The ART of the Personal Experiment

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The ART of the Personal Experiment

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I had an epiphany the other morning. It was while I was thinking of aspects of an agile mindset and self-care and then it hit me. 

Why don’t I do more explicit, planned, intentional personal experiments in my agile journey? Sure, I often “try things”. But it’s more ad hoc and scattershot, not connecting to any personal development strategy or plan.

I talk about running experiments all of the time in my agile coaching, both at an individual client, team, and organizational level. So, why am I not practicing what I preach more by taking a walk on the wild side and experimenting more myself?

Well, I should. And that’s where this post is going…

The first thing that came to my mind is being intentional about how I might enter brainstorming experimentations opportunities. And the following meta-skills came to mind as important for me to “put on the mind of…”

  • Curiosity – Continuous learning, exploring new ideas, staying tuned into others in the community.

  • Playfulness – trying things, not too serious, trying to “play with” something new or a new approach.

  • Open-minded to the possibilities; operating in the Art of the Possible, maintaining my optimism and can-do spirit.

  • Emergence – seeing what can unfold; viewing all experiments as small try’s that might lead to another and another.

When I thought about it more, I realized that embarking on more experimentation would be a great way to fine-tune and sharpen my practice of meta-skills.

Then my mind went to what kinds of experiments I might run? Are there specific types or categories? And what might be more important than others?

Trying out ideas from my research & reading

I read an awful lot of material on agile. Much of it I simply compartmentalize as useful ideas, but I often never try them. Usually that’s because of the potential impact to clients and the overall risk.

But what I’m thinking is that the clients don’t really have to know if something is a tried-and-true practice or something that I just found yesterday. As long as I enter the engagement with confidence and presence. And surely my overall experience and spider-sense will help guide me.

Playing around with more things in my coaching

I could see myself playing around more in my agile coaching efforts. Specifically, trying out coaching stances that I’m least comfortable with. For me, this probably means continuing to work on my professional coaching stance.

But it also could include doing things from a teaching perspective. Another example for me would be to leverage PowerPoints less and lean into more TFTBOTR and Liberating Structures.

Preparing less and emerging more

I’ll be honest. I’m detail-oriented and a consummate planner. I like to plan everything out before tackling a thing. Whether it’s an article, book, new class, virtually anything. It’s rarely the case where I just allow something to emerge. I think the practice here would be “winging it” more.

Gaining more feedback and reflection; then try to take more micro-actions

Another critical aspect of personal experimentation is reflection. More so after you run your experiments, then reflecting on the results and using that to plot the next experiment.

I wanted to lead by doing here, so this blog post is an experiment of sorts for me.

You see, it’s often hard for me to admit my weaknesses and show vulnerability. So, the more I do it the more comfortable I become with it. That is, being real.

I’ll also be experimenting with journaling about experiments. That is, creating a personal experimentation backlog with some more thoughtful ideas for my personal development. Wish me luck…

Stay agile my friends,

Bob.

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