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Building Great Teams: A Q&A with Richard Kasperowski

Richard Kasperowski is the guest speaker at our next COHAA event (2/23). He is an author, speaker, trainer and coach, and he teaches a class on Agile at Harvard. I interviewed him over e-mail this week, and this is what he said:

You are the guest speaker at out next COHAA evening event, what are some things you will be sharing?

Hi, Joe! I’ll be talking about high-performance innovative work teams and how to get your team there on purpose. I’ll start by introducing the science and research behind high-performance teams. The research includes Google’s work with psychological safety, as well as other important work on team emotional intelligence. From there, we’ll do practical hands-on activities to learn some of the Core Protocols. We’ll practice a few of the behavior patterns that high-performance teams use. We’ll experience how they get your team into a state of high emotional intelligence and psychological safety, which causes high performance.

Who should come to this event?

Everyone should come to this event. Everyone is a member of a team of some kind—any group of two or more people with a shared goal is a team. It might be you and your partner, or you and your family, or you and the people you work with. Every group of people deserves to know how to be their best, and that’s what we’ll talk about.

What do you hope people will take away from this event?

I want people to appreciate the science and research on high-performance teams and know that it’s all about safety and emotional intelligence. And I want them to get a taste of the practical skills for getting to high performance quickly and on purpose.

How do you know if you have a low-performance team?

Well, we usually know in our gut when we’re on a low-performing team. It doesn’t feel good. The people on the team act like they’re not friends, they act in ways that are at odds with each other and their stated goal.

And they’ll have measurably low performance. When we work with teams in industry, we measure their performance. The best team performance metrics are objective, and they measure outcomes like revenue. If you have objective metrics, it’s easy for a team to gauge their performance. They can use that information to guide whatever changes they want to make for themselves.

Where have you seen low-performance teams transformed by applying your principles?

We’ve begun an original research program to test whether these principles are effective. Steven Wolff and I are collaborating on the research. Steve is co-author of the Harvard Business Review article on team emotional intelligence. In one of our studies, we track a group of teams over a six-month period. The teams and their leaders undergo training and coaching in agility and emotional intelligence. We observed significant improvements over the duration of the study—improvements in team emotional intelligence, agile fluency, and performance. It’s quite remarkable!

How long have you been in the industry and what positions have you held over the course of your career?

I’ve been working with innovative technology companies for almost 30 years. The companies range from tiny start-ups to some of the largest companies in the world. I’ve played pretty much every technical role as well as in various leadership roles. These days, I work primarily as a speaker, trainer, and coach, and I teach Agile at Harvard University’s summer and extension programs.

What’s an experience you had with a low-performance team? What have been some of you best team experiences? What made it good?

I typically work with lower performing teams that want to improve. The teams and their leaders are willing to study and practice ideas like the Core Protocols and Agile. It’s great to watch them transform from low performers to high performers. When they’re in that state of high performance, they can get anything done. They love each other, they love their work, they love their customers, and their customers love them. It’s awesome!

You have a book out titled The Core Protocols: A Guide to Greatness, tell us about it.

The book is a concise introduction to the Core Protocols. The Core Protocols are the work of Jim and Michele McCarthy. I’ve combined their material with the instructions for a short workshop that you can use to introduce your team to practical emotional intelligence skills that you need for high performance.

What led you to write this book?

I wanted a book that I could hand to a friend or a client. I wanted something you can keep in your back pocket as a reference on the Core Protocols, the behavior patterns for high-performance teams. It didn’t exist, so I created it. And I have another book in the works. Now that we have research results and a couple of years of practical experience guiding teams through these practices, we’ll be sharing that in an upcoming book.

What else would you like to say about your upcoming event?

I’m grateful to the folks at Central Ohio Agile for inviting me to visit this week. I’m excited to make some new friends and share with them the best of what we know about high-performance teams. And be on the lookout for a full-day class in Columbus on this material. If you want a high-performance innovative team, you’ll want to be there!

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Call for Speakers for The Path to Agility 2017

 

The Central Ohio Agile Association is gearing up for the 2017 Path to Agility Conference, which will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, May 24-25, 2017 at The Ohio State University Ohio Union.  

You have the opportunity to present at the conference on a topic of interest to the Agile and Lean communities.  We are looking for people who offer presentations that are both engaging and informative.  The topic should relate to Agile or Lean, and you should be passionate about your subject.  You don’t have to be the foremost expert on your topic — you just need a compelling story to tell!

