Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Travel Tales: (Over)Optimizing my Travel

Musings | Posted by Doc
Sep 15 2017

More of me being amused by me. It’s not hard to find things to laugh at.

When working with this client in Atlanta I am required to stay at the hotel across the street and use their negotiated rate. I have no problem with that, now that I have discovered a Walgreen’s, a Tin Lizzy’s Cantina, and a few other places in comfortable walking distance.

I come here for one week per month, arriving on Sunday evening and leaving at the end of the work day on Friday. I like the nice steady rhythm and I admit I like it that the folks who work at the hotel (Wingate by Wyndham) greet me by name. 

So here it is Friday morning. I travel with carry-on only. I only have to walk down the street, cross the street, and walk through the parking lot. 

I find myself debating with myself (which means that no one wins or loses the debate, of course). Should I leave my bags (suitcase, CPAP bag) at the hotel or drag them across the street to the office? If I leave them at the hotel I’ll just have to walk back over when it’s time to go. The upside is that they have a shuttle which can drive me to the MARTA station. The downside is that I have that extra time walking across the street and getting their shuttle (it has not yet been any kind of a problem). If I take them with me I’ll have to find someone to drive me to the MARTA station. And shlep them to the office.

Yes I really have this debate with myself EVERY TIME. In the larger scheme of things I don’t believe it really matters. And yet I still think about it every time.

When I stop laughing at myself I wonder at the source of this. What is this mental dilemma a symptom of? How many other people do the same kinds of things? How does it relate – if at all – to the coaching and consulting work that I do.

Learning about learning

Education, Presentation | Posted by Doc List
Jun 01 2016

I spend a significant chunk of my time thinking about how to make my “training” more effective. I quote the word because I don’t really think of it as “training”. I mostly think of it as “guiding learning”. Yes, it doesn’t hurt if I’m an expert (or at least reasonably knowledgeable) about the topic. However, being an expert doesn’t instantly confer expert teaching/training/facilitation skills on me.

The thing is that it’s about the learning. In order to deliver effective learning experiences (you call them what you like, I just can’t refer to them as “training”), it’s important that I understand how the brain learns. Yes, I said “how the brain learns,” not “how people learn.” Sure there have been studies about individual preferences (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). However the more recent studies in neuroscience reveal some very valuable lessons.

“Another recent study at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that the structural core of the brain receives sensory information from different regions and then assembles bits of data into a complete picture that becomes a memory of an event.This memory is strengthened by multiple sensory inputs.For example, if we both see and hear something, we are more likely to remember it than if we only hear it.

If we experience an emotional reaction to something – fear, anger, laughter or love – that emotion becomes part of the memory and strengthens it dramatically.In recalling memories, subjects who had experienced an emotional reaction were far more likely to remember the event and with higher accuracy than those who simply witnessed an event without any emotional attachment.That explains why highly emotional events – birth, marriage, divorce and death – become unforgettable.

What does this neuroscience research suggest about learning?We need to ensure that learning engages all the senses and taps the emotional side of the brain, through methods like humor, storytelling, group activities and games.Emphasis on the rational and logical alone does not produce powerful memories.”

from “How the Brain Learns” at TrainingIndustry.com

Sometimes I do things very intentionally when I’m in front of a class.

  • I tell stories, because research shows that stories help people learn.
  • I am (try to be 😉 ) humorous and amusing because laughter helps people learn.
  • I have people engage with each other because the shared experience helps people learn.

Overall, my goal is to create an immersive, engaging, memorable learning experience.

I have learned from and integrate the work of people like Sharon Bowman (“Training from the BACK of the Room!” and “Using Brain Science To Make Training Stick“), Dave Meier (“The Accelerated Learning Handbook“), and John Medina (“Brain Rules“). When I develop new classes, I consider all of the lessons and think about how to make the experience richer and the learning stickier. When I teach classes that other people have developed, I find opportunities to introduce some of this stuff if the material isn’t as interactive and interesting as I’d like.

One of my friends, Tricia Broderick, commented to me at a conference “I always know how to find your session… I just listen for the loudest room!” That’s because I frequently have people talking, laughing, and carrying on in simulations. If learning isn’t fun, I just don’t feel like it’s worth the time.

