Cargo Cult Agile training & coaching

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Slides for my presentation at ALE2012, "Cargo Cult Agile Training & Coaching". About common problems and pitfalls related to how we think and judge, and how they may affect the way we act when helping others to learn and work around Agile

Cargo Cult Agile training & coaching

  1. 1. August 29th 2012Barcelona (Spain) Cargo Cult Agile training & coaching Jose Luis Soria jlsoria@plainconcepts.com @jlsoriat
  2. 2. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots ofgood materials, and they want the same thing tohappen now. So theyve arranged to imitate thingslike runways, to put fires along the sides of therunways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in,with two wooden pieces on his head like headphonesand bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas—hesthe controller—and they wait for the airplanes toland. Theyre doing everything right. The form isperfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. Butit doesnt work. No airplanes land. — RichardFeynman, physicist(http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/3043/1/CargoCult.pdf)
  3. 3. What is a Cargo Cult?• Religious practice focused on obtaining goods (cargo) by means of magic and rituals• Based on irrational beliefs and behavior• Used as a metaphor for many fields (politics, economics, journalism…)• More info: http://bit.ly/lruvbd http://bit.ly/zhWL
  4. 4. http://bit.ly/1alLpQ
  5. 5. Cargo Cults have repeatedly been used asa metaphor for software development andAgile practices…• Steve McConnell http://bit.ly/5voCM4• Maxx Daymond http://bit.ly/gZ57Kk• James Shore http://bit.ly/aek5r9…usually describing “doing Agile but notbeing Agile” kind of behavior
  6. 6. Do we behave the same waywhen we are involved in Agile training or coaching?
  7. 7. Training or coaching? Tell me and I will listen, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand. Confucius
  8. 8. While being quite different disciplines, both training and coaching deal with helping people to benefit from knowledge.So both can be affected by the same kind of misbehaviors
  9. 9. Subject matter: things being addressed while training or coaching Agile practices map (http://guide.agilealliance.org/subway.html)
  10. 10. Potential issues: behavioral patterns affecting training or coaching• Cognitive biases: deviations in judgment that affect decisions, memory, perception and rationalism• (Logical) fallacies: bad reasoning caused by wrong assumptions or misconceptions we can be prepared to avoid them
  11. 11. The 7 habits of Cargo Cult people
  12. 12. Habit #1:Replicate (wrong or incomplete) past circumstances, trying to obtain the same outcomes
  13. 13. Bias: Confirmation bias• Selectively pick only the evidence that confirms my beliefs or whishes• Several kinds: biased search for information, biased interpretation, biased memory
  14. 14. Avoiding: Confirmation Bias• Casual observations are subjected to bias. Try to get the whole picture before recommending specific practices• Try to explain always the underlying principles supporting the evidence
  15. 15. Habit #2:Fail to identify the cause of an outcome
  16. 16. Fallacy: Correlation proves causation• Mistake two correlated events for one causing the other• Ignore other correlated events or factors
  17. 17. Avoiding: Correlation Proves Causation• Correlation is a necessary, but not sufficient condition, for causality. Look for additional evidence before recommending or discarding particular practices• Don’t break inference rules while making decisions
  18. 18. Habit #3:Ignore how the practice actually works
  19. 19. Bias: Dunning-Kruger Effect• Unskilled, and unaware of it• Adherence to superficial signs of the idea• “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” – Charles Darwin
  20. 20. Avoiding: Dunning-Kruger Effect• Keep in mind that you’re ignorant about many things• Don’t teach or coach a practice if you are not confident enough about it• Don’t be confident on a practice that you’ve not experimented by yourself• Knowledge unveils ignorance• Make it very clear when you speak about a practice that you don’t know
  21. 21. Habit #4: Strengthen beliefs whenfinding conflicting evidence
  22. 22. Bias: Backfire Effect• Reject evidence contradictory to one’s beliefs• Strengthen support on these beliefs• Favor process over principles
  23. 23. Avoiding: Backfire Effect• Keep in mind that you’re ignorant about many things• Don’t teach or coach a practice if you are not confident enough about it• Don’t be confident on a practice that you’ve not experimented by yourself• Knowledge unveils ignorance• Make it very clear when you speak about a practice that you don’t know
  24. 24. Habit #5:Pay attention only to success and ignore failure
  25. 25. Bias: Survivorship Bias• Draw conclusions from people or things that survived a process, or succeeded, ignoring the ones that didn’t Ive missed more than 9000 shots in my career. Ive lost almost 300 games. 26 times, Ive been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. Ive failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed - Michael Jordan
  26. 26. Avoiding: Survivorship Bias• Beware that one or few successful cases may hide lots of failed ones• Failure contains more lessons than success. Look for the cases where the practice has failed and try to draw the most information• Don’t learn only from success
  27. 27. Habit #6:Adopt a practice because many others do so
  28. 28. Bias: Bandwagon Effect• As more people adopt a practice, others “jump on the bandwagon”, without considering the reasons or the environment
  29. 29. Avoiding: Bandwagon Effect• Consider if the practice might work for the team being coached, regardless of how popular it is
  30. 30. Habit #7:Develop a preference for familiar things
  31. 31. Bias: Exposure Effect• “Better the devil you know” behaviour• Preference for using familiar practices, even if they’re not well suited for the undergoing task
  32. 32. Avoiding: Exposure Effect• Continuously recycle and improve your knowledge• Consider alternatives
  33. 33. Other biases and fallacies affecting training/coaching• Overestimate how much people agree with you (false-consensus effect)• Be unable to impartially think about a subject you master (curse of knowledge)• Draw different conclusions from the same information (framing effect)• Misuse games to model real-life situations (ludic fallacy)• Attribute success to yourself but failure to external factors (self-serving bias)• Believe that you can explain a thing because you know its name (nominal fallacy)
  34. 34. Summary: what to look for• Watch out for biases• Watch out for fallacies• Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly• Be aware of your state of mind• Avoid irrational behavior
  35. 35. Jose Luis Soria jlsoria@plainconcepts.com http://geeks.ms/blogs/jlsoria @jlsoriat http://www.slideshare.net/jlsoriaALM Team Lead at Plain ConceptsProfessional Scrum Trainer at scrum.org We try not to train/coach like this! http://bit.ly/bCRBlI

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