To let us know you are interested, please submit the following information here:

  • Title – Your first opportunity to make a great impression with both the submissions committee and attendees
  • Photo – High-resolution photo that will be included in conference marketing
  • Speaker bio – Includes information about your agile knowledge and experience, your prior speaking experiences, and whether you have delivered this presentation before
  • Abstract – Description that will be used in conference marketing, and will entice attendees to choose your session to attendees
  • Session Details – Any additional information that you would like conference organizers to consider. For example, you might include an agenda, timings/schedule, why you are passionate about this topic, or anything else that paints the picture of your session.
  • Learning Objectives – Statement of what participants will take away – please include at least two
  • Track – We are looking for content for 4 tracks:
    • Leadership
    • Product
    • Coaching
    • Craftsmanship
  • Audience Level
  • Preferred Room Setup

 

All submissions will be reviewed by the submissions committee and judged on the merits of the topic and the presenter’s ability to connect with the audience.  Submissions should be completed no later than Sunday, 19 February 2017.  Presenters receive a complimentary registration to the 2-day conference.

 

Submit your session here or follow this link:  https://goo.gl/5VmdbB.

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My First Time at a COHAA Event

Have you been to a COHAA event? I attended my first one a few months ago. Before then, I’d occasionally visit their website, note an interesting upcoming event, and merely imagine going. Then one day, I actually went.

My first mistake was eating beforehand. They had grub there. For the first half hour, people ate and networked. There was a good crowd there, about 30 – 40 people. All were interested in everything Agile, as was I. I didn’t eat, but I met some folks who were eating.  

The presenter of the evening sat nearby, so we chatted a bit. He gave a good talk about the makings of a successful teams. He got those in attendance to share their experiences as well. People were eager to share. I bet almost a dozen people shared their own Agile stories.

After the presentation, I met a few more people. I met some COHAA volunteers, an Agile coach, a QA guy, and a Business Analyst whose team is adopting Agile. People were friendly and readily gave me their names and numbers. I appreciated the contacts, because I need all the help I can get.

I was happy I went. My goals in attending the event were to learn something new, to meet some fellow Agilists, and to take some first steps in getting involved in the Agile community. I believe I met those goals. I left that night excited about COHAA’s next events and opportunities.

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The Central Ohio Agile Association (COHAA) Welcomes Stephanie Ockerman and Wendy Jacobs to its Board of Directors

 

The Central Ohio Agile Association (COHAA) is pleased to announce that Stephanie Ockerman and Wendy Jacobs have joined its Board of Directors effective January 1, 2017. In addition to her Board position, Stephanie will be assuming the role of Secretary for COHAA, which is a position previously held by Mike Kaiser.  Mike resigned from his position from COHAA as Secretary and Board Director effective January 1, 2017 to pursue new personal and career opportunities.  Wendy is filling a new Director-at-Large position within COHAA in response to the organization’s continued growth.  Both Wendy and Stephanie will assist the existing COHAA leadership in expanding outreach and focusing on current and future trends in the business and technical communities.

“Mike has been a visionary leader within COHAA, and we will miss his collaboration and contributions to our community,” said Jennifer Bleen, COHAA President and Board Chair. He has been active in our events and community outreach, and we wish him the best as he embarks on his next adventure.

“As we looked at our growth and the value we can add to our community, we wanted people with deep experience who thought beyond agile and to future management and organizational trends.  Stephanie and Wendy bring deep agile experience and specialization, innovative ideas, and a drive for results that will benefit our community now and in the years to come.”

Stephanie Ockerman is a Scrum.org certified Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) and a Curriculum Steward for the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) Course, carrying forward Ken Schwaber’s vision and working with the PST Community to continuously improve the courseware. Stephanie is also a Coach Training Institute (CTI) Co-Active trained coach and currently works with Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, and agilists who are committed to amplifying their impact and leveling up their agile leadership skills.  She has over a decade of experience delivering technology solutions for banking, insurance, retail, government, and energy organizations and has played many roles including Project Manager (PMP), Solution Lead, and GSD Expert.  During the past several years, Stephanie has focused on a career grounded by Agile values and principles, creating a minimalist lifestyle, and experiencing the world. She is passionate about helping others discover a path to fulfilling and joyful lives.  You can find Stephanie writing on agilesocks.com and speaking at meetups and conferences.

Wendy Jacobs, JD, is an Agile Coach and Product Owner with Cardinal Solutions Group.  She has over 18 years of product development experience, specifically in Product Management.  Her current focus is on coaching all levels of Product Owners and Management on how to maximize the business value delivered.  Wendy is passionate about mentoring others in Agility, Product Ownership and Product Management as well as delivering training courses, and presenting at conferences and meetups. 

 

 

 

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Talking the Talk with Faye

At a recent COHAA event, Faye Thompson talked about speaking at Agile events. In her 20 years of industry experience, she has done several speaking engagements, so it was nice to hear some of her stories. For example, once Faye and our very own Jennifer Bleen drove through a snowstorm to deliver a talk on retrospectives to an enthusiastic audience, who, I suppose, powered through the same nasty weather to attend. The event was a hit, and the discussion so good it ran past its scheduled time.

But back to retrospectives. Hasn’t everything already been said about retrospectives? Well, no, not everyone’s unique experience with them has. Plus, you might be surprised how many people don’t know much about them, or the recipe for how to do them well. That’s the thing. Just because you might be super familiar with a topic doesn’t mean others are. And just because books have been written about something doesn’t mean you can’t speak on it and add value too.

Faye asked us to think of a topic that we might like to speak on some day. Crickets. I must admit. Some topics came to mind, but I rejected them out of hand, thinking, everyone already knows about this. Thankfully, one brave fellow in the room who put up an assumingly tired topic voiced what I was thinking. “What’s that?” I said about his topic. “Yeah, what’s that?” someone else said with equal interest. We’d never heard of it. See?

There are all sorts of speaking styles out there. There’s your traditional presentation, where you speak and the audience listens, with some Q & A at the end. But this isn’t the only way. Rather, you could facilitate an open discussion with the room, get them to do the heavy lifting. Who knows, if you do your job well, they might forget you’re the one presenting and you can slip out for a bite.

You don’t have to always roll with the initial room set-up, either. Faye said she likes to rearrange the chairs sometimes to serve her purposes. You might want to, too, as long as it’s OK with the event coordinator.  

Oh, and this is cool. Have you ever heard of a fishbowl? It’s where you set up four chairs in the center of the room, one chair left empty. Only those in the hot seats can discuss the topic at hand, while everyone else watches. It’s better than Survivor. Anyone can join the discussion, but here’s the catch: to do so, you must sit in the empty chair. When you jump in, someone else jumps out, effectively opening an empty chair for the next brave soul.   

Speaking at local (and non-local) events and conferences is a good way to get your name out there. And the platforms are many. Besides COHAA, there are tons of local user groups in existence. Just check out TechLife Columbus, and if you want, you could “eat pizza every night of the week.” By the way, a good way to pack the house for your speaking engagements is to accumulate a following beforehand by blogging and doing podcasts.

Faye gave us some tips on how to submit a presentation proposal for an event – what to include, what not to include. Tip #14: Make sure your bio pic reflects how you want to be viewed. Some are all business, while others could be straight from last summer’s karaoke night. You decide. 

Faye gave us other tips as well. I’m not there yet, but if you’re ever slated to speak at the end of an all-day event, like the Agile 2017 International Conference, say, take time to enjoy the conference. Don’t coop yourself up in your hotel room all day fretting over the details of your presentation. You might psych yourself out and have to leave on a stretcher. I added that last part.

In fact, I got an email from Agile Alliance the other day calling for speaker submissions for their Agile 2017 International Conference. That might be a little too big league for me right now. However, after hearing Faye speak, I could more easily see myself speaking at a COHAA event in the future. What about you?

 

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We Have Two COHAA Events this Week and You’re Invited!

Hey, if you’ve ever been interested in speaking at a COHAA event, come Thursday night to learn how. Those who typically speak at events are local Agile practitioners, like you. You don’t have to be an established speaker or anything like that, just willing to share your Agile experiences and expertise. Many professionals in the area could greatly benefit from what you know or have picked up along the way. So, if you’re interested come and learn the ropes. 

If speaking is not your thing, come anyway. COHAA events are always a good opportunity to network with like-minded Agilists and find out what they’re up to. And who knows, maybe at the end of the evening, you’ll decide that, actually, you would like to speak someday. 

