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Call it a lesson learned. My son is almost 10 months old, and all my notions about how I’d blog about my experiences as a stay-at-home dad have come to naught. But that’s okay. Though I haven’t been writing all my experiences down, I’ve still been learning alongside my little future changemaker. Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Don’t ask your friends on Facebook for advice about anything. You’ll get tons of advice, often contradictory, and start an online parenting war between your friends. Trust me. Just research it yourself and talk to your pediatrician.
  2. Think you’re going to have time to catch up on all those projects around the house? To re-organize your garage? Or finally create the garden of your dreams? Think again. I’m still waiting for my son to have some periods of relatively predictable sleep.
  3. Cut yourself some slack. With a baby, the pace of life is different from what you’re used to in the corporate world. However, it is still just as draining and complicated to get things done. Don’t be hard on yourself when you can’t get every single thing done.
  4. It’s okay to go back to work. Even as I fall more deeply in love with my son every day, I still recognize that I have an abiding passion for agile coaching. Just because I get help to look after him, it doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped looking out for his well-being. It’s just another way of helping him (and me) grow.

That’s it for now. My next post will probably be on some agile topic. I’ve got a few things that have been brewing in my head that I need to get out…

The original reason for calling my blog “A Changemaker in the Making” was because I wanted to talk about my personal journey of becoming a social entrepreneur. At that time, I was teaching Ashoka about Agile, and their title “Changemaker” seemed like an apt description of what I intended for myself. I used my blog as a tool to talk about the things I learned in my career as an Agile coach, trainer, and consultant. Advisers on organizational agility are constantly thrust into change-making situations.

Speaking of change, I’m going to change the identity of my blog to accommodate my newest role in life. You see, gentle reader, I’m now a father. And Chase is the new potential Changemaker in our house.

The concept underlying the blog’s title “A Changemaker in the Making” still holds true. Like most parents, I aspire to be a great father and intend to help my son achieve his full potential. While it won’t be easy, my responsibilities are straightforward.

In the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh says “We have decreed, O people, that the highest and last end of all learning be the recognition of Him Who is the Object of all knowledge…” (Gleanings, Sec. 98, p. 199) (Note: Check out the Bahá’í Reference Library for A Compilation on Bahá’í Education)

As I understand it, my duty as a parent is to help Chase recognize God, his Creator, and to begin to understand his spiritual reality. “A Changemaker in the Making” is going to be about raising Chase as a spiritual being in a permissive age. For how can someone bring about positive change in the world if he doesn’t have a fundamental understanding of it?

When I manage to get a blog article out, I intend to use spiritual concepts and quotes from the Writings to talk about how I’m trying to raise Chase. In my research on parenting and education, I’ve come across many popular concepts and themes that talk about how I’m supposed to raise my child. I’d like to dig into those more deeply and see if they fit with my understanding of the Bahá’í teachings. We’ll see if I can manage to do that once in a while.

But right now, Chase is crying. I’m pretty sure another kind of change is in order…

My mind took a tangent today while I was coaching someone on the role of the Product Owner in Scrum. Let me know what you think?
Imagine you’re at a very special fast food restaurant where the kitchen is capable of producing anything you want. Your order can have any ingredient and can come out looking any way you can imagine. You are very hungry. But you have to follow one rule: if you don’t get exactly what you want, you can’t just accept it. You have to send it back for the kitchen to produce it again. (And no, you can’t go make it yourself.) What is the best way to order your food?
  • Would you email your order to the order-taker?
  • Would you go to the drive-thru window and tell the order-taker through the intercom?
  • Would you go to the counter and tell the order-taker in person?
  • Would you go into the kitchen with the order-taker and show the cooks what you want? You can point to the ingredients and rapidly iterate how it is presented.
In Scrum, the Product Owner is not just the order-taker. They are a stand-in for you, the customer. You are supposed to be of the same mind.

Hello Reader,

I would like your insight on something. I’d like to start a Meetup.com group centered on OpenAgile, but I’m hung up on what it should be called and what the main aim would be. One reason I want to start a new group rather than tack onto another group is to try to attract people from other fields. There are already lots of agile and project management groups in the Bay Area, but there might be another audience for OpenAgile that we haven’t thought of. Also, beyond it’s popularity, a benefit of using Meetup.com is that the group can get sponsors and find some small means of funding itself.

I would welcome your feedback on these ideas or any others that you may have.

1) Bay Area OpenAgile Champions

Essentially, people who are working on developing OpenAgile would come together regularly to talk about the work in the current Cycle. This idea is more focused on keeping us in tune and engaged. Think community building as much as getting stuff done. Hmmm, we could probably do this without Meetup.com…

2) Agile Service Project (or “OpenAgile” Service Project?)

I tried to do something like this in Toronto, but it was hard to get off the ground. http://davidparker9.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/agile-service-project-toronto-2010/ I could see it working here. The audience that this would attract is project oriented, volunteer people. It would also give people who want certification in OpenAgile a way to get some hands on experience and be mentored through several Cycles.

3) New Economy Innovators (or Innovative Methodologies meetup)

Partly an attempt to move away from the word “agile” because it carries certain contexts – software, project management, technology – all very popular in the Bay Area. The focus would be on bringing people together who are coming up with new approaches to solving complex challenges. I spoke at a symposium in Toronto about this and got a very warm reception: http://davidparker9.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/the-story-behind-the-innovative-methodologies-session-april-28-in-toronto/ Truth is there are a lot of these kinds of meetups in the Bay Area as well.

So what do you think?

2010: My blog in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,100 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 17 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 20 posts. There were 12 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 5mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was March 15th with 87 views. The most popular post that day was An Agile Approach to Volunteer Management.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were agileadvice.com, twitter.com, Google Reader, facebook.com, and om.ly.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for elephant, group vs team, blind men elephant, jayce broda, and blind men and the elephant.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

An Agile Approach to Volunteer Management March 2010
3 comments

2

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room February 2010

3

Conceptual outline of the OpenAgile Primer for personal study October 2010
3 comments

4

10 Essential Podcasts for Changemakers February 2010
4 comments

5

About Me July 2009
3 comments

Last night I gave an Introduction to OpenAgile presentation to a warm and receptive audience in San Mateo, CA. The good folks at Agile Learning Labs sponsored the event by promoting it and feeding us delicious pizza. I can’t thank them enough for helping make last night possible. I also want to express my deep appreciation to everyone who attended and gave me their feedback and insights on the presentation itself.

We started the evening by dividing the audience into three groups who each discussed one of the foundations of OpenAgile – Truthfulness, Consultative Decision-Making, and the Learning Circle. It wasn’t required that each person read the OpenAgile Primer first. I wanted to see what insights would come from a discussion about what people understood about the concept in general rather than specifically what is stated in the Primer. This led to my biggest “aha” moment of the night. Even without reading the Primer, the groups were able to describe the essential characteristics of each foundation. They actually expressed several profound insights that aren’t covered in the text of the Primer itself but certainly could be. It’s like they just knew what the foundations mean. That says something to me about the intuitiveness of the OpenAgile framework. It also says to me that conversations about the foundations of OpenAgile can take place among people in many different environments.

After that exercise, I asked each person to write one burning question they have about OpenAgile on a sticky note. I would then try to answer as many of them as I could in the time remaining. Reading through the feedback forms I received, I recognize why some people found this to be a fairly unorthodox approach to a presentation. The questions they asked indicate that the audience members varied in their levels of experience with Agile methods. I found the range of questions and the ways the questions were phrased to be quite telling:

