Category: Reflection


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…

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.

You know that feeling – the one you get when you find the perfect job opportunity posted on the website of an organization you would love to work for, but then you find out that the deadline was yesterday. Sigh. That just happened to me. Again.

I get so frustrated with job searching online. I would prefer to get out and meet people, but I am often drawn back indoors because of the potential (some might call it an illusion) of finding a great job posted online.

I have career alerts set up on all the major job search websites, so I get the latest job postings that meet my criteria sent directly to my email. The problem is so does everyone else who is looking for marketing and communications jobs in the fields of corporate social responsibility, sustainability, or otherwise “green” jobs. I’m certainly not the only one responding to the job postings when they come along. How can I expect to get my resumé noticed by recruiters when there are two hundred other people trying to do the same?

Perhaps if I just stop looking, I’ll actually find a job.  That makes a lot of sense according to the Harvard Business Review blog post Need to Find a Job? Stop Looking So Hard by Peter Bregman.  Bregman says “Jobs come from being engaged in the world and building human connections,” so limit your online searching and applying to 1-2 hours a day. Then spend the rest of your time doing things you love with people you enjoy. And let the job find you.

These days, I’m spending my time with a small group of job seekers, who, just like me, were feeling lonely and isolated in our job searches. We decided that getting out and being with others who are in the same situation could make the job search more enjoyable. The support and encouragement I get from our little group gives me a strong sense of accomplishment at the end of each day. And after my next job finds me, I’ll still have the friendships I built during this time.

Six Blind Men and an Elephant

I was reflecting on the story about The Blind Men and the Elephant. As the story goes, each man touches one part of the elephant and describes what he thinks an elephant looks like.  The first man touches the leg, and feeling how straight and sturdy the leg is, says “an elephant looks like a tree trunk.”  The second man, feeling the sharp point and hardness of the elephant’s tusk, says “it looks like a spear.”  The third man runs his hands over the elephant’s side, and feeling its towering height and solid build, says “it looks like a wall.”  The fourth man, tugging on the elephant’s tail, says “it looks like a rope.” The fifth man, grappling with the thick squirmy trunk, says “it looks like a snake.” And the sixth man, touching the elephant’s ear, says “it looks like a fan.”  Each of the blind men only “see” reality based on their limited experience.

I started using social media as part of my job search strategy. (Check out 7 Secrets to Getting Your Next Job Using Social Media by Dan Schwabel for some ideas.) I jumped into Tweeting and Linking-In and Facebooking with gusto, but since, I’ve begun to ask myself “Am I showing people the whole me or just the side of the elephant I want them to see?” Someone who follows me on Twitter sees the side of me that is interested in corporate social responsibility (#CSR).  Or Social Enterprise #SocEnt.  They also see me tweeting about OpenAgile, which is a way of applying agility to environments beyond software development.  And I tweet about the persecution of members of the Baha’i Faith in Iran, which is an injustice that I am very concerned about. Do these tweets paint a whole picture of me?

My LinkedIn profile says that I’m a “Communications and Marketing professional with a passion for Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Innovation”.  This is true. It is also incomplete.  I am also more than a “Sustainability practitioner with an international development education, strong business acumen, and a passion for human rights and the environment. Successfully delivered results in both corporate and non-profit organizations. Experienced in business development, marketing, community relations, and project management. Interested in contributing to the sustainability of organizations that are committed to doing ‘good’ while doing ‘well’.”

I believe it is tempting for people going through a career transition, and who are trying to use social media to network and build their online “brand”, to show others what they think others want to see.

The truth is every one of us is like the elephant in the story. We are all so much more than our online profiles, Twitter feeds, Facebook photos, and blogs. And although we’re not always aware of it, we are whole beings. We are one, and we live one life. True “friends” and “followers” want the real you. Be authentic.

*Note: Thanks to Berteig Consulting for the use of the elephant image and for introducing me to the story in the OpenAgile Primer.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,452 other followers

%d bloggers like this: