Coffee Buddies – Building your internal network.

Recently a couple of us started a culture hack called Coffee Buddies in our department and it’s been amazing to see how it’s progressed and the connections that have been made from it.

What is Coffee Buddies?

It’s a low tech way to do internal networking within your company, and an opportunity to learn something new or about someone you work with. Be it in another team, tribe, department or building.

How have we got it rolling?

Two of us (Jenny and I) started by having a coffee to discuss how we could get coffee buddies going, following seeing a similar idea being run at Car Sales.

We decided to setup a simple wall with three lanes:

  • Coffee Lovers – the backlog of people that would like to meet others over a beverage.
  • Having Coffee – the catch ups that are in progress.
  • Had Coffee – the number of connections people had made.

After our coffee we setup the wall in an area that has a lot of foot traffic in our building (see the photo below) and invited a couple of people to join.

The following week we formally launched Coffee Buddies at our weekly department wide stand up. We asked people if they were interested in meeting others to place their name on an index card and place it on the wall (under Coffee Lovers).  We also explained that if you wanted to meet someone to pull your card and theirs into the “Having Coffee” lane and send them a invite to catch up. Then after your catch up to come back to the wall and tick the connection off under “Had Coffee” and place their cards back under the “Coffee Lovers” lane.


How is it ?

In just over 2 months we’ve had over 40 coffee connections and more an more people joining every week. This culture hack has also been a really awesome enabler to learn more about the people you work with and what interests they have outside of work.



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A thought on home run releases

The same goes for releasing software.

Whilst big bang releases can deliver a home run from a marketing point of view, they often can carry lots of risk in bringing them to market. Even the possibility of striking out.

Small incremental releases may not deliver the wow factor of a home run, but what is learnt by your team and the feedback from your customers often leads to a better overall result on the scoreboard.

* image via SportsGeek

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The Disneyland Jungle Cruise Secret Map

The Jungle Cruise at Disneyland is a family classic, and was a massive hit on our recent trip to the magic kingdom.

Located in Adventureland the Jungle Cruise take you on a guided tour through Asia, Africa and South America on some of the world’s most remote rivers. An added bonus on the cruise are some all-time classic Dad jokes.

When you exit your river adventure head to the tour desk and ask for a map. It’s not widely known but the tour desk have maps of the Jungle Cruise, which are great for young and old should you choose to ride again.

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Christmas themed retrospective 2016

Over the past few years I’ve run a Christmas themed retrospective when we reach the final sprint of the year.

This year I’m working across a number of small teams in a program so we had to scale the Christmas retro a little bit.

To start I drew the outline of a Christmas tree on a large whiteboard in the middle of our team area and invited everyone to come up and draw a decoration the tree (using a whiteboard marker).

Once everyone was happy with how the tree looked, we took a few minutes to reflect on the good things we accomplished, learnt and enjoyed as a team throughout 2016. We wrote those thoughts on post-it notes and placed them on the board, in grouped areas. We then asked everyone to share their thoughts.

As it’s the last sprint of the year it’s difficult to take constructive actions that people will follow up next time, so this retrospective is a really good way to reflect on what we’ve achieved over the past 12 months and close out your year as a team.



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Baseball themed retrospective

Earlier this month the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, a truely amazing sporting moment. This made me think that I shouldn’t wait 108 years to try a baseball themed retrospective.

A couple of weeks ago I tried it out with a couple of the teams I’m working with and here is how it went.

I started by talking about the Cubs winning the World Series and if anyone followed it. I then drew the home base on our whiteboard and the lines to second and third bases from it. This gave us a clear division on the board. Fair territory and foul territory.

I then got the team to take a few minutes and reflect on the things that went well for us in the past sprint and the things that didn’t. Placing their thoughts on post-it notes and then on the board either in Fair (for good) and Foul (for not good).

We then grouped the post-it’s into clusters and spoke through each cluster from foul to fair, taking actions as we went.

Overall this was a pretty simple theme to work with, and something you could try if you were looking for a basic format to mix up your retrospective.


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He-man and the Masters of the Universe 

I recently introduced my kids (6 & 3 years old) to one of my favourite tv series from when I was a kid, He-man and the Masters of the Universe.

