5+1 questions to Dov Tsal

Interview Dow Tsal

Dov is an Agile coach and a Tao student, who makes organizations sharper and more effective by aligning their teams, leaders, and value streams.

Together with Regis Schneider, he’s on a mission to improve meeting culture. In a fun way! They created The Meeting Spicer, a set of 30-second activities designed to help your meetings be more engaging, effective and fun.

He’s also the host of “The Agile Tao” podcast, the podcast he started named after the book “The Agile Tao” by Peter Merel.

I met Dov during my assignment at BNP Paribas Fortis where I got inspired by his view on Agile and the way he connects people in order to build sustainable communities to support everyone’s growth.

1.What is Agile or the Agile Mindset for you?

Agility is the ability to function in a VUCA world, to act and react dynamically. to observe and change direction fast-enough when circumstances change, to follow a target just like a cheetah chasing a gazelle and to react to risk just like a gazelle running away from a cheetah.

2. What’s your favorite tool or method you use during your coaching?

An important tool is a simple question. Asking “How can I help?” is a door opener, and keeping this mindset can do miracles. Most other tools are context-specific but this one is always useful. 

As for methods: I’d strongly suggest looking into XSCALE and Open Space Agility, which are inspiring frameworks based on empowering people.

3. What book or website would you recommend?

In the last 3 years, the most influential book I’ve read is “The Agile Tao” by Peter Merel (the CEO of the XSCALE alliance, which I’m a proud member of). It is a refactoring of the ancient book of Tao into agility, Peter and I are working on a podcast based on this book (called unsurprisingly – The Agile Tao Podcast) 

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4. What is essential for you during an Agile transformation?

To start with: A clear pain, an organization has to realize what impact it wants to make and feel the pain of not being there.

During a transformation: Trust. Without trust there is no clear communication, and people and teams will always sub-optimize their work instead of cooperating.

5. What is 1 Aspect of coaching Agile teams you like the most?

I’ll give you two.

First, the forming of a team, the shift from a Me to a We mindset. 

Seeing people start listening to each other and helping each other instead of focusing on their own work is like watching a baby start walking. (and the #MeetingSpicer is a great tool for this)

Second, Seeing the joy of a team letting go of wasteful work and stress, and taking ownership of its product. 

 I love the coaching aspect of it, the open space that allows me to observe and react, to challenge and let things emerge. The empowering part. 

 +1. How important is Tao for you in Agile?

There is a famous quote from the book of Tao “A journey of a thousand miles begins at the spot under one’s feet.”

Taoism is a mindset, it IS agility. It is the realization that all is one and always is now. Though I can talk about it for hours (you can listen to it in our podcast), I’d rather finish off with one of my favorite poems from the book (which addresses your first question):

19. Mindset (xv) 

Agility is practical, not mystical

A way of working, not a state of grace. 

Listening as if crossing thin ice, 

Testing as surrounded by danger, 

Learning as in a strange land, 

Simplifying as thawing snow, 

Integrating as the deep woods, 

Leading as the river valley, 

Innovating as the spring silt. 

Imagine the ice solid or the stream clear, 

Stop to plan your way ahead, 

Ignore what moves underfoot; 

You fall and disappear.

5 + 1 Questions to … is an initiative by Wouter Gheysen, founder of Beyond Business Agility.

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