Humanizing Work is three days of advanced, brain-friendly learning and valuable connections. You’ll benefit from the varied experience and expertise of our coaches and other attendees. And no matter how much Agile experience you’ve had, you’ll still find yourself considering new ideas.

2019 Humanizing Work program: Coming soon

Past Program: 2018


June 26, 2018 9:00 AM-10:15 AM HW 2018 Opening Session

Let’s get this party started! Connect with your fellow participants, engage in lively discussions, and get oriented for the next few days of learning and fun.

Session Leaders: Richard Lawrence

10:35 AM-11:50 AM Please Stop Saying You Want to Work in a Teal Organization

The book Reinventing Organizations popularized the idea of a “Teal Organization” or one where everyone is working together in a more integrated way. Many people read the book and said “we need to be Teal” – then failed. Why is “being Teal” not an ideal goal? How could “being Teal” actually slow down your progress? To understand why, we will explore where the idea of “Teal” comes from, a concept called Spiral Dynamics.

Spiral Dynamics is a bio-psycho-social based “model” outlining how we evolve our worldview based on life conditions. There are various memes (associated with colors) that can help you to understand your view of the world as well as other’s views (which can be a challenge). Understanding what is motivating someone is critical to help organization through change. Communicating with someone with a different view of the world can cause, at best, frustration. A simple example: Imagine a person who is focused on ensuring that you have a standardized best practice for everything vs. another who wants to break the rules to beat the competition. These people are influenced by different worldviews, so attempting to just convince one that the others way is best is not going to happen. Instead, we need to look at motivations and the drivers behind these beliefs to gain alignment.

In this interactive session, you will review and experience different aspects of Spiral to help you determine what memes influence you, as well as uncovering the ironic issues with judging people who are not “teal”. (You do NOT need any knowledge of Reinventing Organizations or Spiral Dynamics to attend this session).

Session Leaders: Jake Calabrese
Track: Agile Leadership, ScrumMaster & Coaching Skills

10:35 AM-11:50 AM Why We React the Way We Do

In this session we’ll review the Reactive Leadership behaviors from the Leadership Circle, and then explore the ‘how does it serve you’ question for more meaning how why we react the way we do.

Session Leaders: Henry Dittmer
Track: Agile Leadership

10:35 AM-11:50 AM Defining Value: How do I even know this is worth doing?

Learn how to model and communicate value for features, stories, and other initiatives so you can maximize your team’s impact.

Session Leaders: Richard Lawrence
Track: Product Ownership

1:00 PM-2:15 PM Narrative Coaching: Change your Story, Change the Outcome

Given the complexity and speed of life these days, it is easy to get triggered by even small events, and once triggered we tend to play out a often experienced ‘story’ of behaviors and results.

In this session we’ll introduce the process of Narrative coaching. Narrative coaching is a mindful, experiential, and holistic approach that helps shift those ‘stories’ to create new possibilities and new results.

Session Leaders: Henry Dittmer
Track: Agile Leadership

1:00 PM-2:15 PM Care & Feeding of Stakeholders

Working with stakeholders effectively means more than sending them some emails and inviting them to your Sprint Review. In this session, you’ll build a stakeholder map to make sense of who you need to collaborate with, when, and how.

Session Leaders: Richard Lawrence
Track: Product Ownership

1:00 PM-2:15 PM S.A.F.E.T.Y. – Unraveling why our brains can stop us from being agile.

Most of what our brain processes is done nonconsciously. Our brain focuses on patterns in order make decisions while saving energy. We also react to social threats and rewards with some of the same parts of the brain that are used to react to physical threats. In this session, we will dive into some of the neuroscience behind how the brain deals with life today and the impacts of this on coaching and leading as well as being a coach or leader. One example is around fairness and how parts of our brains can override logic when it perceives a fairness threat. We will be covering the S.A.F.E.T.Y framework, which starts with the foundations of safety and security first, before we focus on the changes many of us are working with people on.

Session Leaders: Jake Calabrese
Track: ScrumMaster & Coaching Skills

2:45 PM-4:00 PM Escaping Drama Triangles

Have you ever found yourself stuck in a dramatic situation at work? Where despite good intentions and various attempts to resolve the conflict, the conflict only continues to escalate. This level of conflict typically leaves individuals puzzled as to what happened and how to proceed forward towards a positive outcome. Join Tricia to learn the three roles in the Karpman drama triangle. Expect to practice how to identify each role and their dynamics with each other role in a workplace. Expect to leave with tools to break the cycle and escape the drama.

