#Womeninagile #agile2016 : What was in it for me?

I was heading out to dinner with  a few friends who were participating in Agile 2016  and one of them exclaimed,

“Gosh! I would have so loved to attend the Women in Agile workshop. I was already here. I had not paid, and was not sure if I would be allowed. So I did not attend”.   I                      then asked her,”What would a man do?” And then we had conversations around this for a few more minutes.

This is exactly why we need a ” Women in Agile” workshop, and more of them. To remind,  to educate, to extend an helping arm, to help a women  discover and learn her own strength and expand her capabilities.  In some way, we need to begin “thinking like a man”; After all we are living, struggling and surviving in a world built by men. The Agile world co-exists in organization structures and its DNA, where we need to discover, nurture and expand more women thought leaders, including business and IT leaders.

An email invite to participate in the  short 4 hour Women in agile workshop was quite irresistible for me to pass up. The workshop may have been intended for the Agile 2016 conference attendees, since it is held in the same location, same time frame, etc. As  a non attendee to the larger conference, the 4 hour session offered a safe environment, and just enough conference energy that I was open and ready to receive and share.  It gave me just the right atmosphere and environment to plant the seed of becoming relevant and reinventing myself all over again.

As we remembered Jean Tabaka, her kindness, and her way of coaching, it offered me an another opportunity  to re-establish my self identity, claim myself as a woman in IT – Because I am here – because I have chosen to be here. I know I have so much to offer. I have so much to learn.

As Cindy Moore spoke about her transition to Agile, I see a world filled with opportunities for women working alongside with their male colleagues not just as allies, but as comrades and team mates. Women executives, coaches and Scrum Masters are not embedded in teams to be passed of as someone who takes notes, or just sets up meetings. She comes with clarity of mind, and has her own strategies for planning or execution or to meet a release deadline.  She knows to interpret data.

While in breakout sessions this is what I heard from other participants about a Woman in Agile:

-She will bring with her skills that she discovered and learnt while bringing up her children, either as a single parent, or as a family with her husband or wife.. But bring she will and it is time we begin taking notice.

-She recognizes that she is not ‘fighting a battle’ for just one skin color or race. Recognizing that women of all colors, race and culture are equal, she raises her voice for all of us. She wants all women to reach out and ask for help or offer help – to mentor, to be mentored.

-She wants to create an environment of learning not just at her work place; but at schools and colleges – so that the child that will become a women one day gets her grounding early on. She wants to coach women to express their ideas,  become excellent speakers, who in turn will create more energy and set a rippling effect.

-She understands what softness is. What firmness is. She wants to explore Agile career paths. She is curious about how other organizations create women thought leaders. She wants to network. She wants support. She wants to support. And again, men are not just allies. They are partners, ‘comrades’.

And we as Women in Agile want to gain momentum, sustain and grow.

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I have had the opportunity to observe Natalie’s passion and dedication to Agile in the past few years, and her keen sense of building a community around the struggles of women in Agile.  Agreed, that not all of these struggles are due to gender inequality, but calling this out specifically will allow more organizations to open doors for Women thought leadership.

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What was in it for me?

I found  a sisterhood. Found a band of hearts, ideas, thoughts that resonate and will journey together..

See you all in Florida for Agile 2017, as we see our ideas take form, and as we plant them right now, right here :):)

Happy journey Sisters!

 

 

 

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#Sanantonio agile meetup: Meeting #agile leaders of the future

Our June session lead Craig Patrick was speaking about setting up a sprint  workflow.  San Antonio Agilists Chris and Clint joined us.

As I listened to Chris and Clint, it  became quite clear to me that:

“I was interacting with agile leaders of the future”. 

This awareness helped  me listen, question and respond to them differently. Their issues revolved around identifying tactical solutions. Their energy and passion to learn, and to adopt the principles of agile in its truest sense was quite gratifying.

They understood root cause of issues;  Their questions to Craig and I regarding retrospectives, feedback loops, sprint lengths, releases, features was from “a place of we are here right now… how do we solve this?” and “we have solutions, let us validate”

In addition they believe in story boarding, feature driven delivery and above all they believe in their teams.  They had the right mindset. They did not attend the session to complain. They came to validate their home grown solutions;  They came to share their experiences and to be acknowledged and accepted by their agile peers!  They are forging ahead as leaders in their own right. Will the agile community accept their solutions? Will the community allow them to lead?

Both Clint and Craig will be presenting at our meetup in July and August. Join us to acknowledge their intelligence, solutions and recognize them as part of our community of future leaders.

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Where experience speaks:

Craig walked through the 3 levels of scrum adoption with his teams, and level #3 is the ultimate statement “We want to adopt scrum”, “because that is the right thing to do”.

