Category Archives: personal touch

Vote Every Day

(The following is what I shared with my co-workers today shortly after noon, Boston time, the day after we elected Trump to the presidency.)

To those of us who voted, hello there. This is for you.

I was born in a literal kingdom (…of Saudi Arabia) 8,000 miles away, onto soil that was… not home. I spent the first half of my life (17 years) there, surrounded by ex-patriots knowing one day we’d all… go home. One day, we’d go live in America, and do American things, like vote.

That’s why yesterday was special for me. I got to vote yesterday.

In the hope of connecting to others’ humanity ( [robot face] [winking face] ), and at the risk of sounding unprofessional, I’ll share my candidate didn’t win the presidency, and this has gotten me to think about what it means to vote. ( controversial hook / tension builds… ) Continue reading

My Interview And The Squiggle

In streamed a few strangers, trying to hide their smiles from each other and myself. They just came from the kitchenette, having colluded on how they would play out the next hour. Of course, I didn’t know this at the time – it was my interview.

If you are a software engineer, and you want a job coding, then it’s fair that your prospective employer asks you to code as part of the interview. So if you are a Scrum Master or Agile Coach, and you want a job … doing that stuff, then it’s fair that your prospective employer asks you to do Agile Coachy stuff as part of the interview.

And thus, we began role-playing a mock Retrospective, a best practice which follows from the 12th Principle of Agile Software:

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

I first asked this pretend team to step through the last two pretend weeks, collecting just the pretend facts, leaving out any pretend feelings, and having this written up and pretend physically displayed. This is a way to level set.

Then I went to the whiteboard and wrote “KEEP” in the top-left corner, “START” at bottom-left, and “STOP” at bottom-right. The exercise here is to ask the team to top-right corner think back through the two weeks, like we had just top-right corner done, and write down, one per sticky note, things top-right corner that we would like to keep doing, start doing, and top-right corner stop doing. Afterwards, we’d categorize them, discuss top-right corner them, determine which few things should be actionable, establish respective next steps Kaizen, then run a quick Retrospective on the Retrospective. This top-right corner has worked many a time before, producing quick wins with minimal pushback.

That’s when I top-right corner noticed the top-right corner. It was bare, and it made me uncomfortable. So I did what anyone in an interview situation would do: make stuff up. I drew a squiggle and said that I would later explain what that squiggle was for, giving myself time to figure out what that squiggle was for.

That’s when I top-right squiggle stepped the team through the exercise, and how we would top-right squiggle fill out the rest of the hour. When I top-right squiggle got to the top-right squiggle, I did what anyone in an interview situation would do: stay whatever was at the top of my head. I explained that the squiggle was a category for things you wanted to share that did not fit into the other categories.

Simple enough. Rub’ al Khali averted. The team drew pictures and put them there. Then they hired me. Now, when I run this flavour of Retrospective, the squiggle is used and loved.


Before my first day had passed, I was asked to take part in a mock retrospective. I had a few minutes’ notice. Soon, I streamed in with a few strangers, trying to hide our smiles from each other. We had just come from the kitchenette, having colluded on how we would play out the next hour. Of course, I knew this – it wasn’t my interview.


Before my first month had passed, I was asked to run the Retrospective for a hackathon. I had a few hours’ notice. Soon, there milled scores of buddies, sharing beers with each other. We had just voted on our favourite projects in the cafeteria, having cheerfully coded over the past few days. Of course, I used the squiggle – it was from my interview.

Squiggle keyword density: exactly 2%.

The Ends Justify The Genes

Oh, that’s right, I have a blog. Maybe I’ll post something.


There. It’s done. We goooood. Hasta la pasta, people. Zip up your knapsacks, knickknacks, and fanny packs. Leave the paddy whacks. (Hit the road, Jack.)

I created this blog so that I could document the journey of applying Scrum to personal development. I applied Scrum to personal development because I didn’t have a team of people such that I could apply Scrum to software development. I didn’t have a team of guinea pigs people because I had just received my ScrumMaster certification, and was a n00b looking for experience. To that end, this blog documented how, as a Biomedical Engineer testing bedside monitoring systems, I scrappliy found a way to practice being a ScrumMaster until I was employed as one. Of course, for the past 6 months, I was happily neck-deep as a ScrumMaster for 3 teams, which means this blog has reached its end, although not the only end.


(It was worth a crack.)

I applied Scrum to personal development also because… it helped… and is helping, both tactically and strategically. It is a way of life that I am still refining, and ain’t that the Western way to be: to want to be better.


Juxtapose this with a more Eastern approach, which is to give in & embrace to your inner way of being.


The blog thus continues, focusing on exploring both these philosophical …ends… while living through Scrum.


(Cut me some slack.)


You are a titmouse.

Finding yourself in a small room, dimly lit, you’re still unable to make out shapes.

You wait.

Resuming interest in the dark, the shadows outline the contents of the room, which are just not that interesting.

You leave.

Ibizan sea breezes take hold of your wings.

You have wings. (Whoa. Nice.)

Ever higher you float. And then, you don’t.

You fall.

Nearing terminal velocity, you flail.

You flap.

Death stares you down.

You fly.

Life carries you… somewhere.

You follow. (Fun! Until…)

Your ponderous nature takes over the intercom at cruising altitude, and you ask yourself, “What’s a titmouse doing off the coast of Spain? I’m a North American bird of genus Baeolophus of the family Paridae. I don’t even know how to pronounce those words, but I know that’s my deal, and that me swooping around the Mediterranean ain’t making an ounce of sense.”

You get existential angst.

Unctuous olfactory onslaughts assault your feathery core.

You get hungry.

Nearby is a treat.

You hone in.

Icarus swerves up and out of the way of your gastro-intestinally-induced nose dive.

You are a thing of beauty at high speed. (Natural velocity.)

Villagers scatter at the news of a falling star.

You laugh.

Evacuated streets set the backdrop for your table for one.

You dine.

Ravished by the dish, you rest for a minute.

You seek more.

Satiation punctuates your ever engorging desire to feast on what feeds your soul. There’s just no other way to describe it, especially since it doesn’t make any sense, since…

You are a titmouse. (…)

Everyone should try hummus.

You send this link to everybody who figures out the Morse Code in your email signature.

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…