As a kid I remember waking up early on a Saturday to watch this program, and only 5 episodes in and my kids are hooked.

As a parent it’s always awesome to see your kids interested and excited in the things that brought you joy at the same age.

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Peer Introduction Game

Today was the end of our sprint and rather than running our usual retrospective we decided to mix things up a bit and play a game. We’ve had a number of new starters in our team recently so I thought it was a good time to play the peer introduction game.

The peer introduction game is a way for people in a team for get to know each other more than just by a job title.

How does it work?

  • Start by splitting the group into pairs, and ask people to ideally pair up with someone they’re not familiar with or someone they don’t sit next to regularly. If you have an odd number of people then I suggest that the facilitator sits out.
  • Ask the pairs to have a quick conversation to find out more about each other. To help give them a few examples of things they can find out such as the person’s name, where they live, where they were born, what their favourite food is, where they have travelled or would like to travel.
    • Time box the conversation to 5-7 minutes.
  • Before the pairs launch into their conversations, explain that at the end of the time box that they’ll need to introduce their peer to the group.

What did we learn?

  • Retrospectives are all about continuous improvement and most of the time we focus on the things we can improve from a process, system or technical point of view. Rarely do we reflect on the most important thing which is the relationships we have with the people that we work with. We spend majority of our time with these people, so it’s always good to improve what we know about them beyond their job title or the role they play in a team.
  • The peer introduction game has the potential to create a real buzz in the team as people discover and learn things about people that they never knew, which can spark further conversations post the session.
  • The peer introduction game is really good active listening practice.
  • This game also get’s everyone in the group to talk and share something. Quite often we can go to retrospectives where people just attend, this game requires everyone to be present and involved.

Finally the peer introduction game isn’t just for retrospectives, it could be used to kick start a workshop or an event where people are going to spend time working with each other.

Overall the peer induction game took around 40 minutes to complete for 20 people.




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When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go.

“When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go” – Emma Thompson as Nanny McPhee

I really love this quote from a book I’ve been reading – Coach Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins.

It made me think of the almost three year journey I went on with my previous team, from teaching in the trenches, to coaching and helping them grow and learn, to advising them from time to time.

As a coach it’s important to transition and adapt your role in the team as the team matures over the journey together.

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Thirsty work at Disneyland 

My family and I just spent an amazing fun filled week at Disneyland in Anaheim in Southern California. Right now it’s the end of summer and the temperature was around the mid to low 30’s (celsius) each day we visited the parks. 

As fun and magical as a day at Disneyland can be, it can really wear you out physically. Therefore it’s important to stay hydrated. 

A bottle of water is around $3 (plus tax) at the park, which can really add up throughout the course of the day and week. There is alternative however which can save you some money and keep you well hydrated.

At the various counter service food outlets and restaurants in the parks (not carts), they serve soda’s from fountains. At these places (and they are everywhere) you can get iced water in take away cups for free. All you have to do is ask the server for a cup of iced water – simple as that.

This tip was a real lifesaver for our group and kept us well hydrated over the course of the magical week we spent at the magic kingdom.

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Preparing for our next Inspect and Adapt using the Sails and Anchors Retrospective Format

In a few weeks time I’m facilitating a program level retrospective (Inspect and Adapt) with around 60-80 people invited to attend.

I’m planning to use the Sails and Anchors format by splitting the room into small focus groups (max 10 -12 people per group). To kick it off I’ll ask the groups to nominate a facilitator and then using their whiteboards (which we’ll provide) to draw a sail boat and anchor picture (see below).

After explaining the format I’ll ask the groups to spend 2x 15-20 minutes breakouts, brainstorming and discussing the following:

  • The Sails – what are the things that push us forward?
  • The Anchors – what is holding us back or slowing us down?

At the end of the two breakouts I’ll ask the facilitators to bring their top 2 topics from their groups sails and anchors and collate them on a program level boat (which I’ll draw at the start of the session).

We’ll the talk about those topics (getting the facilitators to present them) as one large group and take SMART actions that we can implement over the next 12 weeks (until we come back for the next Inspect and Adapt).

I’ll let you know how we go.


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