I wrote about “taking Sagmeister” in my earlier post last year. This is based on a book I read about two years back. In this book, Drive, author Daniel Pink talks about “taking Sagmeister”, inspired by designer Stefan Sagmeister. Essentially, it is about taking mini and micro retirements NOW rather than deferring the big retirement.
This year, I took about two weeks off from routine life, and was on European vacation. We went on to Portugal-Spain tour, and it was amazing! I highly recommend visit to these two beautiful countries, filled with lots of history, architecture, and natural beauty.
Now, snapping out of the vacation and back to work! Rather, start working towards the next mini-retirement!
Remember, we work for living, and not living for work. You got to have fun, so sprinkle the mini vacations in your year. Have fun!
Does your team have a common understanding of various Scrum Events? Are you looking for simple tools and techniques to help Improve your Scrum Ceremonies? Make them fun and Productive?
The Event Canvas
Look no further! Introducing Event Canvas!
[Download a PDF of this Event Canvas just put Zero on the Price]
As an Enterprise Transformation Coach, I do a lot of training. And, being an Agilist at heart, I am always looking for ways to improve the delivery of my training and the experience for the participants. I came up with this canvas to help me teach the basics of each of the events and ceremonies while keeping the participants engaged and interested.
How to use this Canvas…
I give out multiple copies of this canvas at each table during the training. Each table (team) also picks two to three events that they volunteer to discuss at the table and fill out this canvas. When the timebox is over, each team will debrief on the event they discuss; essentially walking the class through the canvas for the specific event.
As the debrief happens, you are using your facilitation skills to drive the conversation and explain the intricacies of the specific event. This is where you (as trainer, coach, and facilitator) make the magic happen 🙂
Try it with your team. I promise you, you won’t regret it!
More tools, please…
Want more tools to make your scrum events highly productive? I have a collection of simple tools that can help you as you coach and mentor your team. Your team will thank you for finding these gems. Check out Improve your Scrum as a first step towards uncovering these hidden gems.
Improve Your Scrum Ceremonies
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Standard Work is one of the most powerful but least used Lean tools. By documenting the current practices, it forms the baseline for continuous improvement. Let’s review some of the benefits quickly.
Benefits of Standard Work
- Standardizes the work across different teams, different people; ensuring consistency across the organization; making outcomes predictable and measurable.
- Sets clear expectations, branding as to what’s ‘given’ when the team/individual says a certain activity is ‘Done’.
- Ensure that certain routine, mundane tasks get done (and don’t get overlooked due to them being ‘boring’.)
- A common ‘platform’ is set up, a baseline against which the effectiveness of the individuals and/or team can be measured; ensuring a certain level of quality.
- It’s the DNA of continuous improvement (CI). It makes CI routine and ingrained in the very existence of the organization.
- Standard Work is a ‘snapshot‘, a picture of the best way to do things at this moment in time, with an eye on continuous improvement.
Without standard work, there is no kaizen (CI)
– Taichii Ohno
In essence, Standard Work helps you in minimizing waste and maximizing value delivery.
Would it help to have your standard work documented? Can it help you, your team, your organization improve the productivity and deliver more VALUE for your customer?
Go ahead and document your Standard of Work.
What’s Better yet…
Get these Standard Work templates for FREE, and put your team on the “hyper Productivity” lane!
Standardized work is a collection and implementation of the best practices known to that point.
Get them All
Interested in more …
Interested in more than just the Standard Work? How about Checklists, template emails, and worksheets to help your Scrum team?
Why reinvent? Leverage these Pearls of Agile Wisdom! Grab this Playbook now, for a tiny price!
Get them Now!
Not convinced yet…
Listen to what Steph has to say below 🙂
Testimonial from an actual Customer
I purchased this playbook and find it very helpful. I think the email templates came in handy when trying to wrangle folks from all over the company together. They keep me organized and the email now provides more information with these structured templates.
The “Standard Work” for each role is great as well. It provides helpful hints on role responsibility and helps with keeping me organized with all the artifacts related to a project.
Great work and thanks!
– Steph W
I am convinced! Give it to me Now!
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No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy Seal (New York: New American Library , November, 2015)
No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy Seal
Just finished reading this book, and saw lot of similarities between ‘Agile culture’ that we seek to cultivate in an organization and what SEALs go through. The author mentions, Trust is the bedrock of any relation! For a team to function at its peak, they have to trust each other completely. It’s all about the TEAM and making the most of what has been dealt.
