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.

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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.

Scrum: Lessons from #leancoffee for team communication

As most Agilists know #leancoffee is a savvy and simple technique that we use to facilitate a session  focusing on top priority items first / and time boxing  conversations.

To the group that met last week in Geekdom, #leancoffee was new. And to some of them Agile was also new, and the “Aha” moments experienced by Rob were the best of all

Everyone wrote the topic they wanted to discuss on individual sticky notes.

And then we went around the circle briefly introducing / describing their topic of interest

Rob went last. And he seemed quite disappointed. “I don’t even have to speak about my topics, others have already spoken about it”.

I was planning on discussing the theory behind ‘visibility and the work place’ and why sessions like these get us into the habit of practicing them but Rob provided me an opportunity to speak sooner:

“Rob, that is exactly why we write our topics down. Everyone gets to make their topic of interest visible.  It is okay that you went last, but that does not mean your ideas are least valuable, or you didn’t get to introduce, or didn’t think about what you wanted to discuss and why you prioritized.”

“In old fashioned meetings, many folks don’t say anything, because someone spoke about their topic. Unfortunately, sometimes it creates a reputation that they have nothing to say. And those folks who spoke first, they continue dominating  future meetings as well.  What we are doing today, is to make an individuals thought process visible and allow everyone to see (notice) first hand their interest. Now if someone has already introduced your topic, when it is your turn, you can make everyone aware that was your interest as well and add on to it. ”

“And if your topic did not get voted up, then you and the other person who wanted to discuss the same can meet later”

We then proceeded to dot vote, and complete #leancoffee.

 

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LeanCoffee @Geekdom

Team communication is all about being heard, listening and understanding the flow of work, and how it fits together. It is about “not living in the head”, but making  thoughts visible, inviting immediate feedback, allowing the thought process  to change, and the team adjusting to the new thought process;

In Agile projects communication is not about conveying or exchanging information. It is about creating opportunities to be understood; It is about developing earliest possible moments to “sense”; it is about paying attention to the signals that are available, and working on them at the appropriate moment

 

 

#agile #coaching #change: Making a small shift

As I re-read “The Power of Habit” I recall some incidents from life:

During the 90’s and upto the mid 2000’s we were heavy Soda drinkers. Our home was stocked with a minimum of 10  liters of Soda bottles and the family raced to finish them every week. We had the fear that there won’t be any left if we did not get to the soda first.  Children would check the levels of Soda bottles first thing in the morning, because it would have been consumed after their bed time. (And probably make a mental check of consuming them when they returned from school that evening)

During one visit to Costco, I got home a case of bottled water, though we were using Brita filter to purify water. This was something new. This led to a dramatic change in our consumption of Soda. Everybody in the household held onto bottled water. Since we did not consume alcohol at home, to keep the taste buds satisfied I bought cases of Fuse for the men in the house.  This led to a dramatic decline in us buying Soda itself.  We limited Soda consumption to restaurant visits or for special occasions / or when we had friends over.   To this day, this habit has stuck.

That is when I realized that everyone wanted to eat and drink healthy, but grabbing a cold soda was easier than pouring water from the Brita filter onto a cup (and the Brita water was not cold, so they had to add ice to it – or if it was the grownups they were so lazy that they always needed someone else to get them a cup of water filled with ice). We were inserting many reasons for not drinking water. But stocking water bottles or Fuse in the fridge was the answer. Now the choice of drinking healthy was easier.

To continue the thought process and discoveries of making a small shift, during  yesterday’s meet-up I suggested we discuss the power of shifting one small habit and identifying the ripple effects and unintended consequences.

This was the first time for my team to articulate in a sequence about a habit and both members present chose to discuss their need to drink Soda.

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And we detailed about the Cue, Routine, Reward and Craving.

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We discovered that they have been working on changing the habit by doing the following:

1. Limit stocking at home  2.  No impulsive buys 3. Drink colorless soda 4. Drink carbonated water.  5. Focus on health 6. Get noticed by not ordering soda at restaurants.

For one of them the unintended consequences were the following:  1. Her child has reduced her consumption of Soda.  2. Proudly talks about it, and is a cheerleader to her mom.

Thus my belief that “Make one small shift and the world will realign” continues to gain momentum.