Sleep Well

I recently talked with a guy who went through a break-up. He detailed how it was hard to adjust, but he didn’t lose any sleep over it – he truly feels the right decision was made.

This got me thinking: that’s what life’s about: go to bed each night and when you look back on the day, truly sleep well (let go, be at peace).

This got me thinking some more: that‘s similar to another way of thinking about what life’s… about: go to your death bed and when you look back on your life, truly die well (let go, be at peace). Time scales are different, and this has been explored almost two years ago.

Besides making this connection, I want to offer one more insight: add another time scale: the Sprintly time box. Thus, go to the Retrospective and when you look back on the Sprint, let go & be at peace.

Oh no… we can go one more round: one more time scale: now. Let go & be at peace at all ‘now’s. Maybe that‘s what life’s about.

I’ll sleep on it.

The Birth That Counts

How do you prefer your birthday?

With a crowd all aloud?
With your crew downing brew?
With a few playing Clue?
With your mate tempting fate?
Sub-radar, “‘Tis news afar”?
(In a box with a fox?)

As I get deeper into my early 30’s, my preference has been the latter (no, not in a house with a mouse). Sure, I’m glad I was born, but if I’m not up for celebrating an event around a central character that is me, beyond celebrating for celebration’s sake, then I personally don’t see why I’d want others to go out of their way. If you want to, though, I won’t stop you.

Congratulating me on my birth? Call my Mom – she did the work. Call my Dad – he had a seminal part in the matter.

Congratulating me on making it this far in life without succumbing to disease or harm? I’ve made it this far, thanks, though I’m sure there are higher bars of achievement beyond survival now that the average lifespan is over 30.

Calling to say hi? That’s cool. Let’s grab a cappuccino.

I feel like I’ve turned into a curmudgeon in this regard. The thing is, the most useful part of a birthday, for me, is the opportunity to reflect…

The earth has circled the sun in about 525600 minutes. So while Earth has made its journey, how has mine been?

Reflection and other methods of observing ego are important, which is why I’d prefer to enjoy its benefits more often than once a year, say, once a week at my Sprint Retrospective. This means I have a birthday every week. Try it 🙂 .

Happy Birthday to you, too.

Naked

I have a co-worker, who, anytime he is about to reproduce a software defect, says,

Notice how my hands never leave my arms.

This is his version of, “Notice, there is nothing hiding up my sleeves,” before a magic trick. It’s cute. He also tells jokes like,

What does Cape Cod and an elephant have in common?
Hyannis.

But you’re not here for classy jokes (tee hee). You’re here because the title caught your eye, and now you’re beginning to wonder if you’ve been dup’d into reading asinine humor (tee).

The underlying theme in seriously restarting my own ScrumOfOne is transparency, first with myself, then with all you adoring fans. I shared how I’ve been setting myself up with Sprint Backlogs, placing value in completing them, and then my thought processes to Scrumily address this short-term personal development objective after corresponding Retrospectives. In line with this transparency, I have added a top-level page to share how I plan to grow ScrumOfOne as a website, a blog, and as a meme.

Scrum co-founder Jeff Sutherland said he hadn’t heard of applying Scrum to personal development, so I’m taking this journey seriously, stewarding into maturity a relatively nascent idea (hee).

Regularly Scheduled Chaos

Oh – hey! I almost didn’t see you there. You know. From up here on the bandwagon. The view is great. But you’re not here for that. You’re here ‘caus-

Snake Oil! Snake Oil! Snake Oil! Get some now! It’s great for what ails ya! Anything! Anything at all! Grandma got bunions? Papi got the sniffles? Then Snake Oil is for you! Apply directly to the forehead! Snake Oil!

Geez, don’t you hate that? Here we are, having a nice conversation, you down there, me up here, on the bandwagon, out where the deer and the antelope play, and out of nowhere we get interrup-

Fording a river? Who isn’t nowadays! For these hazardous trips, don’t risk it! Leave it to the experts! Let us at Caleb’s help you with some of our special caulk! Caleb’s Caulk! Don’t leave home without it! Caleb’s Caulk!

…interrupted. You can’t predict these things. (Unless, of course, you can …at which point please help me with trading Bitcoins.) You just have to be ready to roll with it (chaos), and I recently learned how after my last sprint (scheduled life).

See, Sprint 141 was my first one back after not doing any disciplined self-Scrumming, so I planned to do all this stuff. I had all this energy at my personal Sprint Planning session, where I looked over my Product Backlogs, grabbed the top-prioritized stories, threw ’em into the Sprint Backlog for Sprint 141, and was all like, “Yeah! I’m gonna DO this! Do it all! All the things!”

Yyyyyeah – no. I did not.

