On Tuesday 11th June, Dahm Hongchai, Corentin Nile and Jord de Rengerve, three Agile coaches, invited 12 participants to discover Agile gardening at onepoint office in Brussels. Agile gardening is for Agile leaders. It propose to experience the creation of a team, discovering team members, aprehending customer needs, working in iterative way, removing impediment for teams, welcoming change, and letting the product go.
Upon arrival in the kitchen of onepoint, the participant discovered a table loaded with plants and decorations. They soon receive their first instructions: build a tiny garden in the 3 pots present on the table. The gardeners accepted quite too quickly to group in 3 people following the team composition imposed by the hosts. It was the first learning of the evening: you can compose your team based on affinities. While they started we asked the gardeners what were their feeling while they entered the room: feeling welcomed, curiosity, happiness. Soon the atmosphere will change, the stress comes in when we ask “who is your customer?” “what are your requirements”. Then the participants felt it was becoming serious. Corentin was the customer, he requested to have harmony in the garden composition. Harmony ? What does that mean ? Nevertheless they continued and composed three nice tiny gardens.
Before the second iteration, Jord gathered the participants in a corner of the room, turning their back to the gardening table. While Jord was giving instructions and attracting their attention with a loud voice and movement, the customer destroyed their garden. The customer was not pleased at all. When the gardener came back to the table they discovered the destruction. Emotions were strong: Anger, excitment, surprise. The customer expressed his unstatisfaction and requested the work to be started all over again. The gardener understood that they had to let it go, that they should not feel attached to the product. Even for the most experienced Agile practitioner, it can be difficult to see a nice garden being destroyed by an unsatisfied customer.
Soon after the second iteration started, the customer disappeared. Corentin had to take care of ordering the pizzas for the diner of the guest. Jord took the role of the subordinate of the customer; he didn’t know well the requirement but insisted that his boss would be satisfied this time. The stress was increasing. The customer subordinate was asking a lot of question while the gardener was busy implementing a second iteration, he tried to make sure the intention of Harmony was there, demanding that the composition was balanced and had a purpose. When the customer came back, the gardener could make sure customer satisfaction was delivered.
The hosts asked the gardener about their satisfaction with the second version compared to the first one: it was quite clear that creating a new one allowed to deliver a more beautiful tiny garden. The host then requested a third iteration; this time, the customer required the gardeners to create a rose garden. But there was no rose available. The gardeners had to plan for the future, project themselves to develop new capabilities for their team.
The three tiny gardens that the participants composed were photographed by a professional photographer, ContrastImage.be, to capture the memory of the evening. “A l’ombre d’une fleur” provided the flowers.
After the gardening, the three hosts invited the gardeners to discover themselves and their type of personality by playing the MeWe cards.
“You are attending a Alumni gala diner of your High School, a were important networking event. You met good old friends and several new people at the diner table. You have to introduce yourself to all of these people, including to your good old friends that you didn’t see for twenty years , you changed with a lot of experiences, you have new hobbies compared to when your were attending school. You have to present yourself in a true way, you don’t have to fake or try to pretend to be somebody else.”
Each participant received a deck of MeWe cards. Each participant received for instruction to select thirteen cards bearing personality attribute that they could use to picture themselves while introducting themeselves during the dinner. After they selected the thriteen cards, the story continued.
“The diner is finihsed, you leave the place, while going toward the lift, you see one person that you truly wanted to meet during the evening but you could, this person was sitting too far on the diner table. You will have 30 seconds, just the time of the lift to come back to the lobby of the dinner place, to pitch yourself. Amongst the thirteen cards you selected, choose only 7 cards withthe attributes you would use to pitch yourself in these thirty seconds of lift time”.
After the selection of the seven cards, the hosts asked the participants to pitch themselves to the other participants of the workshop. After the pitching, the hosts requested the participants to face the cards up, revealing the animals hidden so far. Each MeWe card represents one of the four animal: mouse, bear, bull and eagle. The animal which is the most present in the cards selected by the participant reveal the dominant personality of the person. Mice are empathic; they care for others. Bulls are full of energy; they speak fast and want to achieve their one and unique goal. Bears are analytic thinkers; they like to collect information and create processes. Eagles are visionary, creative and risk takers. Learning to recognise yourself and other team members is a key for a productive team.
To discover how to improve the communication between each type of animal, the hosts requested that participants to group by the dominant type of animal they have and asked them to answer to the question “How do you like your colleagues to interact with you?”. Each group then shared with the others which communication method works best with them. Mice need to see that the opinion of each team member is heard. Bears need to be given space and time to think and elaborate on innovative strategies. Bulls need to be given direct and quick instructions, you need to go straight to the point with bulls. Eagles often use the primer “What if …” for sentences, they like to be given the possibility to express their creativity. These elements were gathered on giant posters prepared by Corentin with graphic facilitation technic.
The workshop ended with a long networking session. Onepoint offered Pizza and beverages to all the participants. It was time for all the participants to debrief on what they have learned during these two intensive hours full of discoveries. It was also the time to make new friendship and new connections. After the closure of hte events the three coaches, Corentin, the host, Dahm and Jord gathered their ideas for new workshops. We hope to see you in September for our new adventures.