Lyssa Adkins ran a very practical session at DeepAgile that shared several tools for team formation or for tuning up existing teams. She often uses these right at the project start since team members may know very little about one another – even if they have been working together for years. Here is a run-through of three of the exercises.
Constellation – Understanding each other through motion
I love this exercise. It provides the team members as well as the coach important information about everyone on the team. It is called constellation since everyone arranges themselves around an object on the floor (in our case a roll of tape) depending how they feel about a statement such as “I like getting results”. People align their bodies with the statement: standing beside the object signifies strong agreement while standing far away to signifies strong disagreement. It is very powerful since people are engaging their whole bodies.
Journeyline – sharing our pasts
In Journeyline, each participant draws a timeline of their life with peaks, valleys and major life events. In turn, each person describes their Journeyline to the team. Team members listen and note skills or talents (on sticky notes) that stand out. These are then posted at the bottom of the Journeyline and reviewed as a team. This approach is about figuring out who the person is and what special perspectives they bring to move the project forward. When we did this, it helped the demo subject feel more positive about their talents. Nice.
Marketplace – sharing our talents
In marketplace we pretend we are a vendor in an open-air market place and decide what wares we have to sell. What are our special skills and talents that pertain to this project? We even get to create a banner to attract people. Under the table are things that are true for us, but may not directly relate to the project. The debrief is the same as Journeyline. Usually a coach will use one or the other (in the training session half of us did marketplace and half did Journeyine).
Below is my marketplace as an Agile coach.
(This is part of a series on DeepAgile 2010 Games Weekend).