The Weekly Inspection

I recently spoke at Agile 2016 in Atlanta about the power of involuntary feedback, and how you could build a company on top of the assumption that everything is going to change at some point. The way you do this is by having a system of reliable feedback-generating mechanisms throughout your organization.

I brought up the idea of Oblique Strategies as an option for generating feedback when there are no other options available. Oblique Strategies is a concept developed by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt that helped them overcome creative block when they were working with musicians in the studio. It’s basically a deck of cards, and on each card is some vague, almost mysterious suggestion such as, “Take away the elements in order of apparent non-importance”. When they were stuck, they’d consult the deck. What Eno or a band might do with whatever card they pulled would depend on their collective mindset and context. Oblique Strategies is a form of lateral thinking that allows you to generate feedback within your team when getting it from your customers isn’t feasible.

I’ve been thinking, why can’t we have an Oblique Strategies for Agile coaches? Wouldn’t it be great if coaches, scrummasters, facilitators, and managers had a tool to help them reframe a complex situation, gather feedback on themselves and their teams, and find their own solutions? I thought so. So I’m making one, and I’m calling it The Weekly Inspection.

As a first step, I’ve created a page that will have a different question every week. Eventually I’ll have built up enough questions to warrant creating a deck, but for now they’ll just live on the web.

I invite you to take a look. Share it with your team. Come back next week for the next one. And keep coming back to it to incrementally improve your agility. And if you have an idea for a question you’d like to add, hit me up on twitter at @johnkrewson.

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