Group Interaction Patterns: The Keys for Highly Productive Teams


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Development teams often fail to recognize the complex group interactions and multi-person relationships that are critical to build and maintain a highly productive team. Instead, they adopt follow-the-crowd practices such as stand up meetings or Kanban boards without understanding the underlying fundamentals. Michael Wolf introduces group interaction patterns of highly productive development teams to provide a framework for understanding group interactions and a vocabulary for discussing ways to improve. Michael demonstrates a simple tool-based on nine keystone patterns-that you can use to observe and understand your team members' interactions. He shares case studies that illustrate successes, failures, and turnarounds he's observed and explores how they relate to the different group interaction patterns. Join Michael to see how identifying your group's interaction patterns can suggest actions to develop highly productive-and happier-teams in your organization.

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Group Interaction Patterns: The Keys for Highly Productive Teams

  1. 1.           BW9 Concurrent Session  11/7/2012 3:45 PM                "Group Interaction Patterns: The Keys for Highly Productive Teams"       Presented by: Michael Wolf Independent Consultant           Brought to you by:        340 Corporate Way, Suite 300, Orange Park, FL 32073  888‐268‐8770 ∙ 904‐278‐0524 ∙ ∙
  2. 2. Michael Wolf Independent Consultant Teaching classes for computer professionals, Michael Wolf learned how to create safe, fun, and engaging environments for people to explore, discuss, experiment, and learn. Michael consults and trains on diverse topics—from software development processes, user experience, and lean principles to sustainability, urban planning, and community building. He has worked on fiber optic cable systems, the Hubble Space Telescope, and a myriad of software applications. Michael teaches classes in programming languages and software development practices—as well as Appalachian clogging, waltz, skydiving, worm bins, and "Game Nights" where professional skills are taught through game play. Contact Michael at
  3. 3. Group Interaction Patterns The Keys for Highly Productive Teams Liberating Structures Presented by Michaeel R. Wolf 206-679-7941 -- All Mammals Learn by Playing Why should you care about techniques for Group Work? Lead a more fulfilled life. Honestly!!! I’ll personally attest to it. You don’t have to tell “The Boss” why you’re doing it…. … but it’s an open secret. It’s all inter-related. 1
  4. 4. Why should I listen to you? You shouldn’t. Defer judgment. Try it. Listen to yourself. I’ve learned a lot while teaching programmers - Departmental Meyers-Briggs at AT&T Intra-peneur in ’92 - Almost 20 10+ years on the road, on-site, in the trenches as programmer trainer - Consulting at many, many companies I’ve done a lot of extra-curricular training at home. (Thanks, Wendy!) Wiked Question (from LS) - How, if I really do believe that you are already very smart and capable, can I possibly help you? Presentation Overview “Guide on the Side” (my preferred style) - “Technique Slam” - GW - Group Work Pattern Language - LS - Liberating Structures - CP - Core Protocols - PK - Personal Kanban - Experience the techniques - Leave you wanting more “Sage on the Stage” (only when “necessary”) “S S ( “ ) Q & A Experiential “take aways” and learning confirmation Q & A (iff necessary) 2
  5. 5. 1-2-4-All (from LS) Make an Invitation - What practical skill could you get at Better Software that would actually help you create better software? Distribute Participation - I will be timekeeper, facilitator - You will think, write, listen, share and refine Configure Groups - Group of 1 – think & write - Group of 2 – listen & share - Group of 4 – listen & refine - Whole room, facilitated – collect & display Arrange Space - Face-to-face. Knee-to-knee. Groups of 4. Face to face. Knee to knee. - Disregard “Space Police” Sequence & Allocate Time - Listen for sound and directions Every meeting a Kanban (from PK) Very Simple Every meeting starts with a purpose No meeting starts with an agenda Everyone creates agenda items •Pinnacle of procrastination delay management - Written on stickies •Values all participants insights Every item is briefly introduced •Engages all participants Everyone distributes 2-4 votes across all items - Placed in “Backlog” g Viola! A prioritized backlog. Timely. Relevant. Work commences as item moves from “Backlog” to “WIP” Limit WIP (Work in Progress) Move item to “Done” when finished - … or time box is exceeded - … with consensus on extensions - Happy Dance! Celebrate! 3
