Speed Temenos

Posted by on Jun 12, 2013 in Conference, Temenos | No Comments

Update: Martin Gondermann blogged about a Speed Temenos I hosted at Softwerkskammer Frankfurt.

Last week I had the pleasure to run a 90 minute speed version of the Temenos lab at the XP2013 conference in Vienna. After attending Temenos academy in May and learning about different options to design the workshop, I wanted to try how effective the lab is with only about 20 min for each of the three modules. Feedback was overwhelming!

Structure of Temenos Lab

Temenos as devised by Siraj Sirajuddin is designed around three main parts:

  • Influence Maps, reflecting on and sharing of our past,
  • Clean Slate, deepening our understanding of our present, and
  • Personal Vision, imagination and articulation of our future.
Main Parts of Temenos Lab

The Main Parts of Temenos Lab

Rephrased, we look at how we became who we are, at success and sabotage strategies we currently employ, and at who we want to be.

Influence Maps

Temenos suggests a simple three step process to do this:
Introspect – visualise – articulate.
The visualization deepens the reflection process and supports the story telling, and enhances our ability to remember the stories we are told.
An influence maps is a graphical representation of our stories using icons and metaphors. No one needs to be an artist to do this: you may write as well. There’s no possibility to do this wrong, as you decide what to share, and every human beings’ story will resonate with the listener, no matter what you draw or write.
I gave the participants a 10 min timebox for inspection and drawing, on A4 paper. These are the influence maps we created:

Influence Maps of the Session

Influence Maps of the Session

Speed Story Telling

Ángel Medinilla phrased it perfectly in his Agile Kaizen session a day after mine:

We are storytelling apes. In addition to evolutionary intelligence (shaped from genes) our species added cultural extelligence (shaped from stories) to the mix, speeding up our development multi-fold… Stories make up who we are, how we think, what we believe, they shape how we see the world. In particular, they shape how we see other people.

Story Telling with Influence Map

Story Telling with Influence Map

Temenos creates a container for us to listen to each other’s stories. We get the option to understand each other’s personal history (mythology), and begin to see the other as a human being.

I was astonished that even with the story telling container being so short (5 or 10 minutes), how the stories kindled everyone’s energy. It was beautiful to watch how the participants ran around the room, sharing their visions with as many others as possible…

Passionate Story Telling

Passionate Story Telling


Feedback was overwhelming. Angel was inspired to create a sketchnote:

All participants I talked to were astonished by how quickly Temenos allowed them to go into really relevant stories. In the words of one of the participants:

“your exercise makes me aware that WE are the true story and you just need to start. I also noticed that my story evaluated each time I was telling it and I started to be proud of some facts, or concerned more that maybe it was good decision to, for example, stop playing piano, because I would not be a good pianist anyway… So the exercise gave me the time for self reflection – good!

It also remind me that you need to clarify, very strictly, your personal goals (the part with describing how do I see myself in 5-10 years). I enjoyed that.”


I am grateful to Thorsten Kalnin, who unfortunately couldn’t come to the conference, so that I had the space to do this. And to the Temenos Fellowship, especially its founder Siraj Sirajuddin, who helped me learn the facilitation of this amazingly effective format for human connections..

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