Introduce Team G Morning Learning Sessions to Coach the Growth Mindset

6 minute read

Keeping our skills up to date is challenging. Remote work is a perfect excuse to run group learning sessions and to demo growth mindset to our coachees. 

Drawing of a piece of soap, written Good Morning Learning. Below the soap are the 5 rules of Good Morning Learning: Every Day, Study during 20 minutes, Share during 10 minutes, Invite a Guest, Split the group when too large.
By Philippe Bourgau, under CC BY-SA 4.0, high resolution image

- You haven’t read that book? Ha! That’s nothing. There’s a million books I haven’t read. I’m way ahead of you in the not-reading department!

- I’m putting up some stiff competition in the “books I haven’t read” race. [Discussion on extremeprogramming@groups.io]

One problem I see is that most developers are not so aware. TDD seems still very much the exception rather than the rule. It doesn’t seem to be taught in most university Computer Science programs, which is one of two main ways that most programmers learn to program (the other being self-study). [russgold extremeprogramming@groups.io]

The Story of Good Morning Learning

I’m a learning addict. If I’m not careful, I can get demoralized by the infinite amount of exciting things to learn!

Keeping our skills up to date is crucial for anyone in the software industry. This holds true for us, technical agile coaches, but also for the developers we work with.

A few years ago, during his mob programming training, Woody Zuill shared a great practice:

At Hunters, we started every day with 1 hour of learning.

When the lockdown hit us, my commute time went from 50 minutes to 50 seconds. As we were all saving time on commutes, it was the perfect occasion to give daily learning a try!

My tech agile coach colleagues and I started to meet every morning for 30 minutes. We would spend 20 minutes studying and 10 minutes sharing what we had learned. Some read books, others looked at articles, while others experimented.

A week in, and everyone got hooked at the practice! Some of our part-time coaches started to invite their teammates. The group soon began to be too large to be manageable. We had to fork and start spin-offs sessions in different teams.

Since then, this little idea has been growing! My colleague Jonathan Boccara tried it and has been blogging about it!

Coaching the Growth Mindset!

The pandemic also prodded me to run more short experiments [Jeff Langr extremeprogramming@groups.io]

I am […] starting work with one new client remotely (but who knows where they will go?) [JB Rainsberger extremeprogramming@groups.io]

When I coach a team, installing a growth mindset is one of my main goals. Good Morning Learning sessions are a way to coach the growth mindset in 2 ways:

  1. Continuous learning. After a few weeks, coachees will see that they can now do things they used not to. With time, this will increase their confidence in their abilities to overcome challenges.
  2. Hacking the remote work commutes into learning is a way to show how to embrace change. Not only is it a way to adapt to new disrupting constraints, but it’s also a way to get even better.

Cover of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book "AntiFragile, Things That Gain From Disorder". Using remote work commute to setup a compound learning habit is an antifragile move!

Good Morning Learning is not only about coaching! It’s also great at increasing everyone’s knowledge and skills!

What Bode was saying was this: “Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest.’’ Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former. The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity - it is very much like compound interest. I don’t want to give you a rate, but it is a very high rate. Given two people with exactly the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime. [“You and Your Research” - 1986 Speech by Dr. Richard W. Hamming]

Compound learning is extra-ordinary! (Andrew Barry says magical) Over the long term, it makes us more productive and keeps our bosses happy. Higher productivity also means a more sustainable pace. A more sustainable pace is an opportunity for us, geeks, to have more time to enjoy life!

Photo of a growing piles of coins. Like compound interests, every day when you spend 30 minutes learning, you are training to learn faster, and internalizing knowledge that enables you to grasp more advanced topics.

…One last thing: you, as a coach, will learn too!

How to set it up

Starting your own Good Morning Learning sessions is very easy.

  1. Open your calendar app
  2. Schedule a 30 minutes daily appointment at the time you used to commute
  3. Invite your coachees and a guest

During the session:

  1. Everyone forks off to study something for 20 minutes
  2. Everyone joins back the group after 20 minutes and shares what they have learned

If you have too much to share in 10 minutes, split the session into 2. Every group will now have to invite a guest ;-)

💡 Good Morning Learning is also a nice corporate hack! Are you a ‘guerilla’ coach with no formal authority to set up such sessions? No one will be able to justify that you should be cranking out features at the time you used to commute! (NOTE: check “How the Samman Method helps to sell technical coaching internally?” to spread coaching wider in your organization)

Why does it work?

Many simple reasons make the Good Morning Learning habit work:

  • It’s motivating! Daniel Pink told us in Drive that Mastery is a crucial element to intrinsic motivation. Growing your mastery on your topic, before anything else, will make every day feel more valuable!

Cover of Daniel H. Pink's book "Drive, the surprising truth about what motivates us". Starting every work day by studying and growing your master on a topic you care about is building up intrinsic motivation.

  • Having to share what you learn with your teammates adds a dash of social pressure. This nudges us into using these 20 minutes of learning efficiently.
  • Active recall is an essential principle for efficient learning. (If you want to learn more about active-recall, go through the great MOOC Learning how to learn). Reformulating for your colleagues forces you to organize your new knowledge. In the end, you will remember better!
  • The ‘rule’ of inviting someone from another team to your session is a viral hack. People who tried Good Morning Learning love it and will want to continue. Most of the time, they will replicate it in their teams when the group grows and splits.

Follow the steps!

Photo of footsteps in the sand. Starting Good Morning Learning like sessions with the teams you coach is pretty easy, you just have follow a few simple steps.

To conclude, my advice is:

Give it a try!

Starting ‘Good Morning Learning’ is a win-win strategy in almost all aspects:

  • It’s free in the current #WorkFromHome context. Stick to remote work commutes time, and you will be safe!
  • It sets up a compounding learning habit for you and your coachees.
  • It’s a motivating way to coach the growth-mindset

Just do it now!

  1. Open your calendar app
  2. Schedule a 30 minutes daily appointment at the time you used to commute
  3. Invite your coachees and a guest

During the session:

  1. Everyone forks off to study something for 20 minutes
  2. Everyone joins back the group after 20 minutes and shares one by one what they have learned

I wish you all a happy learning time! I’d love to read how it went for you. The comment section is yours, for both problems or successes!

Photo of stickies written 'Do It Now' stuck on the screen of a laptop. There is no reason not to start Good Morning Learning like sessions at your job now. It's a great way to coach the growth mindset, and remote work commutes give you the 'budget'.

Addendum: Do You Want Slides?

Fabien Hiegel took the time to create a nice presentation that wraps up Good Morning Learning. It’s perfect to introduce it and convince your team of giving it a try.

By Fabien Hiegel, under CC BY-SA 4.0, sources


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