Level 1:  Lets do something. Let us move away from waterfall

Level 2:  We are not ready to let go of the chaos we are in. That is our comfort zone

Level 3:  Yes, let us adopt scrum

Craig will revisit his topic in September as a follow-up to his presentation in June.

(If you hear Craig using the word “dinosaurs”, he probably speaks of IT veterans with more than 3 decades of experience, including himself!)

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#urbannomad or an #urbanwanderer? #agile #scrum

Yesterday Tim participated at our Agile meetup.  He was there to wish goodbye. He and his wife have been on a path of becoming urban nomads and the time is here now.

We discussed taxes, weather, addresses, letting go of stuff, being creative with space, the freedom of movement and the restriction that it brings with it.

Many urban travelers call themselves Nomads. Coaches like me assume we fall into the same category. We romanticize the notion of not being in the same place constantly. The idea of constant movement gives us the sense of being nomads. But we forget that we always go back to some place called home during the weekends. A home where we spend our holidays. Sometime not every weekend. Some of us travel for longer. But a home still awaits. A place  for  familiarity, hugs, for love, for romance and relaxation. A place where we bring our dirty laundry week after week, a place we  barbeque with friends, a place where there is space for us and where we get comfortable, a place where we catchup on gossip, have our own doctors, check postal mail, and catch up with old friends.

We plan our trips, book our hotels, eat in restaurants. But that is all planned. Yes there is the stress of getting these bookings done within time and budget. Keeping our reward points in check. Holding on to the upgraded seat, or the upgraded spacious hotel suite, because only we know the value of an extra leg room space or an early glass of wine. We know the value of reaching home on time. That two hours means a lot to us. Being home at 9:00 pm matters, than being home at midnight. But we are still not urban nomads.

IMG_3860Tim is not plannig such a life. He wants to experience the nomadic life (and we are busy coining a term for his chosen life – ‘Nomadic techie’ seems a good start, but his creative wife will give it a better form perhaps!). He is not going to be using points to book his travel and hotel. Like so many other nomadic tribes, he will just know where he is going to be probably two months in advance. Maybe three. In this short period of time he has to establish a life style, learn the city, its culture and be ready to move. He is planning on uprooting his comfort zone; leaving his business, social and family networks. Downsizing it all to barely minimum. Enough stuff that will fit in his RV

Here are some pros and cons:

Pros:  New way of experiencing his own self. Forming a new relationship with his wife and family. There will be never a boring moment. Freedom to attend as many conferences, go to as many cities due to low cost of travel. Check off on bucket lists as a WIP item along the way. Cost of doing business will be low. Factor the experience learnt and take it to the next gig. Always be around the customer.  Quoting his words, he will never carry ‘ technical debt’ (he meant baggage. But then when a techie talks, their metaphors must quote the source code don’t they?)

Cons:  Possible long bench time. Some projects might not materialize due to inconvenient location. Always start from scratch. He has to be on high alert-learning and knowing mode constantly.  Sometimes life is in the mercy of mother nature.

What he has to learn new:

Network, network, network: Network in new cities for new clients, new businesses . Always learn the culture of a new city. He will learn patience. Sometimes there wont be a second chance.

What he is giving up:  A stable community. A comfort zone. He is giving up boundaries.

I wish Tim and his family great adventures, learning, and tons of joy in their new un-comfort , self-awareness life style

Receiving a #highfive from a techie

I have a compelling desire to share this:

I knew that the Verizon store was in and around that area. I just couldn’t find it. GPS was not helping. Thus I  called their customer service, and they connected me to the store.  Ugh! it was tucked away in the only corner that I didn’t look, and a 1 minute drive from where I placed the distress call.  Feeling quite miserable that I was about to ‘appear in person’ to a group of techie folks, who may have felt sorry about my lack of direction savvyness and were probably expecting me to discuss an  iPhone error that I could have fixed at home..

I walked into the store quite bravely with my head held high (above normal heights probably!)

After the necessary introductions and getting the issue resolved (thankfully it was not me. It was an hardware error!),  I decided to buy a bluetooth. I just couldn’t use the tiny one that I had bought a couple of weeks ago. It lacked elegance, even though it was mostly for connecting to a couple of handhelds that will read through the BT onto my iPhone

I chose TonePro, fell in love with it.  Then, a thought occured to me.

“Can I be online with two phone lines at the same time?” I asked

“Do you want to speak on two lines at the same time?” was the response.

“No no. no. no.” I said.  (Possibly animated vigorously by a stereotypical Indian nod?)

“I am just wondering if this can be detected by both my phones at the same time, or should I turn off one BT , to use the other phone?

“We have never tried” he said.

So we decided to check. We got the blue tooth detected on two iPhones. Yes it worked on both phones. We could receive incoming on both.

YAY!  exclaimed all of us.  “High five to you”, they said. “We discovered a feature that we never checked before”

I walked out the store with my head still held high. Higher perhaps.

