Thursday, August 27, 2015

Courageous Leadership to help their students using Scrum

I recently had the opportunity to get together with a great group of people at Blueprint Education as a volunteer to help out their leadership team.

They are passionate about helping students to achieve their full potential through self-empowerment and self-responsibility and have been working with John Miller from Agile Classrooms to introduce a Scrum approach to education in their classrooms.

The focus is on a feedback driven approach to learning goals. The roots of this approach come from Scrum and are based on the Agile Manifesto (modified for education of course).

To learn more about this approach, start here... http://www.agileclassrooms.com

As part of this type of change at the school, or in this case, many schools, understanding and knowledge of what the students are going through was important to the leadership at Blueprint.

The leadership team appreciated that to truly help their students work in an agile way, they will benefit greatly by experiencing and living the values of the agile manifesto and using Scrum themselves.

The best way for the leadership team (Principals, CEO, COO) to help the students work in an agile way is to experience Scrum with Agile Values and Principles themselves.




As sessions proceeded, I made a point of always asking … “What can we learn from this? How does this affect students?’, how can we apply this to our situation?

What is the learning we could share with others?
Early on, this drawing appeared on the wall of the leadership team room…. The leaders realized that for them to embrace this approach of working, they would need to change a primary focus as educators.


They would have to become great at coaching with less focus on teaching.  This, as you might imagine could be problematic for the traditional educator.   

What would this realization mean to them?


A workshop facilitated by the Principals for themselves revealed that the Retrospective (part of the Scrum Framework) would require them to reflect on their own leadership style on an ongoing basis.

This supports the Agile Principle …

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly..

  (http://www.agilemanifesto.org/principles.html)


More details about this specific session can be found here.. 
https://mike-caspar.blogspot.ca/2015/08/ask-why-then-sit-back-and-watch-magic.html

Scrum’s simple approach of limiting work in process through the application of a timebox and creating focus is impressive. By embracing the timebox with cross-functional teams, people  learn to re-organize and collaborate to deliver potentially deliverable value in small increments where feedback is possible.

To educators, this can mean that the student (or team of students) can establish their own objectives for learning over a fixed period of time, focus on that learning and then obtain feedback on how they might adjust their learning patterns for the next cycle.

To realize their ability to work cross-functionally, we did an exercise using a Skills Matrix approach originating from the OpenAgile Framework.


What are the skills necessary to operate and grow our company and schools as a leadership team?
The leadership team at Blueprint Education grouping their ideas about the needed skills for their team.

The results looked like this...

The team decided on these for their definition of the quadrants for each skill...

All 4 quadrants means you can teach this.

Completed Skills Matrix

This exercise served several purposes including (but not limited to)..
  • It allowed the team members to recognize each other’s skills and strengths and from whom they could learn more.
  • It helped the team recognize that they do in fact have the skills necessary to take on almost any goal in a cross-functional way.
  • It allows individuals to recognize where they might grow their skills to help the team and the organization.
Over time, we’ll learn more about the wonderful things happening at the school(s). 

By example, this video was the creation of the teachers and leaders at Hope High School in Phoenix Arizona. They worked together as a team to discover a shared vision for their school…



If you are interested in learning more, I encourge you to reach out to John Miller or the Blueprint Education folks.  Of course, I'd also be glad to help as well.

More to come...

References:

John Miller & Agile Classrooms - http://www.agileclassrooms.com
OpenAgile Institute - http://www.openagile.com
Skills Matrix - OpenAgile - http://www.openagile.com/OpenAgileResources