MA-11

I recently led a Scrum class whose members were already quite knowledgeable and experienced.  I did a retrospective of the first day of the class, and there were several stickies under the column entitled “Could be better” which were explicitly asking for less beginner theory and more stories and hands-on complex tools.  They were pleading for the advanced version from the trenches.

I had very little time to throw something together, but I had a few ideas.  Fortunately, I was co-training this class with their coach, and he knew some of their pain points.  On day 2, we promised to give the class lots of “variant content” that could be used to conduct the meetings as an experiment, if the plain vanilla format of the Scrum meetings grew stale, and the team felt they were falling into a rut.

The training conversation turned into a kind of Fish-Bowl style of interviewing, and capturing stories from the trainer, and then from the team.  We began brainstorming on potential strategies that the team comprising the class could explore in attempts to gain more freedom for themselves to be agile, and more cooperation from other teams, who had not really even begun their agile journey.

It was a smashing success, and in the class satisfaction survey responses, we could see that they got exactly what they wanted.  In fact, the students felt very strongly that at least the 2nd half of the 2nd day of class should have an Open-ended, self-directed element to it, as their own class had.

My co-trainer and I began thinking how we could ensure that future classes had a tailor-made element to it, and our discovery was that Open Space embedded in the class is the best way of ensuring everybody gets what they wants, in amounts that are just enough.

Furthermore, to strengthen the odds that there is a boost of knowledge and engagement, we realized that there should be at least 1 agile coach, trainer, or facilitator in each session during the 1/2 day Open Space portion of the class.  For example, if there are 3 corners of a large training room, which are used as the break-out session locations for the Open Space, then the trainer and 2 coaches should huddle in front of the marketplace, and the 3 of them should coordinate how to evenly distribute themselves across the sessions for each hour/time slot.

Once a trainer or coach finds themselves bored, not learning anything or contributing to someone else’s learning, according to the law of mobility, they must leave that session.  This is where our innovation comes in: the dislocated trainer or coach, must then go stand in the middle of the room to signal to the other coaches that they have vacated a session, which now needs a replacement coach.   Alternately, they can go “Tag Out” a coach from one of the other sessions in a different corner of the room, much like in a Fishbowl facilitated session.  (I’d like to point out here, that in my opinion, open space deeper laws are present in activities such as Lean Coffee, Fishbowl, and OST itself.  It is NOT a coincidence that I am recombining the deeper laws into my derivative practice above.)

Super-charging Open Space with this Extreme Law of Mobility is like turning the amps up to 11.  Hence I named it Mobile11.  However, some of my teams have already begun referring to the Law of Mobility applied to all of their Scrum Meetings, etc. as “Mobile, Alabama” just for fun.  For brevity, I call this framework “MA-11.”

You can expect to see this practice appear in many if not all of my training in the future, in the best interests of my students.

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