Archive for May, 2006

Butter Flies, again

Monday, May 15th, 2006

Nynke resurrected her butterfly bubbles blog. In true Nynke style, she started of with an appreciation :
butterlies are cool

Butterflies are smokin’ hot.

Later on, Nynke shows how she loves to evaporate clouds

I love clouds

And then she gives a systems thinking perspective on happiness:life is ending one minute at a time by repoort

Welcome back Nynke!

life is good comic by Repoort

(people sometimes ask me why I am self-hosting… Being able to provide a space for other people to be creative and seeing them fly is definitely an important factor).

Comics in this post are from the series “Happy Go Lucky” by Repoort.

Right here, Right now

Monday, May 15th, 2006

I prefer to be fully present in the here and now, with the people around me. Nevertheless, I’m puzzling on something Jerry Weinberg wrote :

“There-then-them is in contrast to here-now-us, which are the problem-solving conditions expert consultants try to establish and maintain. When people are responding to something that happened somewhere else (there), or at some other time (then), or with some other people (them), you’re not going to have much luck dealing with problems.”

I disagree. Sometimes I can not prevent reacting on something based on what happened in the past. I used to be embarrassed about that, believing that reacting like that was irrelevant or inappropriate. I should have recognized a situational similarity in time, then assign appropriate meaning and significance to it, and only then respond.

However, more often than not, it turns out that there is a reason I’m reacting like that. Reflecting on it, and/or opening it up for dialogue with those around me often surfaces things I haven’t completely processed. Reflection and discussion enables me to raise awareneness of it, and eventually change my behaviour (If I want to).

Denying a likeness of a current situation to a past situation, you’re not going to have much luck dealing with problems.

how's your thumb, says one baby to the next (without talking)

Presentation styles

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

I participated in the presentation zen session at agile open hosted by Pascal van Cauwenberghe. Pascal already did a writeup on the session as a whole.

The main reason for me to attend this session is if I want to be better at creating and giving presentations, I might as well go all the way, look what works for other people and see what fits for me.
Vera, Willem, Kristel and Lieven presenting at agile open This is the group I was in, with (left to right) Vera, myself, Kristel and Lieven.

This session worked very well for me. I took some things away that I applied the next monday, while making a presentation for a client – for those of you who wonder whether going to conferences contributes to the bottom-line, agile open did to mine, and quickly :-) .
I’ve been to several presentation and communication trainings, when done badly, they had the opposite effect – one made me more afraid of giving presentations rather than more relaxed. So hats off to Pascal for making space for a relaxed and fun session. I guess creating and presenting in groups made it a lot more fun and less scary than it would have been experimenting individually.

Practicing in a group was also very productive. in about twenty minutes we created a presentation with three co-presenters, did a trial run with feedback in a few more minutes , and then a re-run for the other participants a few minutes later.

The second run went already noticeably smoother, even though we had no opportunity to update the slides based on the feedback and new ideas we got from the first run.
presentation styles slideWe started with an anti-slide, extra filled with bullets in an illogical order. Vera told a long story somewhate unrelated to the bullets.

To see if the participants read the slide or listened to Vera, we inserted some jokes at the end – if people laughed, they were reading, otherwise they were listening to Vera. Our hypothesis was, that people could either read the slides, or hear Vera speak.

Some participants were laughing, others were not, so we concluded that some were listening, and others were reading. We verified it with questions after the presentation, our assumption seems to have been correct. The next slides were in lessig / takashi style: just one to a few words per slide.

That gives much more…Focus

Slides like this are much easier to read from a distance, and are also friendlier to older people (It’s not called senior management for nothing… ;-) ) .

In our group we discussed about what presentations are used for. In-company presentations are often used as ‘discussion documents’ ‘process documentation’, and more in general, presentations are often also used as handouts (I do that too in courses). It seems presentations are better considered a separate medium from those. Presentations are less cluttered, and handouts, process documentation and discussion documents are better served with more detail than can fit in a slide.

Getting better at presenting takes practice (lots!) and fresh ideas from elsewhere – this session provided both.

Outline the people

Monday, May 8th, 2006

Remembering names and faces after a conference can be difficult. At agile open Raphaël Pierquin suggested we make a group photo, so everyone could add their name to the photo.

To make it easier to find ourselves back in the picture Raphaël used gimp and his daughter’s felt pen to create numbered outlines:

outlines of agile open attendees

Getting this outline was a nice surprise. If you were at agile open, please add your name to the pictures page on the wiki.