Tag Archive: social innovation


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.

I was recently interviewed for HowtoBecome.TV by Jayce Broda, a social entrepreneur in his own right, who aspires to “tell stories of those in the business of change.” It is an honor to be included. I hope you enjoy my very first interview on social entrepreneurship, social enterprise, and building a career in the social economy.

http://blip.tv/play/hrwrgovCdwI%2Em4v

Here’s the link to the interview on HowtoBecome.TV: http://howtobecome.tv/2010/11/how-to-become-a-social-entrepreneur-david-parker/

Let’s continue this discussion on Twitter. Follow me at http://twitter.com/davidparker9

Another article in a series intended to briefly explain how to apply different agile practices to work in social purpose organizations, today’s topic is: The Agile Workspace

Agility requires that we create an environment that is conducive to fruitful interaction. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a value delivery team is face-to-face conversation. Team effectiveness increases as barriers to communication decrease.

An agile workspace is anti-cubicle farm. It provides a mixture of collaborative, social, and private space. The collaborative space at the hub of activity is the “team room”. The ideal team room can be easily reconfigured based on the team’s needs. Team members face each other, usually at tables in the center of the room. Walls are used for posting notes, displaying charts, graphs, and the results of brainstorms. There should also be space for writing or drawing, such as a white board or chalk board, so that team members can creatively express and capture their ideas and progress. Social space in an agile work environment should include things to make the team members comfortable, such as a kitchen with snacks and a good coffee machine. Finally, it is helpful to have a nearby room for private conversations or to allow team members to “check out” if they need to focus or clear their head.

The folks at Sustainability Studio in Toronto have a beautiful agile workspace. The architects used modular walls that can be reconfigured as needs change. There is also a ton of natural light and the freedom to open a window for some fresh air. Take a look at the pictures. Just throw some sticky notes on the wall, and you would have what I’m talking about.

One question that inevitably arises is “what do we do if we can’t get everyone together?” Remember that learning is the means by which you achieve agility and deliver value to your stakeholders.  It is okay to accommodate distributed team members as long as you do your best to adhere to the principles of collaboration and consciously learn from the process.  For instance, if you usually have a weekly team meeting by phone, try getting a webcam and do a video Skype chat instead. This way the distributed team members of your team can have that extra visual connection. After trying this tool, reflect on its use and see what you learned from the experience. If you find something that works well, don’t change a thing. And if something didn’t work, try something different.

For more reading on agile workspaces, and plenty of pictures to inspire you, I recommend:

MIT School of Architecture + Planning The Agile Workplace: Transforming Work and the Workplace

The Ideal Agile Workspace | Mike Cohn’s Blog – Succeeding With Agile

The “Best Agile Work Space” Contest | Analytical-Mind

Would you like help becoming more agile?

If you would like help transforming your space to an Agile Workspace, or assistance with adopting any other agile practice, 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.

Part of a series intended to briefly explain how to apply different agile practices to the work of social innovators, today’s topic is Using Self-Organizing Teams instead of Groups:

In a traditional work setting, there is a manager who oversees a group of people with specific role definitions. There is a one way reporting relationship. If you can imagine a pyramid-shaped org. chart, you’ve got the basics.

Agile works on the principle of self-organizing teams.  In an agile work setting, the members of the team organize the work tasks among themselves.  They volunteer for tasks and hold each other accountable for completing the work. The manager, who is not necessarily on the team, is responsible for giving the team the support they need to do the work. The trust invested in the team has a huge payoff for the individual team members and the organization in terms of productivity and satisfaction.

There are two primary reasons I believe social innovators would be attracted towards self-organizing teams: efficient use of people resources and creating a culture of empowerment.  It is more efficient to have a team of equals who have a unified vision and who produce valuable results for their stakeholders instead of a group of individuals with a singular view defined by their job description that produce results for their manager.  An organization with a culture of empowerment draws on the capacities, experiences, and motivations of impassioned individuals and gives them the tools required to produce valuable results and change the world for the better.

I wrote about my experiences applying this approach to the work of a volunteer-driven charity in the article Agile Approach to Volunteer Management

Would you like help becoming more agile?

If you would like help building Self-Organizing Teams in your organization, or adopting any other agile practice, 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.

Are you interested in exploring ways Agile methods can be applied to all types of work, not just software development? Then I invite you to join me in contributing to the Agile Service Project in Toronto.

I’m looking for people who would join me in volunteering a specific, short period of time (aka. weekend, iteration, sprint, cycle) to a good cause in Toronto sometime in summer 2010.  We will work together as a team to deliver something of value to the cause, and in the process, we’ll gain experience applying Agile beyond software.

Here are some ideas for service projects that we can deliver with Agile methods:

  • host a fundraiser
  • do a community clean-up
  • canvas a neighborhood to raise awareness
  • fix a run-down playground
  • do a native tree planting
  • spruce up a local senior’s residence

While this is just a short list, the web is full of ideas for community service projects. Check out this list: 366 Community Service Ideas

The project we take on depends on the committed participants. Drop me a line and let’s use our Agile experience and skills to do something meaningful for our community.