Can’t make Thursday night? That’s OK. If you’re more of a morning person, this Friday a.m., COHAA is kicking off the Agile Coaching Circle. This is the first of ongoing monthly meetings where Agile coaches and those interested in Agile coaching can meet and talk about… well, Agile coaching. It’s a great way to hang out with people who do what you do (or want to do) and learn from each other. See you there!

 

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Is Your Software-Delivery Team Effective?

Last month’s COHAA event had a good turnout. Those who attended got to eat Bibibop, hang with local techies, and hear software developer and tech lead Jason Blackhurst speak on effective team building.

So, what’s the secret to having an effective software-delivery team?

You might conclude that the best teams simply consist of a group of your company’s most talented people. Not necessarily so. Google did a study on effective team building and identified 5 traits that effective teams have:

Impact

People want to know that their work matters. Effective teams grasp the tangible impact their collaborated efforts have. Teams that know this tend to produce better work. They are focused on the positive change they are producing, which boosts self-worth.

Meaning

People also want their work to have personal meaning. Effective teams have team members who personally buy in to the roles, plans and goals of the team. Team members also believe that their role is important to the team’s success.

Jason mentioned the “Hero Developer.” You may have one on your team. Heck, you may even be one. This is the person everyone, perhaps even unconsciously, goes to to get stuff done. Because this person is so effective, the hero shoulders most of the work while his teammates are reduced to mere supporting mechanisms of his or her efforts.

This is bad. Others on the team feel their work is less meaningful, which leads to lower moral, less team collaboration and, ultimately, lower quality work.

Structure and clarity

Effective teams have structure and clarity. Team members with clear understanding and agreement of their roles and responsibilities can confidently pour their energy into tasks they own, rather than waste time trying to figure out what they are supposed to be doing or, worse, duplicating another team member’s work.

Dependability

Team members must be able to depend on each other. A short-timer who is counting the days to retirement and has stopped pulling his weight can do serious harm to a team. Never mind that you now have five people doing the job of six. If the team perceives no one cares about the slacker’s work ethic, the problem can become contagious. Others might think it’s OK to let their work slide some too.

When Jason asked the room to share our experiences, one guy shared a story about a co-worker at an old job years ago who had an offsite manager. This person had gone to great lengths to doing nothing. For instance, he figured out a way to systematically send out pre-written emails throughout the day to look like he was working, when, really, he was out taking a “long lunch.”

Jason said that sometimes an honest conversation is in order. Talk to the offender privately about his or her work – or lack of work – and see if this turns things around. Are these conversations awkward? Sure. But at least you’ll save your team.

Psychological safety

The most important team trait, however, is psychological safety. Team members must feel safe enough to speak up. Effective teams make it comfortable for everyone to be vulnerable, ask questions (even “stupid ones”), express concerns, offer ideas and so on.

A person in the room offered up a personal story about a time when the scrum master was also the manager of those on the team. This hurt the team’s psychological safety because people felt reluctant to say things that the manager might not like.

When every team member can freely engage in the conversation, teams become more unified, and better solutions, creativity and problem-prevention result.

If your team is underperforming, or even if it has room for potential, try focusing on these 5 Google traits. It could lead to happier workers and better software, which is no small thing.

The Path to Agility Conference 2016

 

Registration is now open!!!

 

COHAA is excited to announce our 2016 The Path to Agility Conference, featuring The Path to Craftsmanship.  The conference will be held on Wednesday, May 25th and Thursday, May 26th.

 

The conference website is continually being updated as we add more sessions.  We have an exciting lineup of speakers, workshops, and panels scheduled.  We will also have Open Space sessions and a code retreat covering practices and lessons learned in Agile, Lean, DevOps, and Organizational Change Management frameworks.

 

The conference will be held at the Ohio Union. The venue page on the conference site does provide a list of hotels and restaurants located nearby. The conference retrospective & happy hour (After the Path) will occur on Thursday at the Big Bar immediately after the closing keynote on Thursday.

 

The speaker and session content is being updated on a daily basis, so please check the website regularly.

 

 We have several authors speaking this year. Our closing keynote will be Jason Womack, international speaker and productivity expert. We plan to include a free copy of his latest book, How to Start When You’re Stuck (Wiley, 2016) to the first 250 registered attendees. A book signing will be planned on Wednesday. We plan on providing additional books from our other speakers, so please do register early to be eligible.

