Tag Archives: training

Facilitating from the Back of the Room at Spotify

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Last week Jimmy Janlén and I held a shortened version of our course Training from the Back of the Room for our former colleagues at Spotify. Actually it is not “our” course, but Sharon Bowmans. It’s based on her books about how create a more engaging learning experience in the class room, especially when training adults.

“I really liked the whole setup of this course – a really well organised and inspiring day. Wow :-)”

Jimmy and I are certified trainers of this course. We use the techniques when we do training. But we have also experienced how useful they are in other coaching and facilitation situations, such as workshops and retrospectives. Almost any meeting can be made more engaging and with longer lasting result with the set of tools TBR provides.

We have chosen to call the shortened training Facilitating from the Back of the Room, since that is what we agile coaches do most. 16 persons from the Spotify Agile Guild showed up this beautiful day in a corner room on the 17:th floor in High Tech building with amazing views over Stockholm city. We have to admit we were a little nervous at first. Would this actually make sense to coaches? It did.

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MOVE! Don’t. Sit. Still.

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“Rörelse trumfar stillasittande” är den första och viktigaste av de sex principerna för lärande från Sharon Bowmans bok “Using Brain Science to Make Training Stick”

Att bli certifierad Training From the back of the Room lärare var en resa med många steg och moment. En av uppgifterna bestod av att göra en presentation. Jag valde att göra en presentation just på principen “Movement trumps Sitting” då så drastiskt har förändrat hur jag lär ut och faciliterar övningar och workshops. Vad som än ska göras försöker jag få in rörelse.

Klicka för att se presentationen på SlideShare

Klicka för att se presentationen på SlideShare


  • skickar massa syre till hjärnan
  • introducerar variation (vilket ökar din uppmärksamhet)
  • dina kognitiva funktioner aktiveras (dvs du processar ny information snabbare)

Den 11-12 April kan du om du vill fånga chansen att lära dig mera om intensivt lärande, om att skapa dynamik, ökad närvaro, engagemang och variation. Jag och Peter Antman ger då kursen “Training from the Back of the Room – Deltagardrivet och upplevelsebaserat lärande” i Crisps kurslokaler.

Kursen är den första svenska anpassningen av Sharon Bowmans framgångsrika bok och kurs, Training from the back of the room.

The power of open-ended requirements

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David Barnholdt and I recently attended a 1-week PSL workshop (Problem Solving Leadership) with Jerry Weinberg, Esther Derby, and Johanna Rothman, one of the best courses I’ve ever attended. After that course we’ve been thinking about ways to make our own training courses more interactive.

David was first out and invented a brilliant exercise demonstrating the power of open-ended requirements. I built upon that idea and tried out my own variant for the first time last week, with 20 people divided into 4 teams. Here’s what we did:

Step 1 – follow open-ended spec:
Team 1 & 2 were given the task "Draw a summer meadow", Team 3 & 4 the task "Draw a christmas card". The teams were given direct access to the customer (me & Arne, my co-teacher). When they showed prototypes and asked for detailed requirements we were cooperative but gave only high-level answers such as "I want the picture to make me long for summer" or "Some more life would be nice", letting the teams figure out the implementation.

Step 2 – write detailed spec:
The teams were now asked to write a detailed specification for their picture, so that offshore teams could re-create the same exact picture as closely as possible. Due to "bandwidth cost restrictions" we only allowed written text in the specification :o)

Step 3 – follow detailed spec:
Send the spec to the "offshore team" – i.e. team 1 & 3 swapped specifications with each other, and team 2 & 4 did likewise. No communication between the teams. So now each team had to try to recreate the other team’s exact picture using only an overly detailed spec ("draw a 2.5cm wide blue cloud 2 cm under the top-left corner"….etc)

Step 4 – art gallery
All pictures up on the wall. Each person got to grade each picture (draw 1-5 dots on it) indicating which pictures they would most like to take home.

Step 5 – debrief
Not surprisingly, in 3 of 4 cases the "offshore team" pictures from step 3 were significantly uglier. See the examples below. We talked about open-ended specs vs detailed specs, and how this can impact the overall quality of the product. We also talked about how each of the first three steps felt like. Several people mentioned that they recognized the feeling (and result) from real projects they’d been in.

My conclusion:
Fun exercise! The debrief part was a bit too rushed and controlled from my part, I should have been more open-ended there (go figure…). And I might work on the timings. But everyone I talked to liked the exercise, and people referred back to it several times during the course, so I will most likely do this again!

Thanks again David :o)

So, here’s one of the examples. Guess which picture below was drawn to en open-ended spec and which was drawn to a detailed spec…