AYE – Tuesday

Tuesday morning I took Naomi Karten's Building Connections That Amplify Your Effectiveness. I thought it would be about networking. Nope. (I don't know why I thought that since the class description didn't mention that topic.) It turned out to be informative nevertheless.

We did a variety of communication exercises each of which taught me something about communicating with other people. Such as that even us introverts can enjoy talking with other people! Another nugget I took away is to have several tidbits about myself ready to use when I introduce myself. Memorable ones, preferably. Which doesn't necessarily mean extraordinary; while I likely won't forget that Cindy is an expert marksman and that Mike's daughter has a pet cow, I will also remember that Ava is remodeling her bathroom. I had lots of fun in this session, and I learned some too.

Tuesday afternoon Don Gray led six of us in Experienc[ing] The Diagram Of Effects (DOE). DOEs come out of the General Systems Thinking world and are a way to depict a system and its dynamics in order to better understand them and/or make them work differently. Don started by taking us through a DOE he uses when he wants to keep group introductions within a certain time span. That introduced us to the (minimal) notation of DOEs. Next we split into two groups: one tasked with creating a DOE meant to explain how credit cards work to a teenager, the other responsible for creating a DOE to depict ways for banks to make more money from their credit cards.

I was part of the teenager group. I thought this would be a simple project, however we spent over half of the three hour session working on it. Our key breakthrough came when one of us thought to add the teenager's worry level to the diagram. That was exactly what we needed to get our point across.

Although I had read about DOEs some time back I had not attempted to draw one before this session. I was surprised how much we struggled to diagram what I thought was a simple system. Our discussions as we debated how to draw the diagram were I think more useful than the diagram itself turned out to be.

To my teammates beware: now I want to draw DOEs for everything....

Tuesday evening found me in a Birds Of A Feather on Reinventing Yourself. Johanna Rothman helped us each create a career timeline. This is a graph with time on the horizontal axis and our feeling about our work on the vertical axis (i.e., super hyper happy at the top, enormously unhappy at the bottom, and neutral in the middle). The idea is that seeing our career in this form would help us see patterns which we could then decide to take steps to break. My timeline confirmed that I switch jobs when I get bored. Another participant's timeline surprised him when it showed that his happiness-with-work level rarely drops below neutral. This is definitely a tool I will use with my mentees.

Deborah Hartmann followed with a description of a tool she uses to stay accountable to a group of colleagues with respect to her personal and work life. They defined a set of attributes to measure for their physical and work life, such as physical health, spirituality, and sense of achievement. Each week Deborah creates a radar chart depicting where she feels she is on each attribute. Her group meets online to share their charts, discuss how they changed from the previous week, celebrate positive moves, and make plans to counteract negative moves.

I like this process for making visible my status on and changes in hard-to-measure values. I think I am going to start doing this myself.

Comments (2)

  1. Jim Bullock says:

    Re: "now I want to draw DOEs for everything…."

    They are like that. Also a very interesting tool for externalizing disagreements about how we should do development (or testing, or whatever.) Usually the disagreement about technique comes from a disagreement about how the world works – the DOE for doing development.

  2. Jim Bullock says:

    Re: "now I want to draw DOEs for everything…."

    <g> They are like that. It turns out they are a useful way to flush out disconnects when talking about techniques, tools & practices. Often those disagreements happen because of different understandings of the system you are working with. (The other two popular causes are different goals, and spill-over where the conversation isn’t about the technique of getting the job done.)

    I am glad to hear that you went.

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