agile journeys

...rants by Asheesh Mehdiratta on Transformation and Change

Tag: learnings

Pranks and the Power of Questioning

questioningAs a change agent, you have a tough task of raising the awareness, educating, training and transforming the minds of the teams and leadership, while still maintaining your sanity. Sometimes they GET IT! And sometimes they act as innocent kids, enjoying their pranks while displaying passive or active resistance to your change efforts.

To me, this situation seems very similar to the dilemmas of the teaching community, who have similar problems everyday with the school kids. But if you watch the teaching community, one of the techniques they use is the Power of Questioning.

Power of Questioning

Power of Questioning includes asking the right questions, which challenges your teams, and promotes a higher order thinking, incubates creativity and helps them to finally develop learning!

So as a Change Agent, you should start to ask the right Questions, so that you can gather useful information about the team, about their interactions, their personalities, and help you in bonding better. You can start to listen more, with open questions, and practice active listening.

Different Types of Questions

It helps to develop a broad base of questions and mix up different styles. Below are some examples –

  • You can ask Rhetorical questions to emphasize a key point, and create a dramatic effect !
    • Check out some  examples from an education project, which you can customize for your team interactions.
  • But really the most important way is to go with Socratic questioning, which makes the individuals think for themselves, rather than elicit information from you.
    • Check out additional examples from an education project, which you can customize for your team interactions.
  • Other times you can use Reflective questions and it can help with having with Question Cards , examples below –
    • What was easy?
    • What was hard?
    • What did I learn?
    • How will you use this learning in the future?

Check out examples from an education project, which you can customize for your team interactions.

Your Next Steps

Looking at the above examples, you might be wondering that the Sprint Retrospective questions sounds familiar. But in my view, it is simply one of the many forms of questioning that you use at a team level, but the variety and situations are immense for you to experiment and start using this technique in almost every situation. So ask yourself –  if you can use the Power of Questioning everyday? Can you learn and pick some of these questions and apply in your Change journeys?

In my experience, as we learn the process of inquiry and questioning, we become better at it. You will start to use the insight from the process of inquiry to develop cues to asking better questions and you will find your sanity.

Conclusion
Power of Questioning should be an important arsenal in your tool box, and should be a daily affair, and not just at a certain ceremonial point. It engages your teams and leaders to reflect on their current state and make it easy for you to overcome the passive/active resistance in your change journeys.

So next time you see your kids or your teams displaying resistance to your change efforts, and playing some funny pranks, try the Power of Questioning, and see if you can see through their beliefs, and reflect the mirror!

What are your favorite Questions ?  Which questions inspire your team ? Which  questions do you use most often?

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Are you Learning and sharpening your Axe?

learning As you run your daily grind, do you reflect and think about your Own Development? Or do you let your circumstances dictate your agenda? and drown your Development needs? As the famous woodcutters story goes, do you sharpen your Axe? Or do you keep on doing the same thing, same process, same boring steps everyday? Or Do you Take a step back, and Reflect? do you LEARN? and really ask yourself if I have sharpened my Axe or not?

Sharpening my Axe – My 2017 Learning’s

For me, I personally learnt quite a lot during 2017, and build up on my knowledge base, and interacted with peers across the industry.

1. LeSS is more!

It was a pleasure to listen and learn the thinking behind LeSS (Large Scale Scrum), straight from the creators (Bas Vodde) himself, and become one of the LeSS converts ‘officially’  [Certified LeSS Practitioner]. The discussions and the learning’s from Bas, were extremely valuable and opened the realm of Systems Thinking and the organisational inertia’s and how “DeScaling” your organization makes the real difference.

If you have not heard of Larman’s Laws of Organizational Behavior, then you have missed something…..

My desire for LeSS is now more than ever !! 

2. FLOW rules !

The most amazing experience this year was listening to Don Reinertsen, author of FLOW, 2nd Generation Lean Product Development.

I regard Don R as the final frontier in the WHY? Scrum works and what are the pitfalls, and it was great to be able to survive the intense class (face to face) with Don early this year. Don is an inspiration to many of the agile gurus and when you have the grand master himself talking within 2 feet, it is an exhilarating experience!

The jam packed master class answered many of my misconceptions, on Cost of Delay, Cycle Time and simply opened my eyes to the science behind the various agile methodologies.

In the end FLOW has been on top of my mind ever since that class 😀

3. Local Meetups

The local meet ups in Bangalore have a very vibrant buzz, and I could make myself join few AWS and Docker meet ups, which really showed how the tooling is miles ahead, while the corporate honchos are still debating – What is the definition of DevOps ?

🙄  Sad but true!

The community showed that the younger generation has not seen the archaic desktop based applications and are pleasantly exposed to only the continuous delivery model, with continuous deployments on the cloud in matter of seconds. Microservices, MicroApps, Microbots are ensuring the death of monolith Architecture.

Breath of fresh air I must say!

 

My Community Contributions: using my Axe

To contribute back to the community, I had to push myself by signing up to present at 2 different forums this year, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

1. Global DevOps Summit as a Speaker

The exciting trip to Pune took me to the Global DevOps Summit as a Speaker, and allowed me to share my DevOps experiences. It was a pleasure to also learn and understand from the various speakers, how they were moving forward in their journeys.

You can find my presentation and summary notes, if you wish to know what I had presented and learned.

2. Self organizing Gamestorm as a Speaker

As a LeSS practitioner myself,  the self organisation principles always bring great joy to me.

The speaker forum from Scaling Agile Institute offered me a platform to show the ‘self designing’ team formation, as a game. It was an fun filled experience for the attendees and you could feel the high energy, and the belief in them that self organisation is indeed a reality.

You can find my presentation here, and the meetup here.

In the end, 2017 has been an exciting year, full of learning’s and new observations and experiences. I have tried to Sharpen my Axe, and would love to know what have you done to Sharpen your Axe, and feel free to share your learning’s this year.

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Takeaways from the DevOps++ Global Summit Conference

 

It was a pleasure to be invited as a Speaker at the DevOps++ Global Summit, and present my views on the Key Success (and Failure) modes for Large Scale DevOps Transformation, based on the patterns that I have seen across multiple organizations. My session slides can be viewed here.

It was also great to be able to hear other speakers and capture some Key Takeaways below:

  1. DevOps is all about positive economic outcome and benefit to the people, though wrapped up in too much technical tooling jargon by eager vendors.
  2. DevOps is more about the mindset, human aspects relationships and only then about methodologies and frameworks.
  3. Automation should be about automating the right thing, the right way, at the right time.
  4. Micro services architecture enables the DevOps ways of working and complement the Cloud architecture, compared to monolith applications.
  5. Lean principles, especially Value Stream Maps, are a key element in identifying the process debt and wastes, which slow down E2E delivery.
  6. Continuous Deployment/Monitoring workshops wrt. popular tooling using Docker, Prometheus, Ansible etc.
  7. Salesforce stack development and deployments aided with Jenkins, Gitlab, Qualitia.

If you attended this conference, do drop in a link to your notes below in the comments.

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