Sunday, January 27, 2013

Golden Nuggets from the Innovation Games Summit

My friend Chad Holdorf describes golden nuggets as those practical things you learned from a conference that you can use on Monday at work. After attending the Innovation Games Summit this week in Santa Clara here are six golden nuggets I'd like to share with you:

1. Many of the attendees at my Silence of Agile talk were trained and experienced facilitators and during our discussions offered two specific tips that I plan on trying at one of our team's next retrospectives.
  • The first tip was to change the voting so that people vote not only for their top 3 ideas but also their bottom 3. When tallying the results use the net votes (top minus bottom) as your top items to work on for that period. 
  • The second tip involves changing the silent writing portion of the retrospective. Instead of writing each individual idea on one post-it, ask each team member to write all their ideas on one paper in a list format. Once everyone has written their list, pass it to the person on your left. Each person then reads their neighbour's list and adds to it. Keep passing the lists to the left until everyone has read and contributed to all the lists. Finally, put the individual items on your board and prioritize them as usual.
2. Innovation Games help you have better conversations and make better decisions. I had already experienced this myself when using these games for retrospectives. However it became even more explicit as we facilitated and observed the San Jose 2013 Budget Games. We had a diverse group of community members at our table who had honest conversations and made tough decisions about topics that are important for San Jose. I can imagine that a great facilitator could also have achieved the same results, but the game did this without much need for facilitation. I'll be looking for more places to try out these games.

3. As a facilitator, it is important to trust the Innovation Game and let the group create their own process and flow within the context of the game. Gerry Kirk was my facilitation partner for the Budget Games and I watched (sometimes in trepidation) as he deftly used good questions to nudge the group along rather than directing the flow. Their process was sometimes a little scary as they tried to work within the game to come to decisions. However, in the end it was their process and their results. The game did its job to provide structure and Gerry's gentle questioning prodded them to a good result much more effectively than a directive approach would have.

4. A new podcast source! Look for Jack Dorsey and others on Standford University's Entrepreneurship Corner.

5. A new book that was highly recommended by Mr. Holdorf: The Radical Leap Re-Energized by Steve Farber.

6. Two 'S's. These aren't agile tips, but useful nonetheless
  • Have sinus trouble when flying? A client of mine recommended Sinusalia by Boiron. Take two pills before you get on the plane and then every two hours during your flight - they are magical.
  • Need music for your training sessions, workout sessions, relaxing at home, etc? Try the Songza app. It has lots of curated music based on themes and also comes with a pretty neat UX experience that suggests musical themes based on the time of day.