My Learnings from a Session I Taught, Myself (XP, Feedback + Notes)

I facilitated a session to simulate planning, development, feedback and iteration in an Agile fashion. I used a simulation called XP Game. This game originated based on the concepts introduced in eXtreme Programming book by Kent Beck. It provides a visual and interactive way to understand the values of XP, and to a wider extent Agile.

I am not going to elaborate on how I did run the session and what I learned. It is a very lengthy process to talk about. I want to talk about my observation facilitating the session.

I am very eager to receive feedbacks from the audience at the end of my sessions. Every time I am running a session, I am asking for feedback. I learned and improved myself a lot based on them. I strongly suggest you give it a try.

Let me give you a little background. I ran the XP Game session as a substitute for another facilitator that usually runs them. Let’s call him Chocolate King, as he loves chocolate a lot. Some of the participants in my session had taken part in the same session ran by Chocolate King earlier.

At the end of the session, I asked everyone to rate the session they’ve been part of from 1 to 5, with 5 the highest and write a comment if they want. The session got an average of 4.5 out of 5. There is still room for improvement. I would consider this as a session that provided value for the attendees.

Feedback Wall

At the end of the session, I experimented with a new approach to receive feedback. I let everyone finish wiring their feedback and post them on the wall and without taking a look at the feedback wall, I started my experiment. I asked a few people personally for their feedback. I asked them in one-on-one style right after the end of the session, and I specifically aimed for the people that took part in the same session facilitated by Chocolate King.

The results were interesting. Three out of four people were comparing the session I ran with the session Chocolate King ran earlier. They were pointing out the differences between the two. As a Coach, I could have asked them questions about how the difference add value or not, I didn’t. Not that I didn’t value their feedback or way of thinking, but I wanted to see where do we get to. I called these kinds of situation Feedback Failure Mode.

In the session that I facilitated, I used new facilitation techniques that I have never used before. I was hoping to get some feedback on those, I didn’t. I had to explicitly ask one or two people about that. I got great feedback when I explicitly asked about a specific action that I took. It was great to hear those.

Scrum Visualization!

At the debriefing, we ended up talking about the J-curve and how it is expected for new teams to go through that. These are the debriefing question I had written prior to the session to use for it:

  • What challenges did you face?
  • Tell me more about what you observed.
  • What’re your thoughts on estimation?
  • How did the implementation go?
  • Any areas of improvement? 
  • What worked well and what didn’t?
  • What story delivered fastest? Was it the one you estimated originally?
  • What would you share with the customer at the end of the iteration? 
  • How estimation worked? Did it get more precise?
  • How did velocity help?
  • What have you learned?
  • Run experiments
  • How have you failed? and what would you do about it? 
  • How was the estimation?
  • How is it going to change the backlog your experience in the first iteration?
J-curve for new teams

To learn more about the game in detail head to the XP Game page. Also, you can find detail instruction on how to run it with all the material necessary!

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