Know the people behind the roles

Whatever brought you to the thousands of combination of circumstances you are currently living did actually put you within a team. A rich, even you don’t see it now, the number of possibilities can open in front of you all just getting to know each other.

They are, like any other, a unique combination of individuals with a unique potential that only this specific combination can accomplish. And this is not only based on their skills but also about human interaction.

The success of a team and how painful their path will be will have a big dependency on how deeply they get to know each individual on the team. It is not necessarily about talking about intimate matters. More about understanding, deeply and from the bottom of your heart, that behind each role there is a human being with specific strengths, skills, goal, fears and circumstances.

Understanding all of them will you the understanding also of the very subtle but vital and usually overlooked net that interlaces all the members of a team.
Feel grateful for the team you currently have, even with all the defects and even toxic individual, because this specific combination of possibilities and wisdom is something you will never be able to have again.

Does this mean not working on improving the team, just accepting any toxic behaviour without action or some kind of naive “happy flower” approach to team culture? Of course not. This would be childish and some people understand when you talk about this or happiness at work. It is not about conformism, but about understanding all the nuances, circumstances and riches that you are not currently seeing behind each colleague.

The rush of others shouldn’t drive your actions

Short term perspective, when we allow it to rule our approach to decision making is a very dangerous adviser.

We act on the short term, of course, but need to be conscious also about our mid and long term goals. There is a very important margin between planning everything months in advance and running like headless chickens.

Don’t allow the rush of other teams or individuals drive your life and better have a strategy. Try, as much as possible, that just because people point a problem or you see a need you are not going into constant firefighting mode.

Unlike, let others and yourself do the right things. Trust, and only later inspect and adapt. It is hard and painful to allow the need for action and that uncomfortable feeling of urge be there and not react to them, but sometimes it is something you just need to do.

Focus on what is needed to be built now

Today, I must say, I was in a very interesting and productive conversation.

A Product Owner and a whole Development Team discussing about what is needed to be built now and removing, for the next Sprint, everything they both think is just accessory. In theory might sound obvious, in practice I can tell you it is not so obvious.

I see this open conversation as a sign of maturity on both roles. Because it is not just a matter of if we want to do it or not, if it is more or less difficult for us. It is a conversation about the scope, about the things the product needs or not in this phase of the development.

When we work with Scrum, we focus on what will provide more value now.

I can tell you that I felt very proud of them when I saw that.

Sometimes, in small details, you can observe signals of the path we are walking together.

Recruiter: you will get what you ask for even if it is wrong

Today I got a call about a job offer. I will not mention neither the recruiting company nor the final client. This is not a shame post. And also not a post about the whole recruiting world, that would probably need more than a long post. In this case just a small reflection.

They told me they need a person who would be Project Manager & Scrum Master. Followed by some explanation about what they expect which I don’t want to reproduce now in order not to give more hints.

After explaining that I am currently not interested on moving to a new company, I tried to clarify why this whole idea is not well defined and actually contradictory. The answer that I got was:

Oh, sure! You’re right! But the Scrum part would be the most important one. They just need a person that does some of the Project Management part too.

At this point I just realised they didn’t care at all about my explanation. I know, it was naive to try in the first place but I just wanted to try.

It is tricky. I understand that the recruiter’s responsibility is to get what they are asked for. But I can tell you for sure that I know a couple of recruiters that actually care about the profiles they look for, try to be up to date about the industry needs and so on.

Other just don’t care. It is not the first time I approach someone I know who is recruiting for a specific profile as Scrum Master or Agile Coach trying to help on how to look better for what they need if they really want to get a good profile or how an offer is written. Usually, they just don’t seem to care.

The good part for them is that anyway they will get what they are looking for. The bad part for the industry is that they will get what they are looking for.

Agile practices in a family environment

It turns out that by digging a bit, I found a TED talk that explains how some families use certain concepts and adaptations of Scrum events (and other Agile ideas) to manage their family environment and their children’s education.

As a whole I would say the idea makes sense and probably many agile practitioners  tend to extend what they know that works to other areas of their lives. At the end it would be about working on small milestones, making continuous inspection and adaptation and developing responsibility for tasks.

Some people can think that using this in a family environment is something too rigid, but I don’t think so.

The talks is not one hundred percent accurate, true, but for someone out of the field I think it is sufficiently well explained. I myself can adapt some dynamics and learning from my experience as a Scrum Master to my family life.

If I finally try it, I’ll tell you in this blog, of course.

I will continue with daily blogging

On Friday, I got a month of daily blogging and I have decided to continue doing it.

It has been challenging but enriching because I see it as a personal and professional growing practice. I personally see communication as both an art and a science and creating a daily piece of content makes me improve the way I express my ideas. Not only expressing but working on refining them.

Would be easy to say, and is also a valid statement, that quality is better than quantity when it comes to publishing. And of course you can’t create a master level post everyday single. It doesn’t matter: it is not about teaching, making money with it or even growing the number of readers.

When you want to become good at something, you need to train it. Repetition leads to mastery. And I want to be better both as a communicator and as an Agile Coach. Two things, by the way, that I see very related as I understand them.

By reflecting daily and putting myself in the situation of structuring my thoughts in a written format I need to work on them. Also, it helps me not to drop small ideas that can lead to a bigger though or point of reflection in the future. I strongly thing that there is something to learn in everyday’s experience, not only in great deeds.

