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Facilitating Success Without Unicorns

A talk by Jason Kerney at Agile 2017

About the Talk

August 8, 2017 10:45 AM

Orlando, FL

Orlando, FL

The feeling of individual success is a crucial part of meaningful work and gives purpose. The feeling of purpose is crucial in retaining employee happiness. In software, purpose is fleeting. One task is finished and the next one starts. Yet a lot of what we do in Agile minimizes that feeling. Working collaboratively means focusing on the team’s successes and can bury individual contributions. Iterative cycles can lead to a constant feeling of never being done. The answer to this is to allow individuals to find meaningful goals and strive to complete them. What if each person was given a facilitator that they trusted to guide them in finding personal goals? It would take a particularly skilled facilitator to pull this together such that the employee felt helped and not put upon. That facilitator might as well be a unicorn because they are rare and hard to find. I have experienced an employee-driven process of encouraged self-improvement. We got rid of the unicorn facilitator by allowing employees to choose facilitators from their peers. This allowed employees to directly control the process and find people they feel comfortable with that have no authority over them. This talk is the story of how we discovered the employee-driven process to facilitate and help achieve individual successes. My current company enables employees to look inward to find what is meaningful to them while focusing on psychological safety, peer facilitation and real support. Beyond explaining the process, I will examine the thoughts that helped develop it. I will explain why we do each of the things we do. My story is a practical account that gives attendees the knowledge they need to implement a system mimicking what we have, but with their own constraints. I hope attendees will leave with the framework to create a psychologically safe system that encourages individuals to set and strive toward their own, personal meaning of purpose.

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