Wisdom, Presence and Agile Coaching

From our Agile Cocktail with coach and author Jean Richardson, on Wednesday, November 22, 2017.
A CoachingCocktail video excerpt.

"Presence, Wisdom, Wholeness ... what do these look like from an Agile coaching perspective?"

As Agilists, we choose to embrace a paradigm shift - still, we are mostly products of an earlier phase of consciousness, and are all subject daily to the influence of that consciousness.  We are in need of transformation and support ourselves.

This video is the "guest" portion of November's Agile Cocktail, in which Jean spoke to participants. We've removed the discussion and  Lean Coffee™ portions, where participants interacted with Jean and each other.

Expect a different view, which may overlap or enhance yours, of what it means to be an Agile Coach in a world where Agile is failing, succeeding, and emerging every day.


Jean Richardson @JeanAtAzureGate is a consultant and coach with 30 years' experience, most recently coaching individuals and teams in agile aspiring organizations. In September, she published The Preservation of the Agile Heart:  From Mindset to Consciousness, a book of prose and poetry. 

Image: You Can Design a Bigger Game

Big Cocktails with Deborah Preuss

Deb wants to change the world!

She’s convinced, because she’s seen it: when each person’s work is joyful and meaningful, new energy is released in our workplaces, and new, exciting possibilities open up that are only available to us when we build trust, engagement, and alignment.

Here’s the catch: the only person in your workplace you can change is YOU! … which also means you can get to work right away! And it doesn’t take long to get started.

As you start to show up differently – more confident, joyful, purposeful – your influence will grow, too.

Join Deborah Hartmann Preuss, CPCC and her invited guests in this series for discussion, exercises from her free e-workbook You Can Design a Bigger Game and, for one courageous participant on each call, live coaching!

Please RSVP

Click to send an automated RSVP email.
In response, we’ll send you call-in details, and subscribe you to our occasional Newsletter.

Friday, Jan. 8th at 8pm CET – “The Wheel of Life Exercise”

Friday, Feb. 5th at 8pm CET – “Stand up to your Saboteur”  tweet this

Friday, Feb 19th at 8pm CET – “Living Your Values”

Don’t forget to add each event to your calendar! We’re working on making this more automatic, but for now please click on your event in our Calendar and use the Add to My Calendar link at the bottom.

This is just one of our free Coaching Cocktails series… have a look!


20/20 Sunrise Retrospective 2016

We’re at it again! Starting the year with a fun and thought-provoking personal retrospective! In fact: three Retrospectives, to accomodate different time zones.

This is just the first of many events we’ll bring you this year, so remember to Join our newsletter to be among the first to hear about our upcoming Coaching Cocktails in January and February.


Welcome to 2016!

Many of us hope to take time in the last weeks of the year for quiet reflection. Somewhere between holiday parties and family traditions many of us will pause to consider the past year, and look for ways to be more effective in the coming seasons. Here’s one way to help you fit this in: start the new year with a relaxed group of colleagues, to ponder…

What data have you gathered from the last year?

So what hypothesises have you formed?

Now what actions will you test?

How will you adjust your behaviours to be more joyful and effective in 2016?

This cocktail will facilitated by Steve and Deb. This session is structured to produce both reflection and actions. We use Esther and Diana’s Agile Retrospective Framework to plan a session that is engaging and interactive. You will be doing your own private reflection in addition to engaging and interacting with the group in small breakouts and larger debriefs. What you share is up to you, just know it will be fun.

This is for you, if you want to:

  • turn your reflection into action,
  • set yourself up for more satisfying choices in the coming year,
  • plan your next professional or personal step,
  • experiment with this new type of online personal retrospective, and
  • check out Coaching Cocktails.

We think that coaches, leaders and change agents who don’t have easy access to a local community of practice will especially enjoy doing this work together with us.

We will close the session by looking at your own methods for doing personal retrospectives. And we will let you know what’s coming up with Coaching Cocktails this year – we’re excited about the lineup.

Please RSVP

Still two opportunities to join:
Saturday, Jan. 9, 19:00 at CET and
Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 10:00 CET

Tell us which of these you could attend:
RSVP with this Doodle poll

We will send you call-in information and everything you need to participate when you R.S.V.P.

photo by Stephan Ridgway - flickr.com/photos/stephanridgway/497581227/sizes/o/ - licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY-2.0

CoachingCocktails Mastermind Format

Have you got an important goal that’s not getting enough time, attention or encouragement? Imagine sharing the journey with 5 passionate people who are committed to helping you make it!

