I recently dropped into a more than a move your booty dance class called Soul Motion in Berkeley (Thank you for inviting me dear Safoura!) Soul Motion is a conscious dance practice, where one dances intimately with the Self, acknowledges the resonance of other Bodies dancing around them, becomes a Solar System with the Community of Dancers and the Community finds their place within the Infinite Potential of the Universe. This magical formation is gently and humbly guided by a SuperNova-esq dancer Valerie, who is a subtle, loving and tells you specifically and concisely what you need to hear at the right moment facilitator. As I was reflecting on how Valerie made this orchestration made feel effortless, I bookmarked my observations for a great facilitator and leader. I also pondered on how these trades can Empower Agile Teams and Product Design as a whole:
.MY DANCE (My Intimate Star): As my lady feet (also pet named as my elephants sometimes) hit the shiny hardwood floor, the dance ring became a mirror to my Soul's yearnings. The lessons to be learned started to mirage in my body. Gliding with the rhythm, exchanging moves with other Bodies and dancing with the Energy thought me so much more about the things I would love to work on and grow to become a Whole Experience in this Body than a life lived in My Mind. Funny how that works. Body has it's own divine intelligence. Always listen to your BODY and other BODIES in Space!
OUR DANCE (Two Stars in Solar System): Every single interaction with another Body shed light into my insecurities and fears. I learned a big deal about what I fear and what I go after through moving in space with another Body. I was VERY surprised how much judgement I carried. Or, shall I say how much judgement my EGO has. This made me think of work place as the dance floor and the Energy I am bringing into my work:
GROUP DANCE (All Stars in the Universe creating Magic): This was the part of the dance that required opening up my view to see and to feel what moves and what rhythms were around me. The idea of being in hard and soft focus made me think of working in a team as part of an organization. Team members need to be in focus while working on their tasks, but they also need to keep an eye on the bigger picture to make sure that their piece of work fits in organization's jigsaw.
In conclusion, all our interactions are as part of a Big Dance Party called Life. The key to have a good time at work and at home is to be aware of our own party poopers. If we can ease into those parts that are limiting, we can grow, flourish, create and love what we do. Most importantly, it is crucial to be able to bring our unique gifts to the dance floor, so we can boogie with each other. If you want to experientially answer some of the questions that are suggested above, come to the Meetup that I am co facilitating with my friend Sean Halle on July 11th at 6:30pm in Berkeley Sports Basement. We will make work tangle with play and make magic happen!
I facilitated a Sprint Planning Empowerment Extravaganza with a group of brilliant engineers in Fremont, CA today. I helped the team with making assumptions for each User Story, identifying specific things that they need/want and dependencies that they need to manage with other teams. I encouraged them to think out loud and talk about their feelings. Feelings? "We talk about feelings at work?" I said, "Oh my yes, indeed! How does this user story make you feel based on the assumptions you made?" Some felt sunny, others partly cloudy, one yelled "Sky is falling!" We all laughed and asked a lot of "WHYs?" to get to the bottom of what was contributing the antigravity for the sky to fall. Turns out, this engineer was depended on someone in another team to finish his part of the task. Some uttered " Why don't you meet with so and so and so and so together, I know they are working on this piece and that piece and that could help you solve your jigsaw puzzle. " Sun came out. Eyes twinkled. Gravity restored. Sky was saved.
Techniques used: I created the Empowered Team Sprint Planning Extravaganza experience, utilizing and combining Empathy Map with Experience Mapping and Service Blueprints with a sprinkle of improv.
Long live DESIGN THINKING AND IMPROV. Once again, it is proven that when work and play tangles, magic happens.
We all experience the boiling soup in our heads when an agreement on a delivery with a teammate manifests itself as a completely different outcome than the originally discussed idea. "Wait. Whaaat? Didn't we agree on so and so? I thought we were on the same page when they left the room galloping full gusto!!! I thought they were going to come back with what we finally agreed on... Arghhhhhh.... Why? What? Whyyyyyyy?" I get how annoying this is. When I am in a state of what feels like my ideas are discarded and disrespected, my inner child starts screaming all tones of screams. Highs and lows. No medium range notes. Nada. I first doubt myself, then start either feeling angry at the person or I give up on the battle completely, because I have no more energy left to discuss the project any further. So, what to do?
Improv For Agile Retrospective Meetings
Improv for Agile all got started when Ana T. our Product Owner asked me "Would you like to facilitate our agile retrospective meetings with improv?" I said "Oh my yes, and I would love to!" Have I led groups through agile retros before? Nope. Have I played many many many many hours of improv games with my troupes? Well, yes!
I have been facilitating our group retrospectives utilizing improv games, design thinking and energy medicine to identify very specific things in 2 week Sprints:
This experience made me realize that I need to offer more of what I do "best" or what comes to me as natural: Improv, Design Thinking and Energy Medicine. I am no longer dwelling on what is lacking in my company "defined" role as a user experience designer at the very moment. No more playing the victim of gazillion constraints that does not allow me to follow a "proper" user experience practice. I am excited about facilitating and solving problems to improve my coworkers work experience. If people are happy at work, they will be happy at home, if they are happy at home, their kids, partners, pets will be happy, too. Butterfly effect!
Over and over what came up in our agile improv retros was the challenge of cross team communication. Team members were struggling to get the answers they needed from other teams on a timely manner. As a result, some of their tasks were blocked and they were stressed.
PRODUCT OWNER'S PROPOSAL
Ana T. asked "Asli, do you want to help us come up with a solution to solve our cross collaboration problem?", I jumped up and down with joy uttering "Yes, and let's do a Design Thinking Hackathon!"
Design Thinking Hackathon
Yesterday, we commenced in San Francisco office to hack the team cross communication challenge. I walked the team through each step of design thinking activities: