Workshop: facts vs interpretations

One of the ways I am coaching companies, is that I offer what I call free mini agile training sessions.
These are brownbag sessions, something I learned from Linda & Mary Lynn great book: Fearless Change

Today these are 1 hour (optional) sessions for anyone in the company that wants to learn about agile.
Depending on how much time I spend at the company, I do them once a week or ever x weeks.
Sometimes they are workshops I am doing for a long time, sometimes they are try out’s of something new.

This is an example of a such a try out-session.

I show a picture of a kanban board similar to the one below:
(I took a different one, so I can keep mine for my exercise 😉 )

Scrum Board

I gave everyone post-its and a 5  to 10 minute timebox to write down what they saw.

Then everyone could present one post-it and in a round-robin way we went around the table. (After we have done one round, we turn again, until most people have no post-it’s left anymore.
Depending on how many idea’s there are, we look at all of them.

Every time a person presented a post-it. I asked everyone if it was a fact or an interpretation.

let me give you an example:
– people are already working on the second story before the first is finished.
> actually the first lane is a priority lane, that is working with support tickets.

Ok, I admit that is hard to figure out from a picture that is not complete. let’s look at a next one.

– Alex is working on too many stuff.
mm the fact is, there are 3 post it’s with a small post it Alex on it.
In this case, the team leaves a post it in the WIP colum, untill the next stand up. Yet they do a blue Done sticky, when finished. Alex is actually only working on one thing.

by this time people start realize that seeing facts is really hard.
yet at the same time they do miss a lot of obvious facts. So obvious that we ignore them.
The board uses black tape to make the squares. this might seem trivial and not important, untill I tell you that this is the black team and the color of the tape is making the difference on the boards.
Other facts: some post it’s are yellow, others are green.

When I did the tryout of this exercise, we had a team member joining this workshop  rather late.
This turned out very fortunate, as I told this person the exercise and when he presented his post it’s, I asked the already present team members to replay the exercise with him.
It was very nice to see what they had already learned from the previous time.

When I tweeted about the exercise, I was reminded of the ladder of Inference
An adapted version of the exercise could be, to not only select fact or interpretation, yet to see if you can come up with post it’s for all 7 layers of the ladder.  As a first exercise for team members that have to learn about the difference between fact and interpretations this was already cool.

Topics that came up during the workshop

I show this list of topics, to show that a small workshop that is only loosely facilitated, can bring up many interesting topics, where the students choose themselves in what they are interested in.
For me, the power of training from the back of the room