Bias to Inquiry is Hard

I’ve got a Bias to Action. My wife will call me a Fact Finder, which is true, and at some point… I do make a move.

I recently learned the phrase “Bias to Inquiry”, which is useful in the world of an Agile Coach: you run across a behaviour you deem odd, and instead of wanting to act on it, you first seek to learn about it. Context is key. History can be insightful. Figure out why there’s a fence across the road before trying to tear it down. It’s the fifth Habit.

This Bias to Inquiry is something I do at work – I get paid to be diplomatic.

This blog post is to acknowledge aloud that Bias to Inquiry at home is hard.

Let’s take a benign example:

Oh, lookie here! Clothes strewn in the hallway. I’m going to make a quick decision and either kick it aside or take a detour to throw ’em in the hamper.

Then there’s a more contentious example:

Oh, lookie here! You believe some fantastical conspiracy theory about the election or vaccines. I… don’t even know where to begin.

I don’t always have the time or energy to first seek to understand bullshit. Maybe I should be more open-minded. Maybe I should have more grains of salt with what information I consume in general. Being open to learning is generally good for one’s survival, so why not apply that in these cases?

I’m just saying it’s hard.

My Approach to Getting Refining Sessions Unstuck

What do you do when half the people think it’s 3 points, and the other half think it’s 5?

(Ooh, don’t share any more context – leave it there and just keep going!)

That’s going to happen. If I’m facilitating this Refining Session, I’ll ask one person who scored it a 3 to explain why, and then I’ll ask the same from somebody who gave it a 5.

(Aww, you explained the scenario… you could’ve let ’em writhe! You’re no fun…)

I’ll restart a vote, and hopefully this discussion has swayed folks to vote more similarly. But let’s say it hasn’t. Let’s say y’still have a roughly 50/50 split between the same two adjacent Fibonacci numbers. Fine. I then ask about the Fibonacci numbers on either side of those scores.

I ask everybody, “Could this be a 2?” then pause for their responses. I then ask, “Could this be an 8?” also pausing for their responses. What I’m looking for is not just what is said, but more importantly how it’s communicated. This what/how split neatly echoes a content/style split for you HTML/CSS folks, and a product/process split for weird Agilists like me. I lean on the greater emotional response to resolve this difference of opinion in the group.

So, if folks say half-heartedly, “Yeah, I guess,” when asked it’s a 2, but when asked about an 8, they say with some energy, “Naw, it ain’t THAT big… it’s not like the other 8s!” then I hear more emotion away from 8, thus between 3 & 5, I recommend a 3.

Similarly, if folks are energetically ‘meh’ about a 2, but all, “well, yeah, it could be a lot of work, it could blow up,” while nodding their heads a bit more about the prospect of it being an 8, then I hear more emotion towards an 8, thus between 3 & 5, I recommend a 5.

I then explain:

Continue reading My Approach to Getting Refining Sessions Unstuck

My Approach to a Quick Retrospective

It’s simple… Do not do a quick Retrospective.

But if y’ain’t got a lotta time… I do a “Fist Of Five“, gather quantitative & qualitative data, pretend for a moment we have 6 fingers on a hand, then capture a piece of Kaizen, all in 3 minutes.

I mean… I could end this post right here.

But I won’t… Remember that insurrection on January 6th? What the fuck was that shit? People were fed lies to fuel all sorts of anger & fear, which led to some of them invading the Capitol?!? Like, holy fucking shit!!! That whole scene represents major failure on a number of fronts, and… We. Need. To. Retrospect. HARD.

