No Hero

No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy Seal (New York: New American Library , November, 2015)

No Hero

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?

When we make mistakes, we try again and again and again until we get it right. We’re not superheroes.… Click To Tweet

Agile timeline

Agile TimelineAgile 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.

Improve Daily StandUp

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-daily-standup

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.

  1. Come Prepared

    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.

    Daily standup

    Write your updates to the three basic Questions

  2. Be Explicit

    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

    make it Explicit – Announce START and STOP

  3. Parking Lot

    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.

  4. 4th Question

    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

    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.

  5. After Party

    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.

    Want to #getHyper?

    Want to know more tips to improve your Stand up? your Scrum implementation?
    Check out and grab a copy of my book Get Hyper [OFFER]

  6. (Better) Equipments

    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.

  7. (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…

    1. S/he will provide the updates to his/her Buddy. This buddy will bring those updates to the team in person.
    2. If that cannot be done then the team member will jump on the conference call.
    3. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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

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!

[Updated] Mr. Number to your Rescue!

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

Mr. NumberI 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 🙂

distractions-switching-cost-getHyper

minimize the distractions + minimize/eliminating the switching cost = Hyper Productivity! #getHyper… Click To Tweet [Updated on 27Dec2016]

We beat AT&T as well a Wall Street Journal 🙂

Mr. NumberAT&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 ?!

Claim back your valuable time! #getHyper Click To Tweet

Please add this app to your tools, start using it and claim back some of your valuable time!

True Catalysts of Change

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.

  1. 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

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, Transformation,GetHyper, Agile, Get hyper

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

3.Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown 

Essentialism, Agile, transformation, getHyper

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

4.Onward: How to Starbucks Fought Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz 

agile, gethyper, transformation

Onward: How to Starbucks Fought Its Life without Losing Its Soul

5.The Rich Employee by James Altucher

True Catalysts of Change

The Rich Employee

INVEST in your User Stories – Nimesh Soni

Write better User Stories with this Visual Worksheet

User Stories are the lifeline of an Agile team. Even the BEST, high performing teams will struggle to deliver Value if they are fed bad Stories. As they say, INVEST in your User Stories!

Use this visual worksheet to help you, guide you in writing better User Stories. Help your team Help you with this worksheet.invest in your user stories
Onwards to writing user stories that help teams in creating value, frequently and on a regular cadence.

Talent Code

The Talent Code (Canada: Bantam Books, May, 2009)

Talent Code

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

The talent code author @DanielCoyle makes a case that practice can groomed a talent. And, with a deep practice that process can be accelerated. It is a simple process of learning on the edge of discomfort, making and identifying mistakes, fixing and learning from them to get better. And then, repeat this whole cycle again and again.

Ignition + Master Coaching + Deep Practice = Talent

Anything, from learning on how to play football to learning the social skills of interacting with individuals. Or navigating a group of people can be learned. And accelerated with this formula (need I remind you learning the skills of networking!). Deep practice helps build and increase mylein – the cellular wrapper and insulation that can turn your brain nerves into a T1 line, into a Broadband!

Skills is a cellular insulation that wraps neural circuits and that grows in response to certain signals – Daniel Coyle

As an Agilist, as a change agent, you are in the business of change. You are constantly pushing the boundary of what is comfortable to the individual or teams that you are training, coaching and mentoring. As Enterprise Transformation Coach and a Trainer, I often tell my class to the step of their comfort zone. You have to be comfortable with the notion of being uncomfortable.That’s the only way to learn new stuff. As coach wooden’s quote perfectly sums it up seek the small improvement, one day at a time; that’s the only way it happens and when it happens it lasts.

A must ready for you as a Change Agent!

Three Quotes from the book:

  • Experience where you are forced to slow down. Make errors and correct them = Deep Learning
  • Talent Whisperer use the formula {Examination + Diagnostics + Prescription}
  • Ignition + Master Coaching + Deep Practice = Talent

Three tips from the book:

  • Want to build Talent? Accelerate Deep Practice! Get your game of ‘Foosal’
  • “It’s not how fast you can do it. It’s how slow you can do it correctly.” Chunk it and slow it down.
  • Get a Mentor! Great Teachers are Key! They look for and offer small, targeted, highly specific adjustments.