Originally sent April 21st, 2020.

Hello my distributed friend

I have a few short stories and some other tips I hope you will find useful. Specifically, you will find in this update of my distributed agile field notes:

  • Remote Facilitation Tip: Oh no! This group doesn’t use video!
  • Story: Look for efficient gifts for self-care and other care in times of struggle
  • More Remote Facilitation Tips – from the blog
  • Updates from the distributed field:
  • Next time

Have a question for me? Just reply to this email. 

Remote Facilitation Tip: Oh no! This group doesn’t use video!

What do you do when you only can only share a screen, an audio line, and chat? How can you possibly keep people engaged?

Set up feedback loops where you can.

A few weeks ago, someone who had heard one of my prior talks invited me to speak with a government agency. The talk actually mushroomed to include a few government agencies that were wrestling with being rapidly remote. Video was not possible for many of these people.

The host warned me this could be challenging. She stated that this group was somewhat reserved but typically would ask questions when they met in person. However, in the few weeks they’ve been rapidly remote, there has been almost no questions or comments in their “lunch-and-learn” type events. Also, as government agencies, unapproved applications like polling software was probably not going to work. We even struggled getting Microsoft Teams to allow me and others to connect and we had to shift to their version of Adobe Connect.

So I was left with the ability to share a presentation, a shared audio channel, and the built in chat for Adobe Connect. I reminded myself …

Set up feedback loops where you can.

You can see my presentation on Speakerdeck. You will notice design choices in the deck to set up feedback loops, such as:

  • encourage feedback through chat (remember, they were a quiet bunch)
  • Ask for questions early and often (and set the expectation up front)
  • Encourage audio where possible.

For some attendees, this was their first time working remote. We immediately fell into the scenario where someone was having a heated discussion with family members and forgetting to mute. So our host muted immediately. That left us with chat only.

In asking for the attendees background (What is their role? And how long have they been remote?), I found a good mix of roles and remote experience. The more experienced remote workers felt comfortable with chat.

However, my first stop for questions during the presentation produced no results. I proposed a question I would frequently hear at this point. There was agreement in chat. For my second stop for questions, the host piped up with a question. No other questions. But I did get some acknowledgement in chat on some topics I covered.

At the end, there were a couple of questions and I offered to stay on for others. After the bulk of the group departed, there was some additional questions and appreciation for the presentation. They were listening. There may also have been some psychological safety challenges because of the wide range of roles attending. Hard to say.

However, by setting up those feedback loops, I did get good feedback toward the end.

Did I reach them all? Again, hard to say. But it was not a paid event. It was just an opportunity to provide some ideas on how they could improve going rapidly remote. Some of those ideas did take root from the feedback I heard.

Story: Look for efficient gifts for self-care and other care in times of struggle

Sometimes you have to get away from the computer. Sometimes your family provides “opportunities’ to do that.

My wife and kids took on the project of reviving our garden recently. In mid-March, my wife and I ordered a rain barrel and it sat in our garage for a couple of weeks. The craziness of this time made it difficult to find time to install it for the garden project.

My wife pulled me out of my office yesterday (in a good way) and asked if we could install the rain barrel. Ten minutes later, the rain barrel was assembled, my wife was happy (more that I responded right away) and we all had an enjoyable time outside.

However, we were missing some key connectors for our hose. Our local hardware store was closing early due to COVID-19, but it did offer curbside pickup when open. So I placed an order on the hardware store app and took advantage of the beautiful weather today to ride to the store to pick it up. (Photo on Twitter)

Years ago, I learned from my friend Christopher Avery about efficient gifts. These are gifts that are easy for you to give and can help out someone else. I’m glad I thought of these efficient gifts that allowed me to spend time with my family and get some exercise.

Please do yourself a favor during these difficult times. Don’t stay behind your computer all day. Think of some “efficient gifts” that will allow you to exercise some self-care and other-care at the same time away from the screen.

More Remote Facilitation Tips – from the blog

I’ve been trying to provide more tips on remote facilitation. In two recent blog posts, I share a meta-framework for converting a location-based exercise to an online exercise. Each blog post walks through an exercise. But if you read closely, you will discover five online exercises revealed.

Converting Exercises for Online Facilitation – the Jumpstart Storytelling Exercise

Converting Exercises for Online Facilitation – the Dot Game

Hope you find these useful. There are actually five exercises in total men

Updates from the distributed field:

  • Many O reached out on LinkedIn and asked me: “Which slack communities do you recommend for Agile Coaches? I only use slack with my some clients but I’d like to join other communities to collaborate and contribute with other agile coaches like myself.” I recommend:

Next Time

There was much to share in this newsletter. Here are things for next time

  • What are some alternatives to Zoom? Stay tuned.
  • Agile2020 and Agile Coach Camp World Wide going virtual
  • New in-person online courses. Check them out early at https://www.markkilby.com/work…

See you online!  Stay safe, go outside when you can, talk to at least one person a day, and stay hopeful!