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Personal Maps — A Trust Enabler

Remember, teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.”, a big thanks to Patrick Lencioni (author of — The FiveDysfunction of a Team ) for bestowing the wisdom and first step to create teams.

Great ideas emerge only when teams transparently discuss their thought process. There should be a disagreement, challenge to the status quo, question the approach in order to constructively reach a decision. But, any disagreement or question takes the form of criticism, if we do not know the intent of the person who is sharing it. And, knowledge of intent only appears from Trust. And, you can not trust anyone you don’t know.

Scrum Masters are like parents no child wished for. We can not expect the team to trust the intent and align with a thought process of the Scrum Master, till the time, the team understands his/her mindset. And the same is applied vice-versa too. In my experience, Personal Maps from Management 3.0 came to rescue when I was a Scrum Master of a team (around May 2018) with members from six different vendors. All members were top on their skills, but one thing was missing to make them a team, i.e. cohesiveness. After having a discussion with the team, I figured out that people don’t know or talk to cross-vendor team members. I planned to dedicate one retrospective to Personal Maps.

Retrospective Day

The team was amazed to see big flip charts all around the room with their names on it. As an ice-breaking activity, I presented my Personal Map to the team and explained what to write and asked the team to choose the categories that define them more appropriately. It was a situation where the team is working together, alone.

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After half an hour, we had all personal maps ready and the team talked about their insecurities, values, hobbies, family, education, goals (short-term or long-term). I could see connections were being built, for instance, two of the developers were avid bloggers on the same site. Some shared hobbies, some lived in the same locality, some had kids of the same age, or had similar values.

Post Retrospective

We went ahead and pasted these personal maps near to our seats. Post that retrospective, I see team members started to have discussions to have lunch together or even share a ride while commuting. The team was breaking the communication barriers, and after a few sprints, they even started to get their code reviewed by cross-vendor team members.

It was not the end, we went a step ahead and had another exercise after a few sprints, where one team member will create a personal map of any other team member. I could sense the excitement and how they were volunteering to create it for the people they go to know.

My Learnings from Personal Maps

  1. Enables communication within the team.
  2. Helps team members to understand the emotional quotient of each other.
  3. Works well with remote team members too.
  4. Provides background about the team member, enabling insights in their thought process.
  5. Helps the team to start meeting on a lighter note.
  6. Keeps the fun alive
  7. And, above all, fosters TRUST.
  8. Brings empathy between the team members and infuses a sense of security.
  9. Gives chance to introverts of the team come forward and interact

If you are planning personal maps with your team, make sure of below:

  • In case the group is new, add and arrange the main topics around so that they can understand the activity better and modify their respective maps accordingly.
  • As a facilitator, adhering to timeboxing is a must, so make sure not to have many topics in personal maps, as the team may lose interest or you will be over the stipulated time.
  • Guide the participants, to add minimal details so that the team can converse about it and brief enough to make sense out of the conversation.

It is also a good practice to repeat this mind map exercise when some new team member joins the team and you can spice it up by adding some twists like:

  • Ask your team to prepare a few interesting questions about someone’s map.
  • Let the new team member create his/her own map and the rest of the team pairs up and creates a map for other team members.

If you want to learn more about Personal Maps, please visit the Management3.0 page.

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