Ken Power is a passionate agile coach from Ireland. We worked together in the ideation phase of the ALE network, played games at Play4Agile and met at the AgileCoachCamp Norway and two XP conferences.
This is Ken, with emphasis on the intensity of his eyes. Even in this picture where you see him intentionally diverting your attention from them his eyes still dominate the image.
I first met Ken in a world cafe about agile coaching at the XP2010 conference in Trondheim, Norway, and he impressed me with his listening skills. I hadn’t heard of Active Listening before and learned by his example that the eyes actually have a more important part in that than the ears.
Last week at XP2011 in Madrid, Ken held a session on “Using Silent Grouping to Size User Stories”. He combined research and experience to come up with an alternative to planning poker that is less time-consuming and has other subtle advantages. See his slides here:
On his blog, he elaborates the Definition of Ready in more detail and explains how my Twitter bio quote from Nanny McPhee applies to Agile Coaching. Innovations and combinations of ideas like these impress me a lot.
Blending into the Background
The most amazing of his skills I tried to analyse with him over a beer last week in Madrid. After an Open Space session about Coaching Organisations at the AgileCoachCamp Norway I realised I had noticed something strange. I went away from the session and could not put my finger on it. Then I realised that I had not noticed Ken’s presence between his opening and closing of his session. How did he do that? I attended another session he hosted later in the evening on Coaching Coaches and paid closer attention. After starting the conversation and giving us a few insights for a start into the topic he blended into the background. I could literally feel him holding the threads of conversation in his hands, but without paying close attention, he was nearly invisible. Nobody noticed him anymore—he literally blended into the background. Explaining this experience to him and trying to analyse it did not reveal much information: it’s this expert state in the Dreyfus model where you know what you do, but can’t explain how you do it. My interpretation is that he has a very intuitive feel of the energy flow in a conversation and a natural talent to just step aside and let the other people contribute and share their thoughts. Wow!
Awesome Coach of the Week
This is why we think Ken Power is an Awesome Coach. If you can add an awesome experience with Ken, please do so in the comments. We honour one Coach a week. Suggestions welcome!