Introducing a Frontlog: Experiments in Process

Here’s an SAT-style analogy for ya, partially because I like wordplay, partially because I value effort over outcome, partially because I like Simon Sinek, and partially because I dislike New Year’s Resolutions.

Backlog : Product Experiments (the what) ::
Frontlog : Process Experiments (the how) ::
Forelog : Vision Experiments (the why)

This isn’t the best analogy, since ‘the how’ per Sinek’s Golden Circle is more akin to ‘principles’, but this’ll work well enough. Continue reading Introducing a Frontlog: Experiments in Process

Scrum At Hail

I’m starting this post with a pun of a title…. hopefully I can weave one together so that this title makes sense…

Let’s say you have an Agile team. You probably call it a Squad, admit it. Let’s also say this team is running Scrum, and because this is all hypothetical, let’s finally say it’s doing Scrum well.

Well done. ‘Twas all you. Give yourself a… self-five.

Let’s now say you have more than one Agile team Squad, at varying levels of Agile maturity at different stages on their Agile journey, and their work is either related to or dependent on each other no, wait, that was right, let’s keep it… and their work is either related to or dependent on each other.

Well, crap. It’s all on you. Pick a scaling framework… from five.

Let’s celebratorily say you’ve picked one. Now you can have focused conversations around ‘the now’ and ‘the next’, incorporating more aspects of the business, and hopefully addressing impediments quickly, even with as many Squads as you have.

Well, there you have it: Scrum, at scale.

This does not make sense when you’re a ScrumOfOne. Or does it? No, it doesn’t. Continue reading Scrum At Hail

Are you Lazy? Get a Routine

I’m pretty useless after the dance party.

After dinner, the table mostly put away, and our daughter’s toys mostly… not put away (yet), the CD player goes on, and the dance party begins.

Matt Heaton steps the tiny masses through basic behavioural norms like stopping and going. Then there’s a Wombat Dance. (We have a 2-year-old, so this all makes sense.) Before Matt, but still in popular rotation, we had Karen K and the Jitterbugs, wherein you, too, may want to be a Jitterbug, or have Pancakes for Dinner.

At some parentally appointed point, the music stops.

At some later painfully negotiated point, toys are put away.

At some even later peacefully navigated point, our daughter is in bed.

At this point, I’m pretty useless.

There’s 1-2 hours left in regulation time before the daily game is over, and I’m not really in the mood for anything creative or productive. Personal growth-related activities? Pfft, grrrl, please.

So what’s a citizen to do? Continue reading Are you Lazy? Get a Routine

Soapy Water Wisdom

Being hungover (or was I still drunk… I forget, it was college) was the best thing for me during a Physics test. Here’s how one of the questions went:

Given a buncha formulas we’re giving you, mostly in Greek, and some assumptions like you’re living in a world with no friction that is all at sea level, turn this set of Greek letters into this other set of Sanskrit letters. Just kidding. Greek letters. Have fun, pal.

Does YOUR head hurt when you read that? I’ll assume it does ’cause you want to humor me. Thank you. You’re very kind. Now consider my aforementioned added cranial crankiness and you will believe me when I say I looked that question square in the iota and thought:

I’ll give YOU freakin’ frictionless maritime Greek letters.

And thus I did. Slippery sea-faring alphas to Teflon tidal omegas. Got one of the highest grades in the class for that test, too. My secret?

This shit just HAS to make sense.

I didn’t have the brain bandwidth to be creative: I could only methodically use my initial set of formulas and power through incremental changes to turn them into this other thing they wanted. Successfully re-deriving an equation is one of my biggest academic satisfactions. Because I am a dork. Brazenly drinking (shots of) vodka.

Fast-forward a decade and change, my child is 3 months old, and through the practice of doing dishes, I have re-derived the Kanban notion of limiting work-in-progress, and the Lean notion of single piece flow. Because I am a dad. Barely treading (soapy) water.

