Archives for the Month of March, 2012

Playmaking While The Sun Shines

Go to work to play

“Screw work let’s play!”

Do you sometimes wish you could goof off work and play? I’ve been invited to present “The Power of Play” at GOTO Copenhagen on May 23.

Join us in a playful presentation where we’ll explore why play isn’t just essential for creativity and innovation, but crucial to our survival and overall well-being. We’ll begin with the definition of play followed by an exploration of why we play and how we play. We’ll investigate the relationship of work and play and demonstrate how, instead of being mutually exclusive, both are necessary for personal and group creativity and achievement. We’ll finish off with useful guidelines for bringing more play into your life. And if you play your cards right, you’ll leave with plenty of ideas to achieve your recommended daily amount of play!

It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be!

If you’d like to come along, then there’s more good news! You can now take advantage of a speaker referral program, get a discount AND GOTO will make a donation on your behalf to “Computers for Charities“.

All you have to do is:

  1. Register for the conference here.
  2. Enter the promotion code: tung1000.
  3. Make your purchase.
  4. Hey presto! You’ve just saved DK 1.000 AND GOTO will make a donation of DK 1.000 to a charity.

Can signing up for play get better than this? I’m sure we can think of something…

Meanwhile, looking forward to playmaking with you and your friends at GOTO Copenhagen in 2012!


Being Interviewed by Kenji Hiranabe


Conversation with One of the Agile Thought Leaders in Japan

I met Kenji some years ago, first at an Agile 20XX conference where he gave an excellent presentation on Mindmapping. Then in 2010, we met at BCS SPA where we had a riveting conversation about Agile Fairytales, soft skills and the power of storytelling for personal development and problem solving.

Last year, we met again, this time at Agile 2011, where he was a track host of the experiential sessions. It was great to have Kenji participate in the latest Agile Fairytale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes: Meaningful Interactions in Stressful Situations“, co-created by Jenni Jepsen and me.

Most recently, Kenji invited me to share my views on the state of Agile Adoption in the UK. He’s been commissioned by the Japanese government to undertake an assessment of the state of Agile Adoption around the world. With such an exciting endeavour, how could I refuse?

Taking part in the interview given me the chance to look back as well as look forward to all that Agile has brought and continues to bring to people and projects: Communication, Community, Collaboration and Continuous Improvement.  I’ve come to understand that Agile isn’t about being right or wrong. It’s about being better. Here is an adaptation of the interview we’d like to share with you.

I look forward to interviewing Kenji about the state of Agile Adoption in Japan. May be we can even publish it in two versions: English and Japanese! Watch this space…

The 30 Day Challenge

Yaay for Play

“Play once a day to keep the doctor and priest away!” – Portia Tung

Screw Work Let’s Play!

I first came across the book “Screw Work Let’s Play” by John Williams sometime last year. It’s fair to say reading the book has changed my life. In a playful way.

The fact is, I’ve been researching on how to make a living out of doing what I love for years. I’ve read books like “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss and watched a multitude of videos and self-help books besides. Check out Tim’s inspiring Ted talk here.

Why love what you do?

Because I know, as a coach, that when we do what we are truly passionate about, the world around us opens up. And that’s when the magic happens. For me, doing what I love is a dream come true. A chance to make the most of my potential. Since this is what I encourage my teams to do, it’s important I drink my own champagne.

So what have I done since? Quite a bit, considering I’ve got a day job and other responsibilities.

  • Created an play-filled presentation on “The Power of Play” (based on my past and very present curiosity on the art and science of play)
  • Delivered the “The Power of Play” presentation at a number of places, including Oredev 2011, Play4Agile and even at work! If you want to experience this session yourself, we’ll be playing at GOTO Copenhagen on 23 May!
  • Invented the concept of “Playmaking” to mean “transforming work through play” and the term “Playmaker” for people who do this to stay alive plus created the “Playmaking” blog
  • Attended a session hosted by John on the subject of “Happiness” and making happiness a central part of my life (the event was part of something called “Scanners Night” where a scanner is an ideas person who may at times struggle to realise one of those ideas)
  • Made play an integral part of what I do every day. Have you had your Recommended Daily Amount of Play today?

