Use-Case cartoon speech bubbles

UML Use Case/Scenario ellipses look quite similar to cartoon speech bubbles. And each ellipse is of course supposed to be "spoken" by an actor. So sometimes when I'm coaching/training/etc I cut out ellipse shaped pieces of card and do some role playing.

You can have fun too. For example, developers often phrase their use-cases from the implementation perspective rather than from the actor's perspective. So when they write "Lend a Book" as the name of their Use Case, you can get them to actually try it. Pretend your inside a library, give them a book, and ask them to role play their use case. Like this... (the headband stops their arms from aching)

At which point someone role playing a Librarian can react like this...

...which makes everyone realize they should really have written this:

Talent is Overrated

is the title of another excellent book (isbn 1857885198) by Geoff Colvin. As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
Deliberate practice is not what most of us do when we think we're practising.
Most organizations are terrible at applying the principles of great performance. Many companies seem arranged almost perfectly to prevent people from taking advantage of these principles for themselves.
nothing, it turned out, enabled any group to reach any given grade without putting in those hours. ... There is absolutely no evidence of a 'fast track' for high achievers.
memory ability is very clearly created rather than innate.
General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt has been clear about what the company is looking for: someone who is externally focused, is a clear thinker, has imagination, is an inclusive leader, and is a confident expert.
The roadblocks we face seem to be mostly imaginary.
Jerry Rice was the greatest because he worked harder in practice and in the off-season that anyone else; he spent very little time playing football; he designed his practice to work on his specific needs; he did much of the work on his own; it wasn't fun; he defied the conventional limits of age.
Practice is so hard that doing a lot of it requires people to arrange their lives in particular ways.
The advantage of practice was cumulative.
Deliberate practice requires that one identify certain sharply defined elements of performance that need to be improved, and then work intently on them.
Practicing without feedback is like bowling through a curtain that hangs down to knee level. You can work on technique all you like, but if you can't see the effects, two things will happen: You won't get any better, and you'll stop caring.
Feedback? At most companies this is a travesty, consisting of an annual performance review dreaded by the person delivering it and the one receiving it. Even if it's well done, it cannot be effective. Telling someone what he did well or poorly on a task he completed eleven months ago is just not helpful.
Practice is designed, so it can be designed well or badly.
Great performers never allows themselves to reach the automatic, arrested-development stage in their chosen fields. The essence of practice, which is constantly trying to do the things one cannot do comfortably, makes automatic behavior impossible.
In fact what they [great performers] have achieved is the ability to avoid doing it automatically.

It's Your Ship

is the title of an excellent book by Michael Abrashoff (isbn 0446529117). As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
A recent Gallup study found that when people leave their companies, 65 percent of them are actually leaving their managers.
What I suddenly realized was that I had the power to do this all along. I just never had the self-confidence.
Something happened as a result of those interviews. I came to respect my crew enormously.
Secrecy spawns isolation, not success.
No matter how fantastic your message is, if no one is receiving it, you aren't communicating.
You earn trust only by giving it.
More often than not, bureaucracies create rules and then forget why they were needed in the first place, or fail to see that the reasons for them no longer exist.
Once leadership opportunities are squandered, you can never get them back.
If a rule doesn't make sense, break it.
If a rule does make sense, break it carefully.
I felt as small as a man could. I had just had my core values calibrated by someone half my age.
One-size-fits-all programs tend to fit none.
Leadership is mostly the art of doing simple things very well.
Open yourself. Coldness congeals. Warmth heals.
The goal shouldn't be to reduce the standards for some, but to raise everyone else to the highest possible level.
Train for unity.
If you don't intend to act, then don't bother to ask if it is going on. It will only make matters worse.
I kept walking around the ship, questioning the crew, drawing them out.
Having fun with your friends creates infinitely more social glue for any organization than stock options and bonuses will ever provide.