Session Leaders: Tricia Broderick
Track: Agile Leadership

2:45 PM-4:00 PM Product Strategy with the Lean Canvas

While most Product Owners have a grasp of how to figure out ROI at the Product Backlog level, it is often helpful and sometimes critical to look at additional factors that can make or break a strategy. In this session we’ll walk through the Lean Canvas to generate new insights into how to help your product thrive.

Session Leaders: Peter Green
Track: Product Ownership

2:45 PM-4:00 PM Technical Debt: Hiding in the Shadows, Eating Away at Your Profits

Technical Debt is often left to “technical people”, but that thinking does a disservice to the entire organization. From software engineers to executives, everyone needs to care about technical debt, or be willing to deal with the consequences! Join us to learn about three common forms of technical debt, how they eat into your bottom line, and how to shine some light on the ugliness. You will also walk away with a deeper familiarity with eXtreme Programming (XP) practices that are best attuned to help you defeat existing technical debt, and defend your product from future invasions.

Session Leaders: Jake Calabrese, Rob Myers
Track: ScrumMaster & Coaching Skills

4:10 PM-5:00 PM Day 1 Closing Session

Come prepared for fun and prizes as we recap some of the learning highlights from the day!

6:00 PM-9:00 PM Humanizing Work 2018 Party

“Workin’ so hard like a soldier”? Then join us to rock on down to Agile For All’s Electric Avenue from 6-9pm on Tuesday, June 26th. Come enjoy delicious bites and beverages and connection with fellow Humanizing Workers after an energizing first day of HW 2018. The event will include an opportunity for your learning groups to earn points with cheer-raising, camaraderie-building activities. Casual, comfortable dress (that you maybe don’t mind possibly getting a wee bit dirty) is highly recommended for this event since we’ll have you moving around.

June 27, 2018 9:00 AM-10:15 AM When You Know What to Change, Yet You Don’t

“When advised by their doctors that they need to change their habits or they will die of a heart attack, only 13% people successfully make the changes requested. Hard changes are hard not because of a lack of desire or willpower, but because our minds evolved a natural immunity to change. Unexamined, this immunity puts the brakes on most of the meaningful changes upon which we embark.

In this session, attendees will learn how to use a simple process to become aware of the hidden competing commitments that impede our ability to make meaningful change. These hidden competing commitments point to big assumptions that we have not yet challenged. The output of the process is a set of safe to fail experiments that help us challenge our big assumptions, paving a way for our minds to see new possibilities.

So, come with an important personal change that you’ve been contemplating or struggling with, and leave with excitement about your new experiment(s) to finally break through!”

Session Leaders: Henry Dittmer, Peter Green

10:35 AM-11:50 AM Optimizing for Black Swans

From time to time, unexpected opportunities with massive upside come along. But most teams and organizations are unprepared to exploit—or even see—them. In this session, we’ll explore the nature of Black Swans and how to optimize yourself to benefit from them.

Session Leaders: Richard Lawrence, Rob Myers
Track: Product Ownership, ScrumMaster & Coaching Skills

10:35 AM-11:50 AM Psych Yourself Up! Finding Your Inner Courage

What does it mean to have courage? The root of this word is from the Latin ‘cor’ meaning heart, and the original definitions was, “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Join us in a discussion as we share our path to finding our inner courage, letting ourselves be seen and sustaining the practice of living a courageous life. We will share the successes, and failures of stepping outside of our comfort zone and becoming truly authentic. Leave with the tools to choose courage over comfort. Let’s be more like John Wayne, “Scared to death and saddling up anyway!”

Session Leaders: Tricia Broderick, Dallas Hinesly
Track: Agile Leadership

1:00 PM-2:15 PM Does Your Challenge Require Expertise, Experimentation, or Heart? Is it Technical or Adaptive?

When faced with a challenge, it is often human nature to search for a solution first. We apply expertise by way of new skills, processes, etc; we use a Technical approach. As Agilists we know that the world is complex and therefore expertise often will not work. We therefore need a more Adaptive approach through experimentation.

However, what is often overlooked is another aspect of the Adaptive approach. Taking on Adaptive Challenges without addressing these other aspects leaves the resolution to the challenge incomplete, unsustainable, or even unresolved.

