When Agile Just Works - Exploring Group Coherence
Group Coherence (.com): Shared state allowing groups to perform tasks in rhythm and harmony with great energy to overcome obstacles. Evokes memories of fun, success, team bonding, desire to work together on future projects and improved group connection.
Group characteristics are invisible and have to be felt. We are not trained to detect them any more than we could detect radio waves without a radio.
We will Practice using group inquiry to: -Share your Agile GC experience -Identify GC ingredients and obstacles -Chart GC -Transform Agile practitioners to a coherent Agile group
This workshop format is adaptable to different group sizes and durations. The time ranges provided show how it could be conducted in 60min or 120min. As these times are highly compresed, we prefer to have at least 90 minutes and would like to expand the time if possible.
The workshop flow is as follows:
1 Introduction to Group Coherence and link to Agile (5min)
- Presenters share definition and examples of Group Coherence
2 Break into groups and describe your Agile GC experience (5-10min)
- This is an opportunity for individual participants to share those experiences with each other
3 Identify ingredients that make it possible for an Agile group to experience GC. (5-10min)
- Presenters share key ingredients identified in the research on GC
- Using your examples of GC in #2, same groups fill a flipchart with stickies each containing the name of an “ingredient” that differentiates their experience from non-coherent teams
4 Share ingredients with the workshop (5-10min)
- Groups share their ingredients
- Presenters capture the distinct set of ingredients for the workshop
- Aha moments
5 Interactions between ingredients (5-10min)
- Presenters share a sample chart of ingredients of GC and discuss how ingredients in #3 interact and don’t all appear at the same time.
- Groups create their own charts showing the introduction, growth, evolution and interaction of ingredients from their experience of team formation through reaching GC.
- Groups reflect on whether some ingredients cause others to appear, if any ingredients were paired, if GC only happened when certain ingredients finally appeared.
- Groups prepare to present their charts
6 Share charts with the workshop (5-10min)
- Groups share their charts
- Aha moments
7 Missing or blocked ingredients (5-10min - optional)
- Presenters suggest questions to ask about the interactions identified in #4
- Are there ingredients that would have been better supported if another ingredient was present?
- Do some ingredients grow from other ingredients?
- What about your non-GC experiences? What were the main ingredients missing there that you identified on your chart?
- Were there obstacles to some ingredients?
- Participants modify their chart based on these questions and their own questions based on their experience.
8 Share modified charts with the workshop (5-10min optional)
- Groups share modified charts
- Aha moments
9 Agile principles and ingredients (5-10min)
- Presenters list Agile values and principles for those less familiar
- Participants modify the chart to include Agile practices where associated with ingredients.
10 Share Agile charts with the workshop (5-10min)
- Groups share Agile charts
- Aha moments
11 Group retro (5min)
- What would you do differently (at work, at home, implementing Agile…)?
- What do you value more/less after this exercise?
12 Closing (5-10min)
- Final sharing and aha moments.
- Workshop Feedback to presenters / retro
Background and other comments:
“Group Coherence” is a term that Joanna came up with for her doctoral dissertation. With a research group, she identified, described and inter-related seventeen ingredients (such as “Practice”) and four types of GC. With César, she is now exploring the qualitative benefits of Agile methods using that research.
When she shared her research at Agile Open California last year, everyone who participated was immediately able to describe their own GC experiences. César, for one, left that session feeling equipped with new vocabulary with which to express the group dynamics in Agile teams and why they were important. We observe a learning pattern with this topic. Attendees are able to “get it” in under 5min and the rest of the time is spent talking about the ingredients she found and our own experiences. This workshop reinforces that learning pattern.
The workshop is a tutorial on Group Coherence. We choose to deliver it through a group experience, giving participants the opportunity, space and peer support to make sense of the qualitative factors that led to their own successes. We want to equip participants to detect and use ingredients on their own and observe that others identify many of the same “ingredients”.
To build up our “Practice” leading up to the conference, we are going to run it a few times with groups of different sizes. We hope this will include the Bay Area chapter of the APLN, where we are both organizers.
- We make the Agile community aware of Group Coherence through participation
- People are able to identify their GC team/project (people connect to own experience)
- Introduce new vocabulary to express overlooked benefits of Agile
- Use group inquiry to make sense of the “broken” group dynamics that are “fixed” using Agile
- Identify the available transformation from a collection of Agile practitioners to a coherent Agile group
- Learn how GC is the team reward in itself