#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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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.

#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.

#agile #scrum #understandingpatterns : Map vs Terrain

During a introduction session for Scrum Masters,  they were given many quotes / phrases and oneliners  (mostly from  #gapingvoid,  some by me, some from earlier participants). 

Invariably people attending a Scrum Master training session are a mixed bag. They represent various groups in an organization, would have been curious to know about Scrum, or have practiced Scrum in an earlier engagement and so on…. and understanding their thinking and interpretation of Scrum is a beautiful discovery process.

Here is the interpretation for the words “Map vs Terrain”

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One group had used roles and other related verbiage in scrum while the other two groups used their own interpretation. 

Group 1 had a huge problem with Agile coaches!!!!. They were a large organization with endless constraints.  And now here were coaches bringing in theories and past experiences, some wanting to be treated as gurus or create a cult like following within the organization.  Teams could not cope with it.  More often, coaches see the organization that they coach through their own lens, their own expectations of themselves and the skills they bring, their need to be visible, and their theories being implemented.

As coaches we should aim at not falling into such traps

Their take away from the specifics of Map vs Terrain was “someone please listen to us and our problems!”

The second and third groups were much younger  and looked at “map vs terrain” more humorously than the first group

My purpose of facilitating this exercise was met and the coaching intent, coaching approach to these teams  was revealed and taking shape in my mind in this quick intensive exercise.

 

 

 

 

 

Bold or Blonde – My #Agile Leader?

“Hi, Ray!” I greeted with some leftover energy that I could muster. “I could use some caffeine to get high on energy”

With a mischievous smile he asked, “Bold or Blonde?”

I replied ,”Bold please”.

He grinned, as if he knew this was what I was going to ask for. As a Starbucks barista, when he needs more caffeine, he always makes a blonde and laces it with sugary syrup.  He patiently explained.. “Until I became a barista, i never knew that bold coffee just has a bolder taste.. and as you roast it longer… it starts losing its caffeine!.  Milder the roast, stronger the caffeine”.  And he reiterated…

“strong flavor is from deep roasting and strong caffeine is from mild roasting”

Isn’t this how we choose our leaders as well?

I would love for my Agile leaders to continue having the caffeine kick in them long after the infatuation with Agile is transformed to a relationship of dating and then to  a rhythmic marriage.

I would love for my Agile leaders in organizations to not just make noise during the beginning, but stay strong without losing their caffeine kick, during the long haul of re-organization and then the journey.

Noise makers and good. They help create the flutter. Their flavor is bold. But the gentler souls are whom I see as lasting longer in these journeys. They retain the true Agile spirit in them. I look for such type of leaders, and cherish and nurture them. Their caffeine lasts longer.

“Be happily married to Agile ever after!” said the Preacher (Coach)

I listened to them for about an hour.  Execs and Managers – their plans, concerns and more plans for Agile roll-out!

At the end of one hour, as a parting shot, I entered the scene and to get their attention played the “Know your Tribe” game. Playing this game was a live display of the org chart. It was a good ice breaker, and lightened the room.

“Adopting Agile is not easy. The decision to practice Agile is not easier.  Agile Adoption is like being married. Are you ready to marry Agile? Are you ready to follow the ceremonies of Scrum?  Every thing you do now, and breathe will have to be Agile. And if this fails you know you can’t just blame the “other”.  You can’t give up. Giving up and hiding under the rug is easy.  Your problems and issues will be exposed, and you will have to face it. As  Leaders it is even more difficult for you to hide. We need to be immersed in Agile principles, that is the only way that our Scrum teams will be able to practice.”

Like a preacher, I stood there talking to them very breifly. I felt the fire from one person reaching out to them kindling them. Wanting them to be inspired, so that the fire in them can cause the transformation to explode

 They just don’t know yet.

(I learnt “Know your Tribe” game at Lean Seattle 2011)