Now extend that into meetings, gatherings, and events, and you can get an idea of the difference this can make.

So yeah, knowing how the brain learns is at least as important as knowing how people learn.

Things happening that are good for my ego ;)

Agile & Lean, Facilitation, Photography, Presentation, Travel | Posted by Doc List
Nov 30 2015

Tomorrow (Tuesday, December 1, 2015) I will be featured in “Photography and the Art of Facilitation“. It’s a virtual, online event in which I get to talk about two of my favorite things – Agile and Photography – via one of my professional areas of expertise, facilitation.

On Sunday, December 6, 2015 I leave for Spant! in The Netherlands. On Tuesday, 12/8, I’ll be delivering a keynote at the Continuous Delivery Conference. My topic is “Continuous Delivery requires Continuous Communication“.

Coming up next year I’ll be at a number of conferences and conventions in both the Agile and Photography worlds. I’ll also be teaching more classes in Austin, including my well-received class on creating composites in Photoshop. Here’s a recent example.Amanda at the Prison

For those of my readers who are not uncomfortable with some nudity (“appropriate” nudity – no genitalia and no nipples showing on women), I’ve been busy this year with a passion project called the Austin Bodies Project. It’s primarily focused on celebrating fitness and the human body. It’s had an excellent response, including at the exhibit I had at the Gallery at the Ground Floor Theatre. If you are so inclined, can scroll back to August to see images of the exhibit.

In January, I’ll be volunteering at the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) annual convention called ImagingUSA in Atlanta. At the same time, I’ll get to learn from some top professionals, see the outstanding images that received merits* during this year (including mine), and hang out with some of my photographer friends.

In between all of this, I continue to work as an Agile Coach and Trainer, and as a photographer. I’ve got some weddings coming up, more work on the Austin Bodies Project, completing my application to be a PPA Certified Professional Photographer, and of course there are the holidays.

I’m crying

Agile & Lean, Musings | Posted by Doc List
Jun 17 2015

Read this first: http://www.hragilesolutions.com/blog/week12.

I love these women. I have loved working with them. I learned as much as they did, I think, as we explored applying the values, principles, and practices of Agile Software Development within the HR department at Gap Inc.

It saddens me in so many ways that this team is being “redeployed”. This project shows such promise, both at Gap and for the HR profession.

When I’m not so sad, I’ll write my thoughts about what we’ve learned and why this went the way it did.

For now, I’m being sad.

A Little Story About Personal Branding

Career, Events, Presentation, Social Networking | Posted by Doc List
Dec 13 2014

[Originally posted on Facebook]

A little story about personal branding.

I’m attending the Better Software Conference/Agile Development Conference in Orlando, Florida as a speaker. I did a tutorial on Monday on my philosophy of “It’s All About Me!™” and a short session on the subtlety of language on Wednesday.

After my session on Wednesday, I attended a session that a friend of mine delivered on personal branding. First, I’d never seen her present and wanted to. Second, I thought I might learn something new.

After her session, I wandered into the exhibit area (a.k.a. the break area). I picked up a lovely little snack and a cup of hot chocolate, and moved to a standup table and introduced myself to the fellow there. He introduced himself – he’s from the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) – and said “Oh! We know all about you at the CBC!”.

I’ve never been to the CBC, never worked with anyone from the CBC, don’t know anyone at the CBC, as far as I know. It seems that their internal agile coach has attended one of my conference sessions somewhere, and when he returned he talked about it (okay, maybe he raved about it). If it’s the session I think it is, I give out some cards that are used for a role play simulation about facilitation.

Later, I ran into my friend Jennifer, who’d done the session on personal branding. She said “I saw you in the session and I thought ‘What is he doing here? He has done an amazing job of personal branding. Get out of here, Doc!'”

This stuff surprises me. I mean, I know I’ve worked at it, and established “Doc List” as a brand and a persona. It still surprises me.

When my team gave me the nickname in 2007, I freely admit that I set out to make it my brand.

Apparently it has worked.