The author talks about AAR; the After Action Review, and it reminded me of the Retrospectives we do at the end of each sprint. He suggests:
Conduct AAR with an eye towards improving (the procedures, the team,..) and being honest and open at the AAR
Three Quotes from the book:
- Only focus on your three-foot world,” he said. “Focus on what you can affect
- When we make mistakes, we try again and again and again until we get it right. We’re not superheroes. We just commit doing what is right.
- Rangers think and plan from the top down. The SEALs think and plan from the bottom up
Three Tips from the book:
- Take what’s there, assess the situation, prioritize, and break it down into small tasks you know you can accomplish or eliminate or fix immediately.
- Everyone has the right to bitch about a mission or job for five minutes. After those five minutes, you shut the f*** up and get to work.
- You always want someone in your professional life who is going to be honest, who’s going to call you on your bullshit. [Who is your Swim buddy?]
Are you a SEAL or a Ranger? Are you an asset to your Team?
Agile timeline! Did you ever wonder how we got to where we are today? Who were the personalities that influenced the course of history? Wonder what were the events instrumental in shaping the future that we know as present today?
If these are the questions that peak your curiosity, you are in luck! Here is my attempt at chronicling the events that started the Agile revolution.
Along with the events, I also list the personalities, the artifacts (books, white papers) that shaped what Agile is today. Most of these items are clickable, leading you to a source with even more information
Enjoy the Agile timeline! Relive those moments, and walk with those personalities.
Think we missed some important event, book, or personality? Please do write to us and we will update the timeline accordingly.
Daily Standup is a very important ceremony in the Scrum framework. As part of the daily standup, the team meets on a regular basis for a quick sync up of 15 minutes.
Scrum Calendar Events [DS=Daily Stand up]
Remember, you only have 15 minutes to finish this daily standup. We want to use every minute optimally during this ceremony, don’t we? So what are the different ways we can optimize it?
Top 10 Tips for Daily Stand Up
Here are my tips to have the team gel together quickly, as well as eliminate unnecessary churns that will happen at the daily stand up. Again, the goal is to maximize every minute of this daily stand up and make it a high performing ceremony.
Ask your team member to use this tool before they come to daily stand up. Have your team members think about their updates before they come to Daily Stand up. Write three things on the Post It notes.
Write your updates to the three basic Questions
Announce the start and end of your daily stand up. Make it explicit, use some specific music or it could be a simple as some one just announcing that it is the ‘START’ and ‘END’ of the daily stand up (at the beginning and end of the 15-minute timebox respectively).
make it Explicit – Announce START and STOP
Introduce Parking lot and use it extensively to defer the discussions (after the end of daily stand up). This will help you keep the momentum during the daily stand up and enable you to quickly go through the synch up from each team member.
Introduce 4th question: Is there anything that you want to discuss with your team member(s) after the daily stand up?
4th Question – Defer to Parking Lot
If yes, the team member mentions it quickly and someone captures it into the Parking Lot. Review and discuss the items on Parking Lot after the daily stand up is completed.
This is a time set aside, allocated for the discussion that we deferred during the daily standup. You may have put a couple of items in the Parking Lot. Once the end of the stand up is announced, some of the team members would stay back for their respective discussions. This is what I refer to as to as After Party!
All the team members do not need to stay back, only the ones who are required for the discussion would.
Just have proper equipment(s) to provide better quality audio and video to the team members.
Yes, the daily standup has to be in person. And team members have to be there physically for the Stand up. With that said, there will always be some exceptions where a team member cannot attend the daily standup in person. You will have to have a way for them to remotely attend the stand up. Having better quality audio will tremendously improve the productivity of your daily stand up.
You can provide better quality audio for under $50 investment in a bluetooth speaker. Here is the one that I carry in my beg all the time.
(Update) Working Agreements
You need to cover those exceptions (as discussed in Tip# 6) in your working agreement, have the team talk about it as to how they will handle those scenarios where a team member cannot attend the stand up in person. Amend your working agreements to cover that scenario.
For example, one of my team had this on their working agreement:
When a team member cannot attend in person…
- S/he will provide the updates to his/her Buddy. This buddy will bring those updates to the team in person.
- If that cannot be done then the team member will jump on the conference call.
- When everything else fails, send an email addressed to the team with your updates.
Bottom line is to have your team discuss these scenarios and update their working agreements accordingly.
Break the eye contact
I have seen this time and time again, especially with the new teams. Often times when providing the updates, a team member is looking at the Scrum Master (only) as if she is providing the updates to the Scrum Master and not the team. Now, remember Stand up is for the team. A team member is providing the updates to others on the team, not just to the Scrum master. To break this mode I often encourage my Scrum Masters to break the eye contact. As soon as a team member starts providing updates to you as a Scrum Master, look away from her. Look at the floor or look at your scrum board; do whatever to break that eye contact. This will encourage them to look at other team members.
