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Speed Dating (as development team collaboration)

Our team’s topic was „culture and mindset“. We were looking for ways to foster a mindset of selforganisation and „leadership by everyone“, for means to create and inspire a culture of agile values.

We decided to create a toolbox over the weekend containing practical ready-to-use things to try in our teams/companies. We came up with a small matrix of what could work as approach: Games, powerful questions, safe-to-fail experiments. There’s plenty more you could think of, but we left it at that to get going.

In our second sprint we tackled the task of creating a safe-to-fail experiment for a collaboration format inspiring self organisation and alignment in a team. The result is: Speed dating!


Speed dating for development team pairs

The idea is simple. The team works in pairs for a given timebox, then partners are rotated to form new pairs. After all possible combinations have paired you are done. In our view that fosters

  • self organisation
    • because the team has to find a working scheme for pairing permutation
    • because the team/pairs have to figure out a way of quick onboarding for the person new on the pair/task
  • alignment
    • because everyone has to become aware of all tasks in progress and their purpose respectively, you cannot concentrate on only a part of the sprint’s scope
  • responsibility
    • as you actively and productively get in touch with all tasks and all teammembers you might feel a greater responsibility for the sprint result in general

Once we had briefly brainstormed the idea we actually tried speed dating as a format to further discuss the idea and get a feeling how speed dating might work (actually that was a lot of fun).


Chose your speed dating scenario

We visualized the different alternatives we thought of for possible speed dating scenarios in a decision tree. The most important decision to make is probably: Do you want to try out speed dating for one day oder two, or do you want to do it for a full sprint. The latter might not be safe-to-fail depending on your situation  whereas one day (sufficient for teams up to 6 people) or two days (sufficient for teams up to 8 people) might be considered safe-to-fail.

The second decision to make is: Do you want to have 1 task per person (people take the task with them to the next pair) or per computer (the tasks stays at the computer workplace so that after 2 rounds a totally new pair is working on the task).

The latter has the advantage that everybody gets in touch with all tasks. The „disadvantage“ is that every pair must be able to at least basically work on every task. That is a general goal in agile teams but might pose a problem in real life. We felt that the time box per pair should probably be 30 minutes plus. But to figure out what works might be part of the experiment as well.


We will try it out and post our experiences and learnings, we would be happy if you would let us know in case you give it a try. (We thought of speed dating as an interesting format for retrospectives too, but that’s a different story. Also we were told later that’s an approach already listet in the retromat.)

Leading Change


Mindmap Change
What means change to us?
Target Group and its Needs
Target group: Change Agents and its needs

We started with a short introduction of the method in the book Lean Change by  and discussed what change mean to us and to whom we would like to dedicate our work.

We came up with the idea of adding the missing examples to Jason’s book.

By exploration of the Lean Change Cycle with an intense example from a strongly regulated environment we started filling  out the Change Canvas1 and worked then on the full-blown change cycle.

Lean Change Cycle
Lean Change Cycle taken from:

In the end we saw that without having an audio trail it will not be possible to understand the example in total so that we spend our remaining time on two additional examples.

Working with Examples

After understanding the method we practice in two groups with one  detailed change example each:

  • Develop a product for a big company in agile setup
  • Make salaries in the company transparent

We also try what will fit better, filling in the canvas first or start with the Lean Change Cycle.

Develop a Product in an Agile Setup

Change Canvas


  • Lack of innovations
  • Fear of laid back
  • Customer loss/Bankruptcy
  • Not enough revenue

Target State

  • Keep current customers
  • Bring a new product into the market
  • Acquire new customers with our new product


We are an innovative company and with our products world market leader.


We will develop together with 2 to 5 customers a new product.


We assume that working on a new product (MVP2) with our customers will keep our current customers on board and will bear great ideas for more new products to come. We will measure this by collecting feedback for our new product and will so see the basic willingness for the switch.


  • head of product management
  • product management
  • project management
  • head of R&D3
  • general management
  • selected customers
  • assigned architects and developers


  1. with the customer
    • what’s in for him
    • pain points of the current product
    • feature overkill
    • unspoken wishes
  2. one-on-one talks with the decision-makers
  3. talks with the staff

Success Criteria

  • valuable feedback from customers
  • management buy-in
  • all required data for the business plan and the technical feasibility is available

Required Commitments

    • management
    • customers


For all: viability/prospects
Customer: pain relieves/wish fulfilled, prevention of migration costs, better service
Management: cope with financial risk, see the potential of the enterprise, better collaboration
Staff: professional growth

Make salaries in the company transparent


  • small company (ca. 30 employees, 1 CEO, 2 sales, 2 general manager, 3 technician, 20 developer)
  • rare salary negotiations
  • non-transparency in terms of company numbers
  • risk of loosing staff members
  • salary is a taboo topic
    • justification
    • contractual agreement
    • appreciation


  • free distributable team budget
  • set a salary for themselves
  • appreciation beyond salary
  • make financial figures transparent
  • ask for staff opinion on salary transparency
  • equalize salary first and make it transparent afterwards
  • make salaries voluntarily transparent
  • make salaries transparent immediately
  • same salary for all




We assume that by introducing a free team salary budget we resolve the problem of people leaving the company and will gain benefit  of people staying  with the company which we will measure by an employee survey



In a pilot team we mad an employee survey. After answering all the questions we gave the team a budget of 5000 EUR to be distributed on their own rules between the team members.

