Category Archives: adaptation

Analyzing Blog For Adaptations

Pokemon. I am a pokemon. A water-type, specifically. At least, that’s what I’ve been told by the 4th and 5th graders I used to tutor.

Now, I don’t know much about Pokemon, besides having to catch ‘em all, but I assume that they’re thingies that evolve, much like real animals, like the jackalope. So in that sense, this ScrumOfOne-documenting blog has been tracking my evolution, specifically via posts that are tagged ‘adaptation‘.

Let’s see how I’ve evolved my very own ScrumOfOne. Below are the summary bullet points of each ‘adaptation’ post, linked and listed chronologically.

That last one is an idea I came up with for an Agile musical.

Annie is the ScrumMaster, but there’s now a new Product Owner in town for the team, and HER name is Annie. Their passionate personalities are pulling the town team apart. There’s a Jets vs. Sharks dance-off. Nobody’s doing any work ’cause everybody’s singing and dancing. In the rain. Watch as the daily stand-ups evolve into more animated states of disarray as the two Annies catalyze the letting lose of the team’s real selves. Listen as the demos and retrospectives reveal inter-personal conflicts in four-part harmony. Can everybody put aside their egos and celebrate their differences and save the town team in time for the big deadline? Can everybody really sing about software while dancing the fine line between comedy and tragedy? Is finding a working mode for developing code really a metaphor for personal growth? Does anybody truly become comfortable with the deeper Scrum principle of embracing change? Who cares! Find out, in “Annie Get Your Scrum”!

I crack me up.

Anyway, if we look over the adaptations for large themes, beyond how sleeping enough is good for me, we see variations of “do fewer things, and do more of those” (present tense) and “plan for fewer things, and do more in general” (future tense). Within those quantitative themes, there is a qualitative element where the things done are also more important, or otherwise of greater value.

These sound like balanced strategies for focus, while helping me truly become comfortable with the deeper Scrum principle of embracing change.

Speaking of ‘focus’, man, I’m having a hard time wrapping up this blog post… I finally have a vehicle for some lyrics I came up with a while back:

It’s a Scrum-but life, for us,
It’s a Scrum-but life, for us,
Our velocity’s not – so – sweet,
But our process can’t – be – beat,
It’s a Scrum-but life!

Maybe I’m in the wrong industry…

One Hundred And Thirty

That’s how many posts I’ve written on this incarnation of the blog, current entry not included – and that’s how many I’ve almost finished reading and categorizing in the past week. Three years of blogging about my experiment of the application of Scrum to personal development has yielded that… I am still growing, and that… I am still dealing with the same stuff.

Check it. Here is the emboldened passage from the last post:

…planning for less to more easily ride the flow of life while making deliberate steps for personal development…

Here is the middle paragraph from the first serious post:

Thus, the balance of a game plan and reality results in a strategy that makes me feel less guilty for enjoying the weather while still accomplishing the most per time spent on these sprints: Ruthless Story Completion.

Fo’ realz, homie. I am still dealing with how to balance personal development with life’s dynamicity.

Hmm.

Let’s see what I can gather after a complete read-through of this blog.

Organizing All This Goodness

Have you ever apologized to somebody, and then, years later, apologized to them for the exact same thing? It’s kind of embarrassing. Good thing there’s comedian Louie C.K. to step us through what that would look like, in all its glorious awkwardness, in the third season of his genius show, Louie.

I have not done this.

I have, however, realized that I blogged about something that I had blogged about before, and am thus relearning, albeit with less bumbling social buffoonery than our modern-day Charlie Brown, how planning for less to more easily ride the flow of life while making deliberate steps for personal development is a modus operandi that seems to work for me. It’s like I already have the answers!

So what else have I written about?

Good question – I’m about to find out. Part of that effort is categorizing all these posts with the handy tagging that WordPress lets me do.

Let’s see what I’m able to learn.

And relearn.

Plan For Less

Lately, I’ve pulled off this seemingly impossible goal: complete all the things I planned to do per Sprint! My secret? Plan for less.

