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…

Play The Ball Where The Monkey Drops It

I’m reblogging a sermon… not because I joined a church this past Sunday and paid extra special attention… not because the title is so damn intriguing… but because the reverend was able to whip up a Forrest Gump-ism from a dare.

As an exercise to ministers-in-training, our reverend challenged her class to come up with a sermon out of a random word. To prove it could be done, she partook, and had ‘golf’ as her word. After googling ‘golf’ for some material, she proceded to share one of the best sermons ever, to which I won’t come close to giving justice.

Once upon a time, the English Empire annexed India. Not one to arrive at a colonialization party empty-handed, the English brought golf. The Indians brought lush jungle. Lush Indian jungles brought monkeys. Lush Indian jungle monkeys brought a curiosity for round white objects that flew through the dense jungle air. Lush Indian jungle monkey curiosity brought frequent relocations to freshly fired golf shots. Sometimes the ball would land in the rough, and the monkeys would pick it up and drop it on the green. Sometimes it would land on the green, and the monkeys would pick it up and drop it in the rough. They tried to control the monkeys, but to no avail, so the English & Indians wrote them monkeys and their monkey-ball behaviour into the Book Of Life Golf: Play the ball where the monkey drops it.

I couldn’t make this up.

I mean, I COULD… but my flavour would fold in a vast right-swing conspiracy and a tasteless bastardization of a Gandhi quote, which would go:

First, you they are annoyed by how you bugger up their sporting events. Then, they ignore you. Then, they laugh at you. Then, they fight you. Then, you win.

And isn’t this life? Sometimes, you do all the right things (great shot!), and walk away with nothing to show for it (damn monkey!). Sometimes, you make a right mess of it (hooked it!), and somehow it turns out better than expected (good monkey!). Reality becomes the resultant vector of both what you can and can’t control, and all you can do, is, say it with me: Play the ball where the monkey drops it.

It’s a pretty Buddhist idea.

It’s also a pretty successful Disney song.

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…