Read: Agile Conversations

I’ve previously told myself that I’d ease up on somewhat work-related reading, and shift to something lighter instead. Well, that was a quick break. I came across this newly released book and I ended up checking it out, and finishing both books today. The book is Agile Conversations: Transform Your Conversations, Transform Your Culture by Douglas Squirrel and Jeffrey Fredrick. I feel like I expected too much from the book; maybe it was just too soon for me to read stuff like this again since what I picked up from it are like echoes of recent readings.

It’s not altogether for naught. On the upside, I did pick up the origin story (one sentence, people might expect an elaborate story) of that familiar “Trust but verify” statement.

Anyways, sharing below my summarized bullet points which aren’t really as informative as the actual book or my actual notes, but hopefully, they’d give me a hint on where to find what in case I want to read back on it.

  • Change your conversations, change your culture. It’s like their “Save the cheerleader, save the world” statement.
  • In adopting something codified, there’s the tendency to take in the superficial process changes (e.g., having daily scrum, WIP limits, tool selection, etc). But more than just the processes, it’s the shift in mindset and view towards people as drivers of the success (over processes) that are needed. That Taylorist factory mindset needs to be dropped.
  • There are two theories of action. And we’re unfortunately we’re naturally more inclined towards the counterproductive, defensive behaviors of Model I. But the good news they say is, through regular effort and practice, Model II (behaviors of transparency and curiosity) can be learned.
  • Conversational Analysis can be used to heighten your awareness for where you lack genuine questions (you ask, but not really), when you have unexpressed thoughts/feelings, or when you encounter certain triggers or exhibit tells and twitches.
  • Trust Conversation – Be vulnerable. Be predictable. Use the Ladder of inference in discussions where there’s misalignment (i.e., step back, find safe common ground, before you move deeper into the discussion).
  • Fear Conversation – Watch out for Normalization of Deviance (that process wherein we become somewhat immune to the red flags and fail to raise them). Use coherence busting to step back and refrain from jumping to conclusions or assuming the worst.
  • Why Conversation – Why you don’t start with why is because you need to address Trust and Fear issues first. Distinguish between interests and positions; step back to understand the reasoning and the interests that lead to the possibly conflicting positions. Advocate your position, but be inquisitive on what the other side has to say. Work with a joint design for increased stake of people in the Why.
  • Commitment Conversation – This brings up the “It’s done, but…” example. Agree on meaning. Walking skeleton i.e., strip down to the bare essentials and progressively add in (as the bandwidth would also allow).
  • Accountability Conversation – Adopt Theory Y (or People Positive as mentioned in Brave New Work) mindset. Use Directed Opportunism for communicating plans and intentions up and down the chain of command. Radiate intent and information (e.g., current state, plans and intended outcomes, alert to obstacles) using Agile Radiators (e.g., ceremonies like Planning, retrospectives, demonstrations; and tools like information radiators).

I also had a bunch of knee-jerk reactions to some stuff.

One thought on “Read: Agile Conversations

  1. Pingback: Testing Bits – Testing Bits – May 17th – May 23rd, 2020 | Testing Curator Blog

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