By working with actual challenges, this session explores the nature of Technical versus Adaptive Challenges with a focus on the ‘soft’ side of addressing complex challenges.

Session Leaders: Henry Dittmer, Steve Spearman
Track: Agile Leadership

1:00 PM-2:15 PM Facilitation for Product Owners: Collaborative product decision-making

We all know that ScrumMasters are expected to have strong facilitation skills, but Product Owners often find themselves facilitating as well – particularly with product decisions in meetings with stakeholders.

In this session, we’ll learn a few practical facilitating skills, have a chance to practice them, and discuss when you should NOT be the facilitator for certain conversations.

Session Leaders: Steve Spearman
Track: Product Ownership

1:00 PM-2:15 PM Stop Telling. Start Experiencing.

“I’m tired of repeating myself.” As a leader, I said this numerous times. However, I tried to fix the wrong problem: I must not have told them clearly enough. In reality, my problem was that was I telling. After understanding how people learn best from Training from the Back of the Room, I accepted my current approach was insufficient. Lecturing others or simply stating “you’re now empowered”; rarely gets the intended results. People are skeptical about something until they experience it. Join Tricia to engage first-hand in the power of using exercises to experience a key value/message. Together, we will dissect and explore interactive exercises to gain insights on how they deliver important learnings including self-organization, multi-tasking, communication, wisdom of the crowd, vulnerability, and responding to change. Leave with tools that you can apply tomorrow to stop telling people and start helping people experience.

Session Leaders: Tricia Broderick
Track: ScrumMaster & Coaching Skills

2:45 PM-4:00 PM Lean Problem Solving with the Theory of Constraints

Need to collaborate to solve hard problems? Want to avoid endless meetings and talking in circles? Not sure which of several problems is the right one to solve first? Not sure which solution is most likely to work? The Theory of Constraints Thinking Process is a lightweight set of thinking tools to help a group clearly understand a problem and generate effective solutions. In this session, we’ll examine and practice these tools and discuss various applications of them for your work. Come with a real problem in mind, ideally a tricky conflict or dilemma.

Session Leaders: Richard Lawrence
Track: Agile Leadership

2:45 PM-4:00 PM Lean Startup for Non-Startups

The tools and techniques from the Lean Startup community aren’t just for startups—they’re for anyone who needs to learn about customer preferences and behaviors. We’ll dive into several techniques for identifying and testing product assumptions and hypotheses.

Session Leaders: Peter Green
Track: Product Ownership

2:45 PM-4:00 PM Every Retrospective is a Special Snowflake

After last year’s session, Jake and Tricia decided that round two was necessary. Anyone can talk a good game about the importance of the growth mindset and effective retrospectives. But are you designing your retrospectives with the goal in mind or are you sticking to the same few tried and true exercise formats? It’s time to treat each of your retrospectives like the special, unique snowflake it is. Join us as we teach new effective retrospective formats by using them to reflect on Humanizing Work.

Session Leaders: Jake Calabrese, Tricia Broderick
Track: ScrumMaster & Coaching Skills

4:10 PM-5:00 PM Day 2 Closing Session – Presentation Karaoke

Usually hilarious. Surprisingly often, thought-provoking and poignant. Whether you’re improvising a presentation over a random set of slides or just enjoying the show, Presentation Karaoke is a blast.

Session Leaders: Richard Lawrence, Tricia Broderick

June 28, 2018 9:00 AM-10:15 AM Lightning Talks from A4A & the HW Community

“Lightning Talks provide a lightweight, flexible opportunity for Humanizing Work attendees to share valuable information with other participants. Presentations are short with one of the following formats:

3 minute Lightning Talk (no slides)
5 minute Lightning Talk (slides)
7 minute Pecha Kucha style presentation
With such a short format, Lightning Talks get right to the point. The constraints lead to creative ways to share an important topic without the luxury for any rambling or “filler”. Speakers have to give you the 80/20 slice – the 20% of the content that gives you 80% of the benefit. In an hour, you get to hear around eight different lightning talks, so there’s a great variety of content and a high likelihood that one of the topics will be really interesting to you. Best of all – you get to share your own learning with other attendees!”

