How I know I am old!

Ever take a step back and think about how far we have come in just the past few years? I do. The bulk of my life has been in telecommunications.  When I was a kid, I was pricing out the cost to make phone calls so I could call my favorite auntie.

There was no such thing as ‘unlimited’ anything. You were lucky if you had a private line. There was one phone company period. It was illegal to own your telephone. You had to lease it from ‘Ma Bell’.

All of that changed, as I was coming of age. BAM!  Let’s break up Ma Bell! It will be good for the consumer. That changed the industry. That changed the world. I have a full-blown theory about how breaking up Ma Bell into the baby bells delayed expansion of communications fully into the western half of the country, but I digress. In today’s world all of those discussions are moot. What is frightening is the realization about how recent those events are in my mind, while those around me were learning to read.

Okay, those events were almost 40 years ago.  But the MCI/Worldcom debacle didn’t meet its final bitter-end until early 2005 when Verizon ultimately took them out of their misery.

I think I am the only one old enough to have had to calculate their landline, phone bill this way!



One of the core tenets of Agile is the development and empowerment of self-managed teams. Self-managing is flipping the script on anyone who has spent any time in the workforce. People are used to being told what to do, they just have to do it. If they don’t finish it, they are happy to list all of the reasons why.  [I think of this as the ‘blame game’.]

What I am really asking people to do is understand their abilities and limitations; be responsible for managing your own time.  Commit to your team and manage yourself accordingly!

“Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.” —Thomas Edison

The time the self-managed team agrees to spend on a specific set of stories is the team agreeing to invest their capital to deliver value.

If you aren’t able to deliver everything, this time, let’s do better next time.  Cool?

My newest challenge is helping my teams to learn good habits to help them succeed at doing the ‘mundane’ actions. If I can find a way to minimize the cognitive overhead for team members to become productive, I will have achieved my goal and consider my effort a success! Next step for me – provide no-brainer checklists – target a specific audience.

I am going to build solid habits as the foundation for maturity!

What do we need?

You know what I hate about most corporate initiative strategies?  They tend to create an incredibly generic cookie cutter approach to onboarding.

This is the next entry in the continuing saga known as the ‘Tale of 2 Teams’.

So here we are.  Everyone involved in this reincarnation has been inundated with the process change training.  Everyone has gone to exactly the same courses and had the same opportunities for more.

What is becoming obvious is the disparity of retention.

Team 1 gets it.  Communication is awesome.  There isn’t any fear about trying something new.  It works.  All I have to do is provide the bumpers.

Team 2 – not so much.  Communications channels are stunted.  There are a lot of opportunities for improvement.

Maybe the best approach to decrypting this puzzle is to ‘coach’ a little more.

Why can’t I build an ‘action-plan’ checklist for success as the team matures?

I am provided with an amazing opportunity to check my onboarding skills!


Took the weekend off

Why yes I did.  It is a good thing to do once in awhile to unplug and just rest at home.  It helps that I like my home and I love my husband.  Makes the time more pleasant.

During my downtime, I remembered a few things that I probably ought to share with my neophyte team as we begin to create our solid foundations.  Reminder number 1:  “The Scrum Master is responsible for making sure the team follows the agile framework.”


First iteration – concluded

This is a continuation of my saga about two sprint teams and our progress.

As part of closing out a sprint, a good scrum master does some accounting and reconciliation.  The quality of the reports depends upon a number of things, most importantly how accurately we are using the tools leadership has chosen for us.

When I did the reports for each team, it clearly identifies the disparity between the two teams.  One had more maturity in the agile processes before embarking on this adventure.  We knew that going in.  Many of the team members on team 1 had experience working in an agile structure.  Most of the team members on team 2 were green.  It is a success that they are even updating their information in the tool that is new to them.

I like to see this whole sprint as a success.  We started.  We had learnings.  We have identified plenty of opportunities for improvement.

Years ago in graduate school we were talking about the challenges that leaders in the 21st century would be facing.  I remember many of the discussions fondly as this was the era of acknowledging the impact that the emergent technologies would change businesses forever.  It was easy to quickly resolve that Y2K would impact us all, but we frequently brushed off the impact of changing organizational structures coupled with technology would have.  Today it is interesting to revisit some of those articles and use some of those skills that we talked about.  For me, I am using them daily.

A tale of two sprint teams – day 2

Concern for this day invaded my subconscious!  I tossed and turned all night, finally giving in at 0 dark early this morning and getting up.

I need not of been concerned.  The planning and preparation from yesterday helped significantly with the facilitating today.  The room wasn’t as good.  Let’s fix that for next time, doggone it!  My bad – on me!

We did not complete nearly as much as was done in day 1, but I feel pretty good about the progress.  Baby steps…baby steps in the right direction map to progress!

I am exhausted – but encouraged.



A tale of two sprint teams

That title is appropo for the first quarter of this year, for me.

I think I will start using this blog as a place to post my thoughts on this whole, darned process.

First, being a scrum master is why I was originally hired to the job I currently have a number of years ago.  I finally have an opportunity to do that job and couldn’t be happier!

When I am asked ‘why did you stick around?’ I thoughtfully respond:

 I have ‘skills that pay the bills’, so the company who has coughed up for my service has the right to ask me to perform other tasks.  Having been unemployed during the last major economic downturn almost immediately before accepting this assignment, I didn’t mind doing other tasks that I am qualified to perform.  I have stuck around because I like the people, I believe in what we are doing, and I kind of like a steady paycheck.

It is never easy to change process.  Period.  But we are doing it.  Decisions have been made and we have been given our marching orders.

As part of the agile-ifying our team, we have been marching down the path provided by our leadership.  Decisions have been made.  We are in the middle of our first full iteration.  Guess what?  It isn’t going so well.

We are making progress, but we are nowhere near ready to be attempting to deliver something for acceptance by someone, but we are getting there.

I have been challenged by leadership to perform my ordinary duties and act as the scrum master for 2 design teams.  Cool!  I am up to a challenge, but probably been more effective if I had been included in the conversations that led up to this position.  No worries.  I get it.

News from the front – this is essentially setting the teams up for failure.  It is not fair to me and it is not fair to the team themselves!!

Guess what?!  People don’t automagically self-manage after spending years of ‘working for the man’.  The only way any of this agility is ever going to take is if we change our stinkin’ thinkin’

So I have given it a shot.  I have attempted to learn how to do all of the Rally work while helping team members use the tool.  Not a problem, I like doing it, but if I do too much of it, well, I don’t have time to do anything else!

Today was a full day of planning with one of the newly identified teams.  It was awesome.  Everyone knew the game-plan and we did a lot.  To be honest, retrospectives are my favorite part of the whole process.

Tomorrow is a similar set of planning meetings with the other team.  In preparation for tomorrow, aware of the team dynamics, I took a few things from the retrospective today.  I needed to be better prepared.  I went to the office supply store and picked up some flipcharts, post-it notes, markers.  Wish me luck!