AYE 2010 – Day 2 Wrap-up

Another wonderful and mentally exhausting day!

Today was Esther Derby day for me as I ended up going to both of her sessions.  Up first was ‘Seeing How the Work Works’.  This was, from my perspective, part II of the ‘Lifting the Veil’ session from yesterday which was a deeper dive into containers and systems.  We were randomly divided into groups for a simulation where the participants created a product for a customer.

After the simulation was done we were broken into small groups tasked with visualizing the flow of work and communication through the organization.   We also noted delays and where value and waste were created and finally we drew what the new system would look like that would be more suited to accomplish the work.   Oddly enough I was a test manager and our small group that had all managers in it decided that we should all be fired because we added no value for the type of work being done. Similar to yesterday’s session, fit for function is important.  The system should be designed to support the type of work being done instead of forcing work through structures that can’t handle it.

In my usual ‘one takeaway’ fashion, I’d say my one takeaway was the power of visualization.  I *knew* that already yet often I feel pulled in too far into the system to step back and take an objective look sometimes.   A quick diagram of how work and communication flows is visually powerful and invokes equally powerful discussions.

The afternoon session I attended was ‘Facilitating Group Discussion’.   We were split into groups and each group had an opportunity to participate in a meeting simulation to solve a problem.  Observers noted details about what the people in the meeting were trying to achieve and how they were trying to achieve it.   All the groups had the opportunity to observe and hold their meeting.

After the simulation was finished we broke into different groups and debriefed on what we observed.  We then took the patterns that were observed and related them to the framework that Esther presented followed by an open discussion.  One thing about AYE is that it’s hard to explain what happens, you really need to experience it so my apologies if this sounds too abstract at times!

Biggest takeaway?  Teams often don’t diverge enough to reach meaningful decisions in meetings.  Stated another way, if you move from divergent conversation into convergent conversation too quickly, you’ll end up with lower quality decisions and no buy-in.  Debate long enough and have meaningful discussions instead of rushing to a decision because it feels too hard or is too painful.  Jean Tabaka talks about this in her Collaboration Explained book.  Great read, by the way.  There was much more information shared in this session, I ended up taking 3 pages of notes that will make up future posts.

The evening brought 2 more BOF’s, one that I hosted on using social media to market yourself and connect with peers.  This was by request as people had approached me and asked about it from comments I made during the hiring BOF yesterday.  This was a great discussion that Jerry Weinberg came to as well, we chatted about social media strategies and tools to support our professional goals and objectives and then talked a bit about the state of Agile and shared some consulting stories.  I could talk with Jerry for hours, it’s amazing to experience how humble he is and how, knowingly or not, he creates such a safe environment for conversations.

Finally the night came to a close with a feedback session about AYE and by this time I could hardly move let alone think!  Lot’s of great suggestions about future AYE conferences, some of which I didn’t really understand since I’ve only been to 2 of them!

Looking forward to Day 3!