Create a collaborative MasterMind that’s smarter than any one of you, that increases the success of all members of the group!


The MasterMind Principle

Napoleon Hill coined the term over a hundred years ago, while writing his book “Think and Grow Rich,” a study of highly successful business leaders. He discovered “the Mastermind Principle” while studying Henry Ford, who met regularly with like-minded people, committed to supporting one anothers’ success. Today we call them MasterMind groups: small groups meeting regularly to listen, share ideas and support one another to reach their biggest dreams.

Contemporary MasterMind Groups

Today, these may take the form of monthly face-to-face meetings, intense weekend retreats, or regular phone-meetings. In some groups the members take turns organizing and facilitating meetings, while other groups ask an outside facilitator to handle these details so they can focus.

The common element of all MasterMind formats is “the hotseat”, lasting from 30 to 60 minutes. One member takes “the hotseat* to present their current challenge and ask for input. The process is facilitated to invite all voices to be heard, and encourage reflection. The hotseat member listens without discussing the advice given, and is then free to use it or not, as he or she sees fit.

The CoachingCocktails MasterMind Format

At CoachingCocktails.com we’re committed to creating supportive and growing communities. To this end, we wrap the Hotseat in a format that helps members design personal experiments and get accountability and support to carrying them out, in a safe-to-fail environment. For the Hotseat itself we use Otto Scharmer’s highly effective “case clinic” format. And together with participants we design other supporting elements such as impulse emails, offline partner-work, pre-hotseat coaching, or a resource sharing platform, to suit the group’s needs.

A 4-month online CoachingCocktails MasterMind group might look like this:

  • A Kickoff Meeting
    to connect and develop common goals and working agreements
  • A 2-hour MasterMind meeting every other week: 6 meetings, so each member takes the Hotseat once. We’ll use the powerful “Case Clinic” format from the Presencing Institute, for the Hotseat portion of each meeting.
  • A Wrapup Meeting
    to help the group evaluate progress and decide whether and how to continue

We’re happy to share our format with your group, or to organize and facilitate a group for you, in which case we charge 300€ per meeting. So, for the above example, the total cost for the facilitated series would be 400€ per member – which is a lot less than most conferences, with a great deal more engagement, and no travel!

The Power of a MasterMind

  • you’ll work “on” your career, not just “in” your career
  • you’ll get feedback specifically oriented to your stated needs and goals
  • you’ll find a safe space to be vulnerable, appreciated, and encouraged
  • you’ll reap the ideas, resources and experiences of diverse and passionate peers
  • you’ll make a commitment to regular experimentation, reflection, and story-telling
  • you’ll benefit from celebration, accountability and confidentiality
  • you’ll build an ongoing network that puts an end to the “lone leader” experience

How Do We Get Started?

Bring us a group that’s ready to work together – or share your dream and we’ll help you find your tribe. After that, the first step is to get organized and find some dates that work for those who are ready to commit. We hold the KIckoff – which involves some individual pre-work, choosing a partner for ongoing conversations, and a first meeting with your partner, and the Kickoff meeting itself. Then, having set expectations and ground rules, the group is ready for their first MasterMind meeting!

Just drop us a note to get the ball rolling! We can’t wait to hear what you’re working on…

Deb and Steve


MasterMind Groups

We love to meet with like-minded peers! But they are not always close-at-hand, and so we seek out MeetUps, User Groups and Conferences. Still, the hallway conversations there, while stimulating, are fleeting. Really, nothing beats the synergy of intentionally collaborating with our peers. We experience this in-the-small at UnConferences: you name your passion, your puzzle, and “the right people” come to help explore something important, for an hour or a day. We meet strangers there who share our interests and values, and come away inspired and encouraged! And then, too often, we all go our separate ways and lose track of one another.

The social web is, of course, changing all this: we stay in touch via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, albeit somewhat accidentally. What I still find missing in these interactions is follow-through. I tend to muse, chat and experiment on Twitter, but I also want partnership, mutual commitment and accountability to bring my ideas to fruition, and these are harder to find in the dispersed global community of peers in which I participate.

If you also crave more challenge, lively dialogue, and the support of a consistent group of peers – allow me to introduce you to: the Mastermind group!

What is a Mastermind group?

