Jessica Soroky’s Guest Post #40: Let’s Play the Awareness Game

awareness game for teamsAgilists dream of dedicated teams, but reality oftentimes falls short.

People are taken from and added to teams as if they were more like the machines that sit on their desks instead of a living, breathing person.

In six months, more than half of my team members have changed. After each wave of moves, we redo our team agreements to ensure they stay agreements and not rules new members are forced to conform to.

I was facilitating these new team agreements when two previous agreements came up that got me thinking:

  1. “Problems will always exist – we agree to respond from a mental state of responsibility.”
  2. “We all have permission to ‘poke’ each other and raise awareness of the mental states we are in.”

If we redo our team agreements as new team members join, why don’t we reintroduce The Responsibility Process™?

Luckily, my brilliant team was thinking the same thing and we agreed to come together over the next few days to learn more about personal responsibility and leadership.

I knew I didn’t want to stand in the front of a conference room and just lecture, I had just gotten back from a two-day Innovation Games® training course that reiterated the importance and power that game play has in the work we do.

That was it, game it!

In order to ensure the new folks got a clear and complete understanding of The Responsibility Process, I still presented all the mental states by walking them through an example problem we face everyday – a mistake in our requirements.

After talking about awareness events and how this would be much easier to see in everyone else, I asked them to pair up.

“Now, imagine your partner is a friend you saw in the elevator, and you love The Responsibility Process so much that you can’t help but tell them about it in an elevator speech.”

I must give credit where credit is due – Christopher has his workshop attendees run through a very similar exercise. When I did it, I was so nervous, but afterward the concepts were cemented in my memory.

The fastest way to learn is to teach.

As the team members ran through their elevator speeches, they began asking questions, looking for clarity on how I had explained a certain mental state. They were excited and engaged!

As the exercise came to a close, I challenged them to play an ongoing game. They were each given five index cards, each with one of the mental states below the line — anything that is not “responsibility”:

  • Denial
  • Lay Blame
  • Justify
  • Shame
  • Obligation

The cards sat in the corner of every team member’s desk, in an open collaborative environment where we all hear each other’s conversations.

The game is this: when you hear a conversation where someone is below the line — simply raise the card that has the corresponding mental state on it instead of calling them out and interrupting a conversation.

The team members also maintained a scorecard broken into three categories:

  1. I caught it – they became aware of their own mental state before responding
  2. It caught me – they responded from a mental state below the line
  3. They caught me – a team member raised their awareness of their mental state

Within the first afternoon playing this game, the team completely embraced their new awareness. Some members would even hold up cards for themselves when they became self-aware that “it caught me.”

If you are currently struggling to get buy-in from your team members when it comes to applying and practicing responsibility, try activating their child and playing a game – it’s called awareness.

Jessica Soroky, CSM

Only 21 years old, Jessica is already a Certified Scrum Master with two years of practice in agile delivery and team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of non-profit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.

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Posted in Leadership, Responsibility on 06/11/2014 07:06 am
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