Why my first #accus #accuswest will always be special to me

As I browsed the article “The second coming of the the second city” in the southwest flight towards LA for my first ever #accus #accuswest,

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little did I know that the musketeers had arranged for an Improv session with @bonifer.   2 hours with Mike Bonifer, and his team ,activating the mind / body connection  around a campfire and S’mores as the sunset over the sprawling hills of the Irvine ranch was more than enough for me to declare this camp a success!

What else was a success factor for me at the camp:

Nature and camp settings:  An ideal setting to take the stress of a camp away. I wonder how would it be to go back to hotel rooms and conferences?

Casual and low key atmosphere: What I really cared about was that no one carried an air of importance. Everyone was accessible to the other.

Discussions around technology, process and business: Well can we ever live without these conversations?

City culture:  Having spent the past few weeks in Chicago, learning about the city and its culture – and then being in Orange county and meeting local Agilists helped me revalidate my thought process of how much the culture of a city shapes its Agile adoption. Oh really yes.

New friendships and renewed old ones:  New promises and generating opportunities for learning, contributing and collaboration is what makes such camps precious.

Thankyou to the organizers and attendees. See you soon.

http://www.agilegathering.com/whoweare/

Constraints within constraints! #agile #scrum

I travel for work. Do I claim that I do not have a choice?  NO. I do this with a belief that I am creating  many future possibilities for my ‘career growth’ . I really do. I travel not with vengeance or anger.  Not with the intention to prove a purpose. I travel with the belief that this window of opportunity lined up due to constraints and restrictions that overlap with other constraints for others. When constraints overlap in real life they merge. A constraint for one person is the perfect opportunity for another.

I do not even want to elaborate on the lessons I am learning as a single mother in balancing career (including carving time for learning, budgeting, picking up new skills, being in touch with the professional community) and returning to  family life  during the weekend (time with my children,  time with friends, time for myself, and recognizing that I need to be the mom-dad role to children even when they are young adults!)

In this scarce space for time, I still decide to facilitate the Agile meetup at Geekdom in San Antonio during Saturday afternoons frequently.   Saturday is not a good day for a professional gathering. Especially during the middle of the day. But that is the only time I have.

Not being in San Antonio during weekday evenings to schedule sessions and meet a larger population is my first constraint

Scheduling the session on a Saturday afternoon is the second constraint

And now that downtown free parking spaces are dwindling and folks pays $10 and above is a bigger third constraint

In addition, people who show up must be beating similar constraints of time, cost, priorities etc.

Given the constraints for everyone who shows up I am sure you can recognize my sense of responsibility , commitment and a strong desire to ensure that who ever shows up leaves with some value addition. That is my promise to them. Sort of an MVP for them.

During the end of 2014, in a particular session, there was just one attendee and I. It was one of the best sessions of 2014. I recognized the joy and satisfaction he derived from discussing risks, prioritization, negotiation and communication that happens with his team.   That day I was a great listener. Clearing  questions about agile and agile transformation was most rewarding. Helping him identify opportunities to enable conversations was most joyful.

And then another opportunity came by this afternoon…. After finding a very small window of opportunity in their day filled with many obligations and time constraints… when two people showed up, our conversations were powerful yet gentle and full of kindness.. I felt the power of constraints. And then I also recognized the super power of people who create windows of opportunities in these constraints and navigate them.  It seemed like we 3 created the perfect opportunity merge and overlap our constraints to create a perfect learning opportunity for each one of us.

I have begun to love and cherish constraints. They unleash something new in me. Something different. Something very creative and positive.

#geekdom #agile #scrum: Lego simulation for Mob and Paired programming

(A warm saturday  afternoon + group of 6 Agile enthusiasts  + lego blocks) = (opportunity to learn Mob and Pair programming for techies)

The group was eager to learn. And the rules were simple.

Mob programming:

1. One driver

2. One business representative

3. Rest of the group were navigators

4. The build rotated hands every 5 minutes (both the driver and business roles went in rotation)

5. Number of builds: Three

Product developed: A truck

Lego Simulation to learn Mob Programming

Pair programming:

1.  Three teams

2.  Driver and navigator switched roles once after 5 minutes

3. Number of builds: One

Product developed: Different features of a truck

Lego simulation for Pair Programming

I Lego simulation to learn Pair Programming

Lessons learnt:  Collaboration was quite obvious. Every single  idea gets to be heard. Everyone gets to work on the product. All ideas go into one product, everyone learns. Good method to quickly learn, demonstrate, teach and practice new techniques with team.  Change is hard, and more difficult to see ones work being changed (demolished)  by another  just after creation.  Navigator role is difficult, especially when one is a senior professional.

Real time application: One product, Continuous Integration, Constant QA, opportunity to reduce functional defects and improve code quality

Special thanks to Royace to have made a 5 hour round trip  to attend our session.