Sep 302011

At Agile Coach Camp I conducted a small session on balancing advocacy with inquiry when debriefing or trying to defuse tense situations.  Olaf Lewitz gave a very kind write up of the session (with pictures!) in his blog post Test-Driven Conversations and explains the learning he took away from the session.  Thanks, Olaf — and I love the title!

I did have a tweaks to the explanation, having to do with the example of Joe seeing Jim throw a plate on the floor, where Jim says “…if I was doing that I’d have been crazy.”

That’s an example of a judgmental statement couched in advocacy/enquiry language.  The judgement there is “you are crazy” and the interaction is tending toward the implication that there is some fault on the part of Jim.

If Joe were truly approaching the situation with desire to find out Jim’s internal motivation and wished to balance advocacy with enquiry, Joe might have said something like:

“I saw you throw that plate on the floor (fact), and I was frightened because to me throwing things is a sign of anger (advocacy).  Can you help me understand what was happening? (enquiry)

Advocacy requires that you expose your own internal frame/motivation, which doesn’t necessarily mean keeping your emotions to yourself — it just means that you expose them directly by stating what they are, rather than indirectly through tone of voice, gesticulating, etc.

Of course, being able to do this requires that you know what’s going on inside your own head too… not always easy to be aware of when emotions are high. :)

 Posted by at 5:28 am
Apr 182010

Looks like I’m going to be on a panel.  Come join us and heckle me. :)

  • Who:         Panel Discussion
  • What:        “Will Any Letters Get Me The Job?”
  • When:       Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 6 PM CST
  • Where:      Omicron-USA, 8725 W. Higgins, Suite 450   Chicago, IL (near O’Hare) (map)

Featured Topic:

What is true certification?  *  The difference between certifications and certificates  *  How does the IT world perceive certification?  *  What certifications you should be pursuing  *  How experience comes into play  *  Can you advance your career without certification acceptance from your peers?

Lead-in Activity:

As always, the first half-hour of the event is reserved for networking and food. Pizza and pop will be provided, so come hungry, grab a couple slices of pizza, and get to know the other attendees who are making Agile Leadership happen in Chicago.

Follow-Up Activity:

Following the talk, attendees will take part in an OpenSpace discussion forum. An OpenSpace session is a high-energy experience: if you’ve never participated, be prepared to be surprised! For more about Open Space, see the original definition at At least one topic will focus on the theme, but attendees are free to propose any topic for discussion. We always post the results of OpenSpace sessions.

Event Registration:

Please register at for this event, and to receive email updates and more details about this and other events as they become available.

 Posted by at 11:10 pm
Mar 132009

Automattic’s Prologue looks to be a nice solution to a team “war room” for distributed teams.

A frequently-underestimated benefit of the team “war room” is how it enables emergent knowledge. If I mumble to myself (as I frequently do) “now why is Apache redirecting us there…?” someone is likely to mumble back “checked the root htaccess lately?” and perhaps my problem is solved. Great fun. Great help. But hard to achieve on a distributed/virtual team.Scrumming in the Skype Room

I’ve enabled this sort of behavior in virtual teams via wiki, and also via Twitter (thanks to Chris Spagnuolo for the idea). But Twitter doesn’t have the concept of a “room,” so setting one up for everyone on your team — and keeping it private — is a bit of a pain. And Twitter’s one-username-per-email means some annoying collisions.

Campfire and IRC also have their uses, but cost and security respectively might be a blocker for you. Skype’s “conference” is nice, with the added benefit that you can start a voice call/conference whenever you want. But everyone’s updates live in the Skype app, not on a web page. So if someone new joins the team, they don’t get benefit of reading the team’s history.

I think Prologue is just what I’ve been looking for:

  • installable on your own server
  • your updates to your team are saved on a web page (you could even incorporate the RSS into your team wiki somewhere)
  • flexible permission controls
  • familiar blogging-style interface

Check out the live demo or have a download.

Feb 262006

It may seem odd, given how little travel we do these days, but my wife and I are travel junkies. We definitely notice that our brains feel stretched after being in an unfamiliar place, amongst unfamiliar people, possibly even speaking an unfamiliar language. Indeed, after most of our trips I remark on the Oliver Wendell Holmes quote that “a mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” Continue reading »

 Posted by at 1:56 pm