My Sprint 141 velocity was 37 points, which is respectable for me (more on how I’ve assigned points to personal/ScrumOfOne stories in a future post), but in the Retrospective, I looked at the stories associated with those 37 points, and noticed two things:

  1. I didn’t get done even half of what I had planned for that two-week period.
  2. I got a lot of other stuff done.

This ‘other stuff’ was mainly in reaction to unforeseen …interruptions, e.g., a buddy visiting, striking while the iron is hot for a surprise date, sudden extra work at …work.

So there I was, at my own personal Retrospective, feeling both good and bad at the same time. Good because I got a decent amount of stuff done – I was productive! Bad because half of my accomplishments weren’t from the planned Sprint Backlog, which meant they weren’t the top-priority… the things that would move me most towards the respective visions per personal Product Backlog – I was not efficient!

This last part is a downer. It’s a downer because I had done this all the time: planning to do a set of things over two weeks, and at the end of the two weeks, never getting them done. I have thus been injecting into my own life regular opportunities to show myself that I can’t get done what I planned, snowballing evidence of my inability to both commit and commit to myself! What’s a mother to do?

For just such situations (corporate teams encounter this, too), Scrum co-founder Jeff Sutherland recommends something called the ‘Interrupt Pattern‘. Essentially, be flexible to sudden direction changes by planning for less. Sprint Teams can do this by adding a buffer of points into their planned velocity, where this buffer is a placeholder for stories that suddenly crop up, like dealing with hot issues from a customer or a freak Y2K bug that was latent for 14 years.

For ScrumOfOne-rs like me, this means committing to fewer stories at the Sprint Planning, knowing that I will make up the rest of my bi-weekly productivity with either tactical accomplishments (reacting to life – stuff just came up) or strategic accomplishments (living proactively – stuff off my Product Backlogs).

This improvement to Sprint Planning was the more interesting Kaizen to come out of the last Retrospective. The piece of improvement I’m applying to this Sprint 142 is to push daily to complete a planned 1-point story. This ensures I’m doing something each day to refine myself. Today, that 1-point story is pumping out the weekly blog post.

Tomorrow, that 1-point story might well be to buy some of that caulk I’ve heard so much about…

Kaizen Story

As I’ve worked with Scrum in a context that is not software development, I’ve come to define Scrum thus:

Scrum is a framework for getting stuff done that embraces change, while promoting transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

You get transparency from the Daily Stand-Up meeting (this is called the Scrum, too), and both the Sprint Burndown Chart and the Release Burndown Chart. Everybody starts the day on the same page, blockers are identified, and outside parties are privy to the progress during the Sprint and towards a release-worthy product; these are formats for easy sharing and digesting of Sprint-related information.

From all the data being laid out from the Burndown Charts, we can get inspection. The Sprint-end demonstration (part of the Review) also allows for a frequent check on the state of the software and acceptance of the stories done during the Sprint: inspection of the work. Inspection of the process is done during the Retrospective.

And the Retrospective is THE place where adaptation is determined. After inspecting the process, using methods I’ve mentioned in the previous two posts, we ideally get a somewhat prioritized list of stuff we either want to keep, stop, or start doing: a backlog of adaptation options.

Now, we pat ourselves on the back, go straight into Sprint Planning, and restart the Sprintly cycle.

And fail.

I mean, if we just come up with a list of ways we can get better, but don’t really do anything about it, then the Retrospective was a jolly ol’ waste of time. Does this sound like post-mortem meetings you’ve been a part of? Were they called ‘Lessons Learned’ meetings? See, I passionately dislike that term, ‘Lessons Learned’. You cannot say you’ve properly learned your lesson unless you repeat a situation and then exhibit ‘better’ behaviour, thus proving that you have indeed learned your lesson. Until then, you’re just talking about ‘how it all went’, an ‘Issues Encountered’ meeting, sharing what you’d do better next time.

The Retrospective is different.

At the top of the backlog of adaptation options, there must be an immediately actionable process improvement that can be implemented. How to ensure you do this? Make it a story for the upcoming Sprint: the Kaizen Story. Kaizen? Yeah, it’s Japanese:

Kaizen is a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices, personal efficiency, etc. Kaizen literally means ‘improvement’.

So, via Kaizen, we adapt. Via the Kaizen Story, a properly formed Sprint backlog item with points and acceptance criteria… and is independent, negotiable, valuable, ‘estimatable’, sized to fit, and testable… and is otherwise meeting a Definition of Ready for stories, the team is constantly working on improving the Scrum process, specifically using a measure uncovered and set by the team itself. (What’s that? At the back of the room… is that… is that the ‘self-management’ flag being waved? Why yes. Yes it is.)

I don’t have a clever way to end this post besides expressing how I think this idea is just so damn cool: Scrum becomes a framework for both getting stuff done and for improving how stuff gets done.

Genius.