Most people know Nemo from the movie Finding Nemo. To me Nemo means something else.
Just over a year ago I had some time to kill while travelling and I read a small book called “Fish! a proven way to boost morale and improve results.“
This little book tells the story how an IT manager is stuck with a department that has lost all of it’s energy and enthusiasm. The IT manager visits the famous Pike Place Fish Market in Seatle over a lunch break and gets inspired by the workers of the fish market who made a seemingly boring job, hauling fish on the fish market, fun and in the process they have attracted a large amount of customers, boosting sales.
The IT manager uses this inspiration and the lessons she learns from the Pike Place Fish Market to boost the morale of her department completely turning things around at the office.
So back to Nemo! The other day when doing groceries at the local super market musing over my thoughts and troubles at the office, thinking of ways how to boost morale of myself and the people around me and then I walked right towards it 20 to 30 Nemo’s lying there all smiling at me. I couldn’t help but smile and think about the story from the book.
I grabbed one of the Nemo’s and the next day I took it into the office. Now Nemo is resting on my desk and is promoted to our CHO (Chief Happiness Officer), reminding me of the story and of the fact that we need to make the work and workplace fun for all employees.
The book: http://www.amazon.com/Proven-Boost-Morale-Improve-Results/dp/0786866020
Recently I got interested in using LEGO for professional purposes and have tried it out to see how it can help to get the unspoken subjects from our retrospectives to the surface. In this blog post I will try to describe the why, when and how of this experiment.
First of all I can imagine that people are wondering how I got this idea to let my team members play with LEGO, at least the team members that were asked to play with LEGO wondered about this.
While I was at the agile coach camp in the Netherlands at the end of April I got inspired by a man called Thorsten O. Kalnin (you can visit his website at http://vinylbaustein.net/). The first moment I met him was during the lightning talks on the first evening and he was talking about LEGO. Which to me did not seem like the most relevant topic for an event for agile coaches, but Thorsten is a very energetic and convincing personality and his track record with agile teams speaks for itself so I thought “OK, LEGO, let’s see where this is going.”
No clue what to expect I went to one of his sessions. Unfortunately I did not go to the actual LEGO serious play session that he hosted but I went to the SCRUM training which he had entirely based around LEGO building exercises. I was definitely not the only one that was interested in this since almost every participant of the agile coach camp was there at that session. Of course being all agile coaches we easily successfully completed the training, which is what we as agile experts had all expected. Reality was however a bit different and we failed dramatically to deliver any useful business value. Nevertheless, the use of LEGO for professional purposes had my attention from there on.
When I returned from the agile coach camp I started researching the internet for information about LEGO serious play. And actually found that LEGO itself is promoting this use of their toys (http://www.seriousplay.com/). Next to that I also found an interesting article on the agileminds blog about using it for a retrospective (http://agilemindsblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/lego-%C2%AE-serious-play-%C2%AE-for-retrospectives/) which made me begin to think on using it for a retrospective as well.