The XP Day Program. pt. 6

People! People!

As the Agile manifesto says: “We have come to value individuals and interactions over process and tools”. No XP Day Benelux conference would be complete with a selection of people- and team-oriented (or “fluffy bunny”) sessions. It’s great that this subject gets more attention, even among those who would not call themselves “managers”. In an agile team, everyone is expected to participate fully and reflect on all aspects of good performance, including “people issues”. We can all benefit of becoming more aware of how we and our teams (mal)function.

There is an aspect of this that sits uneasily with me. I don’t know about you, but I trained as a “Computer Scientist”. I’m not a psychologist, nor do I play one on TV. I’m certainly more aware of and better able to deal with “people issues” than I was before – which isn’t saying much! But there are times when I’ve told people in my team that I was neither their mother nor their psychologist, I was not the person to help them with the problem they brought to work. Get some professional help if you can’t deal with the problem yourself. You don’t see psychologists give IT sessions at psychology conventions, do you? Well, I haven’t been to any, so tell me it that happens or not…

Dealing with difficult personal and team issues is hard and dangerous. You don’t want to make the situation worse than it was before. Luckily, we’ve got some people who know what they’re doing. Trust them.

Help! Mijn team is in oorlog” (Help! My team is at war!) is a followup of Yves and Ignace Hanoulle‘s very succesful “Leadership Game” session. Yves and Ignace create a safe simulation environment where participants can experiment with different ways of dealing with conflicts within a team. The session is in Dutch, because its the organizers’ experience that it’s a lot easier for people to concentrate on the content when they can express themselves in their mother tongue. Ignace is both an engineer and psychologist; Yves is an agile coach and trainer. I’ll attend this session at a pre-conference tryout. More about that later…

Ben Fuchs and Joseph Pelrine present issues and techniques at the team level in their “Turning Up The Heat (without getting burnt)” session. In the session, Ben and Joseph present bits of theory, followed by practical exercises. This will be a very interactive session. You’re in safe hands with a trained psychologist and an experience Scrum master. I won’t be able to attend this session, because my session is in the same timeslot, but I intend to be at the session at XP Days London.

Including “Difficult Conversations” by Hans Keppens and Vladimir Blagojevic in the program was a difficult decision. There is a danger that some conversations will become “too difficult”. However, this session is more an introductory presentation of a different way to understand and have conversations, not a workshop. You may find the topic interesting, in which case the presenters can provide you with pointer to more in-depth information.

Lasse Koskela‘s “Resistance as a Resource” is a more playful workshop, where we can explore where all the resistance against our brilliant ideas comes from. In the game, first described by Dale Emery, we bring up examples of resistance and then imagine why a sane, intelligent and well-meaning person would have those objections. In doing so, we look at the situation from the point of view of the person we’re discussing the issue. And maybe, this will lead to a better understanding of the situation and a better proposal from us. I’m looking forward to this session: the format is very simple and it can give us valuable insights. If this session works out, I’ve got a lot of people with whom I want to play this game; people who encounter a lot of resistance. Have you ever encountered resistance when trying to introduce, say, agile principles or practices?

What’s that doing there?

We always have some oddball sessions whose subject matter is not directly related to agility. Or is it?

Bernard Vander Beken will teach us “How to get things done: agility for your life“. Bernard will present the techniques from David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done”, a pragmatic way of organizing life and work. He will also show how you can use these techniques to improve working in an XP development team. I want to get more done; do you?

In the “Presentation Zen” workshop, I introduce some techniques for presenting ideas. The participants can then experiment with these techniques. The session is named in honor of Garr Reynolds’ blog, where he collects examples of great presentations and presentation techniques. Why would you attend this session? You might be called upon to present your ideas to an audience; you might be asked to tell your colleagues who could come about XP Days; you might want to use more effective ways to get your ideas across. Have a look at some of the presentations linked from the session page and bring your laptop. Stop using boring bullet points. Now.

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