A Mastermind group is a regular meetup of like-minded peers who commit to challenge and support one another to reach their most important goals.
“Mastermind groups offer a combination of brainstorming, education, peer accountability and support in a group setting to sharpen your business and personal skills. A mastermind group helps you and your mastermind group members achieve success.” — Karen Greenstreet

The group is small, up to 6 people, frequent (monthly or bi-weekly), facilitated, and confidential, so real cases and problems can be explored in safety. A group typically starts out with a fixed time-frame, which can later be extended, and may be themed by role (ex: Organisational Coaches) or topic (ex: “Growing a Learning Culture” or “Creating Workshops that Rock”) or may simply be a like-minded group of colleagues. Participants commit to be fully present at meetings and in pair-meetups in between, to share what they know, to challenge one another, and to hold one another accountable with respect and compassion.

Meeting facilitation is an important aspect of keeping groups lively and effective. Whether in person or on the phone, the group facilitator does not join conversations, but provides clear stuctures to help the group set intentions and stick to them – through working agreements, timeboxes – and uses facilitation tools and formats that keep the space open and allow everyone to contribute their wisdom and passion easily. Facilitation is usually a paid role, which should be discussed in your initial group design call with your facilitator.

Where does this format originate?

This Mastermind group idea, while now experiencing a resurgence, is of course nothing new! The term “Mastermind Alliance” was coined in the early 20th century by author and researcher Napolean Hill (more on that here). But in fact, people have been meeting for millenia in pubs and homes and parks to discuss the topics that make their hearts beat faster. Having a name for it simply helps us find one another more easily, and sets clear expectations for what we’ll do when we meet together.

I learned to lead Mastermind groups from Karen Greenstreet, whose passion for the topic is infectious! (check our her twitter feed for Mastermind tips and guides @kgreenstreet). A well-known element of her groups is the “hotseat” – at each meeting, one person presents a problem, opportunity or puzzle, and receives input from their partners. In itself, this is exciting, but then the impact of the hotseat is magnified by the addition of weekly check-ins, breakout-conversations, personal goal-setting and accountability conversations, and ongoing conversations with partners between meetups.

How does a Mastermind Group form?

Find your people:

What’s important for such a group is like-mindedness and commitment of participants. How this come to be varies. It is common to see groups initiated by a facilitator, as in Karen’s community listing. My own preference is to respond to “pull” from an individual or group who says “I’d love a group focused on (my passionate topic)” – then we work together to locate “the right people” and design a group that works for their specific situation and schedule. Another alternative is for a whole group to come and say “we are here, let’s start!” Groups have been known to form around common problems (managing self-organizing teams), dreams (successful entrepreneurship), books (read and discuss Tribal Leadership) and careeer paths (agile testers). Basically any area where you really want input to improve, where you feel stuck or somehow don’t make the time for it.

Design your alliance:

The group participants first meet to design their common focus, goals, and working agreements. At the end of this meeting, each must decide: am I in? Being “in” is a commitment to faithfully attend meetings over an agreed number of weeks, and making it a free choice ensures buy-in and strengthens the group. A schedule is set up and commited to, and the group designs a process for dealing with unexpected scheduling issues. Last, but not least: someone chooses to be in the first “hotseat” !

Meet, Rinse, Repeat!

The hotseat member does some preparation and shares their hotseat theme with the others in writing, a few days before they meet. The group checks in, sharing successes and challenges on the way to their personal goals, and the meeting moves into the hotseat portion, where everyone is free to offer advice, and the hotseat recipient will listen and take notes, but is not obliged to actively commit to anything in particular. There is also time for members to work together in pairs or all together, as they require, and short-term personal goals and next steps are designed and declared for the next interval. This pattern repeats regularly over the whole time defined for this group, be it 10 weeks or 10 months.

Partner work magnifies growth and engagement

Not all groups do this, but I strongly recommend that group members work in stable partner-pairs, simply meeting once in each interval to check in on progress and encourage one another. This gives the opportunity for more personal, focused conversation, and continuity across the whole of the group’s lifetime. It tends to keep the work alive between meetings, so participants arrive at meetings prepared, present and ready to start. It also guards against discouragement, as things don’t always go as hoped, and so one can share disappointments, and be reminded of successes, in a private conversation before joining the group meetup.

So, when do we start?

Simply set up a call with me, and let’s see what we can do together!

I can’t wait \o/