Our Pandemic Stories. 555 Days of Agile Coaching from home.

I have managed to learn quite a number of things. There was a difference in a mentality of me being ‘locked down’, first when the number of new daily cases being less than 5k, and when it had breached 5k and had gone up and up, seemingly without control until it hit around 21k daily. When the number of daily cases was less than 5k, I thought that ‘lock down’ was going to be a temporary situation, and it would be a matter-of-time before we could be back in normal life again. After the number of new cases breached 5k, it seemed like life would never be the same, especially when people we know, or are close to us, become sick and experience near-death (or even have passed on) that it really cemented the ‘new normal’ as being the normal state of things.

555 agile days malaysia samuel loh

To pen down thoughts on the entire experience would have taken more than a blog or journal entry; hence I would like to scope my reflections related to my experience as an agilist and on coaching generally. During the 555 days of lock-down, I learnt that coaching agile teams is possible even during the pandemic, with some adjustments and cooperation from the coachees. One of the important adjustments was to make it clear to the coachees that work still needed to be delivered even when everyone was collaborating remotely. The enablers to make this work was to ensure that everyone’s emotions and moods were kept constantly acknowledged and monitored, while they needed to focus on how best to deliver value and not postpone delivering valuable outcomes till ‘when life was back to normal again’.

During the same period of time, I have also learnt that just meeting up or discussing work using a single platform or 2 will not yield the best outcomes. The fact is that replacing the ability to watch how people’s faces change, hear people’s tonality and pitch in their voice and the way people gesture and move around was not how a single platform could be adequately enough to be a substitute for. If you just use video conferencing (and that with the participants’ being willing to turn on their videos), you could more or less see and hear the others in the call, however, you still do not have all your senses combined to ‘smell’, touch or FEEL how someone’s mood was actually at that point of time, as you really might need to combine all the inputs from your senses to accurately pick up the important cues for communication. Hence, it was important to use whatever tools or platforms that were necessary to increase the clarity of communication, which was important for work and coaching to get done.

It is a good thing that the government in our country has declared the Covid virus as being ‘endemic’, and that almost all sectors have begun reopening with SOPs in place. However, it was still important to keep ourselves safe, as the government and authorities could only do so much. I don’t think that I would want to go back to the time when news channels became one of my main source of entertainment again.

Over the last 555 days of lockdown, or partial lockdown in Malaysia,

I have managed to learn quite a number of things. There was a difference in a mentality of me being ‘locked down’, first when the number of new daily cases being less than 5k, and when it had breached 5k and had gone up and up, seemingly without control until it hit around 21k daily. When the number of daily cases was less than 5k, I thought that ‘lock down’ was going to be a temporary situation, and it would be a matter-of-time before we could be back in normal life again. After the number of new cases breached 5k, it seemed like life would never be the same, especially when people we know, or are close to us, become sick and experience near-death (or even have passed on) that it really cemented the ‘new normal’ as being the normal state of things.

To pen down thoughts on the entire experience would have taken more than a blog or journal entry; hence I would like to scope my reflections related to my experience as an agilist and on coaching generally. During the 555 days of lock-down, I learnt that coaching agile teams is possible …… even during the pandemic, with some adjustments and cooperation from the coachees. One of the important adjustments was to make it clear to the coachees that work still needed to be delivered even when everyone was collaborating remotely. The enablers to make this work was to ensure that everyone’s emotions and moods were kept constantly acknowledged and monitored, while they needed to focus on how best to deliver value and not postpone delivering valuable outcomes till ‘when life was back to normal again’.

During the same period of time, I have also learnt that just meeting up or discussing work using a single platform or 2 will not yield the best outcomes. The fact is that replacing the ability to watch how people’s faces change, hear people’s tonality and pitch in their voice and the way people gesture and move around was not how a single platform could be adequately enough to be a substitute for. If you just use video conferencing (and that with the participants’ being willing to turn on their videos), you could more or less see and hear the others in the call, however, you still do not have all your senses combined to ‘smell’, touch or FEEL how someone’s mood was actually at that point of time, as you really might need to combine all the inputs from your senses to accurately pick up the important cues for communication. Hence, it was important to use whatever tools or platforms that were necessary to increase the clarity of communication, which was important for work and coaching to get done.

It is a good thing that the government in our country has declared the Covid virus as being ‘endemic’, and that almost all sectors have begun reopening with SOPs in place. However, it was still important to keep ourselves safe, as the government and authorities could only do so much. I don’t think that I would want to go back to the time when news channels became one of my main source of entertainment again.

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