  • Does OpenAgile resonate with open source?
  • What are the advantages/disadvantages of OpenAgile?
  • Why would teams be more successful with OpenAgile than with Scrum?
  • Who invented OpenAgile and why?
  • Why another “Agile”?
  • What does the “Open” in OpenAgile stand for?
  • Who is currently developing OpenAgile?
  • How does OpenAgile relate to Agile?
  • How is OpenAgile different than other methodologies?
  • Why Open Agile? (I took this to mean why is OpenAgile open source.)
  • Why the “open” in OpenAgile? Is there a ClosedAgile?
  • About the Growth Facilitator role: When is it possible not to have one in a team/project?
  • What differentiates OpenAgile from Agile AND What, if any, are its advantages (and potential drawbacks)?
  • Is OpenAgile evolutionary or static?
  • Is OpenAgile a methodology or simply a philosophy that can be used by any methodology?
  • What types of projects can it be applied to?
  • What is the advantage of OpenAgile?
  • Creating Interest: How can you get adoption in naturally resistive cultures? Are their easy hooks or high value propositions?
  • Who is using OpenAgile right now (i.e. big companies, teams, etc.)?
  • What industries can use it?
  • About Growth Facilitator role: What is the difference between this role and the product owner role?
  • What type of projects would be benefited with OpenAgile? For example, product development, application development, customization?
  • Is “organic growth” analogous to “emergent design“?
  • Compare OpenAgile in a continuum of other Agile methods/frameworks like XP, Scrum, Kanban
  • How does OpenAgile compare with the other Agile methodologies?
  • Differentiate the different forms of Agile development
  • Is OpenAgile directed towards quality or just timeliness?
  • How can I apply OpenAgile?
  • What works best to establish OpenAgile in an existing workforce?
  • What is the role of leadership?
  • Describe its use outside software: manufacturing, hardware, non-high tech

The feedback form asked for a one or two sentence anonymous recommendation for others considering taking a similar presentation. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did getting them:

  • A new view on Agile in practice
  • Sharing thoughts with David and other attendees helped me better formulate my understanding of OpenAgile specifically and Agile in general. Thanks.
  • David modeled the simplicity, humility, honesty, and openness which the OpenAgile model represents.
  • Good intro to a brand new topic.  Made me want to learn more.
  • provides understanding of a variant of the Agile methodology which can be used outside of software development
  • Good initiation for OpenAgile
  • Useful for teams that have adopted agile and feel that it has not worked well.
  • Framework different approach
  • It takes the “there is no silver bullet” statement to a deeper level
  • Good to see the questions about how OpenAgile applies, sometimes better than, for example, Scrum.
  • David was patient and a very good listener. This helped answer many questions that came up.
  • David was able to instigate a lot of very interesting discussions and debates.
  • Thanks for the Pizza!

I have been studying the OpenAgile Primer. Even though I helped publish it and am actively working to improve the Primer and OpenAgile itself, there are lessons that can be gained from revisiting the concepts, terms, and insights over and over again. The OpenAgile Primer is a dynamic document that improves as OpenAgile grows and develops. Take that to heart as you read the outline below. I encourage you to study the Primer yourself and create your own summary. And when you do, let’s have a meaningful conversation about your own insights.

OpenAgile Primer Conceptual Outline

CHAPTER 1 - Foundations of OpenAgile

1) Truthfulness

“Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues” – Baha’u’llah
  • basic human capacity that everyone can develop
  • aspect of truthfulness
  • implications of truthfulness
  • how to develop truthfulness
  • benefit “truthfulness builds trust and leads to reducing excessive bureaucracy and chaos”
  • be aware of our own limitations (uses example of Six Blind Men and the Elephant)

2) Consultative Decision-Making

“We never undertook to do any thing of any importance which was likely to affect each other, without mutual consultation. We were generally a unit, and moved together.” – Frederick Douglass
  • a system for teams to take coherent action based on a unified vision
  • mindset for consultative decision-making
  • Rules of consultative decision-making
  • Unified Action

3) The Learning Circle

“Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back” – Chinese Proverb
  • a model of effective learning
  • Four steps: Reflection, Learning, Planning, Action
  • Four capacities: Detachment, Search, Love, Courage
  • Guidance

CHAPTER 2 - OpenAgile Process

systematic application of the Learning Circle

Goals

  • work is done to accomplish a goal
  • nature and importance of goals

Work in Cycles

  • Cycle is a step towards a goal with the purpose of producing value
  • Three rules of working in Cycles
  • 1) apply the Learning Circle to every Cycle
  • 2) work in Cycles of equal length
  • 3) work in short Cycles

