Narrathon: Creating & Sharing Probes for Nourishing Learning

posted by Siddharth Shukla (and below by Sanchita Mukhopadhyay, Nagini Chandramouli, and Charu Arora)

This year AgilityToday gave everyone a chance to learn more on Probes though Narrathon. A Narrathon, a peer learning experience, was organized where participants guided and mentored each other in capturing their learning as PROBES. Over all efforts was shepherded by founder & designer of Probes, Jutta Eckstein, and John Buck.

The group consisted of 10 people (including Jutta & John) from different locations working in different organizations as Scrum Master, Agile Coach, Transformation Coach, Individual Consultants etc.

  1. John Buck
  2. Deepti Jain
  3. Jutta Eckstein
  4. Siddharth Shukla
  5. Ashish Agarwal
  6. Nagini Chadramouli
  7. Vikramjit Singh
  8. Sanchita Mukhopadhyay
  9. Charu Arora
  10. Chetan VR

Complete Narrathon was divided into 4 online sessions across 3 months where complete group met and worked on their understanding on Probes. In between these sessions many multiple offline communications happened, and group members met in smaller groups to discuss and mentor each other.

During the period participants had the opportunity to choose any experiment that they did or want to conduct in their organizations. During sessions participants learned about Probes and its components:

  1. Name
  2. Background
  3. Hypothesis
  4. Safe-to-fail experiment

With continuous mentoring and guidance provided by Jutta and John as well as from peers, participants continuously worked on feedback and kept on improving the content which resulted in improved and better Probes.

At the end of Narrathon each participant had a completely different perspective about Probes and its importance. Before ending the complete learning and sharing experience all participants decided on next steps below are few common ones:

  1. Sharing the knowledge and Probes within local meetup groups to get more feedback.
  2. Cultivate a habit of experiment and form a community of practice to share each other learnings.

At last I would like to thank Deepti for taking initiative and organizing such learning sessions. And thanks to Jutta and John for guiding and mentoring us throughout this period and helping each one of us to learn PROBES.

Other participants experiences:

Sanchita Mukhopadhyay

When I joined Narrathon 2020 I never thought that it would be such an incredible learning journey for me. Thanks to John Buck and Jutta Eckstein for taking us to the world of writing probes, teach us how probe nourishes collaborative learning and culture of experimentation. We learnt What is Probe, Why should we probe, How to write/design a good probe, Why it is important to measure before and after experimentation.

The method of teaching was virtual yet so well coordinated, structured with nicely formatted learning content. It was an amazing experience of group learning with classwork, homework, break-out sessions and of course lot of fun with it.

The outcomes of this Narrathon (some good probes written by our group) are already finding their ways of publication and implementation. So our next steps are clear and I am sure we all will make best use of this learning by sharing with others.

Nagini Chandramouli

Narration: Ah.. We started with an expectation to explore what a “PROBE” is and Jutta Eckstein and John Buck took us through the background, format and the way a probe is written. That’s it , we all became excited and started converting some of our Agile challenges into our own PROBE.

We had 4 sessions where we reviewed each others PROBES, had group discussions, supported our PROBE with a hypothesis and an experiment which would result in measurable outcomes, fine tuned them, learnt from others PROBES, Improvising them, conducting these experiments in our work spaces , specially the concept of sfae to fail, and finally in the last session,

we all felt we learned a very new tool “PROBE” to help us think deep, experiment, socialize our challenge in a different way.

We decided to publish our finished PROBES to larger audiences and also help interested agilistes to learn about “PROBE”. Many thanks to Jutta and John for their guidance and mentoring during this journey and thanks to Deepti Jiain to provide this opportunity.

Now I have a new tool in my kitty to help me in my professional development.

Charu Arora

In today’s world where disruption has become the new norm, it is inevitable to achieve agility without experimentation. Equally is important how experiments are carried out and learning are captured from it.

Narrathon, an online peer learning series about probes- coached and mentored by Jutta Eckstein and John Buck has been a remarkable learning experience about experimentation.

The series constituted of well-structured sessions with focus on different aspects of probes. Starting from ‘situation to be addressed’ to ‘hypothesize with supporting experiment’, it also emphasized on validating the experiment with pre/post measures and ‘control experiment’ to further strengthen the reliability of results. Focus was also on scaling experiment to the next level as subsequent step. The series also highlighted the importance of sharing and publishing the learning which not only helps building knowledge but also in cultivating and promoting the culture of experimentation.

This whole learning journey wouldn’t have been amazing without wonderful peers who brainstormed and provided constructive feedback to each other’s probe.

Find out more

Description of Narrathon

Abstracts of Probes