It’s Like Personal Tech Debt

In the course of daily events, I may not clear my inbox by the end of the day (or week), I may write notes in a few places (instead of one), and I may allow stuff to pile up on my desk (starting with the edges, slowly creeping towards the middle).

It’s not really in my way… it’s not impeding me, per se, from getting stuff done on the daily, but over time, it builds up past some threshold of, “OK. Now this shit is encroaching on my physical & psychological comfort.”

This amassed entropy? It’s like personal tech debt.

Right? I mean, that’s how I think about it. I’ve never coded for a living, but this analogy seems fair.

OK. Fine. Let’s see what Wikipedia says…

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Bias to Inquiry is Hard

I’ve got a Bias to Action. My wife will call me a Fact Finder, which is true, and at some point… I do make a move.

I recently learned the phrase “Bias to Inquiry”, which is useful in the world of an Agile Coach: you run across a behaviour you deem odd, and instead of wanting to act on it, you first seek to learn about it. Context is key. History can be insightful. Figure out why there’s a fence across the road before trying to tear it down. It’s the fifth Habit.

This Bias to Inquiry is something I do at work – I get paid to be diplomatic.

This blog post is to acknowledge aloud that Bias to Inquiry at home is hard.

Let’s take a benign example:

Oh, lookie here! Clothes strewn in the hallway. I’m going to make a quick decision and either kick it aside or take a detour to throw ’em in the hamper.

Then there’s a more contentious example:

Oh, lookie here! You believe some fantastical conspiracy theory about the election or vaccines. I… don’t even know where to begin.

I don’t always have the time or energy to first seek to understand bullshit. Maybe I should be more open-minded. Maybe I should have more grains of salt with what information I consume in general. Being open to learning is generally good for one’s survival, so why not apply that in these cases?

I’m just saying it’s hard.

My Approach to Sharing a Screen

I’ll be blunt, starting with a sample inner monologue:

Oh, you’re about to share your screen during this Zoom meeting? OK. Let’s do this. Oh, can I see your screen? Yes. Thanks for asking: the technology worked. Oh, you want me to focus over in that part of the shared screen? Sorry, that shit’s too small. Can you make it bigger? Is that all you can do? Well that’s annoying… Just keep going. I’ll lean in and squint.

Let’s do better.

When facilitating a Zoom meeting, and I’m going to share a screen, I have a Driving Principle: Actively remove from the screen what is not part of the conversation. I’ll even do this after I’ve started sharing, as education via a “before ‘n’ after” micro-session, showing off my tactics in a live demo, making the world a better place…

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My Approach to Running an Intervention

On my resume, it says I ran an intervention. I’ll admit, it’s a dramatic term, but damn was it necessary. Certain details aren’t important – I’m not gonna be world-buildin’ here – so I’ll leave out personalities, politics, and a lot of context to jump to the point in the story where I called it: the last Retrospective.

Well, fine. A little context: The team was fractured, which isn’t a fair characterization because… they never fully formed. It was always one team who’d been together for a while, led by “Alice”, and the newer few who joined from a broken up team, led by “Bob”. This was a move by engineering management to create full-stack teams, and this one was building a new product, requiring a new API.

You can see where this is going: Alice & Bob didn’t agree on the API design. Like, really didn’t agree. Things got stagnant. So stagnant, that as their Agile Coach at one Retrospective I, gently, had it. I pointed to Alice & Bob and requested their presence for 45 minutes as the 3 of us over the next day at the local hotel lobby down the block for an intervention.

I had never used that term, let alone run one, but I knew I’d figure it out by then, much better than on the spot, and it went like this…

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