At the start of meetings, workshops, trainings, meetups etc. you may have encountered participants saying "I feel ..." and "I'm in", followed by everyone else saying "Welcome". What you encountered was McCarthy's Core Protocol check-in.
To me this often feels like being in some kind of sect and as a very analytical person, I don't feel energized or need more to get my mental juices running. So I decided to experiment and play around with it, the outcome: An "Oh Yeah" variant. I must warn you though, the "Oh Yeah" will stick.
In this blog post you'll learn about:
- Core Protocol check-in
- My "Oh Yeah" variant
- How this thing came to be
I encourage you to experiment with given methods. However, first master the origin, then adjust it and create something new.
Let's start with the Core Protocol ...
The purpose of this check-in is to create a safe space for everyone and to connect them to the present.
- Speaker says “I feel [one or more of MAD, SAD, GLAD, AFRAID].” Speaker may provide a brief explanation. Or if others have already checked in, the speaker may say “I pass.”
- Speaker says “I’m in.” This signifies that Speaker intends to behave according to the Core Commitments.
- Listeners respond, “Welcome.”
Now you know the Core Protocol check-in! This is the broken down variant, in the Core Protocol you can also find the Core Commitments.
Things I want to point out:
Emphasis on single word emotions like "MAD/GLAD" and a possible brief explanation, without the use of qualifiers such as a little, super or extremely. You may pass and say nothing. "I pass" and "I'm in" imply abiding by Core and Pass Commitments (you can find them in the Core Protocol).
The goal was to add more energy, in addition to the welcoming atmosphere of the Core Protocol's check-in. This is how it goes...
- Shortly state how you're feeling or pass
- Finish up with: "Now I am energized!"
- Everyone else answers: "Oh Yeah" (mind context ...)
- Decide the next person to check in by saying: "Next person to do sth is name." - e.g. The next person to jump for joy is Alice. (be nice or joke)
Encourage people to really mean it and emphasize when saying "Now I am energized!" and "Oh Yeah" during step 2 and 3. Your "Oh Yeah" might become just an "Oh ...", depending on the context of step 1.
The context of step 1 might be positive or negative. People might have experienced the worst or best day of their life, had a bad day or similar - Be mindful during "Oh Yeah". I recommend transforming it to just "Oh ...", if it was a negative day.
I recommend to do it with up to 15-20 people. This is based on my energy level, when I perceived my enthusiasm drop saying "Now I am energized" and "Oh Yeah".
So how did participants perceive it? The group sizes ranged from 4-25 people. I did it with the same team multiple times and also with teams that didn't know me before, so first time contact.
The check-in enabled them to have fun, connection, a high energy level and perceived ease. The "Oh yeah" also stuck and even first encounter team started to occasionally drop an "Oh Yeah" during every day interaction.
One person gave mixed feedback, I think it fits perfectly to the check-in:
Slightly embarrassing, cool and somewhat esoteric.
Regarding esoteric, that feeling is likely due to being unfamiliar with mindful language, where we connect to the present and explicitly frame things.
Next to participant's feedback I observed: People who started with negative emotions during step 1, where they had a bad day or a terrible experience, shifted those and their focus onto positive things and connected to the present. Some participants found things they looked forward to and mentioned those.
You can play around during special occasions.
Around end of year I used:
- Shortly state how you're feeling.
- Finish up with "Now I am in 2021"
- Everyone else answers "Happy New Year!"
- Decide the next person by saying "Next person to work on their new year's resolution is name."
Originally I asked people during retrospectives about "What was Oh Yeah during last sprint?". During Liberating Structures meetup preparations we often use the Core Protocol's check-in. I somehow made the connection, tried it out and it worked wonders.
- Core Protocol check-in https://thecoreprotocols.org/protocols/checkin.html
- Cover photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash