Creativity for Agile Teams


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Creativity can manifest in several ways including creation of something new, refinement of something that exists and problem solving.

How do we support, enable and enhance the creative abilities of Agile teams?

There are many ways to shape the work environment for greater creativity. We will describe how creativity happens and can be enhanced by providing a safe, nurturing environment, enhancing group interactions, pacing activities that utilize different sensory modes and trusting in the power of subconscious integration

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  • Our key point: Your team can be more creativeWhy do you care? Creativity increases productivityMain takeaway: How creativity works and how you nurture it on your team
  • In 2000 my daughter worked as an intern on the TV show Malcolm in the Middle. Her job was to pamper the writing team. Their job was to create a script for each week’s show. They had 5 days to come up with and write 30 minutes of irreverent, award-winning comedy. The bar was set high from before Day One. The script for the pilot won an Emmy award.The writers had their own work room. It had what you might expect – a conference table and chairs, a small kitchen setup. It also had a deep pile of brightly colored carpets, bean bag chairs and boxes full of toys. The refrigerator had some unusual items in it at all times. My daughter’s job was to fetch whatever manner of consumable any writer desired – lunch from a special restaurant, 20 year Scotch, Korean Tacos from the truck near Dodger Stadium. They were pampered because they had to be creative on a deadline.Do you pamper your Agile teams like this? Likely not. But then they have a little more leeway in getting their work done – two weeks and a variable scope based on proven velocity. Do Agile teams need to be creative? Their goal is less open-ended than comedy writers but creativity is a great attribute for getting product down well. A successful team is going to be creative. The ideal Agile work environment is conducive to creativity – shared space, close collaboration, charts on the wall, good tools, clear goals. A team that does not feel creative is a team in need of a tune-up. Are their ways to promote, nurture and enhance creativity in Agile Teams? That is what we are going to explore.
  • Our key point: Your team can be more creativeWhy do you care? Creativity increases productivityMain takeaway: How does creativity work and how can you nurture it on your team
  • Ask the audience. Prime if needed with Lack of talent? Lack of imagination? Lack of motivation? No time? Culture? Upbringing?
  • Anyone can be creative given the right conditions.
  • Are you right-brained or left-brained creative or logical
  • Problem SolvingRefinement of Product and ProcessInvention and Innovation
  • How well did to work for you?We overuse the wrong parts of our brains. It is better to create the right conditions for creativity.
  • Or is nurturing our innate abilities a better approach?
  • Find at there are many models for the process of creative thinking, it is not difficult to see the consistent themes that span them all. The creative process involves purposeful analysis, imaginative idea generation, and critical evaluation -- the total creative process is a balance of imagination and analysis.Older models tend to imply that creative ideas result from subconscious processes, largely outside the control of the thinker. Modern models tend to imply purposeful generation of new ideas, under the direct control of the thinker.The total creative process requires a drive to action and the implementation of ideas. We must do more than simply imagine new things, we must work to make them concrete realities. Or recipes: analytical prep insight test
  • This one is easy. Our pre-frontal cortex can handle it with little access to long term memory.From
  • This one requires a shift into language networks to find a match.
  • This one requires a shift from the previous two into a mathematical solution.
  • We use our whole brain all the time
  • Our brains have 3 general parts based on evolutionary progress.- Old Brain (reptilian, autonomic, survival)- Mid Brain (mammalian, limbic, emotion)- New Brain (neocortex, language, speech, music, reasoning, thinking)
  • Beeman 2004: 40% of word puzzles were solved using logical process. 60% were spontaneous insight (no logical progression)The greater part of our brain us used for subconscious thought, which is faster. There is much more capacity, too.
  • TheFedex Logo has a symbol embedded in it that suggests forward motion. If you do not see the symbol, note your emotional state while you look for it.If you know where that symbol is, keep the answer to your self while you watch others around you hunt for it. Look for changes in their faces.After 1 minute, give this clue: “White space is not always empty.”
  • Workingmemory is limited in capacity and processing is slow due to complexity and energy demand of the neocortex. Long term memory is vastly larger and information is compressed and coded, allowing for faster access and searching. The hippocampus is the brain organ that manages movement of information between the two types of memory.
  • What is happening in the neural circuits.New information does not fit into old maps. An impasse occurs.
  • 1. Awareness of a dilemma – a problem to be solved, we show concern. We are stuck.2. Reflection – staring into space while watching internal processes. Outer world has gone dim so unconscious can go to work.3. Insight – “aha!” A new connection has been made between our existing networks that can accommodate the dilemma4. Action – Energy rises and we want to do something about the problem.
