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Kinetic Intelligence Leads to Stronger Agile Teams

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Kinesthetic intelligence is one strength of people's minds, according to "7 Kinds of Smart," a book by Dr. Thomas Armstrong. Essentially, people who have kinesthetic intelligence learn better by using movement -- like getting up and moving around, for example.

But when agile meetings focus on logic, numbers or charts, our kinesthetic aptitude may not get used.

Certain agile techniques use body language for visual cues, which exercises this kinetic intelligence. And leveraging it can help engage members of your agile team who don't like to be outspoken.

"Big visible indicators," is an agile term for a technique that often includes a large whiteboard or wall divided into columns. Tasks and stories are moved between the columns as they progress to completion. With a wall covered with colored Post-it® notes, not only is progress more visible, but physically walking up to the board in front of the team to move your item to the completed column makes everyone keenly aware of the progress.

In a recent stand-up meeting, there were a lot of people attending -- many who were just interested observers. As a coach assisting the Scrum Master, I found it hard to know who to call on next. We used a second body language technique, which allowed the observers to sit during the meeting and the participants stood. Suddenly, our meetings went faster.

A third kinesthetic agile technique is "Fist of Five." Team members indicate approval of a plan or decision by holding up anywhere from one to five fingers to vote, five being the most approval.
All of these techniques better engage team members who aren't as comfortable being outspoken on a project team. And as teams become more and more dispersed, recognizing and leveraging kinetic intelligence can lead to stronger agile meetings  -- especially if people can use these techniques while seeing their teammates. This can be done with video or other virtual representation technology.

Do you use any of these techniques? If so, which ones? Do they work? What other techniques do you use?

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The approach referred to as 'Big Visible Indicators' would more typically be called a Kanban board. Readers can learn more about Kanban at limitedwipsociety.org or at blog.leankitkanban.com. We have a great issue of the Cutter Consortium Journal that users can download to learn about Kanban.

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