  6. 6. Every meeting is a Kanban. I mean it!!! Business - 1-on-1 meetings with Supervisor - Status meetings (until replaced by task board) - Working meetings Civic Personal - Housekeeping meetings - Special projects (i e ta es) (i.e. taxes) Kanban board during Seattle Lean Coffee 4
  7. 7. Kanban for Weekly “Wolf Meetings” & Special Tax Project Kanban board for Michael - Old 5
  8. 8. Kanban board for Michael - New Kanban board in ScrumMaster class 6
  9. 9. Event Planning Board at Kaizen Camp TRIZ (from LS) Make an Invitation - What can we do to reliably get the worst result imaginable? - How does this compare with current procedures? - What can we stop doing? Distribute Distrib te Participation - <As in 1-2-4-All> Configure Groups - <As in 1-2-4-All> Arrange Space - <As in 1-2-4-All> Sequence & Allocate Time - <As in 1-2-4-All> 7
  10. 10. Case Study (from GW) Situation - Regular meeting felt like it was getting in a rut. Power dynamics of de-facto leader seemed to be excluding perspectives. I saw opportunity for group as training lab to gain experience at facilitating, not merely content. Experiments - Facilitate input from quieter participants - Balance the interruption dynamic - One-on-one Group Work Cards to explore for case study 8
  11. 11. Perfection Game (from CP) •Integrates best ideas •Improves some object Perfectee: - Presents an object for perfection Perfector: - “On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate this object X based on how much value I can add.” - “What I liked about the performance of object X was…” - “To make it a 10 you would have to do yada, yada yada”. To 10, yada yada, yada Background on various techniques… 9
  12. 12. “A pattern language for bringing life to meetings and other gatherings” GW - Group Works Pattern Card Deck 3 years of design, writing, and layout from “core team” Each of 91 Cards in 9 Categories has: - Title - Image - Heart - Related R l t d cards d - Category glyph First printing 4Q2011 “Steward Circle” is getting wisdom out to users, and also listening to how they’re being used Common uses - Pre-event planning & Post-event evaluation - Individual & Team skill development - Breaking out of a fixed mindset Core team: Tree Bressen, Dave Pollard, Sue Woehrlin Needs “stewards” and early adopters. (Contact me!) LS - Liberating Structures “Including and unleashing everyone” 33 liberating structures, each includes - What is made possible? - Micro structures & Design Elements => Min Specs - A structuring invitation - How the space is arranged and what materials are needed - How participation is distributed - How groups are configures - A sequence of steps and time allocation Keith McCandless & Henri Lipmanowicz 10
  13. 13. CP – Core Protocols Jim & Michelle McCarthy Refined knowledge through 10+ years in XXX lab 11 Commitments 1. I commit to engage when present. 2. I will seek to perceive more than I seek to be perceived. 3. I will use teams, especially when undertaking difficult tasks. … y g purpose. 11. I will never do anything dumb on p p 11 Core Protocols (Structured Conversations) 1 & 2. Pass (Unpass) 3. Check In 4. Check Out 5. Ask For Help 6. Protocol Check 7. Intention Check 8. Decider 9. Resolution 10. Personal Alignment 11. Investigate Jim & Michelle McCarthy PK – Personal Kanban Authors: Jim Benson & Tonianne DeMaria Barry Two simple, main points (printed on alternate pages) - Visualize your work - Limit your Work In Progress Jim co-founded Seattle Lean Coffee 2-3 years ago Kaizen Camp also founded by Jim and Tonianne - “Discussing the Future of Work” - Seattle in 2011 & 2012 - Coming to NYC, SoCal, Boulder, DC, Atlanta, San Francisco, Boston - Plans for on Tel Aviv, London, Berlin, and Australia 11
  14. 14. Caveat The slide deck is an artifact of the experience Reading the slide deck will not be as engaging or insightful as participating. “Talking abut Music is like dancing about Architecture.” -- Elvis Costello “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture; it's a really stupid thing to want to do.” -- Elvis Costello -- http://www quotationsbook com/quote/bookmark users/9279/ Q&A Q & A is another name for, help me catalyze my thinking and create “take aways”. So…. 1-2-4-All - What is your biggest take away? - What is left unanswered? - Go! 12
  15. 15. About… LS - Liberating Structures GW - Group Works Card Deck Michael R. Wolf 206-679-7941 @LearningWolf -- All Mammals Learn by Playing PK - Personal Kanban LOL Cats! We don’t need no stinkin’ LOL cats. Here’s a cutie Wolf! 13