What’s next?

I’ve signed up to be the second intake of “The 30 Day Challenge“, a concept realised by John and Selina Barker to help people deliver a “play project” of their choice. “The 30 Day Challenge” started back in August 2011 and I’m very excited to be part of it!

The challenge begins on 1 May and I’ve selected my project. To write and publish a book to share with you. I’ve started and abandoned writing a book (fiction, non-fiction, you name it, I’ve probably had a go) at least 20 times in my adult life time, so I reckon this endeavour will be a serious test of how effective “The 30 Day Challenge” really is.

Watch this space and follow me on Twitter to hear live updates on how my 30 Day Challenge goes.

Meanwhile, back to you…

…  Benjamin Disraeli once said, “Life is too short to be small”. How can you open up the world around you so that magic can happen?

The Curiosity Garden

Blooming Heck

“A rose by any other name…”

Sometime ago, I witnessed a curious story on a gardening programme about an elderly couple, a pair of husband and wife, who loved each other very much. Together, they had brought up a nest full of children, and now have a tumble of grandchildren. Of course, there’s nothing out of the ordinary about all this.

What made their story curious was when we stepped into their garden. The first thing you notice was the fence that ran straight down the middle of the garden. In one half was a meticulously mowed lawn edged with majestic trees, a few of which must have been centuries old. In the other half, was a gravel path that twisted and turned, guiding us through a maze of carefully crafted meadows and a rainbow of flowerbeds.

“Well, this is a remarkable garden!” exclaims the presenter with his floppy hair and woolly jumper. “Or should I say, two remarkable gardens?” he chuckles. Because upon closer inspection, it was exactly that. Two gardens, lain side-by-side, each with its own gate into paradise and its own “Keep Out!” sign.

A Garden of One’s Own

It turns out that the husband loved trees and cared only for Nature’s skyscrapers. “The first thing everyone notices when they step into my garden, is that big oak in the back,” he said. “Their first question is, ‘How old is it?’ And when I tell them it’s 200 years old, they are very impressed. The older and taller the tree, the better.”

Next was the wife’s turn to walk us through the intricacies of her garden. “I prefer flowers to trees because I enjoy noticing every tiny change, from a single bud to a blossoming flower,” she said. “There’s a place for every little thing, including weeds in my meadow.”

After all this, the presenter, with his floppy hair and woolly jumper, then started quizzing the couple about their different approaches to gardening.

The wife smiles and replies, “Life happens all around us and it’s important to notice small changes so that we can nurture them into great medleys. For me, flowers are what defines a beautiful garden.”

The husband shakes his head and points first to his garden then that of his wife’s in contrast. “Flowers are insignificant in the grander scheme of things. What matters are the big structures because they give shape to what would otherwise be an unruly mess.”

Our Secret Gardens

For the longest of time, this encounter has intrigued me. It has made me think hard about the relationship between creations and creators. And, of course, the relationship among creators themselves.

To paraphrase Toyota’s perspective on quality, “the product you produce is a reflection of those who created it”. Likewise, in software development, “the quality of your codebase reflects the teamwork and organisation that produced it”.

All of this gives rise to a few vital questions. Why do so many of us think in terms of black- or-white (aka False Dichotomy) or what I call “Either-Or-Thinking”? Does it really have to be either trees or flowers that make a garden beautiful?

What about “And Thinking”? Could it be that trees and flowers would together result in an even more beautiful garden? Why? Because seeing the big picture (trees) and keeping it in mind is just as necessary as finer-grained details (flowers) for getting things done.

And the most important question of all if we are to achieve greatness beyond ourselves is this: How can we leverage each other’s strengths and weaknesses to help us achieve our goals more effectively and harmoniously?

After all, the pleasure of a garden comes from sharing it with those we truly love.