Episode 167: Unlearning and the Improv Effect with Jessie Shternshus

The Agile Revolution Podcast

Craig and Tony are at Agile Australia in Melbourne and with guest revolutionist Toby Thompson (who was sitting at the table and initially didn’t want to speak on the podcast but then we couldn’t keep him quiet!) catch up with Jessie Shternshus, CEO at The Improv Effect and author of “CTRLShift“:

  • Agile 2015 keynote “Individuals, Interactions and Improvisation
  • CTRLShift – 50 games for different types of days you might be happening
  • Agile Australia keynote “Unlearning: The Challenge of Change
  • When you are facilitating you need to know your audience and believe in what you are doing – to get people involved, do things in small groups in partners so nobody has the attention on them initially and then build them up to group activities
  • Make people safe and get them to laugh – then you have them for the ride
  • Tony imitates a…

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Business Agility: Creating the Future

AgileBrisbaneAt the March 2017 Agile Brisbane meetup, we were lucky to have Pat Reed, an internationally recognised Agile transformational leader in Adaptive Leadership and Value Innovation, present on “Business Agility: Creating the Future”.

She provided a copy of her slides, and here are my notes from the evening:

  • Every leader at eBay (440 of them) are Agile Coaches, it’s the third round now for them, imagine the change if you get frozen middle on board
  • We need to thrive through uncertainity
  • Elon Musk practices first principles ways of thinking
  • Compasses are what we need to thrive on uncertainity, we cannot leverage maps because it is an unknown future
  • Don’t do more with less, do less, to execute in uncertainity
  • Change is changing, we need time for learning and innovating
  • If you demonstrate belief in the team and give an environment of safety, the team will believe in their potential – stop telling teams what to do, ask them what they think what we should do
  • Safe to fail is critical – we were all born with an Agile mindset (Carol Dweck) but our work and experiences push us towards a fixed mindset – if people can’t learn and thrive, your transformation will fail – as a coach we need to provide air cover
  • Keep timelines short all the time – the size of the iteration accelerates the learning cycle and the faster the learning
  • Using David Marquet’s Ladder of Leadership model at Ebay – cards you can download, when your employee says this, you say that
  • NeuroLeadership Institute – “Why Organizational Growth Mindset Matters
  • An adaptive framework – believing is seeing at centre, need to see awareness and understand the problem, need to process options through discovery (really short time frame, as for 3 value experiments), taking action (learn by doing not thinking), transform learnings into collective knowledge
  • DTA has some great tools around discovery
  • There is a cost to value, we won’t do anything that doesn’t have x% value, we need to stop being order takers and become value shapers
  • Principles for Navigating the Future  (Joi Ito) from the Media Lab at MIT, doing interesting stuff
  • Your organisation is not a machine, you can’t fix it – most organisations are setup to work how they were intended to work
  • Innovation, growth and transformation does not happen without tension – learn to identify good and bad tension
  • What could we do if we knew we couldn’t fail – embrace that
  • Do Stanford free Design School program online – same as the expensive in person program
  • Polarity Management – polarity is when you think you nailed a wicked problem and then it comes back to bite you, need to find the best win-win from any scenario, if you try to solve it traditionally you make it worse
  •  VUCA is here to stay, learning is our competitive advantage
  • Microsoft’s CEO Sent an Extraordinary Email to Employees After They Committed an Epic Fail
  •  Measure real value, speed to value and cost of value, need relative value not precision because it doesn’t serve us – Case Study and spreadsheet to calculate value

Agile 2011 Day 5 Review

Agile 2011The final day of Agile 2011 in Salt Lake City was keynote day but not before a couple of announcements. Next years conference will be organised by Mitch Lacey and held in Grapevine, Texas and a number of presentations were videoed (including one of my talks) and will be available over time on the Agile Alliance website.

Finally it was officially announced that my good friend and colleague Shane Hastie had been elected to the board of the Agile Alliance (a first for our little area of the world!). Here are my notes from the keynotes:

Keynote: Code 

Kevlin Henney (author of 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know along with a couple of other books) delivered this keynote. His slides are available here.

From Agile 2011
  • functionality is an asset, code is a liability
  • IOC (International Obsifuctaed C Code Contest) – shows that bad code can look beautiful
  • how noisy is your code – throw away comments and string literals and throw it into a tag cloud generator and see what it shows you
  • code embodies principles and values – the penal code, even the Agile Manifesto
  • typing is not the bottleneck
  • it’s not about business value – it’s not very exciting, it does not get you out of bed in the morning – it’s about passion
  • we are not very good at learning from failure – we can… but we are not wired too
  • patterns manifesto – “we are uncovering better ways of developing software by seeing how others have done it”

Keynote: The Power of an Agile Mindset

Linda Rising delivered this keynote. Some resources Linda mentioned that back up her talk were the work of Carol Dweck (MindSet and Self-Theories), The Talent Myth by Malcolm Gladwell and How to Help Them Succeed from Time magazine. Here slides are available here.

From Agile 2011
  • there are two mindsets – fixed and agile – determines everything we do – determines goals, reactions to failure, belief about effort and strategy, attitudes towards others successes
  • we can continue to grow, you can’t measure someones potential with an IQ test
  • belief about yourself affects belief about others – we are hardwired to judge and stereotype others, fixed mindsets do it on very little evidence, agile mindset still does it but are less positive/negative
  • bright little girls are typically praised constantly
  • bright little boys are typically criticized or reprimanded
  • organisations have a mindset as well
  • Enron had a fixed mindset to hire the best talent – “rank and yank” – only keep the best
  • Southwest are about people not planes – don’t hire for IQ, but for attitude and learning
  • managers have a mindset – how they view their employees affects their performance (Pygmalion in Management in Harvard Business Review and Hard Facts by Pfeffer and Sutton)
  • build teams around the agile mindset
  • the mindset is a belief, it can be changed – we can encourage others to change their mindset
  • perfect vs per-fect
  • emphasis on the effort and process

And with that, the Agile 2011 conference was over!


Finally, I recorded a short audio podcast for The Agile Revolution wrapping up Day 5 of the conference.