Kumar Dattatrey...: Hi, everyone. Kumar Dattatreyan here with Agile Meridian, joined by my friend and colleague Jolly Rajan.
In this episode we're going to be talking about the things that we've learned, especially in the last, I'd say six weeks or so. We had the opportunity with a really interesting engagement with one of our clients, not an IT firm, they're not a software development shop, but what they wanted was some training and coaching and agile Scrum and Kanban, and it was really, really interesting, not only for them, we hope we think that they got a really [inaudible]. But also for us, because most of what we do is work in natural transformation, working with teams that are developing software. And of course they're product owners and they're leaders.
It's all about the digital transformation and how they move to more collaborative environments. And this group was different. It wasn't about software, it was more about how they operate as a team. But interesting how we, and the things we learn as we develop the content for this course where I was developing a lot of the content. Jolly and others were delivering a lot of the content. So the collaboration that we experienced heightened by of course this request that all of this be completed within a month or within six weeks made it a really interesting six weeks.
Jolly Rajan: Yeah, no doubt.
Kumar Dattatrey...: So Jolly, what were some, some of your takeaways from this experience?
Jolly Rajan: Yeah, I mean, it's really great that you pointed out Kumar, that there were learnings not just during the delivery of the training and the coaching, but also while developing the content for us. Because it was an equal learning between you, Kumar, Mike, who is our other partner, a couple of other people that we engaged with. We had to learn quite a bit, one of how to work with each other, which was, I mean, I didn't know a couple of other people before, so I had to work with them. And Kumar, Mike, and I had to work on creating this content, working with the content that Kumar spent a lot of time on. And I had to learn from Kumar, what did you do? So how does this exercise work? I have never done that online before. I have never used mirror to do that. How will that work?
And learning some of that was as much exciting as delivering that content to our clients. I think I learned a lot, thanks to Kumar, on how to deliver some of this content and how to get those exercises across. And I'm sure I learned as much from delivering that content as well, because these folks that we worked with, Kumar pointed out that they were not really IT focused, they work in the medical field, they're talking to their patients, they're working with clients who give them the medical background, and they had to put this all together in a very, very agile fashion, unlike something that an IT team would go through.
So their experience with that was equally exciting Kumar. I know you interacted with them a little bit too, and if you would pull out one thing that you learned from your interactions, what would that be?
Kumar Dattatrey...: I think for me, it was really hearing about where they are today. So, what is it that they're trying to accomplish by applying agile ways of working in their work environment? And so it's really hearing them and trying to assess where they are. One of the rules or principles of Kanban is, start where you are, start, where the team is, and in this case, this team is not developing software, they were looking at really making the way they worked together more efficient. And understanding more about the applied Scrum and Kanban to the type of work that they do and the way they work together with their clients and the way they service the public really that's calling them for information and things like that.
So for us, it was a little challenging, and I'm sure for people that are watching, and coaches that are out there, you do this all the time, tailoring your content to your audience. In our case, it was tailoring content to a non software audience. You can't use the typical examples and references. That was my learning.
Jolly Rajan: Yeah. And, that is very apparent. I remember my first session with them, I'm talking about metrics and we are used to velocity, we're used to [inaudible], we're used to cycle time. We're talking about all these metrics, and they're like, what would that be? And the struggle, the real test for me was to adapt that to their environment, to listen to what they were going through, what they are measuring, and Hey, there's a relation here. It's not the same, but you could use the underlying methods, the underlying analysis that kind of follows through with the metrics that we are used in the IT world, like velocity of cycle time.
And they were pretty excited about, they actually have many of that data, but they haven't thought about analyzing it the way that we are used to analyzing it. So these kind of training sessions kind of morphed into more of a coaching kind of mentoring session where we were trying to solve their problems using the data that they have adopting new ways of looking at it, so that was pretty exciting.
Kumar Dattatrey...: Yeah. And of course, all of this was done remotely, live online, using all the tools that we have gotten more familiar with, like [inaudible] and Zoom and things like that. And I have to say, again, I wasn't the deliverer, it was Jolly and Michael and others that we brought in to help us, but the feedback was amazing. That the people that are in these sessions were telling us how engaging it was, how engaged they were and how much they learned from the process.
So I'd say that another learning for us is the learning instructional design element of developing courses is so very important that you think about it from the end user's point of view, the learner's point of view, and you design content in a way that is suited to the medium in which you're teaching it.
If you're in person, of course you're going to use different tools and techniques, and you have whiteboards and charts and things like that.