After 2 month we came back to the team and did the survey again to see what has been changed so far.


During the review session we compared the outcome of the two surveys and looked for further improvements.


It seems to us that it does not really matter what you fill out first, the canvas or the cycle both ways lead to the same result, get all the information you need, spot the options and then start the MVC4 experiment.

Special thanks

Sabine Canditt, Annette Harder, Susanne Kreis, Matthias Mühlhausen, Karl Kollischan, Akbar Salimi for being such a great team

1Strategic Change Canvas
2Minimal Viable Product
3Research and Development
4Minimal Viable Change

Creating Alignment Between Product Goals and Overall Organizational Strategy

Overall Goal:

In order to enable companies creating sustainable products/businesses, I (as a coach) want to help my clients to align their product goals with the overall organizational strategy.

Step I: Create awareness

a) Ask provoking questions e.g.

  • What is your company’s vision?
  • What is your strategy to achieve the vision?
  • What kind of products do you have?
  • Which of these relate to your company’s strategy to achieve the vision?
  • How do you know that these products match your strategy, how do you measure it?
  • Is your vision measurable and concrete?

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 11.51.20

b) Confronting the client with data and examples e.g.

  • 90% of startups/ new products fail –> you need to experiment a lot (or have a better approach) to make sure you get to the right innovations
  • If you don’t innovate you die e.g.
    • Blockbuster killed by Netflix and others
    • SMS (as a technology) killed by Apps like What’sApp
    • Blackberry (as a product and the company behind it RIM) and Nokia killed by Apple’s iPhone and Samsung+Google’s Android devices
    • Yahoo’s traditional model of being a platform killed by Google search
    • General Retail e.g. Kaufhof being killed by Amazon/Zalando
    • Existing TV (as a technology of providing content) is being killed by Netflix, iTunes but also YouTube
    • Barnes & Noble (bookstore) killed by Amazon and esp. its ebook Reader Kindle
    • Internet Explorer killed by Google Chrome
    • CDs (as a technology) killed by napster and later iTunes (with implications for the whole music industry)

Step II: Explain Concept

a) What kind of concepts exist?

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 11.38.13

Step III: Concrete actions

As an organization you need to define concrete metrics for your organizational goal/vision and underlying strategy (where to play and how to win). You need to review these metrics regularly and inspect & adapt.

Inspiring customers through data driven product decisions

Overall Goal:

In order to inspire their customers, I (as a coach) want to help my clients to focus on defining clear business goals, identifying metrics to measure success and take data driven decisions.

Step I: Create awareness

a) Ask provoking questions e.g.

  • How do you ensure you are building the right thing?
  • How do you know you are creating benefits for your users?
  • How do you identify perceived benefits for your users?

b) Confronting the client with data e.g.

  • In general pareto principle applies to software products e.g. 20% of features create 80% of the value
  • Examples from previous projects
  • According statistics from their own product

Step II: Explain Concept e.g. Lean Startup

a) What kind of concepts exist?

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 09.48.27

b) What are the goals & benefits of each concept and what is it all about e.g. Lean Startup?

Goal: Learn fast about what the customer really needs?

How it works:
lean startup

Step III: Concrete actions
As a next step one should encourage his client to fill out a business model canvas for their product, define concrete MVPs (or additional feature sets for existing products), identify metrics to measure success, measure and inspect & adapt the business model (see picture below).


Seven Teams started working today …

After deciding on the overall theme “Mindset over Practices” seven teams started working on topics that they recognized as important yesterday evening. Enclosed you see a picture of the different topics seven teams are starting to explore



These cover

  • Agile Coach @ Scaling
  • Dealing with Management
  • Building the RIGHT THING
  • Leadership w/o Hierarchy
  • Beyond Scrum
  • Change
  • Money and Stuff

Looking forward to see the first Sprint results after the lunch break at 13:15 :-)

Talking Agile to Executives

Talking Agile to Executives

Checklist for Agile Coaches speaking to Execs:

  • Five-minute talking points


  • Give a high-level plan, e.g.
    Ref page 20 & 17 of
  • Speak to CEO’s interests
    • Measured on Yield: value last year vs this year,
      not care about how it’s delivered, or the team and its motivation
    • Main concerns: cost, delivery, timeline
    • Other high-level metrics
    • Business Case: check at the end that the results match the business case,
      have interim checks
    • Check Global factors & events, e.g. industry impact of Russia bombing Syria
  • Speak CEO’s language
    • Find out their pain
    • Find out the CEO Powerful Questions, e.g. have any results ever been guaranteed? What can we learn from that? When have you learned the most?
    • Have arguments with examples to illustrate
    • Recommend options, shows that you have done due diligence, considered the bigger picture