggressive for the recipient.

Closed Questions are convergent - they cause the person asked to move forward with their ideas or their decisions. Typically these are the Yes or No, This or That.

Along the way I noticed is that most/all "Why?" questions can (and should) be reframed with the other Where, What, When, Who and How questions.

Further along the way I noticed that with a bit more effort most/all Where, What, When, and Who questions can be rephrased with How. And based on some stakeholders feedback, that's a very good idea as it seemed to unlock many more options and more possibilities in people's minds.

For Example:

  • Why did you do that? Becomes
    • What did you hope to achieve by doing that? Becomes
      • How did you think it would turn out, and how did it turn out?

  • Why do you think we should speak to xyz? Becomes
    • What do you think we could learn from speaking to xyz? Becomes
      • How does speaking to xyz help us?

There are 2 books which have been particularly useful to me, and I am sure there are multitudes others. "Metaphors We Live By" by George Lackoff and Mark Johnson, and "Steps to an Ecology of Mind" by Gregory Bateson - but more on these later! 

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