And if you're remote, and of course you see everyone, they're all right in front of you. If you're remote, it's a challenge to get that same level of engagement, even with people having their cameras on. I know as an instructor, because I do quite a bit of this, even with all the cameras on, on a Zoom screen you've got a tiled window of 20 participants, and someone's talking, you have to really search to see who it is that's talking. You don't have the normal cues that you get in room where you can sort of go with the direction of the sound where the sound's coming from and figure out okay, who it is that's speaking. You really have to focus and concentrate. And, of course not everyone turns a camera on so that becomes even harder, right Jolly? The little box that lights up.
Jolly Rajan: Yeah. It's very, it is... I know everyone's home environment is different. You probably don't want to come on camera. So we as trainers and coaches and consultants have to be even more tuned to those verbal cues that we hear. The interruptions that maybe just looking there in the background and prompting them to come out with their thoughts and following up and saying, "Hey, you want to say something? I thought you were going to say something" and kind of following up on that verbal cue becomes even more important.
Engaging training in this circumstances that we are at is a whole different ballgame than what we were used to in 2019 for sure.
Kumar Dattatrey...: Yeah. Yeah, it certainly is. It's morphing. I know we've talked about this in prior sessions. People a year and a half ago would never think of doing remote training or on demand training, and now it's almost, because we've done it and people have experienced it and experienced both the good and bad of it, people now expect that to be available to them. In fact, this client asked, can we have recordings of these sessions so we can view them at our own pace?
And we see the industry moving to flip classrooms where you have content that's available online and you have live online sessions with an instructor to help reinforce the learning. And we see that's where the model is going. And this last month, six weeks, was a really good experiment in applying what we've learned over the last year, and of course we've learned so much more just in the last six weeks, about how to do that and how to do it well.
Jolly Rajan: Yeah. Yeah. And what we worked with this client was on the fundamentals of agile introduction to the Scrum and Kanban frameworks. And we fully intend to take that public for the benefit of the rest of the folks out there, whether you are in IT, whether you are not, especially given that this was tailored a lot to the audience. We think that the content that we have done will appeal to a much broader audience than just the IT or the software delivery teams. So I think we are planning on taking this public on demand classes, right?
Kumar Dattatrey...: Absolutely. Yeah. We think we have a really good product here and again, it was a collaboration, it wasn't one person or two people, it was combination of the partners at Agile Meridian of course, and then our friends who helped us deliver the content, giving us feedback on the content that led to improvements and it was truly a very iterative and incremental process in building this learning and delivering it.
Jolly Rajan: Yeah. And we expect to keep that going. I'm pretty sure we will add, evolve the content that we have to serve a wider audience, and for the benefit of the people who are interested.
Kumar Dattatrey...: Absolutely. What would you say is a takeaway for our viewers of this video?
Jolly Rajan: Yeah. So whether you look at it from our perspective, as in the training and the work that we did over the past month, or we look at it from the people that we interacted with, the client that we worked with, it is a story of continuous improvement. Continuous improvement for us as a relatively young company, continuous improvement for them in terms of improving their already established protocols and playbooks. They have now a different way of looking at their playbook and saying, "Hey, how do we remove these inefficiencies that we have in the system?" "How do we remove the base that we have in the system and make it better for us?" We, in collaborating as in Agile Meridian, in collaborating to create this content, we have experienced inefficiencies in our system as well.
Our training development is not where it can be. We are continuously improving that. Mike and I collaborated on creating some video content for the Kanban classes where I created the deck, the material, and Mike created the video. He's more [inaudible] obviously, and we have done this before for another class, but we learned so much from it that this time when we did it, it was so much better. Mike was saying that it almost feels like we are thinking the same way, which to me is continuous improvement. That's what I want to do. I'm sure we can do much, much better than that, but I'm pretty happy with the improvement that we made internally and we'll continue to do so in the next situation of it.
Kumar Dattatrey...: Yeah. I love that. And so continuous improvement, a lot of people use that term, it's a buzzword, right? Doesn't have to be an Agile or Lean thing. It's just about experiments that you conduct with things that you do every day and how you might improve them, in service to others or in service to yourself. What are things that frustrate you, or the blockers or constraints that are in your way of your daily work and ways to improve them in some small way, shape, or form, and that's kind of obviously where Agile coaches have been doing for a long time, it's sort of second nature to us.
But, work like this over the last six weeks really reminded us of the power of that continuous improvement mindset and the learning that it can help exponentially increase, for not just the partners, but ideally it serves our clients as well.
So that was our message, right?
Jolly Rajan: Yep.
Kumar Dattatrey...: One little experiment at a time.
Jolly Rajan: That's absolutely right. Thanks everybody. Thanks for dialing in. This is our Agile shot for the week. We'll be back with you in two weeks' time.
Kumar Dattatrey...: All right. See you all later. Bye-bye.
Jolly Rajan: bye