  • How does it work? By explaining the challenge in words, the language and speech processing centers of our brains are activated, bringing more neural maps into use. Rock p 84 introduces, p 213 gives the techniques. Reduction of problem clears neocortex. Listener asks questions that lead to reflection.If you stop and think deeply, do you think you know what you need to do to resolve this?What quiet hunches do you have about a resolution, deeper inside?How close to a solution are you?Which pathway to a solution would be best to follow?
  • Facilitate the audience to identify some. Here are some to look for: Smart Guy and follower syndrome Know-it-all Silos Brainstorming Group think Critical thinkingMorePhysical: poor health or dietPersonality: cynicism, critical outlook, pessimism, conservative, controllingEmotional: fear, lack of faithGroup: distrust, disagreement, disrupted flow, conflictPerspective: rigid, narrow, controlled, logicalEnvironmental: time pressure, external reward
  • For the individual. Relates to Rock’s SCARF for group movitation.
  • Eustress = good stress.The prefrontal cortex needs just the right amount of stress to be at peek performance. That means the right balance of dopamine and norepenephrine (noradrenaline).
  • RelaxOne type of creativity can spark othersRemember a related experienceAsk questionsView, touch related objectsDo something simple to warm up
  • Be visualBe physicalBe creative
  • R: What a cute doggy.R: Mark, does your dog bite?M: No, he is pretty mellow.R: Hi doggy.D: RowfR: Ouch. I thought you said your dog didn’t bite?M: That’s not my dog.Morale: the solution space may be different from what you assume.Avoid lightpost effect
  • Let your subconscious do the heavy lifting. And sleep (Make sleep explicit?) for integration.Ohlsson in Rock p 79 says to deliberately do something else to stop conscious processing at impasse. Zimmer: When your mind wanders, the brain’s default network (self referential thought) is working with its executive control system (prefrontal cortex) to reach distant goals. New ideas may emerge and be surprising.
  • This one is easy. Our pre-frontal cortex can handle it with little access to long term memory.From
  • Wright Brothers were not the firstFulton was not the firstEdison was not the firstFord was not the firstDarwin…
  • Flow for individuals is defined by MihalyCsikszentmihalyi (Cheek-sent-me-high) in Flow: The Psychology of Peak PerformanceCharacteristics: Energizing engaging use your strengths do something slightly out of the ordinary many new but safe neural connections are made major driver of happiness happiness -> neurotransmitters -> right balance –> cyclesIt is described for groups in Group Creativity by Keith Sawyer
  • Common, agreed-upon goalEnables focus so one can know if we are approaching a solutionBasketball (clear goal) vs. Jazz/improv (create good performance)Clear objectives, problem-solving or “innovate”, problem-finding goal (post-it, Elixir strings)
  • Divergent – that’s generate as many ideas as possible, widening the solution spaceConvergence – pruning the ideas kinds of topics (not assembly or silo tasks)Better for evaluating than for creating ideasUse proven patternsHave a structure facilitate pairing works well free-form with no judgement focus on quantity filter
  • Engage people from other domains to help see patterns and results that you cannot see due to familiarity. We edit reality to match what we already know and believe.New people in new environmentsLehrer – Wired 1/10 The Neuroscience of Screwing Up
  • quiet, open, curious, receptive mind focused but not stressed jazz metaphor not defensive, intrusive, argumentative
  • All members in syncWhole is greater than sum of partsIdeas build on each other
  • Equivalent skill levelsNo one in charge
  • Know other members strengths and weaknessesAll share tacit knowledge (music, rule of improv, domain, tools)Plus conventions, customs and unwritten rules
  • Games ™ www.innovationgames.comEdward de Bono’s Six Hats technique www.debonogroup.comAgile Games discussion group www.agilegames.orgCreative Problem Solving with SCAMPER: Cupcakes (Agile Games): (Book)
  • Which things can benefitDiversityAppropriate skills and knowledge
  • IdlingEmergence
  • Perception and imagination use the same neural circuits. Creativity and imagination begin with perception. The ability to imagine outside of common categories will open you up to new possibilities. Berns – Fast Company 2/15/2010
  • Brains respond favorably to novelty. Dopamine is released, neural paths are reinforced, we fell good. Novelty can come from external perception or internal imagination.
  • Using a single stroke…Make VII into an eightMake IX into a 6Make IX into a 6 another wayIf you get stuck, ask a partner for helpUsing a single stroke, turn the Roman numeral seven, shown below, into an eight.
