I’m in my hotel room in Helsinki, reviewing the slides, exercises and games of my brand new Agile Management course. After two smaller tests (in Amsterdam and in Gouda) tomorrow will be the first time I do the full 2-day course. With 30 people. In a foreign country. For a paying customer.
I’d be scared, if I wasn’t so excited about it.
The purpose of tomorrow’s course is for me to learn how I can do better. That’s why I still call it a beta course. The actual courses start in little more than a month. In the meantime, I need to find out…
How to steer the selection of topics in a direction that the group seems to need most;
How to create game cards so I can reuse them (instead of spending a whole day printing/cutting 160 gram paper);
How much time to spend in the course on each exercise and each slide deck, without people tweeting how bored they are;
How to keep the weight of materials down so I don’t wreck the airplane (or my own back);
How to facilitate debrief sessions after the games, so people go home feeling they want to be an Agile manager;
How to collect feedback so I can actually read it later, and understand how I can improve the course.
But most important…
How do I inspire Agile team leaders and development managers in a class room setting?
How do I teach a group of “leaders”?
If this was a software development course, I would let them self-organize as a team and give them some code to work with. If it was a software testing course I could give them some applications to test. And I just finished a drawing course myself, and for 15 weeks we did nothing but draw, sketch and paint. But with a group of Agile managers exercises are a bit of a challenge. I can hardly carry a diverse selection of people around to give to the attendees to manage. (I tried ordering imps from Ireland, but it seems 30 of them don’t fit in one handy suitcase.)
“Well, in the class room you could let the students manage each other,” is what some would say. But I don’t agree. Research indicates that it is important that all participants learn by doing. You cannot have one person play the “Agile manager” and other people play the “self-organizing team”. Researchers say that in such a situation only the Agile manager would learn, and not the team. You would have to let each person take a turn at leading the group, which is very ineffective. Not to mention boring.
And so, my current solution is to let all participants play the role of the manager, together. They will discuss their questions, ideas and opinions as they go. And they will be “managing” virtual team members, plastic, paper, candy, and me.