The Disaster Exercise (How to use negative thinking to your advantage)

November 6, 2008

“I had such a nightmare last night, you would not believe it!” announced dramatically LittleMissLisa entering the office on a rainy Tuesday morning.

“Good morning to you too!” Annie answered with a smile.

“Yes, hi, I am sorry, but… it was so terrible, a real Armageddon!”

“Apparently you are fine! Did Bruce Willis come and saved you?”

“Obviously! And also, I got this neat idea! Let’s go and get some coffee. And then we will do a Disaster exercise!”


The Disaster Exercise

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How many is too many?

October 16, 2008

The team has their first iteration ahead of them, and they will be working on several different tasks during the 4 weeks period. The tasks are picked out, the time estimates are done, the backlog is filled in, but now, since this is their first Sprint together, the team members have to start finding out answers to several questions they have before them.

LittleMissLisa believes that there are no absolute best answers, but that they have to come to what will work best for just them. The team may not discover it from their first attempt, but one has to start somewhere!

The Team is having a short brainstorming to solve the following:

Meaning – when describing a possible workflow for a task, how many and which statuses should they use for that?

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What would you do…

September 29, 2008

… if someone messed with “your code”!?

Toby was on vacation for a week. He came back to work on Monday, somewhat earlier than others, still jet lagged. He was all ready to dive back happily into the piece of code he was working on just before vacation (the post-it note was still standing untouched on the wall, under “In progress”).

Toby synchronized the code, looked for all the familiar class names… and got stunned! All of his nice framework blahblah handling classes were in a different package. No, in a two, wait, three different packages! WHAT!!!

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Active facilitator

September 14, 2008

The verb “to facilitate” comes from Latin. It means to make something easier, but also to preside over a meeting or a conference etc.

A person who facilitates a group is a Facilitator. What does such a person do? A Facilitator helps and enables.

LittleMissLisa understands that a Facilitator should: 

  •  SERVE as an example for the group – be the first to show respect for others, nice behaviour and positive attitude. 


  • CULTIVATE a safe environment for the group members where none feels put down, or is afraid or discouraged to speak.

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Introduction to communication

September 11, 2008

What is communication?

Communication is transmission of information.

As simple as that. Someone has some information that he sends out there. Where to? Wherever. Bacterias communicate, fungi communicate, plants do that also. Every living organism communicates.

LittleMissLisa thinks that “Cogito Ergo Sum” is not enough. I communicate, therefore I am – that is what she believes in.

Now, the ever present alien in our stories, being an alien, and not quite getting this communication thing yet, wondered:

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The basics – respect

September 6, 2008

Abstractions can be hard to explain

“Respect” is one of those terms that everyone is familiar with, and none asks for closer explanation on it when used. Still, sometimes it is good to know what the other party really thinks by something.

Words are just means to describe the concepts in our brains that may be quite complex composition of feelings, attitudes and other abstract categories. It can be hard with those abstract categories.

Just think of it – it could be easy to explain to an alien or, let us get more realistic here – a child what a “vase” is. It is a very concrete object with purpose of holding water and flowers, can be made of different materials, but is made mostly of glass or ceramics, and can take different forms and sizes, but is always concave since it is supposed to hold water etc. Also, an explanation by visual examples would do.

But explain to a child (or that alien, just for the sake of the example, let us have my imaginary alien involved) what “respect” is. Abstraction requires more complex explanations on different levels.

An attempt to explain

When LittleMissLisa talks about respect,

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The basics – caring

September 6, 2008

When LittleMissLisa was small, her daddy asked what she wanted to become when she grew up.

“I want to be a manager, like you, daddy!”

“That is nice, dear, but if you want to be a manager, you have to deeply care about people. Do you care about people?”

“Hmmm… I do not know…”

“Well, you should be sure, if you want to be a manager.”

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