As a voracious consumer of podcasts, I am always on the lookout for the latest and greatest coverage of the world of social innovation.  For other ‘changemakers in the making,’ here are ten essential podcasts on social innovation and social entrepreneurship that I recommend for your enjoyment and education:

1. AshokaTECH Podcast

Host Alex Budak brings you interviews with social entrepreneurs from around the world who are creating change both locally and globally through harnessing the power of technology. http://tech.ashoka.org/podcasts

2. Social Entrepreneurship coverage from Public Radio International

PRI’s Social Entrepreneurship Podcast highlights social entrepreneurs featured in PRI’s portfolio of programs. Social entrepreneurs are society’s change agents and they seek creative, inventive, and sustainable approaches to seemingly intractable issues of our time, such as poverty, climate change, and global health. http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/pri/.jukebox?action=viewPodcast&podcastId=14484

3. Sea Change Radio

Sea Change is a US nationally syndicated weekly radio show and podcast covering the shift to social, environmental, and economic sustainability. http://feeds.feedburner.com/SeaChangeMedia

4. Social Innovation Conversations

Educational podcasts for world changers! Social Innovation Conversations brings you social change ideas through audio lectures, panel discussions, audio interviews, and conference recordings. Download educational podcasts on social entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability, philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, responsible investing, and more. http://feeds.conversationsnetwork.org/channel/siconversations

5. The Social Enterprise Learning Series by Enterprising Non-Profits (enp)

The social enterprise podcast series is produced by enp to help your social enterprise succeed. We have gathered a handful of leading experts to provide practical business information to help you plan and run a successful business! http://www.enterprisingnonprofits.ca/podcasts

6. Big Vision Podcast

Britt Bravo interviews nonprofit workers, social entrepreneurs, green visionaries and social changemakers. Bravo was named the 2007 Best Podcaster/Blogger Most Dedicated to Social Change by the East Bay Express. Interview transcripts are available on her blog, Have Fun Do Goodhttp://bigvisionpodcast.libsyn.com/

7. Be Bold Podcast

A biweekly conversation on creating a career with impact. The show features listener questions answered by social impact career experts. Hosted by Britt Bravo and sponsored by Echoing Green. http://bebold.libsyn.com/

8. The Idealist.org Podcasts

This podcast tells stories of individuals and groups changing their communities in innovative ways to inspire you to do the same as well as interviews with nonprofit professionals about developing your career in the public good.

9. Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp Podcast

Craigslist Foundation believes that strong communities and neighborhoods are the cornerstone of our society. Boot Camp is a unique event focused on helping people learn how to effect a positive impact in their communities and neighborhoods. Over the past few years, we’ve recorded the workshops at Boot Camp and released them as a free podcast series. http://craigslistfoundation.libsyn.com/

10. Peter Day’s World of Business

Insights into the business world with Peter Day; featuring content from his Radio 4 In Business programme, and also Global Business from the BBC World Service. – Many of the topics he covers impact directly on social entrepreneurs who are trying to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/worldbiz

An interesting article by Mark Goldenberg, the Director of employment, learning and social innovation at Canadian Policy Research Networks entitled “Think Outside the Box”. He says that Canada’s “third sector” has shown that social innovation works, if only the government would notice.

http://www.themarknews.com/articles/643-think-outside-the-box

I am helping Berteig Consulting give a free information session at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto.  The topic is: How Social Innovators can take an Agile approach to achieving their mission

Here are the details:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009
4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Centre for Social Innovation
Toronto
215 Spadina Avenue – 1st Floor Boardroom

What business practices do companies like Google, Toyota, and Research in Motion have in common? They all follow an approach called Agile, a unique way of looking at business that:

  • Encourages innovation throughout the organization
  • Delivers valuable work quickly and frequently
  • Continuously improves quality
  • Eliminates traditional siloed processes
  • Teaches teams how to manage themselves
  • Creates a flexible work environment that produces dedicated employees

Fundamental to the Agile approach is the strong conviction that individuals and interactions are more valuable than processes and tools, that truthfulness is the foundation of success, and that generosity of spirit is the foundation of prosperity. Berteig Consulting, the Canadian leader in Agile coaching and training, has developed a systematic framework to help individuals, teams and organizations assess their capacity to implement and benefit from Agile practices and then to build on their own strengths to become more reliable, hyper-producers of value for their customers, communities and society.

In this introduction to Agile methods, you will learn:

  • how Social Innovators can use Agile practices to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity toward achieving their mission
  • the difference between Agile methods and traditional project management
  • how to introduce consultative decision-making and self-managing teams into your organization

Since its inception, Berteig Consulting has been at the forefront of learning in the realm of Agile methods, practices and disciplines. We are looking for partners who are interested in contributing to a case study on Agile in the environmental and social innovation sectors. Selected organizations will receive substantial free management training and coaching in exchange for participating in the case study.

Admission is free and open only to innovators in the social and environmental sectors

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