It’s All About Me!™ in Orlando

Coping and Communicating, Musings, Social Networking | Posted by Doc List
Nov 13 2014

I just did my first half-day tutorial on my favorite topic, It’s All About Me!™. You’d think after talking and writing about it for years, I might have done something sooner.

Nope.

In reflecting on it, I conclude that I’ve been afraid that I’d put it out there and someone would call bullshit on me.

Happily, that didn’t happen. The feedback was excellent. My favorite was “Great session! Included original material rather than just rehashing existing stuff.”

I’ll be doing more sessions, and maybe sometime soon I’ll finish the book I’ve been working on.

Language counts!

Musings | Posted by Doc
Sep 24 2013

Here’s an interview that Ade Shokoya (AgileTV) did with me in Las Vegas after my session “You said WHAT?”.

Consistent with my thoughts on IAAM, I talk about the idea that behavior (including language) is all we really know about other people.

No one Agile

Agile & Lean, Musings | Posted by Doc
Aug 28 2013

What’s the right way to do Agile?

Thinking differentlyIs Kanban Agile? Or is there Agile and Kanban and Lean and…?

Is iterative harder than Kanban or vice versa?

These questions and more seem to lead to organizations making statements like “this is the way that WE do Agile!”

I don’t object to an organization choosing an approach, unless they choose from a position of ignorance or confusion or both. And that’s what I see a lot.

There is no one way or right way. Even within a single organization, there might be variations that make sense.

There is no Agile Cookbook. There’s a pantry, a refrigerator, a stove, and a bunch of hungry people. Go figure it out.

Agile is people, pure and simple

Agile & Lean, Musings | Posted by Doc
Aug 27 2013

In the community of Agile practitioners and aficionados, there is frequently a focus on practices. Developer practices. Tester practices. Leader practices. Ceremonies and rituals. A lot of what we do.

Those who have passed the Shu level are aware that this is only a small part of what has led to the success of Agile.

Consider the value statements (http://agilemanifesto.org):

  • Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools
  • Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
  • Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation
  • Responding to Change over Following a Plan

The first and third are clearly about people. The last is also fundamentally about people – mindset, attitude, and management.

Also consider the principles (http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html). I’d say that seven of them are clearly about people, and two others clearly have implications about and for people. That’s 9 out of 12.

This says that the seventeen men who collaborated on the Agile Manifesto saw people at the heart of everything. As do I. I don’t think that has changed in the twelve years since they penned this historic document.

Coaches coach people.

Trainers train people.

Many of the many practices are obviously about people. For example:

  • retrospectives
  • daily stand-ups/scrums
  • planning
  • estimating
  • pairing
  • co-location

Quite a number of the others are also – directly or indirectly – about people.

When you get right down to it, the practices are Processes and Tools.

Think about the people.

Happy birthday to you

Musings | Posted by Doc
Aug 25 2013

gladiatorWhen I was young, I armored myself in arrogance. It was my protection against caring what others thought of me. It was my protection against hurt. It was false armor and false protection.

When I was an adult, I began to have an idea of what it meant to be a full human being in a world of other human beings. Thanks to the love and patience of my wife Debbie, the patience and efforts of my teacher Mather Karateka, and the community of my martial arts friends, teachers, and students – my family – including Chuck Phillips, I began to realize the importance of the people around me.

The day of my revelation came in my 37th year, when I realized that I wanted to be someone other people liked, respected, and chose to be around. It was a difficult transition, to take off the armor of my youth and embrace the naked vulnerability of wanting to be real and liked.

It’s been 26 years since I joined California Karate Academy and began this journey. The journey is not over. I learn more every day about what it means to be a full human being. Being Jewish by birth and heritage, I think of this as being a mensch.

Today is my birthday. Those who know me know that I enjoy and celebrate my birthday, and am happy to have others do so as well.

The revelation I had today is that the birthday wishes of others represent some success along the path on which I set my feet 26 years ago. Having children and a wife who profess their love and respect and appreciation, having a community of friends and colleagues who wish me well and celebrate with me, and realizing that I set myself a difficult path of great value and have worked my way along that path… this is, for me, noteworthy, remarkable, and a source of amazing joy.

Thank you.

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