Who’s dropped the ball? Understanding team dynamics

This is the title of a session Marc Evers and I submitted to XP Day benelux 2004. It got accepted! You might expect that, as we are also organisers of this conference. But I didn’t – we strive to create an independent review process, where a number of criteria are pre-defined, and outside reviewers are invited. Some of the organisers had their session rejected, so I guess this process works. The preliminary program is looking like a lot of fun and learning will be going on in interactive sessions. We’ll put the program on-line as soon as presenters confirm their appearance.

So what is our session about? It introduces systems thinking using causal loop diagrams (also known as diagrams of effects, Systems thinking is a methodology independent tool for understanding team and project dynamics and for finding effective interventions. We will use an experiential approach through playing a ball game (“group juggle”). All participants will be involved, either as a ‘player’ or an observer. We ran this game as part of a larger session at XP2004. The image below shows participants at xp2004 playing a second round of group juggle.
group juggle at xp2004

This game is derived from The Systems Thinking Playbook by Dennis Meadows and Linda Booth Sweeney, and I highly recommend this one. At a systems thinking meeting last week, we played another ball game, warped juggle. It struck us, that these games are very versatile and can be used for many purposes, e.g. showing group interaction, mental models, experience organisational change in the small, and explain causal loop diagrams as we’ll do at xp day.

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