Last week Sarah and I were honoured to run a workshop at Agile Tour. The Pragmateam, PALO IT and EPIC Agile sponsored event is an intimate, local, grassroots conference about all things agile, with a strong focus on practical and insightful workshops. It was a great reminder of the value of engaging and sharing with the community.
Our workshop posed the challenge to attendees to go “From post it to prototype in 90 mins”. Could we go through Discovery and Alpha, from problem statement to paper prototype, including introducing a product delivery framework, a simulated scenario and a toolkit of techniques to use. The scenario we used was based on a Council’s competing needs of their residents, requiring an update their website to reduce calls and educate the residents.
To help simulate reality, we broke the workshop into 7 x 10 minute sprints, each sprint having a specific goal. Constraints can help creativity and drive focus for the team. It’s tempting to get stuck in the detail too early. We encouraged attendees to embrace the time box and move at speed.
With the clock ticking, the 30 attendees set out to work through the challenge. It’s fair to say that we were grateful for the great energy in the room and the brilliant ideas that marked each activity.
Here are a few insights we took away from the workshop:
Non-website solutions often address a digital problem better
Whenever we mentioned that the solution does not have to be strictly website - or even digital - related, people came up with the most amazing and practical ideas. It seems that even the digital solutions are more creative if pre-faced with the freedom to go broader than that.
Keep asking questions
Sarah and I role-played as sponsor and subject matter expert, which allowed participants to ask questions and gain new insights. Some jumped on the opportunity, some were more hesitant. In the end, everyone saw the benefit of engaging with the people they are building a solution for.
Music changes the energy
Cutting short people’s eager discussions and sketching is always a challenge in big room facilitation. This time we used music to get attention at the completion of each 10 minute sprint, focusing participants on what’s next - great advice from the MG Taylor playbook. The change in energy is palpable. As the volume increases, people start moving to the music and laugh, even late in the afternoon.
Use tools to guide your thinking
We used a few of our activity flashcards to help guide participants through some of the exercises we did. We consciously balanced the need to explain tools and techniques and avoid telling people what they may already know. As we went through tools like the product pitch, user journey, Google’s HEART Framework and Crazy 8s, the flashcards showed the exercise and guided people step by step through it.
While these tools are by no means a tick-in-the-box type activity, they are a great starting point to gain perspective and guide a group’s thinking.
A number of people asked for access to the flashcards after the session. The slideshow above contains all flashcards we used during the workshop.
Questions or feedback, let's catch up! We are always happy to discuss how to put the cards into actions or share other flashcards and techniques that make up the Pragmateam toolbox.
Big shout out to the Agile Tour Sydney organisers Jeremie Benzara, Terry Haayema, Marcela Lerda, Miles Tillinger and Mike Li. Thanks for organising such a great event - on to the next year!