Ever find yourself in a position where sprint surprises are seriously impacting the teams ability to deliver? If you do, then this post is for you.
Here we will look at building a teams capacity to respond quickly to future challenges. We will not alter the sprint plan, instead we will develop the teams capacity to actively shape the system and be prepared to respond to surprises.
The technique as follows:
Ask your team to produce a list the damaging things that they cannot control or influence in their environment (5 mins), then prioritize this list by the potential damage it can cause to the sprint (10 mins).
Select the top two and on a whiteboard, create a chart two axes, X and Y. Label the X axis according to the first item of the list, and the Y axis being 2nd on that list.
Ask the team to split in two. Give each team 2 quadrants and ask them to answer the following question: “What would it feel like if we were here, what would we notice?”. Place each of the answers on post-its in their quadrant. Allow 10 minutes. Now ask each team to creatively name their quadrant encouraging a funny or punchy name it (1 – 2 minutes).
Repeat this for the remaining quadrant (10 -12 minutes).
When finished, have each team share their scenarios briefly (2 minutes).
Now, ask each group to brainstorm some strategies which would help the group operate successfully in the quadrant described. Strategies must focus on surviving in the quadrant i.e protect the team from a plausible calamity that is occurring around them, and must NOT focus effort on trying to leave the quadrant. Remember, the team has already identified they have zero control the quadrants will shift direction without much warning. The team may actually find out that they do in fact have some control, if so, then the team needs to select a new item off their list.
As a final step, check which, if any, of the strategies are universal and work in all quadrants, and which can work only in one quadrant.
Perform a quick debrief, asking the team if they found this technique useful, and if they learned anything.
The contents shown here come from a real team when I used this technique in a professional setting.
This technique is called Critical Uncertainties and can be found at www.LiberatingStructures.com
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