SFiO
The InterAction Collection
OF SOLUTION FOCUS PRACTICE IN ORGANISATIONS · Vol 11 - 2019 Edition

SOLWorld 2019 conversations on Agile

SF as a language for agility

Sep 8, 2020

Daniel Meier, Elvira Kalmár, Attila Molnàr, roy-mariott, Ralph Miarka& Veronika Jungwirth

This conference was beautifully organised by an agile team who succeeded in moving locations at the last minute and still creating the space for amazing conversations and ideas to emerge. In this series, you will find articles, videos, interviews and presentations exploring different perspectives on how SF and Agile compliment each other in project work, team work and much more. Enjoy!

1. Beyond Agile – Building Self-Managing Teams

Daniel Meier and Elvira Kalmar

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SESSION

Going agile and becoming adaptive is a trend in big and small organisations all over the World. We are quite convinced that “Agile” is just a label and method to get more self-organised and adaptive, which is not fitting for each and every team/organisation. The Art is to co-create with the actual team their unique way of self-organised work.

We share a case study with you about a leader’s challenge in a big multinational company in Hungary building up an adaptive team in a co-creative way. We will create an interactive space together with you to identify how solution focused mindset was used in this process. And we would like even to broaden the perspective and collect what other solution focused tools would be useful for leaders in order to develop adaptive, self-managing teams.

Summarising the pre-conference workshop at the SOLworld Conference in Budapest, 2019 by Daniel Meier and Elvira Kalmar

Can you create a self-managing team in a highly hierarchical organisation? Do you have to wait until a whole company is re-designed and transformed, or can change happen bottom-up and sporadically in organisations?

We believe change is life and evolution is constant. We have brought a real-life case to share and work with at this pre-conference workshop to prove this. Our best hope was to give confidence to our participants that they are all work (r)evolutionist and SF offers a wide range of tools they can use to make work and collaboration more effective and fun.

The title suggests that there is more to Agile than its new cross-functional structures, new roles and rituals. Every team, function, department and organisation can work out in small steps what works best for them to achieve their goals and purpose and can offer an opportunity to its members to grow in the meantime, as an individual.

We have presented the situation with its challenges at the entry point, from the perspective of the new leader. We offered the participants to work in small groups on what they would do if they had just landed in this position.

After the small group work, we moved on to share how Elvira tackled this situation and what SF tools she has used as a leader to build the professional confidence of team-members and develop cohesion in the team. We also explained how individuals self-assigning to a task has out-ruled delegation and how the common purpose of the team leads every action.

Then we presented the results of these actions – the successes, the excellent team spirit and the high performing and high energy team. Of course, with the new developments, new challenges arose, and we offered the participants the opportunity to work on these challenges in self-assigned groups around five challenges.

The last challenge was on a different level. After three years the team became a department, growing from 15 to 35. So, all the good ways Elvira and her team built, for how to work together, to co-create, to develop their work, became impossible. At this point, Elvira used an even more participative way to co-create: the use of Open Space technology to develop together what the team does and how it works together.

The 3 hours workshop with the small group work around the challenges, was just enough to give an overview of the case, inspire participants to see the situation from the leaders’ point of view and experience the way the team was working together at different stages. It also showcased a wide range of SF tools one can use; from interviewing, through on-boarding and performance motivation, all the way to continuous team-alignment to the ever-changing objectives and key results.

An online version of this workshop is available in a Webinar format: for new dates check out our website: https://www.gobeyond-project.com/go-beyond-agile.

2. Solution-Focused Toolbox for Agile Transformation

Attila Molnár

Article

Agility is a lot more than a buzzword that fills every corporate discussion. Agility is a way of doing things, a way of learning. The novelty here is that the environment that makes this form of learning effective is very different from the corporate environments that leaders have experienced in the last “few” decades.

In my workshop:

  • I wanted to demonstrate three basic principles that shape agility as a learning process in organisations.
  • I wanted all the participants to have a vivid and living experience of how individuals and teams feel and behave in an environment that represents these three principles.

So, we used an exercise that is very useful for demonstration.

Then, as a learning team does, we reflected on these experiences from an SF perspective in an SF way. Next, we had a short discussion about what participants could harvest from this brief experiment with agility.

The 3 Principles

  1. Built-in instability is created by a low-structured environment where goals are very clear but the way there is not known, therefore not specified; teams have to find their own ways to a solution. Teams have to change their habits, processes and ways of thinking; this can be very stressful, but necessary for something very new to rise.
  2. Subtle control is a state of a coach’s mind (in organisations, a leader’s mind), which represents the intention to create and maintain a space for experiments towards the clearly specified goal. As soon as control gets too intense, teams become more relaxed and start to expect guidance on what to do. In an agile environment, these guidelines are very subtle to create and maintain space for the team to learn.
  3. Learning is the fundamental and only process that enables teams and organisations to adapt to unknown, complex and volatile environments. This is a very simple, yet very powerful and effective “tool” that coaches must facilitate in order to help teams work better. It is a constant reflection on where we are now, what is different than before and where we head next.