Session Leaders: Peter Green

10:35 AM-11:50 AM Management vs. Leadership – A distraction to stop you from improving

The words ‘management’ and ‘manager’ conjure up distaste for many. We hear everything from “managers are evil” to “managers are not needed in agile.” The thinking behind these statements ignores the reality in many organizations and teams, and often prevents the progression from group to team to high-performance team. We can’t expect to succeed in our journey to improve organizations when we start with the false assumption that managers (and/or “leaders”) are inherently bad.

In this interactive session, We’ll breakdown the myths around management, leadership, and agile. We will look at a bit of the background on this issue, investigate what we (the audience) have ‘actually’ experienced, and finally, look at how we can shift our behavior and judgment to focus on the real problems. What can we do to change the misconceptions around this distracting issue — we need to look at what we really need from managers and leaders instead of simply starting with “they are bad.”

Session Leaders: Jake Calabrese
Track: Agile Leadership

10:35 AM-11:50 AM Impact-Based Roadmaps

Don’t build roadmaps on features—that’s giving up too many options way too early. Come learn the why and how of impact-based product roadmaps.

Session Leaders: Richard Lawrence
Track: Product Ownership

10:35 AM-11:50 AM Listening & Mindfulness

In this session we’ll explore the crucial and related skills of listening and mindfulness. Each skill helps us to step outside the noisy interior of our mind and be open to new insights, awareness, and capability. Mindfulness is a common practice for nearly every successful leader we’ve studied. Come practice with us.

Session Leaders: Peter Green, Rob Myers, John Miller
Track: ScrumMaster & Coaching Skills

1:00 PM-2:15 PM Creating a Deliberately Developmental Organization (DDO)

Robert Kegan coined the term “Deliberately Developmental Organization” to describe organizations that practice human personal development as a core, intertwined part of the business. In this session, we will talk more about what a DDO looks like, its advantages, and how to get started moving your organization towards a DDO. We’ll use the metaphor of learning to drive: “Check Your Mirrors”, “Start the Car”, “Put it in Gear”, and “Practice in the Parking Lot”.

Session Leaders: Peter Green, Charlie Tombazian
Track: Agile Leadership

1:00 PM-2:15 PM Can You Give Me An Example of That?

Humans do concrete better than abstract. Supercharge your collaboration with your team by learning how to illustrate features and stories with concrete examples that hit just the right details to build common understanding.

Session Leaders: Rob Myers
Track: Product Ownership

1:00 PM-2:15 PM Level-Up Your Flipchart & Whiteboard Skills

Whether you’re a ScrumMaster, Product Owner, Coach, or just someone who facilitates the occasional meeting, you need to be able to communicate visually. Let’s work on your marker skills so a flip chart or whiteboard is a welcome tool rather than your meeting Kryptonite.

Session Leaders: Richard Lawrence
Track: ScrumMaster & Coaching Skills

2:45 PM-4:00 PM Org Structure, Policies, and Agility (or not)

Western culture has drilled tradtional org structures and practices into our brains so deeply that most of us don’t even notice them. They become our default approach without considering their effectiveness versus other alternatives. In this session, we’ll look at some of the very intriguing org structures and practices we’ve discovered as we studied some of the human workplaces in the world. Since no approach is perfect for every context, we’ll look at the context in which these approaches emerged as a key component to considering their usefulness. This session will definitely have some inspiring stories and you will leave with fresh ideas worthy of experimentation in your own organization.

Session Leaders: Jake Calabrese, Peter Green
Track: Agile Leadership

2:45 PM-4:00 PM Mastering Customer Interviews

So, you have the opportunity to sit down with a customer. What do you say? How do you structure and execute a customer interview to get the info you need? We’ll cover some tips and tricks and practice them right away.

Session Leaders: Richard Lawrence, Steve Spearman
Track: Product Ownership

2:45 PM-4:00 PM Fierce Conversations: Talking About What Needs to be Talked About

We all have them: those conversations we know we need to have, but are reluctant to have for fear of things ‘blowing up’. Or those ‘elephants in the room’ topics, that if we’d address would enable huge strides in self-organization.

This session is an experience in the process from the book, ‘Fierce Conversations’ by Susan Scott, that when followed creates an environment of transparency and safety to tackle these type of needed conversations.

“While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship, or a life; any single conversation can.” – Susan Scott

Session Leaders: Henry Dittmer
Track: ScrumMaster & Coaching Skills

4:10 PM-5:00 PM HW 2018 Closing Session