Best In Shu

Let’s get #BestInShu trending.

Hashtag proposal: #BestInShu – annotate / celebrate behaviour of individuals / teams as they toe the line between Shu & Ha in their solid accomplishing of specific Agile practices, or clear embracing of the mindset / particular Agile principles.

Forget “Do Re Mi” – we be talkin’ “Shu Ha Ri”.

Amongst Agilists, we like sprinkling in Japanese words where appropriate: Kaizen (actionable item of improvement), Muda & Mura & Muri (3 kinds of waste, from Lean, from The Toyota Production System), and here: Shu & Ha & Ri (competency model). Here’s how I think of them.

  • Shu – do the forms
  • Ha – tweak the forms
  • Ri – be formless

In the beginning, you are Shu – a beginner, an apprentice, a learner. Since you don’t know much, and there are many who have come before you, the advice is to copy. In martial arts, repeatedly practice those sequences of movements – you will feel that this is useless, and that you’re better than this, but if you want mastery, start here. In Scrum, follow the Scrum Guide and do all the events – you will feel that this is useless, and that you’re better than this, but if you want mastery, start here.

In Shu, there are standard ways of doing things. As a beginner, just copy these. This Shu stage takes discipline & repetition.

After some time, you are Ha – advanced, a journeyman, a practitioner. Since you have spent more time practicing, you have also experienced more of a craft, as well as the different contexts in which to apply your craft. In martial arts, mix ‘n’ match those moves as you react and then respond to the environment. In Scrum, adapt the framework to better suit the team and context, e.g., I have had teams refine one backlog item at the very end of the Daily Scrum, allowing time through the day for folks to investigate the next prioritized & unrefined item.

In Ha, there are still standard ways of doing things. Now that you’re advanced, break these rules thoughtfully. This Ha stage takes sensing & responding.

Once eons have passed, you are Ri – an expert, a master, a trainer. I think of a local comedian who’s no longer on the circuit, Chris Coxen. He gets up on stage as Barry Tattle in a burgundy velvet suit, with a mustache and shades, swanky music playin’, and… he riffs. A line that has stuck with me is, “I don’t tell jokes. I exist.” (I later found him and told him how deep that line is. He told me that he didn’t prepare it, and he rarely remembers what he says because he’s so in flow in his character. Chris really does… exist.)

In Ri, you know there will always be forms. As an expert, you know the reasons behind them and act not from the forms, but from ‘the why’ behind the forms. This Ri stage takes embodying a deep understanding, and giving, often by teaching.

This is how I think of the competency model. There are plenty of other descriptions out there if you’re not satisfied with what I’ve got here. Anyway, I share all this as context for my hashtag proposal up above.

Let us celebrate instances of advanced newbiness! These are milestones on a journey that takes time, perspiration, and patience, so positive forms of nudging should be welcomed, and encouraged.

#BestInShu

Notes from my Product Reading

I’m a slow reader.

And then I usually take notes on what I read.

And then I analyze and summarize and consolidatize said notes.

All this extends the reading process, of which I’ve been doing more since I’m not commuting. Thanks Obama Coronavirus. Sometimes, they result in a picture – I hope to share a few of those with you one day. Sometimes, they result in a bulleted list – I will share one with you now, from my reading of Product-related articles.

WARNING: these are not fleshed out ideas – these are bullet points – these are high-level – these are my notes, in a form I can understand, sitting in a list in my Reminders app on my iPhone 8.

Behold my 14 points.

You’re welcome.

Continue reading Notes from my Product Reading

Side Hustling at 4:30 am

Losing your job sucks, especially when it’s your only revenue stream. How do you de-risk the effect of a job loss? Have a job NOT be your only revenue stream. How? Have a side hustle. What? Have a side hustle. No, I heard you the first time, but what’s a side hustle? Makin’ a li’l money on the side. Cool… so what are you gonna do, and how do you decide which of your ideas to tackle first? Let me show you my thinking.

Continue reading Side Hustling at 4:30 am

This is All So Strange, so Give Yourself a Sprint Zero

Have you seriously paused since being told to work from home (because of the Coronavirus) (to enact Social Distancing) (to #FlattenTheCurve)?

Have you seriously paused since your kids’ school closed and now they’re home with you for more of the week, with fewer to no day care options?

Have you seriously paused since your state governor issued a stay-at-home order?

Have you paused at all?

My 4.5-year-old daughter calls this, “an unusual time,” likely because that’s how we’ve craftily termed it at home, and I’ve found that my habits & projects & routine & …’life stance’ are either out of whack, or …not internally aligned. Has your daily & weekly schedule been thrown for a loop?

When school then business then social closures occurred, I folded each event in, like being told the train would be delayed: it’s annoying, now super-annoying, now super-duper-annoying, but I’ll simply adjust my daily & weekly goals & expectations, that’s all, ain’t no thang. Who am I kidding? This is a thang. Have your goals & expectations been more than simply adjusted?

In Scrum terms:

  • Kaizen is not enough – this time is too unusual for small experiments in continuous improvement
  • Cancelling a Sprint is not enough – this time is too unusual for stopping, and then regrouping, and then doing Sprint Planning
  • Sprint Zero feels better – this time is too unusual for anything other than an effort in re-teaming & re-chartering

I recommend seriously pausing. I mean, I’m still doing work-related stuff, and I’m still supporting the school for which I’m on the board, and I’m still the husband & Papa of my family, and for everything else, there’s MasterCard I’m seriously pausing, if for nothing other than to grieve the normalcy that was lost, to take a breath and look around with eyes wider open, and to decide how I want to conduct myself given I have access to good health, friendly faces under a roof, a roof, a fridge of food, healthy food, funds to float us a few months, solid internet access for FaceTiming with my daughter’s friends, water, and toilet paper.

This time is not normal.

This is not a tweak, or a series of tweaks, from a month ago.

This time is seriously different. (I mean, we don’t have WWII-style posters saying how it’s our Patriotic Duty to stay at home) (yet)

Seriously pause.

Seriously pause, be introspective, and figure out how the fuck you want to conduct yourself for these next few months.

And then in a week, pause again, ’cause that shit sure didn’t stick.

POST-SCRIPT

And ain’t this the Agile thing to do?

  • Do stuff.
  • Get feedback.
  • Now ready yourself to do stuff again, incorporating that feedback.

So pausing, while disruptive, is Agile, just at a larger time-scale than Scrum tends to talk about it.

Oh, and know how to wash your hands.