Be Absent, intentionally
I encourage Scrum Master to occasionally skip the daily stand up, be absent intentionally.The goal here is to see how the team handles your absence.
Does the daily standup break apart because you are not there or does the team step up and handle it nicely.
This will also give you indication as to whether the team is self-organizing and tackles those scenarios by themselves
Make it Visible
The last and the most important tip I think is to make it Visible. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words! So, use all the visual props, you can use a wall in the hallway as your Scrum Board, or use some flip chart papers and start using that as your Scrum Board.
Put your posters on that and use it while having the daily stand up. Post your Working Agreements, Definition of Done, and Definition of Ready in the daily stand up area. In short, make it visual!
As I mentioned, in the beginning, this are simple techniques that I have used a lot when I start working with new scrum teams. I often introduced this in an incremental fashion. They are very effective and impactful.
What tips are you employing to keep your Daily Stand up on track, to finish it on time while keeping it useful and productive for the Team?
Let us know and we will include it in this list, along with credit to you of course.
The Wright Brothers (New York: Simon & Schuster, May, 2016)
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
Remember Wright Brothers if you ever catch yourself complaining that you cannot get there, you cannot achieve that big thing because ..
- you don’t have the resources
- you don’t have the money
- don’t have the connections
- you don’t have the experience
- etc.. etc..
Pick up this book and know why you cannot complain for lack of those resources. What you need is the resolve, what you need is the attitude! Pick up this book, read it, and I can ascertain that it will lift your spirits. You will soar through the world if you keep the Wright Brothers on your side!
If you ever feel down, if you ever feel that you are not going anywhere, just remember Wilbur and Orville, and how they achieved such big feats with such modest, humble beginnings in their life.
“The Wright Brothers” – very well written book. I felt like I was walking with them (the Wright Brothers) as they were inventing their flier that would change the world. And, I felt that I was walking with them as they demonstrated their flying machine on two sides of the Atlantic. I was really sad at the end of the book when each member of the Wright family exited this world as their lives came to an end, as they left this stage, what we call this world.
The two brothers supported by the silent partner, their younger sister Katherine, are an inspiration. An awe inspiring story of family love, the tenacity, perseverance and above all following one’s passion.
“The Wright Brothers” – a must read. It will definitely be a pick me up!
Mr. Number to your Rescue! Remember those telemarketers calling you just as you finish your dinner? I used to get them a lot on my landline, even after getting onto Do not Call list. Those dreaded, 9:00 pm dinner time calls are back! Now I started getting them on my Mobile as well.
These unwarranted, unsolicited calls are a big drain on your energy. They disrupt your ‘flow‘ and introduce unnecessary ‘switching cost’ as you are yanked away from the work you were doing. Often times you don’t know until you have picked up the call, and if you don’t pick up the call, you are wondering if you missed an important call. [For those of us whose family is overseas, we get a call from them and it shows up as a random number on Caller ID]
Mr. Number to the Rescue
I have found an easy solution, though! Call Mr. Number to your rescue!
On your mobile, just install this app and it scans the incoming calls. It scans each incoming call against its vast database of telemarketers and scam callers. It automatically blocks the call if any match is found. This results in you not even picking up that call and saving you that energy, the switching cost. More importantly, it allows you to stay in the flow!
Use this app, along with the Do not Disturb feature of your phone, and you have your own personal secretary (remember those creatures!) that is guarding your time, for you 🙂
[Updated on 27Dec2016]
We beat AT&T as well a Wall Street Journal 🙂
AT&T recently introduced an app named ‘Call Protect’. This FREE app promises to block robocall and all the other junk calls. Essentially, this app is powered by Hiya; the app we talked about earlier when we published our post. Here is the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article talking about this app. Didn’t I tell you we beat WSJ ?!
Please add this app to your tools, start using it and claim back some of your valuable time!
True Catalysts of Change. At beginning of 2016, this was one of my goals. As we draw it to close, I am happy to look back to a list of books I have read. These are the true catalysts. They have the power to change your world!
When you review this list. Notice that I do not have agile/scrum related books on my list. That’s easier to learn. The harder part is shifting the mindset. These books will help you there. With the right mindset, you will go further than you can imagine now. You will surprise yourself!
I read about two books per month. And, spend almost $0 for reading those books. [Hit me if you want to know how]
For now, here are the top 5 books from my list with tremendous power to influence and change your world in 2017.
- Creativity Inc – Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
Creativity Inc – Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
2.Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
3.Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
4.Onward: How to Starbucks Fought Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz
Onward: How to Starbucks Fought Its Life without Losing Its Soul
5.The Rich Employee by James Altucher
The Rich Employee