  • Creativity for Agile Teams

    1. 1. Creativity for Agile Teams<br />Roger BrownMark LevisonAgile 2011<br />
    2. 2.
    3. 3. Why should you care?<br />Creativity increases productivity<br />Your team can be more creative<br />Knowing how it works makes it easier to achieve<br />Teams can achieve a state of Group Flow <br />Creativity can be nurtured<br />
    4. 4. Group Flow<br />How to Nurture it<br />Individual Creativity<br />Creativity and Your Brain<br />What is Creativity?<br />
    5. 5. What is Creativity?<br />
    6. 6. Would you like to be more creative?<br />
    7. 7. What is holding you back?<br />
    8. 8. Creative people work alone, right?<br />
    9. 9. Creative people are born that way, right?<br />
    10. 10.
    11. 11. High Pressure Helps?<br />
    12. 12. 2x + 3y = z<br />And then it happened…<br />
    13. 13. What defines a creative idea?<br />You tell us…<br />
    14. 14. Creativity is a series of many <br />small insights<br />
    15. 15. Creativity helps with<br />Problem Solving<br />Refinement of Product and Process<br />Invention and Innovation<br />
    16. 16. Have you ever tried really hard to be creative?<br />
    17. 17. Can creativity be learned?<br />Aha!<br />Mozart<br />coffee<br />brainstorm<br />innovate<br />think!<br />
    18. 18. There are many models for fostering creativity<br />
    19. 19. Exercise<br />Using a single stroke, turn the Roman numeral seven, shown below, into an eight.<br /> VII<br />If you get stuck, ask a partner for help<br />I<br />
    20. 20. Exercise<br />Using a single stroke, turn the Roman numeral 9, shown below, into a 6.<br /> IX<br />If you get stuck, ask a partner for help<br />S<br />
    21. 21. Exercise<br />Using a single stroke, turn the Roman numeral nine, shown below, into a six.<br /> IX<br />If you get stuck, ask a partner for help<br />6<br />
    22. 22. Creativity and Your Brain<br />
    23. 23. Fact or Myth?We use only 10% of our brain.<br />
    24. 24. We use our whole brain, all the time<br />Logical?<br />Creative?<br />Longer branches, more dendritic spines, less precise<br />Shorter branches, fewer dendritic spines, more precise<br />
    25. 25. Brain Basics<br />
    26. 26. Most “Thinking” is Subconscious<br />
    27. 27. Test Drive<br />
    28. 28. Brain Capacity and Speed<br />Long Term Memory<br />WorkingMemory<br />slow<br />real fast<br />
    29. 29. Brain Circuits<br />New Info<br />Impasse<br />Existing Neural Map 1<br />Existing Neural Map 2<br />New Neural Map<br />
    30. 30. What does creativity look like?<br />© 2006 David Rock<br />
    31. 31. Brain Waves<br />awareness reflection insight action<br />
    32. 32. Exercise – 10 min<br />Exercise – 10 min<br />Facilitating Insight<br /><ul><li> Choose a partner
    33. 33. Think of a challenge you have at work and write it </li></ul> down in 5 words or less<br /><ul><li> Read the challenge to your partner. Look for a feeling of impasse.
    34. 34. Partner asks questions that facilitate reflection and watches facial expressions.
    35. 35. key words: quiet, deep, close, hunch
    36. 36. Switch roles after 4 minutes.
    37. 37. Class debrief.</li></li></ul><li>Individual Creativity<br />
    38. 38. Impediments to Creativity<br />You tell us…<br />
    39. 39. Our Top 5 Impediments to Creativity<br /><ul><li> Too much detail in goal
    40. 40. Too open-ended a target
    41. 41. Command and control
    42. 42. Noisy, stressed mind
    43. 43. Yes, but…</li></li></ul><li>High Pressure Helps?<br />
    44. 44. EmotionalSafety<br />
    45. 45. Intrinsic Motivation<br /><ul><li> autonomy
    46. 46. mastery
    47. 47. purpose
    48. 48. and a sense of progress</li></li></ul><li>What About Stress?<br />Performance<br />Arousal<br />
    49. 49. How to Nurture It<br />
    50. 50. Prepare<br />
    51. 51. Simple Factors<br /><ul><li> Be creative!
