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Michael Norton (doc) is Director of Engineering for Groupon in Chicago, IL. Michael's experience covers a wide range of development topics. Michael declares expertise in no single language or methodology and is immediately suspicious of anyone who declares such expertise. Michael is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 41 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

What is an Extreme Meeting?

11.30.2010
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Stairs made it "easier"
I definitely have to give the nod to Jon Stahl on this one. I'm not sure where he got the idea. I've not asked. But it wouldn't surprise me if he came up with it all on his own. If you know Jon, you know what many of us would consider extreme is pretty commonplace for him. If you get the opportunity to sit down with him and you don't want to talk about agile or lean, be sure to ask him about his trip to the far north. It is an epic story.

The basic premise is simple; get out and do something that tests your stamina, creates a sense of team, and allows you to have discussions you might not otherwise have.

So far, I have to say I am a fan. I liked the concept, but was apprehensive of the potential outcome. My primary concern was if everyone could make a 14 mile challenging hike. We placed a vehicle at the turn-around point, which helped. We also chose a route that started easy, got more difficult, and then ended very flat and easy. Warm up, work hard, cool down.

Format



Pre-Event

Status Update
We preselected a few important strategic topics. Individuals were assigned responsibility for the items. To be quite specific, we ran an A3 process several days prior to the hike. But the A3 piece is not necessary, only a select set of key topics and an "owner" for each topic.

Iterations

We were headed out for a 14 mile hike, so we broke the hike up into sections approximately three miles each. The team met at the trail head and each topic owner gave a brief overview of their item. We then split up into small groups, each focused on a specific topic.

Jon Selects a Lunch Spot
We hiked a leg of the trail, talking over our thoughts and ideas on the specific topic. The topic owner facilitated the session, making sure we stayed near enough to the original topic, without entirely dominating and controlling the discussion.

At the end of each leg, we briefly discussed the experience as a larger group. We then split up into new groups. We decided at each point if we wanted to retire a topic and introduce a new one or continue with a prior topic. It was all quite dynamic and the general lack of formal agenda allowed us to organize around things as we thought necessary.

Retrospective


Discussing Strategy
At the end of the hike, we met at The Winking Lizard in Peninsula, OH. The Lizard is a wings and beer pub that has been around for many years. It was a nice venue to wind-down, have a drink, and get something to eat.

We generally agreed to try mini-presentations at each break. This would allow each of us to get a quick (3-minute) update on each of the topics.

Next Event


We are thinking about an over-night canoe trip for the next one. Clearly, this will have to wait until the weather is more appropriate. Other suggestions were sky diving, rappelling, and white water rafting. They all sound fun (or at least extreme), but it is important that the activity provide for discussion first and foremost. I, for one, would have a hard time holding a conversation while simultaneously fighting to hold down my lunch.
References
Published at DZone with permission of Michael Norton, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Emma Watson replied on Fri, 2012/03/30 - 3:10am

So I now work on a boat and go for 14 mile hikes with everyone. I've already had a friend ask quite innocently if LeanDog was a fitness company! I could see how that mistake could happen....

I like the idea of including mini-retrospectives throughout the excursion. Let's face it-it's tough to make notes while you active and moving around!

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