Reflections & Learnings from Continuous Learning Event

Last week, we (along with Mark Graban) had the pleasure of spending 2 days with 40 individuals focused on looking at continuous learning and improvement. If you missed the event, it is archived here.

We posted a little while back about why we were excited about the event. Now that the event has passed, we wanted to quickly share some of our ‘A-ha’ moments.

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Continuous Learning - Talking, Improving, and Learning across Domains

We’re excited to be partnering with Mark Graban in presenting a new “conference” on creating learning organizations. Mark is and is an engaging speaker. We look forward to learning from him ourselves (see his book Measures of Success).

The event is on September 26th & 27th. As we write this, there are only 5 seats left. More information and registration details are available here.

Why are we so excited about this conference?

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Joel TosiDojo Comments
Growing Coaches in the Dojo

Skilled coaches are critical to the success of any Dojo. The specific skills needed will vary. A Dojo focused on DevOps requires one set of coaching skills. A Dojo focused on agile and product discovery capabilities needs different coaching skills.

Staffing a Dojo with coaches can be a challenge. There’s an abundance of agile coaches but many of them know only process. The Dojo can be an effective place for improving development processes. But, the investment required to run a Dojo should return a bigger payoff. Most organizations want to improve engineering and product discovery practices. Coaches who can help teams improve these skills are hard to find. You may need to hire skilled engineers and product managers and develop their coaching skills.

Here are four ways we help grow coaching skills in the Dojo.

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Measuring Impact In The Dojo

Last month at Agile Day Chicago, I (Joel) had the pleasure of listening to Mark Graban speak about separating signal from noise in our measurements. Mark referenced Process Behavior Charts, a technique described in the book Understanding Variation: The Key to Managing Chaos by Donald J. Wheeler. This simple tool helps us look at metrics over time and understand the difference between naturally occurring variations (what Wheeler calls “The Voice of the Process”) and signals, or variation in the metrics representing real changes. Signals can be indicators that a desired change is manifesting, or they can be indicators that something is wrong and requires further investigation.

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Six Dimensions for Decomposing Stories

Many teams struggle to break down stories to a size that can be completed within a sprint. Perhaps the product needs seem too large, or the technical debt is too deep. There could be a high degree of uncertainty around what the product should be. Or, the team might be new to the domain. Regardless of the reason, here are a few ways we tackle this in the dojo - and given that we generally do two and a half day sprints in the dojo (more on this in the next post) it’s critical that teams develop this skill.

Here are six dimensions to think about when decomposing stories.

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A Better Center of Excellence

Many organizations attempt to manage knowledge by creating Centers of Excellence (CoE). A CoE is supposed to develop skills and best practices (or leading practices), codify the knowledge around those skills and practices, and blast that knowledge out to the rest of the organization. In our experience, CoEs seldom work. They do not deliver on the expected outcomes and are eventually abandoned.  

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Annealing and Tempering Product Teams

Annealing and tempering are two complementary heat treatment processes used to alter the physical characteristics of a material, most often metal. They’re frequently used to increase the strength of the metal while ensuring it does not become brittle. Like annealing and tempering – the learning processes that take place in the Dojo make product teams stronger while reducing their brittleness.

But first, some grounding…   

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Dion StewartComment