    52. 52. Be visual
    53. 53. Be physical</li></li></ul><li>Check Assumptions<br />
    54. 54. Make it safe to fail<br />
    55. 55. Play<br />
    56. 56. Quiet Mind<br />
    57. 57. Exercise<br />
    58. 58. Group Flow<br />
    59. 59. Can a team be creative?<br />
    60. 60. Famous Collaborations<br /><ul><li>J.R.R.Tolkien and the Inklings
    61. 61. Jobs and Wozniak
    62. 62. Lennon and McCartney … and Harrison and Starr</li></li></ul><li>Not-so-famous Collaborations<br /><ul><li> Morse – Jackson – Gale – Vale
    63. 63. Darwin – Lyell – Malthus – Wallace</li></li></ul><li>Flow<br />P<br />Panic<br />Anxiety<br />Challenge<br />Flow Channel<br />Boredom<br />Skill and Confidence<br />
    64. 64. ChallengingGroup Goal<br />nasahq photo<br />
    65. 65. Appropriate Brainstorming<br />
    66. 66. Expand Your Universe<br /><ul><li> Engage outsiders
    67. 67. Examine failures
    68. 68. Remove predictability</li></li></ul><li>Deep Listening<br />
    69. 69. Blending Egos<br />
    70. 70. Equal Participation<br />
    71. 71. Familiarity and Continuity<br />Performing<br />Norming<br />Storming<br />Performance<br />Forming<br />Time<br />
    72. 72. Many Perspectives<br /><ul><li> Innovation Games ™
    73. 73. Six Hats
    74. 74. Agile Games / Tasty Cupcakes
    75. 75. Scamper
    76. 76. Thinker Toys</li></li></ul><li>Exercise<br />Your turn<br /><ul><li> 3 min: Working in pairs, brainstorm 3 ways that you can help your team to become more creative.
    77. 77. 3 min: As a group, filter the top 3 most interesting ideas generated at your table.
    78. 78. 3 min: Debrief</li></li></ul><li>Why should you care?<br />Creativity increases productivity<br />Your team can be more creative<br />Knowing how it works makes it easier to achieve<br />Teams can achieve a state of Group Flow <br />Creativity can be nurtured<br />
    79. 79. The End<br />Emmy Awards<br />2000: Outstanding Writing - Comedy Series - won<br />2001: Outstanding Writing - Comedy Series - won<br />Writers Guild of America<br />2001: Best Writing - Episodic Comedy - nominated<br />2001: Best Writing - Episodic Comedy - nominated<br />2003: Best Writing - Episodic Comedy - nominated<br />2003: Best Writing - Episodic Comedy - nominated<br />2004: Best Writing - Episodic Comedy - won<br />2005: Best Writing - Episodic Comedy - nominated<br />2006: Best Writing - Episodic Comedy - nominated<br />
    80. 80. Roger Brown , Moonrise Consulting<br />, @rwbrown<br />Mark Levison, Agile Pain Relief Consulting<br />, @mlevison<br />
    81. 81. Rules of Traditonal Brainstorming<br />Group creativity technique made popular by Alex Faickney Osborn in the late 1930s.<br />Rules usually applied:<br />Collect as many ideas as possible from all participants with no criticisms or judgments made while ideas are being generated.<br />All ideas are welcome no matter how silly or far out they seem. The moreideas the better, because at this point you don't know what might work.<br />Absolutely no discussion during the brainstorming activity. Talking aboutthe ideas will take place after brainstorming is complete.<br />Do not criticize or judge. Don't even groan, frown, or laugh. All ideas are equally valid at this point.<br />Do build on others' ideas.<br />
    82. 82. How to Brainstorm Traditionally<br />Assemble 6-10 people<br />Set the space and tone<br />Break the ice with a warm-up<br />Review the problem definition<br />Generate and record lots of ideas quickly<br />Review and prioritize to a small set<br />
    83. 83. Many great ideas happened spontaneously…<br />… or so it seems<br />
    84. 84. Repeated picture<br />How can we improve group creativity?<br />
    85. 85. Only x% of our brain does conscious processing<br />
    86. 86. Background Processing<br />
    87. 87. Information Capacity of Brain Parts <br />
    88. 88. Speed of Thought by Brain Part<br />
    89. 89. Small world networks?<br />
    90. 90. Perception and Imagination<br />
    91. 91. Brains like Novelty<br />
    92. 92. Exercise – 5 min<br />What does collaboration feel like?<br /><ul><li> Choose a partner, a pen and a piece of paper
    93. 93. Wait for start signal
    94. 94. Alternating single strokes, draw a face
    95. 95. When you lift your pen off the paper, your partner must make the next stroke
    96. 96. If either hesitates for more than 5 seconds, start a new face and continue
    97. 97. Stop signal will come after 60 seconds
    98. 98. Give your face a name
    99. 99. Describe your face to others at your table</li>