The digital landscape is changing (part two)

Agile Encore speaker Richard Weissel returns for part two of his blog, ‘The digital landscape is changing’. You can catch Richard reprising his popular Agile Australia 2016 talk next month in Sydney at Agile Encore

In the last installment, we left Zinzi Sullivan holding court, introducing students to the double diamond design principle, in a masterful display of scaffolding. Will she turn out to be hero-turned-villain? Read on…

The students, in their feedback at the end of day one, clearly expressed that they wanted to have spent more time ‘creating’ solutions. This was important feedback and we certainly took it on board when adjusting the plan for day two; however, I honestly believe that the results at the end of day three would not have been anywhere near as impressive if we’d sacrificed any of the relationship building, modelling and scaffolded activities which had been an enormous part of day one. Each of these activities is worthy of an article in itself. What I want to emphasise though, is that all of these activities modelled agility, in terms of taking risk to try something new, using small feedback loops, then trying again, whilst being unafraid of failure.

In the afternoon of day one (subtle flash back there), the REA crew ran six activities, all of which scaffolded and modelled the behaviours we wanted from the students for the event.

Pictured here are just two examples of those activities: Matt Witherow took groups of students through the principles behind electric circuits, by using fruit to create an orchestra (pictured are Kian, left, and Sonny, who is holding the banana ‘drumsticks’).

This, along with the paper aeroplanes task, run by Thomas Snow, were classic examples of working in an iterative process, with continuous improvement based on feedback. Feedback. “Ah, what a smooth segue!” I hear you say.

Feedback can come in many forms and is multi-directional. Take a look at these “how are you feeling?” feedback notes from the students, first thing on day two..

Flash forward (I’m feeling really clever now): 9.30 am day two

Plenty of sleepy teens by the look of it; I guess that shouldn’t have been a surprise, but again, being aware of this and being able to modify activities and behaviour based on regular feedback, is absolutely critical to the success of any project. As a result of this feedback, here’s the collaborative ‘energiser’ activity, which completely transformed the mood in the room. You’re looking at Noah and Ali (foreground – facing camera) and Max, Will, Dean and Milly (background).


In terms of our Agile organisations, there’s a lot in this – how effectively do we respond to our feedback loops? How often do we check in on the ‘mood’ of our teams?

Here’s the mood at the start of day three…the result of some beautifully scaffolded activities which built trust, relationships and encouraged creativity and experimentation.

Look – no adults (Dragan, foreground, is only 17 – but 6 foot 7!)

When I arrived that morning (of the last day), Sasha and Zinzi, along with the REA crew, were standing around having coffee; the kids were busily working away on their projects, collaboratively, creatively and so incredibly respectfully. This was testimony to the planning and energy that had gone into the preceding 48 hours.

This brings us back to the present, where the story started – the outstanding showcases, to which the parents and selected staff were invited…


…and the winner? Team Waddle, who came up with the support network for teenage pregnancies. We’re currently discussing the “where to now?” question for all of the teams; the students, when asked, all wanted to continue working on their projects. Again, there is so much in this statement worthy of closer attention, but what stands out to me, is the power of giving individuals and teams the trust and support to create something over which they feel ownership, and an environment in which they feel unafraid of failure. This is what will prepare us for the future digital landscape. This is where we, the Agile community, have a responsibility.

Flash forward : 2031, 15 years from now.


The students from last week will be in their late twenties, early thirties…let’s help paint the right picture in here.

The future is in our students’ hands, but they’re going to need some scaffolding. Are you going to help shape the future, or wait for it to arrive?

If your organisation is interested in running an event with the technologists of tomorrow (and I hope it is), hit up Sasha and Zinzi at anda.

To find out more about Agile Encore, visit the website

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