Shiv Sivaguru - Can we understand an agile team's readiness to be a 'startup' with a simple experiment?

What is the background situation/context for your probe?

A large organization acquired a smaller company in a different geography for a solution they had developed and the product had to be integrated into a larger platform of the parent company and owned by a team based in India

The team that was tasked with this, was more comfortable working as a 'large organization', leading to disappointments with the customer base

To identify specific interventions and inputs for the team, I, as their coach, needed to understand the individual attitudes of team members towards being 'intrapreneurs'

What is (or has been) your hypothesis?

While the team members were technically capable, the cogency and common purpose was missing in the team

My belief was that the team members did not have a common understanding of what it meant to be a 'startup' under the umbrella of a large organization

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

A simple experiment of scattering some crumpled paper balls on the table and floor of a conference room just before the team assembled helped see the patterns of behavior of individuals as they walked in and later [for the first few minutes]

I used that to replay to the team about taking ownership and working towards the promises made to customers [the product promise], which then made it easier for the team to prioritize improvements - and experiments - they would like to take up

the debrief brought out certain reservations, skepticism as well as aspirations and misunderstandings among the team members

The satisfying result was that the team was ready and eager to take up the challenge of becoming a 'startup' within the large organization

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

I would like to learn how other coaches have approached continual engagement of senior leadership and middle management to be supportive of the teams over time

I would like to explore approaches and experiments to get people [irrespective of role] to share more regularly, even if informally - so that teams and organizations can build the collective knowledge relevant for software delivery

I am also looking for interesting coach stories for my podcast 'software people stories'

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.)