Notes on Vision

I have a product framework based on a great book on roadmaps, folding in a few standard key ideas like having a vision. Personally, I like having a few versions of the same vision, adding granularity to represent deeper understanding & appreciation, to then aid different levels of daily decisioning decision-making.

Here’s the really dorky part. As “Merrill the Third”, I’ve grown up drawn to the number 3, and lately, thirds. Applying this odd proclivity (self-five!) to visioning crafting vision(s), I aim for lengths of about a minute, and a third of a minute (20 seconds), and a third of a third of a minute (~6 seconds), and a third of a third of a third of a minute (~2 seconds) (one over: three to the power of three – another self-five!).

So here are my notes on Vision.

Much like my notes on Minimalism & Product, these are not my most complete ideas (nor my most current… these are about 6 years old, a lifetime ago), but they resonate with me enough such that I look back on ’em from time to time, and figured I’d share ’em with you.

You’re welcome.

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Look At The Camera

It’s simple… If you Zoom-From-Home, then: Look at the camera!

I mean… I could end this post right here.

But I won’t… This is just one of a few Remote Facilitation Tactics I wrote about a year ago, where a piece of insight I came to was:

You are either connecting with a person for your benefit (by looking at the person’s image), or connecting with a person for their benefit (by looking ‘at’ the person via the camera).

I seriously think I’ll turn this Public Agile Service Announcement into a rap song:

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My Approach to Getting Refining Sessions Unstuck

What do you do when half the people think it’s 3 points, and the other half think it’s 5?

(Ooh, don’t share any more context – leave it there and just keep going!)

That’s going to happen. If I’m facilitating this Refining Session, I’ll ask one person who scored it a 3 to explain why, and then I’ll ask the same from somebody who gave it a 5.

(Aww, you explained the scenario… you could’ve let ’em writhe! You’re no fun…)

I’ll restart a vote, and hopefully this discussion has swayed folks to vote more similarly. But let’s say it hasn’t. Let’s say y’still have a roughly 50/50 split between the same two adjacent Fibonacci numbers. Fine. I then ask about the Fibonacci numbers on either side of those scores.

I ask everybody, “Could this be a 2?” then pause for their responses. I then ask, “Could this be an 8?” also pausing for their responses. What I’m looking for is not just what is said, but more importantly how it’s communicated. This what/how split neatly echoes a content/style split for you HTML/CSS folks, and a product/process split for weird Agilists like me. I lean on the greater emotional response to resolve this difference of opinion in the group.

So, if folks say half-heartedly, “Yeah, I guess,” when asked it’s a 2, but when asked about an 8, they say with some energy, “Naw, it ain’t THAT big… it’s not like the other 8s!” then I hear more emotion away from 8, thus between 3 & 5, I recommend a 3.

Similarly, if folks are energetically ‘meh’ about a 2, but all, “well, yeah, it could be a lot of work, it could blow up,” while nodding their heads a bit more about the prospect of it being an 8, then I hear more emotion towards an 8, thus between 3 & 5, I recommend a 5.

I then explain:

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Your Obituary

Beyond being at least half-decent at relating to a few key humans, what do you want it to say on your obituary?

Are there episodes to your life / career?

Are there grand acts of service / contributions to a field?

Are there noble crafts you dedicated yourself to each day?

Is this an exercise that helps you figure out what to do now & next?

What is your legacy?

So yeah. I think about this. A lot.

My Approach to a Quick Retrospective

It’s simple… Do not do a quick Retrospective.

But if y’ain’t got a lotta time… I do a “Fist Of Five“, gather quantitative & qualitative data, pretend for a moment we have 6 fingers on a hand, then capture a piece of Kaizen, all in 3 minutes.

I mean… I could end this post right here.

But I won’t… Remember that insurrection on January 6th? What the fuck was that shit? People were fed lies to fuel all sorts of anger & fear, which led to some of them invading the Capitol?!? Like, holy fucking shit!!! That whole scene represents major failure on a number of fronts, and… We. Need. To. Retrospect. HARD.

Alors… The quicker you Retrospect, the lesser the quality of the actionable item of improvement on the other side, mostly because you don’t give yourself the time to think up and dive down into how to make the next chunk of time better. Also, the shorter the amount of time you’re reflecting on, which is usually the same amount of time ahead of you that you hope to improve, the lesser the potential impact of the Kaizen. Think about it… Are you holding a Retrospective at the end of your day? Then the Kaizen will impact the next day, which will not be as potentially impactful as one you would pick from a weekly Sprint Retrospective, or a quarterly one, or a yearly one (New Year’s Resolutions, anyone?). Or one for a 4-year cycle (voting for a US President, anyone?). The LONGER the amount of time you’re retrospecting, the deeper the potential impact of… a piece of Kaizen. Yet, this isn’t what Agile is about… it’s about quicker feedback loops, to more frequently validate if you’re going in the right direction, mechanizing pivot/persevere decisions. Think about it… again… Are you holding a Retrospective at the end of your day? Then that retrospecting mechanizes how you change direction once a day, which will not be as potentially impactful as one for the next half-day (re-centering post-lunch, anyone?), or half-hour (a 1-1 regular meeting, anyone?). Or one for a moment (mindfulness, anyone?). The SHORTER the amount of time you’re retrospecting, the deeper the potential impact of… retrospecting. Oh, and the less risky a piece of Kaizen.

Maybe… I should’ve ended this post back there.

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