Excerpted/adapted from the book CTRL Shift: 50 Games for 50 ****ing Days Like Today, by Jessie Shternshus and Mike Bonnifer.
When things shift, control over your response gives you the ability to navigate and make sense of the change… You don’t wear your parka in a heatwave and you don’t host a party on the arrival of bad news. Or maybe you do. Your response is up to you.
But some ways of responding to the type of day you’re having are better and more likely to be effective than others. This is what CTRL Shift provides—50 games to play at work that have been structured as ways of responding to different kinds of days. Each game gives you a way to control the shift that happens around you.
In this special excerpt, we’ll outline what shift is, what CTRL is, and give you games—ones that didn’t make it into the book and some that did—to respond productively to the kinds of days that can derail us all.
What is “shift”?
“Shift” is the unexpectedness of everything.
The flow of events in the networked world is continuous and volatile. There’s no script for it, or formula for dealing with it. The events that affected us yesterday are different from those that affect us today. Every moment is a new moment. We can know shift is happening, yet how it happens is very often a surprise, so we must be Agile.
Shift is a way of life.
The evolving environment in which we live and work demands that we evolve with it, or risk being made obsolete by it. This statement has always been true. It has never been more dramatic than it is today; if for no other reason than today it’s about us.
Shift is a thrill ride.
Remember when we were children, and almost every brand-new experience was thrilling just because it was brand-new? Our instinct was to enjoy these experiences and find new ways to play within them. They were markers of our growth. The wild rides we’re on today are also markers of our growth, yet we seem to have forgotten how to find the simple joy in them and, sadder still, how to learn by playing.
What is “CTRL”?
CTRL is a response to change.
Most days are rife with both pitfalls and opportunities. Some people are skilled at seeing pitfalls far enough in advance to avoid them (no one avoids them all). Some people are skilled at seeing opportunities early enough to take advantage of them (no one sees them all).
CTRL is perspective.
Perspective is vital to controlling shift. The view out your window might be the same as it was yesterday, but the way you respond to it today doesn’t have to be. All changes reveal opportunity that was not present before the change transpired. So when the shift hits the fan, let your new situation unveil the opportunities you couldn’t see before.
CTRL is presence.
Don’t give your attention to what you think should happen. Give it to what is happening.
Play It Up
Perhaps today is a ****ing day. Or maybe it’s a ****ing day. Either way, here’s a great game (that didn’t make the book) to practice controlling shift…
“No, You Didn’t!”
Have two volunteers come up to the front of the room. One person will play themselves (the “Presenter”), and the other will play a Contrary Client. The Presenter is instructed to take a strong position about their presentation, and deliver information with confidence, no matter what.
As the Presenter is giving their presentation, the Contrary Client will occasionally say “No, you didn’t!” (Or “No, you won’t!” “No, you don’t!” “No, you can’t!”). This Contrary Client needs to ‘read the room’ to feel when it is appropriate to call for a change.
When the Client protests, the Presenter needs to immediately alter course with whatever comes to mind, with the goal of justifying the revision in a way that maintains the endgame (supports the core pitch) and preserves their expertise. They may do this by providing concrete examples, more detail, alternative approaches, etc.
For example, let’s say the Presenter is a product developer and the Client is a major retailer…
Presenter: We’ve devised a really great way to increase foot traffic to your stores by doing an in-store promotion. This promotion is designed to educate your customers on our new product line and in the process, we will position you as the go-to retailer for this product trend.
Client: No, you won’t…
Presenter: You’re right to have reservations about our prospects for positioning you as the leader in this area. We will need to do test marketing in select stores in order to accurately predict wide-scale consumer response, but we’re confident we can execute these tests with limited stresses to employee resources.
Client: No, you can’t…
Presenter: It’s true that we won’t be able to fully educate and train your employees on the full breadth of the product’s functionality and benefits so we will switch our focus from sales staff training to a “what’s in it for the consumer” approach, with promotional displays that feature product information with free samples and exclusive offers.
The benefits of “No, You Didn’t!” are in illustrating (or practicing the illustration of) confidence — of being the expert, thinking creatively, making quick decisions (and in this context, quickly accepting the ideas that come to mind), playing with the concept that ‘mistakes are gifts’, and improving efficiency in reading an audience.
Let the interaction between the Presenter and the Client go for at least three or four exchanges, and then repeat the exercise with a second set of volunteers. You can keep the same scenario to see how different Presenters and Clients will progress and block the momentum in new ways, play with variations on the scenario or change it altogether, switch up participant roles, and so on.
Give it a whirl.
Jessie is a keynote speaker at AgileAus18 in Melbourne on 18-19 June 2018. She will also present a full-day workshop, Unlearning in progress, on 20 June 2018 (Melbourne) and 22 June 2018 (Sydney).
More info: agileaustralia.com.au/2018/