Philippa Hale

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Ranger4 Opens Lean Pub

Posted by Philippa Hale on Thu, Apr 16, 2020 @ 15:04 PM

Ranger4 Blog


15th April 2020


Author - Philippa Hale

Subject - 1st Ranger4 Remote Pub - Tips for knowledge sharing and connecting across functions while working remotely.


At Ranger4 we hosted our first ‘Remote Pub’ this week.  We enjoyed it so much that it is to be a weekly event, for the time being. 4pm on Tuesdays. 


It was based on the Lean Cafe or Agile Coffee principles: An agenda-less forum where participants arrive, suggest and prioritise topics and start to discuss them.  We added Ranger4 facilitators to guide where needed, but mostly the groups just got stuck in, after barely a few seconds of hesitation.  Even though we were remote and only some had met before.


We thought this could be a really useful tool for people on their business agility and/or DevOps quest. Are you, for example, wanting to connect up and build relationships with people in other business functions, to scale and share business agility practices?  It’s hard to get quality time together. Even harder now! 


So rather than organising ‘briefings’, how about replicating as far as possible a more relaxed social environment, such as a cafe or (appreciating the UK cultural bias) a pub?  And then replacing explanations of procedures and principles with your best ‘human’ stories: what’s going on in your world that is interesting and relevant to your audience/colleagues?  We naturally tell stories and they are the most memorable form of communication. See Stephen Denning’s storytelling in leadership of change and business storytelling in an agile context.


When we polled the questions people were most interested to explore, the one that got the most votes was ‘How are you feeling at work, under lockdown?’  We had assumed there would be questions about technology.  There were a few. Clearly people have to have the tools to do the job and get to first base: actually being able to interact with their colleagues, customers, managers without undue disruption. We simply can’t contribute our best and motivation and productivity suffer. 


Also, we thought people might be focusing on the future: how we learn from all of this, what we keep from the ‘old’ ways, and what we change, who for and in what timeframe?  While all of this was interesting for sure, right then, at that moment, people just wanted time to share feelings, experiences and take away some simple, practical tips.


The tips we all collected: 

A lean cafe/remote pub is a great way to use the remote working tools to create an informal but purposeful environment - it felt very relaxed with groups of 5-6  at the ‘pub tables’ (zoom breakout rooms). It takes some planning and preparation but that means better use of the time together.


Itt was good to explicitly say that passing children, pets and partners were entirely acceptable. It made the conversation even more ‘human’.  Alternatively, at moments of focused concentration, it is important to feel comfortable saying ‘actually, that’s a distraction right now, shall we reschedule or rethink?’, and respecting work/family time and timezones. It’s about being authentic so you bring the real ‘you’ to work.

The time flew by.  Everyone had the chance to speak at the pub tables, (great tip for meetings!) then good to come back together and share the highlights.  We tend to be quite task focused at work so it was great to be able to talk about the ‘human’ aspects, etiquette, respecting diverse needs, being kind (attached: Forbes article on kindness and link to creativity, productivity and competitive advantage) when all are feeling the remote working pressures.

A relaxed tone and style of facilitation, and just a few simple ‘rules of the game’, helped people to talk with more confidence and get creative together.  Within the short hour, people who had never met before were quite happy sharing experiences and stories and listening well to each other.  Something to encourage back at work within and between teams. ‘Video on’ gives ‘richer communication’ - more signals, better connection, more trust.

A chance to play with new tools, not for their own sake but for the way they broke up the session, helped with engagement, creative thinking, concentration span, sharing the air time, time for reflection as well as talking.  That suited those of us with different learning and working styles.


If you would like to join the next pub please click here.