The experience one has in an agile environment where one applies these principles, is very similar to the experience in a coaching process.

  • The goal is very clear (after a while, and it changes sometimes), but the way there is not, since we have never done something like this before.
  • We coaches are in a state of mind, where we silently witness our clients as they try different “experiments” and sometimes they are frustrated.
  • Finally, as we proceed, we stop for a minute and reflect on each and every tiny detail of change.

Agility and Solution Focus are synonymous in the sense that the basic and fundamental value of both is learning and becoming something better in a way that we never imagined, before using these approaches.

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SESSION

I’ll invite you all to meet at the cross-roads of corporate agile transformations and Solution Focused practices. Let’s discover how these two, seemingly different worlds can support each other, with our best hopes to provide a living experience on our Toolbox that we, Solution-Focused Agile practitioners use in our daily life when helping individuals, teams and companies grow into this new way of work.

Let me share my experiences on how SF tools and practices can make these dramatic and sometimes painful changes easier and much more effective, even enjoyable and let yourselves find your own.

3. The Zone of Productive Change

Roy Marriott (Shakya Kumara)

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SESSION

In this workshop (usually called “Generating Change without Generating Resistance”), we cover:

  • Scenarios where we’re experiencing Resistance
  • Antipatterns to change – and how to avoid them
  • The Zone of Productive Change – and how to expand it
  • Engagement and motivation for change – and how to generate it
  • A 7 step model for Generating Change without generating Resistance
  • This is a practical workshop where we have a live example of change people want to generate – where there either is or could be some resistance.

As we go through the workshop, you can apply the exercises to your specific example, generating new perspectives and possible action steps. The aim is that by the end you’ll have identified a small step you can take back to work to really make a difference.

Audio of the Session

Here is the link to Roy Marriott’s Workshop Podcast

Interview with Roy Marriott

WHAT IS AND WHAT ISN’T “AGILE COACHING”?

Contributors – Ralph Miarka & Veronika Jungwirth

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SESSION

We noted that the term “Agile Coaching” leads to some confusion within some parts of the coaching community. Is this a new kind of coaching? What kind of coaching is this? What evidence do we have of Agile Coaching? Is there a recorded session of Agile Coaching that I could watch to observe Agile Coaching in action? Why do I see “agile coaching” and “Agile Coaching” – is this the same?

In our session, we want to clarify the term “Agile Coaching” and connect it with the solution-focused approach in coaching. We hope to support both Agile Coaches and solution-focused coaches and to contribute to the discussion

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

We wrote the book on “Agile Teams lösungsfokussiert coachen” – Ralph is an “Agile Coach” while Veronika is a solution-focused coach. Ralph is also a trained and practicing SF coach and Veronika works also with agile teams.

Daniel Meier
Daniel Meier
InterAction Contributor
SFiO Contributor

Daniel is a Coach, trainer and mentor for Brief Coaches for 17 years. As co-founder and owner of Solutionsurfers he is a worldwide acting facilitator for SF Coaching Programmes and author of several books about it.

Elvira Kalmár
Elvira Kalmár
InterAction Contributor
SFiO Contributor

Elvira Kalmár, Go Beyond Project, powered by Solutionsurfers® who supported the transformation and offers Solution Focused Organisation Development and Design courses (Native in Change) in Hungary, Switzerland and Belgium, and supports Organisations and Consultants with online mentoring.

Attila Molnàr
Attila Molnàr
InterAction Contributor

Attila is an SF hearted, organizational psychologist and agile practitioner with 15 years of experience in helping teams and organizations through change. He teaches in different Hungarian universities, published a few research papers on agile mindset and developed an assessment tool that helps teams follow their progress in their transformation and make their sings of progress loud and clear and transparent.

Ralph Miarka
Ralph Miarka
InterAction Contributor
SFiO Contributor

Ralph works as an independent coach, consultant and trainer. He has been leading companies and their teams to a successful agile way of working for years.

Veronika Jungwirth
Veronika Jungwirth
InterAction Contributor
SFiO Contributor

Veronika has been working independently and enthusiastically since 2006 as a coach, trainer for solution-focused coaching and leadership, facilitator of team-building processes and as a consultant and facilitator of change processes in various industries.

John Brooker
John Brooker
Co-President
SFiO Reviewed Practitioner
Editor of Interaction
Chapter Head
SFiO Contributor

John has over thirty years experience of leading people to collaborate effectively. He gained his leadership experience as a Senior Vice President in Visa International, working on international projects. Since 2004 he has used his leadership and Solution Focus expertise to enable people in multinational and national organisations to collaborate effectively. He is Co-President of Solution Focus in Organisations, an SFiO Reviewed Practitioner and has an MBA from The Open University in the UK.

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