Alors… The quicker you Retrospect, the lesser the quality of the actionable item of improvement on the other side, mostly because you don’t give yourself the time to think up and dive down into how to make the next chunk of time better. Also, the shorter the amount of time you’re reflecting on, which is usually the same amount of time ahead of you that you hope to improve, the lesser the potential impact of the Kaizen. Think about it… Are you holding a Retrospective at the end of your day? Then the Kaizen will impact the next day, which will not be as potentially impactful as one you would pick from a weekly Sprint Retrospective, or a quarterly one, or a yearly one (New Year’s Resolutions, anyone?). Or one for a 4-year cycle (voting for a US President, anyone?). The LONGER the amount of time you’re retrospecting, the deeper the potential impact of… a piece of Kaizen. Yet, this isn’t what Agile is about… it’s about quicker feedback loops, to more frequently validate if you’re going in the right direction, mechanizing pivot/persevere decisions. Think about it… again… Are you holding a Retrospective at the end of your day? Then that retrospecting mechanizes how you change direction once a day, which will not be as potentially impactful as one for the next half-day (re-centering post-lunch, anyone?), or half-hour (a 1-1 regular meeting, anyone?). Or one for a moment (mindfulness, anyone?). The SHORTER the amount of time you’re retrospecting, the deeper the potential impact of… retrospecting. Oh, and the less risky a piece of Kaizen.

Maybe… I should’ve ended this post back there.

Continue reading My Approach to a Quick Retrospective

My Approach to the Daily Scrum

It’s simple… We walk the board, address 4 questions, then refine 1 ticket, all in 15 mins.

I mean… I could end this post right here.

But I won’t… As I chat up more Agilists, I realize that after 6 years of being a Scrum Master or Agile Coach full-time, and after almost 10 years of engaging in my own ScrumOfOne adventure, I’ve developed a few practices that are well received upon me sharing ’em verbally. So I figure I’ll share ’em here, bloggally.

Ya’ani… This reflects an internal shift I’m trying (ooh, a forelog), where I see a lack of clear & solid support for newer Scrum Masters, so I’m quietly working on a product & service to address this (yep, a backlog), through experimenting with newer approaches on myself (aha, a frontlog) (BINGO!). Thus, I see this blog shifting from present-day journaling to documenting ideas & practices from my recent past, plus playing with ideas & practices for a future I’d like to create: lowering the barrier to becoming a Daily Agilist. You don’t need a damn certificate (caveat: I have 3) to start playing this Agile game: this isn’t secret knowledge, nor should it be. And yes, certification was borne out of a desire to standardize after the organic spread of Scrum, to improve marketing (“hold up, this is Scrum”) and to reduce anti-patterns (“hold up, this is good Scrum”), but embarking on your own Agility, and then benefiting from it, shouldn’t require a big bang. There’s got to be a better way. Anyway, this paragraph is way too long, and you’re here for my “at-least-ha” take on the stand-up.

Maybe… I should’ve ended this post back there.

Continue reading My Approach to the Daily Scrum

Agile Fashion

Do you miss FACE-TO-FACE TIME WITH YOUR COWORKERS?
Me too!

Tired of the choice of either looking at your coworker’s face, or giving them the ILLUSION OF EYE CONTACT via staring into a dot, likely above a glowing rectangle?
It’s unnatural!

Putting thought into your AUDIO & VIDEO SETUP to better approximate pre-pandemic human connection?
This store is for you!

Which store?

This store: DailyAgilist.com

(Am I repurposing the DailyAgilist brand? Maybe. But hey. I’m trying stuff. Like an Agilist. The Daily kind.)

Whether you’ve embraced WFH-ing for a while, or been forced into it recently, try clothing that is DESIGNED FOR READABILITY and OPTIMIZED FOR WEB CONFERENCING.

I’ve put the text as high as it can go on the shirt, which means it should be picked up by your webcam, but it will likely look silly if you’re walking around with it IRL. I’m only offering dark colors, so the white-balancing of the webcam results in it picking up more of you. I’ve selected a typeface for high legibility. The result is a garb that’s SIMPLE. You might think it’s BORING. I think it’s EFFECTIVE.

Expect this to iterate. Am open to feedback.

At the end of the day, this store is an EXPERIMENT in IMPROVING OUR VIRTUAL PRESENCE. With a pinch of fun.