When my kids were younger, we used to go on geocaching adventures together as a family. Sometimes we would just go out for a day, and even once we made a whole trip out of it, visiting four states in 3 days. If you don’t know what geocaching is, it is simply leveraging billions of dollars of satellite technology to find Tupperware in the woods. When the kids would find a geocache after sometimes a lengthy search, there was a great deal of excitement over the toys and trinkets inside — this was treasure to them! Now that they are older, they still bring up details of some of our biggest finds over the years. I am so grateful for these stories, especially when they tell them.
In my profession as an Agile Coach, I have spent a lot of energy this year adapting to the realities of working apart from those I serve. Not a new problem to those who have done it, but it was definitely a new thing for me. Training and facilitating are a big part of what I do, so delivering to an online audience took away one very important feedback channel — the non-verbal cues you get in a room. There were a number of moments where I wondered if I was making a difference. Was I making the room better?
Even though I gathered some qualitative and quantitative feedback about the experiences, I still wondered about the outcomes? Were we actually impacting people’s work life in a meaningful way? Was I actually being a light? Staring at people’s faces on a video call doesn’t often give us that answer.
Agile Best Self Principle #12: At regular intervals, reflect on how to become your best self, then tune and adjust.
Then the other day, I received a message from a colleague, whom I trained several months ago. I remember this being at a time where I was learning what it was like to train virtually, and there were a lot of mistakes made and lessons learned. I wasn’t sure if the key messages got through over the noise of my errors. The message said something like: “I use that technique all the time, and my team’s progress has improved dramatically. Thank you for sharing it with me!”
So I pondered the question — did I design a feedback loop that was too short?. Perhaps having the expectation of the outcome really takes time, and I need to have more patience.
There’s another dimension to this story. Getting that feedback weeks or months later had a much more profound impact on me. I remember feeling body activation — Michaele and I talk about this in our Agile Best Self North Star Workshop — and I think it is because it came in unsolicited, and therefore authentic. It was a real moment, and it felt amazing. For that, I am grateful today.
Kind of like finding some buried treasure. Or Tupperware in the woods.
Copyright © 2020 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson