Sam Bowtell - Breaking down the barriers between India and Australia

What is the background situation/context for your probe?

We have 3,000 people in Chennai and Bangalore who work for CommBank via our technology partners HCL and TCS. Over the years I have been connected with our colleagues in India, but when I started working closer with them and travelled a few times to visit, I realised that I was somewhat ignorant of the cultural challenges they have with feeling included as part of CommBank and feeling safe to speak up.

In Oct 2017 I travelled to India for the first time with my colleagues Tony and Simon. We talked to people from many different teams, some working with CommBank and some from other companies who had also established a model with people working in different countries and cultures. It was interesting to listen to their experiences and how the happiest and highest performing ones were where the barrier between the organisations had been fully knocked down and they felt as one team regardless of who works for who formally.

What is (or has been) your hypothesis?

Many other people based in Sydney seemed to share my ignorance of the challenges our colleagues in India faced. There is a fear of speaking up and resistance to being fully open and transparent, which has come from the mindset that they work for a supplier (HCL or TCS) and that we work for the client or customer (CommBank).  This is the barrier or wall that I wanted to tear down.

What is the experiment you would like to run (or you have run) and how can this experiment validate or invalidate your hypothesis?

On my visits I made connections with many coaches, scrum masters and leaders based in India. When I returned to Sydney, I invested time to connect fortnightly with them, and to switch on my Skype camera to re-create the power of face to face contact, which is so important in maintaining and growing a distance relationship. In these connections I made the space for them to speak up and share equally and encouraged them to try new things in their workplace that they thought would make a difference. I also made an effort to change my language and they did the same. We no longer used words like ‘onshore’ and ‘offshore’ to describe where we are located, and instead use the more inclusive terms like ‘Sydney office’ and ‘Chennai office’….a small step but one brick at a time the wall started to fall.

2 years on and we still connect fortnightly and still see each other’s smiling faces. We check in and share how we are going at home and at work, and problem solve issues that they need help with. The creativity and ideas I have seen come from our colleagues in Chennai and Bangalore have blown me away, and all I did was create a safe space for them to contribute, to be themselves and to have fun. This is what true inclusion can give, where the walls between organisations are knocked down and people feel they have a genuine equality of voice regardless of who they work for or where they work

Is there a specific skill/technique you would like to learn/explore at this coach camp?

Just keen to meet and learn anything and everything from the people who attend

Call for Papers CLOSED
Ended on Jan 25 '20 05:29 AM IST

Interested in attending the Agile Coach Camp on Oct 11th in Bengaluru? Read on...

It's been 12 Years and almost 110 viral Agile Coach Camps since our very first coach camp experiment. This year, Coach Camp co-creator Naresh Jain along with Jutta Eckstein and John Buck will lead participants in this Coach Camp in Bangalore, organized as part of the Agile India 2020 Conference.

Coach Camp Theme

As a coach, you're often the one who needs to drive and sustain change. Yet, how do you do this? What has helped and hindered you doing so and how can you best pass your experience on to other coaches or how can you best learn from other coaches?

This is the theme for this year's coach camp. To tackle this challenge, we invite you to try something new:

  • Currently, we face the following situation: Constantly driving change is getting more and more important for companies to survive in this VUCA world. At the same time, it is (or should be) the core skill of every coach – no matter if you coach individuals, teams, or organisations. However, sometimes it seems every coach has to come up with her own experience on how to drive change successfully.
  • Our hypothesis is that for driving change, every coach uses so-called probes, that are defined by small, safe-to-fail experiments based on hypotheses derived from reflection on the current situation as well as on theory. So, probing allows discovering (based on the hypothesis) what's working and what is not through one or several experiments. This allows to make sense of both the current situation but even more important of the situation we are aiming for. And if we create a knowledge base of our collective wisdom on probes we used (or intend to use) we can learn from each other.
  • Therefore, as an experiment we want to invite this year's coach camp participants to jointly discover, share, create, improve, and finally publish probes that help(ed) driving and sustaining change. As in a typical coach camp, we will use the Open Space format to explore different topics for driving change and we invite you to use probes to focus the discussions on these different topics. We anticipate as a result that the discovered and created probes will provide a foundation for such a knowledge base.

Registering for the Coach Camp

The coach camp is free of charge (financially) yet, for registration we ask you for the following:

  • Please click on the Add Paper button and submit your position paper. In your position paper, you will be asked to share an idea for a probe, consisting of a background situation (context), a hypothesis, and an experiment. This can be a probe you've implemented before, one you've discovered/heard of others implementing it, or you intend to implement. The probe should focus on the coach camp's theme: Driving Change.
  • The discussed probes provide a basis for a free and publicly accessible knowledge base.

Final Note

Please note, we want to invite you to use probes for the discussion and recording of the Open Space sessions. This is by no means an enforcement. We are well aware that there might be situations where probes are not the right means for discussing or/and recording a particular topic - and that is of course fine. After all, using probes for this coach camp is a probe in itself (and we are open to possibly invalidate our hypothesis.)