Much like the early months of college, the early months of Zephyr’s childhood are a sleepless blur. Thank goodness I have Twitterial evidence of this time, because conversationally, I can only recall chaos. At home the first 2 weeks of her life, my job was easy:

Given your wife has turned into a milk factory, both adult parties mostly without sleep, and reducing the house of any physical or emotional friction while keeping it afloat, turn Day 0 into Day 90. Have fun, Papa.

‘Twas a very reactionary time, which meant I was often interrupted, including when washing dishes. Not having a dishwasher meant, per my primitive process, soaking a tubful of things in hot soapy water, abrasively removing residue from the individual items in said hot soapy water, then setting the tub’s worth aside to rinse and set in the drying rack, all in one batch. Batch size = 1.00 tub.

‘Twas a very repetitively reactionary time, which meant the interruptions shed light on the flaws in my dishwashing ways, since per interruption:

  • The tub full of hot soapy water would go cold.
  • The tub plus set-aside washed but not rinsed items would often sit and take up room in the sink.
  • Washed but not rinsed items would sit all soapy.
  • My wife would get pissed at the clutter due to any/all of the above.
  • I would get pissed due to any/all of the above.

Besides the last 2, the above represents in-between states of dishwashing: they’re not in a dirty stacked pile, and they’re not cleaned in the drying rack. They are abandoned, mid-process, and to start the process back up requires some extra work, like adding back hot water, clearing out the sink if we want to do something else with it, or re-soaking the washed but not rinsed items to work off any soap residue that dried on. These in-progress items are considered waste by those who study Lean.

(This deserves a parenthetical paragraph. Did you know there are 3 Japanese words for waste? There’s muda, which is stuff that doesn’t add value, which includes things done before they need to be. There’s mura, which is unevenness like the pooling of work-in-progress, like my dishwashing process above. There’s muri, which is unreasonableness like not having enough time or spirit to do a process. There. You now know Japanese. You’re welcome.)

Any extra work, when you’re under the physical stress of continuous non-continual sleep, sucks. So much like that Physics test, I’d face that sink and think:

This dish-washing shit just HAS to make sense.

So… I tried an experiment. I didn’t fill up the tub completely, but just enough to soak and wash and rinse the, say, utensils. Batch size = 0.25 tub. Interruptions had less of an impact, and I was less wasteful.

To be even MORE responsive to the changing environment, I tried another experiment. I’d still soak a smaller set, then wash and rinse one item at a time. Batch size = 1 fork. Interruptions had the least impact, and empirically, through limiting work-in-progress down to single piece flow, more things made it to the drying rack.

Being over-tired (or was I still dreaming… I forget, it was last year) was the best thing for me when doing dishes.

Moral of the story? Live in a place with a dishwasher. I’m so freakin’ serious. It is time back in your day, and that is your greatest commodity. Don’t settle, unless it’s some Zen activity for you, then that’s your thang, and I’m not going to get in the way of your joy. Otherwise, screw any Agile concept re-derivation mumbo-jumbo above (I mean, thanks for reading!): if you’re reading this (thanks again!), you most likely live in the first-world. Embrace this. Use a dishwasher.

ScrumOfThree

Since becoming a full-time ScrumMaster, I haven’t written much, unless it reflected on a significant event I wanted captured:

And then:

  • I became a father.

And through a year since:

  • I embrace the present moment a little more easily.

Diving into the above a bit, besides when we’re at the playground, or doing swim lessons, or other situations where I feel her life is in my hands, I’d say the most present I’ve ever been was just before and just after my daughter’s birth. A significant reason? My phone was off.

My phone wasn’t dead. My phone wasn’t almost dead. I wasn’t trying to be respectful. I wasn’t trying to hide. There was just absolutely nothing more important in the world (for me) at that extended moment, and the unquestioning clarity of that absoluteness has never… happened before.

I wonder when it will happen again.

My being unfathomably present was the only thing that could have happened (for me) at that extended moment.

I wonder when it will happen again.

Has this ever happened – for you?