 

If your organization plans to send a number of associates to the conference, we can help facilitate the registration process. A conference redeem code can be created based on the num ber and type of tickets you plan to approve. An invoice will be generated by COHAA and payment must be received by April 30th.

 

The redeem code can be used by your associates during the registration process. We can provide a report of individuals signed up with the registration code on request.

 

Contact bmurphy@cohaa.org to setup.

 

See you in May!

 

www.thepathtoagility.org

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The Path to Agility Conference 2016

 

Registration is now open!!!

 

COHAA is excited to announce our 2016 The Path to Agility Conference, featuring The Path to Craftsmanship. The conference will be held on Wednesday, May 25th and Thursday, May 26th.

 

The conference website is continually being updated as we add more sessions. We have an exciting lineup of speakers, workshops, and panels scheduled. We will also have Open Space sessions and a code retreat covering practices and lessons learned in Agile, Lean, DevOps, and Organizational Change Management frameworks.

 

The conference will be held at the Ohio Union. The venue page on the conference site does provide a list of hotels and restaurants located nearby. The conference retrospective & happy hour (After the Path) will occur on Thursday at the Big Bar immediately after the closing keynote on Thursday.

 

The speaker and session content is being updated on a daily basis, so please check the website regularly.

 

We have several authors speaking this year. Our closing keynote will be Jason Womack, international speaker and productivity expert. We plan to include a free copy of his latest book, How to Start When You’re Stuck (Wiley, 2016) to the first 250 registered attendees. A book signing will be planned on Wednesday. We plan on providing additional books from our other speakers, so please do register early to be eligible.

 

If your organization plans to send a number of associates to the conference, we can help facilitate the registration process. A conference redeem code can be created based on the num ber and type of tickets you plan to approve. An invoice will be generated by COHAA and payment must be received by April 30th.

 

The redeem code can be used by your associates during the registration process. We can provide a report of individuals signed up with the registration code on request.

 

Contact bmurphy@cohaa.org to setup.

 

See you in May!

 

www.thepathtoagility.org

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Call for Speakers for The Path 2016 Conference

The Central Ohio Agile Association is gearing up for The Path 2016 Conference. You have the opportunity to be a speaker at the conference by presenting on a topic of interest to the Agile and Lean communities.

We are looking for people who offer presentations that will be both engaging and informative. The topic has to relate to Agile or Lean, and you should be passionate about your subject. Your presentation should fit into one of the following three formats:

Tutorial
The tutorials follow a traditional presentation format, and will allow experienced practitioners to share what they have learned with a broad audience.

Collaborative Learning
A collaborative learning session is a peer-to-peer event, where everyone is assumed to have something to contribute to the topic. It provides an opportunity for joint problem-solving with other people on a topic. The coordinator proposes a topic, provides a bit of background and a facilitation structure. Then the attendees work in small groups, and mutually exchange ideas and outputs.

Agile From The Front Lines
Our attendees love first-hand accounts of what other organizations have tried and implemented. They serve as an exchange vehicle for practitioners, and provide a firsthand description of challenges faced, approaches taken, observations and reflections. Each presenter will be provided with a “shepherd” to help sharpen their presentation of the story. If you have lessons learned from when your team tried something new, this is the perfect format for sharing that story.

 

Submit the following information here.

Title – your first opportunity to make a great impression with both the submissions committee and attendees!

Short description of your presentation, including:

Introductory paragraph – Tell attendees what they should expect, and why they should choose yours over another session

Intended audience – Is yours an in-depth discussion for seasoned professionals, or is the material more appropriate for attendees who are newer to Agile concepts?

Learning outcomes – What will attendees take away from your session?

Speaker bio, including information about your Agile knowledge and experience, your prior speaking experiences, and whether you have delivered this particular presentation before.

Short video (2-5 minutes) that shows your ability to connect with people. It can be of you presenting to an audience in the past, of you giving a snippet of the topic you would like to discuss, or anything that shows us how well you connect with an audience. We aren’t judging production quality here, so feel free to use your phone or other cheap recording device. Upload it to YouTube and include the link, or attach the video to your email submission.

Any other information you would like us to consider, including which area of agility your presentation addresses.

 

Other relevant info:
All submissions will be reviewed by the submissions committee, and judged on the merits of the topic and the presenter’s ability to connect with the audience. Abstracts and videos should be submitted here no later than Monday, 29 February 2016. The conference is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, May 25 & 26, 2016.