Breakthroughs in unexpected contexts !
I recently had a startling experience while leading a meeting with a demotivated Agile pilot team.
After 2 sprints, serious concerns were still not being outspoken; people morale was low.
So, I convinced all employees and managers to get together in a session I had specifically designed for them.
Two things struck me:
First: energized by the unusual agenda, participants felt empowered at unfolding deep concerns and at finding creative solutions.
Second: I was awarded a WOW ! statement by the customer because of the positive outcome of the meeting.
This strategic partner of ours is one of the largest public companies in Canada. Are they serious about Agile ? – Yes.
The powerful 150 minutes session
My session strategy:
- Safe environment for managers and employees
- Powerful game to stimulate dialog
- World Café formula to find solutions
- Session constrained to 150 minutes
- Dedicated facilitator (me)
Out of the mix, the second element clearly stood out as being instrumental to the success of the exercise.
A powerful tool – Moving Motivators
One great game developed by Jurgen Appelo for the Management 3.0 training course is called Moving Motivators. My goal was to have people relate to their own values as the trigger to initiate difficult discussions.
And it worked – Here is how I did it. Please feel free to replicate the strategy in your own context, I would love to get feedback from others on this.
Step 1 (5 minutes)
I got all 11 participants to sit around one big conference table. They had to determine which motivators were the most relevant to them. They did so by ordering the 10 motivators from left (least important) to the right (most important).
Step 2 (5 minutes)
I asked all participants this question:
“By looking at all ordered cards from your colleagues around the table, what do you see?“
Managers and employees started to talk a lot… And they saw patterns in the cards sequences of each other. Based on the top 5 most significant motivators from this group, they could communicate. I do recommend the reading of each card description here.
- Ranked #1: Curiosity and Mastery
- Ranked #2: Power
- Ranked #3: Relatedness and Liberty
Step 3 (5 minutes)
The following question was asked:
“After spending 2 sprints working together, how this Agile pilot project affects your motivators?”
Players had to move cards up, if the Agile project impacted motivators positively. The cards had to be moved down, if the change had been negative.
I asked everyone what were the patterns emerging again. Ouch…, there was definitively something going on here:
- Severely going down: Liberty (71%) – Relatedness (43%) – Mastery (33%)
- Positively impacted: Curiosity (67%) – Power (38%)
3 out of the 5 most influential motivators for this group were going down the drain.
Step 4 (45 minutes)
Then, each participant had to speak out her mind during 4 minutes, without being interrupted by anybody.
One exception, I could interact with the participant to stimulate discussion. At the end, everyone had fully taken their 4 minutes.
We then moved into solutions finding mode by initiating the World Café part of the session.
Wow… I will definitively repeat that experience again.