Thursday, May 15, 2014

Go personal to boost engagement.

Weird episode during today's EventStorming session. We had a meeting room with a big wall available, that we set up with a plotter paper roll. The room had a big table, that could not be moved away so we simply moved it aside, to provide more space in front of the Modelling Surface.

Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. Some participants showed up a little late, so we waited for them. When they came in, they saw other participants sitting (cause we've been waiting) and immediately grabbed their seats. Hrmpf! :-/

Well, I thought: "This isn't going to last much" and said politely: "You won't need your seat. We'll be standing most of the time, working by the paper roll". What I didn't consider was that many of the participants were ladies, and the answer was: "We don't have the right shoes for that!".

Ouch. Surprise. I've never thought about it. :-(

Add that to the fact that I couldn't adopt my usual I'll-kick-you-in-the-butt strategy that works perfectly with developers, (I am a gentleman, after all), and for the first time having people stand up became harder than usual, resulting in lower-than-average engagement and less observable body language, for a while.

Time for a Plan B

The surprise trick that really worked well was "could you please add Actors close to the corresponding event?" and since "actor" meant "me" for many of the participants, they all stood up and added information to the model, raising engagement at the same time. Wow!

Ok, lessons:

  1. As Jef Claes reminded me, remove seats. I focused on the table and forgot the smaller enemies. Seats were still there, inviting and comfortable
  2. Environment matters a lot. And preparing the meeting is really important. I did a survey on the room before the meeting (something which is hard if I travel to lead a workshop), but I focused on surfaces, and space. Maybe is time to set up a room preparation checklist (next post, maybe). As Sun Tzu said: "Every battle is won before it's ever fought"
  3. personal involvement (actor == me) works pretty well as an engagement booster. I normally go to actors together with Command exploration, but in this case (small timeframe available) it was better to go straight to the actors.
  4. shoes... maybe mention 'bring comfortable shoes' in the invitation.
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