Katrin @Cuxdu Elster, Awesome Facilitator

Posted by on Jun 25, 2011 in Awesome, Community, StrategicPlay | No Comments


Some of you might have noticed the “Awesome Coach of the Week” series on the agile42 blog. It’s my way of giving back to the community what I’ve so selfishly taken from it during the last two years—positive energy. Yet, it is focused on Agile Coaches, and some of the awesome people I know have different talents. The first that comes to my mind is Katrin Elster of StrategicPlay® fame, who taught me how to system-think with Lego…

StrategicPlay® Facilitation

Late in 2009, I did a StrategicPlay facilitator course with Katrin, and her husband, Jens Hoffmann. It hit me like a wave that since then has not stopped… I first saw this modeling systems with Lego thing when I was at a conference, and was lucky that my employer at the time let me do that course instead of a ScrumMaster. I had no clue about facilitation, my first contact with the Agile community was just a month before. The word coach didn’t have much meaning for me at the time, and it took me some more time to find out that what I’d been doing for years was called Agile Coaching.
I’ve written about that training twice before (German and English) so I will not recount that here, but rather cover the awesome effect it had on me. The Lego method is amazing as it is, but…
Katrin is one of the best facilitators I know (and I know quite a few in the meantime). Her facilitation is lightweight, supporting and very open—the tools and formats she uses come so natural to her that you don’t notice them.
She has a way of engaging the whole group without becoming the centre of attention herself that really amazed me, and still does. I had the chance to experience her facilitating the OpenPlayground at Play4Agile this year, and though I had much higher expectations then than the first time, I was impressed.

@cuxdu and @marcbless facilitating Play4Agile

@cuxdu and @marcbless facilitating Play4Agile

Creative Problem Solving

Katrin has recently added Creative Problem Solving to her portfolio, using the SimplexityThinking approach by Min Basadur (see a short video about it here). She used that method when we created the vision for the Play4Agile conference last year in July. She administered our CPS profile and explained how a team needs a diversity of profiles to actually create great solutions. I very much liked the approach, though I haven’t had time yet to learn any details about it. Compared to personality type systems, which mostly try to explain the whole person, this model is focused on Creative Problem Solving. And it comes with a process, so it doesn’t stop at explaining which type you are… Furthermore, in contrast to personality type systems like MBTI the CPSP is based on scientific research and accepted statistical tests. Katrin shared a few stories with me about applications of this method and I think it’s useful in many situations I face, so you might hear more about that topic in the future!

Skeptical Friend

Her professional skills set aside, Katrin became a close friend during the almost two years we know each other. We had quite good fun together, and some serious struggles and arguments. What I value most in good friends is blunt and honest feedback. Katrin has a talent of giving me feedback in a way that inspires reflection, occasionally shows me where I’m dead wrong, but always shows appreciation for me as a person. So even if she’s irritated by what I do, she still manages to tell me in a way that gives me the chance to find out how to improve. Now that I’m saying this, I notice that this is a crucial quality of a good coach…

Thank you, my friend, for being skeptical where I need it and supporting and enthusiastic when appropriate.

Awesome Facilitator

This is why I think Katrin Elster is an Awesome Facilitator. If you can add an awesome experience with Katrin, please do so in the comments. I’ll write more posts like this. Suggestions welcome!


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