By planning for less per Sprint, yes, I leave myself open to do more and to go with the flow …of the day. This means a couple of things, and I think of it like an equation:

My Sprint Backlog = low number of planned stories + high number of unplanned stories

To get the most out of the planned stories, I have them associated with my Sprint Goal, which used to answer the question, “What is the exciting new thing I will share proudly with the world at the end of my Sprint?” and nowadays answers the question, “What do I want to make sure I get done by the end of my Sprint?” This sentiment is more practical, more self-serving, and way less stressful, ’cause all I have to do to accomplish this declarative Sprint Goal is one or two small and specific things. A few hours of focus effort, et voilà, I can proudly wave the flag of the Republic of Productivity (I hear David Allen is the Prime Minister).

To get the most out of the unplanned stories, I look in two places.

First, I’ll look at my Product Backlogs. I just look at the top, ’cause that’s where the high-priority items are. If there’s something there that is convenient to do, or that I’m particularly inspired to do, voilà, I cherry pick. These Product Backlogs then serve as reminders of all the cool and/or important things I want to do.

Second, I’ll look… around. I’ll look at anything that is not a list. Whether it is doing something spontaneous or living like a millionaire, most of my Sprint Backlog stories end up being emergent stories as of late. As long as I check in with myself often enough, I can maintain a level of strategic personal growth while embracing… life.

Folks, this is the most empowering version of my ScrumOfOne experiment I’ve found for healthily balancing the Agile constraints of personal development through Scrum, with the dynamicity of daily life.

I’m hesitating to press the ‘Publish’ button. This post just ain’t that funny… it’s not inspiring… it’s not captivating. While it’s unsettlingly dry, I write this because it is settlingly culminating.

Since I cut my Sprintly time-box in half, I’ve had more practice with performing the Retrospective and Sprint Planning per Sprint ‘turn-over’: it takes an hour and change. From the more opportunities to adapt, I’ve removed how I used to feel like a bum for not getting done the things I’d ‘commit to myself’ to doing, and actually get more stuff done. And I’ve been punting on this particular post for a while because this is effectively a report on research.

I used to do shit like this, and it’s been kinda sucky. Now I do shit this other way, and things’ve been way more rockin’.

Oh, that’s right. That’s what this blog is about. Where’s that ‘Publish’ button…

Halve It Your Way or A Shovelful of Sugar

Eating your own dog food, or dogfooding, is like the practice of practicing what you preach, which can feel like having to taste your own medicine when the medicine ain’t so tasty, or if it isn’t Gmail.

Want to piss off a software developer? Tell her she’s got less time to code something. This isn’t specific to coders, of course, but this is more the realm I work in, so I can speak to it. She’ll thrash. “Leave me be,” she’ll say. “You foul beast,” she’ll add. (“And stop speaking for me,” I’ll type on her behalf, parenthetically.)

Being told there’s less time to do stuff sucks. The Scrum response to this is to, well, do less stuff.

Folks, I am opening up a can of whoop-ass my own Scrumalicious dog food and halving my Sprints from a time box of two weeks to one week, which means I will proportionately plan to do fewer points worth of things per now-shorter Sprint. “You damn dirty ape,” I say through clenched teeth, “Why?”

I’ll tell me why.

Last Sprint felt a little too eventful, and I was able to track this using my latest Kaizen Story, which was

…to monitor which stories get implemented that are emergent and not related to my Sprint Goal.

In doing so, I monitored myself diving deep into emergent stories related to Bitcoin (invested in 1 BTC), Litecoin (invested in 10 LTC), and AirBnB (opened up our home to strangers). Were they things that ultimately help me out? The Product Owner in me thinks so, but they didn’t further me along the journey of accomplishing my Sprint Goal or getting done my reduced number of Sprint stories. To top it all off, I have yet to do the Retrospective, but I attribute that to getting food poisoning right at the very end of the Sprint.

I feel like I’ve fallen off the bandwagon.

Or have I?

Having relatively short time boxes neatly punctuates what can otherwise be an endless slog of personal development, in the ScrumOfOne realm, or software development, in the just-about-everywhere-else realm. It provides a point of transparency that you can then inspect, from which a specific practice of adaptation hopefully emerges. What I could clearly see was that the points associated with the emergent stories were greater than my predetermined buffer. This triggered a rather Scrumalicious adaptation which, aaugh, increases my chances of getting my Sprint Backlog (predetermined list of things to do) completed if I shorten that list and then shorten the time I next check in… with… myself.

It feels like punishment, which I’m imposing on myself, which is twisted; however, it is a practice designed to get the team to win. For good measure, I’m throwing in a period of grooming my own fur Product Backlog.