Cycle Input: Value Drivers

  • definition of “value”
  • tip for articulating a Value Driver
  • work on Value Drivers in priority order
  • explanation of traditional value delivery (Project Management)
  • difference between Organic and Mechanical systems
  • application of the Learning Circle ensures that we continue to do valuable work

Engagement Meeting

  • start of every Cycle
  • review our Goal and the list of prioritized Value Drivers
  • break down Value Drivers into tasks
  • duration of the Engagement Meeting
  • Reflection during the Engagement Meeting
  • Learning during the Engagement Meeting

Cycle Plan

  • collection of tasks derived from the Value Drivers that we intend to do during the Cycle
  • awareness of our capacity to complete the tasks
  • a note about perfection
  • volunteering for tasks
  • commitment to the Cycle Plan

Core Types of Tasks

  • Calender Events
  • Repetitive Activities
  • Quality Problems
  • Obstacles
  • New Artifacts
  • commitment to the Cycle Plan

Inside a Cycle

  • completing tasks in the Cycle Plan
  • importance of maintaining a positive attitude
  • volunteering for tasks
  • tracking progress and Progress Meetings

CHAPTER 3 - The Participants in OpenAgile

  • only one role: the “Team Member” who does work as part of the Cycle Plan
  • there are “Paths of Service” - engaged participants who serve a team or organization

Paths of Service

Process Facilitator

  • help us follow rules
  • help us develop capacity to apply the principles

Growth Facilitator

  • grow capacity and value of the team
  • valuable input and output from every Cycle
  • prioritize Value Drivers
  • engage with Stakeholders

Advanced Capacities

  • Mentor, Tutor, Catalyst work outside a Team and provide Guidance
  • (Personal Reflection: Should this be reworded to “Advanced Paths of Service”?)

OpenAgile Teams

Self-Organizing Behaviour

  • volunteer for tasks
  • be open to following Guidance

Success Factors for Productive OpenAgile Teams

  • small number of people (less than 12 team members)
  • complementary skills
  • common purpose; commitment to the overall Goal as well as the Cycle Plan
  • have specific performance goals; be able to measure our results
  • agree how you’re going to work together
  • make and keep commitments; adjust our behaviour as we learn

Large Groups

  • communities and organizations can use OpenAgile to achieve goals that are beyond the ability of small teams
  • use longer Cycles
  • have Teams within the group that use shorter Cycles

Stakeholders

  • recipients of the value being delivered
  • (Reflection: Should this be reworded to “co-creators” of value? Get feedback from the OpenAgile Champions)

Chapter 4 - How to Start?

  • get some people together, read the Primer, have an Engagement Meeting
  • but if you desire more preparation…

Before Your First Cycle

  • decide who will participate (strive to have people complimentary skills)
  • generate and prioritize a list of Value Drivers
  • give thought to the work space and tools for collaboration
  • what is your Goal?
  • Cycle duration and start of first Cycle?
  • do you need help from a Tutor, Mentor, or catalyst?
  • get Team Member training

Your First Cycle

  • be realistic
  • at first, you won’t know your capacity to make and keep commitments
  • it’s okay to feel awkward
  • get help from someone who can accompany you

The Most Important Advice

  • Just start!
  • systematic, incremental improvements are inherent in the system
  • you will get better as you go
During a period of reflection yesterday, I did a bit of brainstorming on my personal profile. It started as a resume-building exercise. What was on the surface of my mind came out rather easily. However, as is typical of these free form reflection techniques, my conscious mind started to probe deeper. Today, in going back through the reflections for this post, my notes pushed me to think even more deeply about what emerged and helped me draw new conclusions.

Profile of David D. Parker:

open-minded idealist who sees the bright side in all things
hard worker with 7 years experience in community relations and marketing
builder of agile social enterprises
googler of everything he doesn’t know
dreamer
advancer of civilization

lover of Bahá’u’lláh

wonderer
reader of books slowly
lover of gardening and fishing and generally all things green
fixer of things around the house
husband and spiritual companion of Layla
Moment of inspiration: “The true marriage of Baha’is is this, that husband and wife should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God.” - ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

one who enjoys:

to cross things off to-do lists
to track tasks on sticky notes on a wall
listening to podcasts social entrepreneurship, social innovation, business, society, community building
watching NCAA college football (especially for the few seconds they show of the marching band’s half-time show)
listening to drum corps music
natural beauty in the world

one who is interested in:

building a culture of learning
social entrepreneurship
social innovation
agile methods
complexity science
corporate social responsibility
social enterprise
social media
social finance
social economy
In truth, these are not separate things. They are all One.

one who values:

unity
justice
truthfulness
being of service
contributing to the world
making a difference in the lives of others

one who worries about:

money…

hmmm… this is actually indicative of another thing I value. I value financial sustainability. I don’t need much. I want “to be satisfied with whatsoever Thou hast ordained for me.” (Bahá’í Prayer)

But still I need means to achieve my purpose in life.

If I didn’t have to worry about money, what would I do?  I would work on OpenAgile because it is inspiring. It does exactly for me what it is intended to do for others. The purpose of OpenAgile is “To create an environment in which people are free to express their true nature and capacities to contribute to the betterment of their organization.” Anytime I am applying OpenAgile to my work in an organization, I feel like I am doing this. When I’m applying OpenAgile, I am capable of putting all of my energy into whatever I’m doing. I don’t get distracted.

Some things that I’ve done where I applied OpenAgile and felt a strong sense of accomplishment: fixing my deck, making a nice garden, fixing up my house. These are all tangible things that are the result of focused effort. And all of these grew in quality over successive iterations.

Now I’m reflecting on something else: What does this tell me about my purpose in life (at least my current understanding of  it)?

I believe that to be of service to others, I must help them find a new approach to getting things done which allows them to align their inner and outer character. To break down the false dichotomy in our society that says we have to be either a spiritual or a material being. We can be both, and we can have purpose and meaning in our work environment. OpenAgile has shown me that, and I want to show other people OpenAgile.

Cross-posted from www.openagile.com, this is an interview I conducted with Mishkin Berteig, Co-Founder of Berteig Consulting, about the world’s need for an open source agile methodology. Along with Mishkin and myself, there are 20 other dedicated people who have arisen to serve the OpenAgile Community as champions. They’re applying OpenAgile to many different environments and sharing what they’re learning so we can improve the methodology.  For example, Barry Turner of Turner Agile Project Solutions is implementing this approach at a small town museum, and Jim Heidema of Professional Sales Plus has been active in using OpenAgile in the financial services industry. Everyone is welcome to get involved and contribute.

Another in a series of articles intended to briefly explain how to apply different agile practices to the work of social innovators, today’s topic is Progress Meetings:

Over the past few days, I have had some great conversations about Progress Meetings, also known as Daily Standups. While there is much more that can be said about these short meetings, I wanted to give a quick recap of the three questions along with a bit of guidance about how to make these meetings effective.

Progress Meetings take place in the context of a Cycle Plan. Members of the Team start their day with a short meeting that intended to keep the team aligned, focused, and constantly adapting. Generally, Progress Meetings cover three basic questions:

  1. What did I do yesterday (or in the last work period)? – the length of the work period depends on the length of time that might elapse until the Team can get together to update their status again, such as a team of volunteers
  2. What am I going to do today? – this question orients the Team member to the tasks of the next work period; consider it mini-planning
  3. What did I learn/observe in the last work period that might be helpful for others on the team? (Alternatively, you can ask “Were there any obstacles preventing me from getting work done?”) – this is intended to carve out a moment of daily reflection, sharing, & learning that will aid the Team to become high performing

Some Guidance about Progress Meetings

Remember that the Progress Meeting should be short. That’s why it is useful to have everyone standing up. Once people start to fidget, you know the meeting has gone on long enough. Keep the meeting simple and focused on answering only the three questions. Most importantly, avoid having discussions about any particular points that come up. If more discussion is needed, you should schedule a separate meeting for discussing that specific issue.

Would you like help becoming more agile?

If you would like help implementing Progress Meetings or any of the agile practices in your organization, please post a comment on the blog. I am certified to provide OpenAgile training, coaching, and consulting, and I would be happy to aid your enterprise to realize the full benefits of being agile.

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