Do you have 18 second team members on your software development project?

I am presenting a workshop on Clean Language questions and listening at the Agile2014 conference coming up next week.  Why might you want to come? Well, because an 18 second team member might not be the best team member.

Management guru Tom Peters says, if you are 18 second manager, you’ll need to focus on strategic listening so your business doesn’t fail.  The 18 seconds refers to a study done of doctors who are there to diagnose your ailments – and that is the average amount of time doctors let the patient explain what’s going on, before they give a diagnosis.  We all know how many software projects fail for hidden assumptions, and imperfect interpretations. One could say: if you are an 18 second team member, you’ll need to focus on ‘clean listening’ so your software release doesn’t fail.  So let’s get better at that on our agile teams.

I have been involved with the clean language community for several years, having been introduced to it by a fellow agile coach. While Clean Language and Symbolic Modeling emerged from the therapy field, the questions and related methods have been used by people world wide in a variety of industries such as: police investigations, nuclear plant auditing, medicine, schools, recruiting and in some small pockets of the IT world.  When you begin to use clean language questions, impeccable listening becomes an unavoidable skill that is acquired through practice. The reason for this is that the question format requires the use of the client’s exact words. There is no paraphrasing when asking the questions.  The clean philosophy is also about intentionally setting outcomes as well as overcoming blocks, which most agilists will relate to.  It is also about creating better self-learning and building bridges of understanding between people with necessarily unique experiences. Experiences revealed via metaphor are at the heart of clean’s success at creating change. Team generated metaphors lead to an awareness of the team’s current alignment with the project, revealing obstacles and opportunities. Clean questions and metaphors can and have been used in cross-department interviews to bridge understanding between teams and customers, or development shops and sales. The possibilities are truly just emerging more broadly outside the core area of coaching and therapy.

As an added benefit to those both going and those not able to go to the Agile 2014 conference,  Sharon Small and I will make available a Leanpub ebook called ‘Who Is Using Clean Language anyway?’. This book is a compilation of interviews with Clean Language enthusiasts from around the world. The book will give readers a sense of the power of Clean even if they haven’t been trained before or haven’t read any of the Clean foundational books.  It will also include an Appendix of the major books and trainers around the world for those interested in further exploration.

P.S.  Here are my slides from that talk.

Explore posts in the same categories: Clean Language

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