During this month I wrote a few posts that for my own development, they pay the price of the daily effort. I had to think about the way I face problems and challenges, shared a book that has actually helped me a lot on create consistency on what I do and talked about a problem I have suffered in couple of difficult exchanges.

So from now on the cadence will be the same, although I admit that I want to work on the structure of the posts, as I said, as an exercise to structure my own ideas in a better way.

Shouldn’t the reader be afraid or worried if some days find me writing about topics not so clearly directed to Agile such as improving communication, leadership, techniques outside the usual frameworks, studies about human mind or any topic that I can find useful for my own experiments. This blog is about my own profesional path and this, many times, will go through discovery, divergence, mix or just experimentation. I think that some of my sharing might be interesting for you if you are still open to explore.

Agile Atelier: A podcast to listen carefully

My dear colleague Rahul Bhattacharya has officially launched a very cool podcast that I really think you could be interested in following: Agile Atelier.

I know Rahul, we work together, so I know the amount of effort and dedication he puts in his craft and therefore I think this podcast will never be buzzwords or just opinions to please someone.

In Agile Atelier you will find discussions, tips & ticks, techniques and insights from very valuable professionals of the Agile community. Not just Agile Coaches but also testers, Lean experts and other profiles to come.

For the episodes that are currently available you can hear Daniel Karlsson, Colm Ó hEocha, Nils Schnell, Augusto Evangelisti, and Vasco Duarte.

This podcast might become a new resource you want to have in your learning toolbox as it will bring you new ideas and challenging proposals, which is always something to be grateful for.

I have already subscribed in iTunes, but if you prefer so, you can also do it in Spotify, as the podcast is already available in both platforms.

Spotify – https://lnkd.in/dSxRB-Y  
iTunes – https://lnkd.in/dTExAjp

There is a book about that

I love connecting with people. If you know me, you already know that.

But I also like connecting people with other people that can help them. Or people with tools that I know. Or books. I actually love connecting people with books.

I know, reading a whole book is a big effort in time for just getting ideas about a specific concept. Anyway I think that if the book is good and can really help you with your problem, clarify your ideas or have a better understanding about something it is worthy. A good book can absolutely change your whole vision around a concept or the way you approach a specific topic.

Basically because when you read a good book you should forget about the format or the time you are investing. You are getting access to the effort and outcome of a person who has already faced the concept, dealt with it and invested a lot of time and distilling probably year of experience in a structured way for you.

Never hesitate to share with someone the idea of reading a book you have read if you think is really connected with what they need. And specially, do it even if the book is not technically related but you think it can open the other person’s mind mind in a particular way.

In changing environments is very important to understand that we can find tools to deals with situations in places or contexts that are far from what are expecting. This way you can even, in some cases, be more effective because you were able to help with a tool, idea, technique or approach that people did see come.

Agile as a philosophy

Because of mainly personal reasons I am currently reading some books on philosophy (more about this to come). And today, actually yesterday when this is published, I was thinking during my flight … Is Agile actually a mindset or a philosophy.

Based to some research, actually searching on Google, you can find this about the word mindset:

the established set of attitudes held by someone.

And this other thing about philosophy:

a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behaviour.

Do they look very different? Not, right?

The problem I see is that many people overuse the word mindset, from my perspective, and at some point looks like all in Agile is just about thinking in a way… and I think this to be too vague, honestly. Not absolutely but I disagree with this a bit. I don’t think this is just enough.

My approach is that then you also need some guidelines, examples, actual practices to try and apply… I feel that making people think that Agile is just a way of thinking is undermining in some way our craft. I see people think

“hey! anyone can do that at any point. You need to learn basically… nothing”

This whole statement, if you are coaching teams, you know that can´t be further from truth. You actually need to learn from a lot of different disciplines to make that real. So yes, the word “mindset” is probably technically correct but the way is being used is a bit tricky.

I find the term philosophy to be more accurate. Because we discuss about concepts, teach, learn, create new theories and test them, we follow some guidelines, we have concrete approaches and concrete methods and practices …

I understand, I know that philosophy sound like going in circles and basically arriving, if any, to just very abstract conclusions. From my perspective, this also can´t be further from truth. There is a lot of philosophy which is clearly directly supposed to be practiced and applied.

Sometimes, as coaches, I think we should philosophize more about all the ideas on why, how, and when to do things. And again, if you think that philosophize means talking and not doing … please read more about philosophy.

Is the perception of the Scrum event something to focus on?

When someone in the team challenges some of the Scrum events, don´t just jump in and defend it… why should you?

Maybe, just maybe, would be better to understand the reasons behind it and work on this. It is very often that you can´t help that person change her mind just by explaining the benefits or the whole idea behind doing it.

In many cases, if they challenge it, they have any kind of pre-set idea. Could be because of their experience in a previous team, because of what they heard from other people, based on a conflict they had … or maybe they just don´t like.

Anyway, if you feel you need to work on this perception … better look on the root cause. There you can see things to improve or make the people aware that this is not the case in this team, company, with this coach … (if it is needed)

But in no case, in my opinion, put too much of your energy trying to convince people who just don´t like Agile practices or they just like to do it “their own way”.

First, people’s opinions is not something you can control.

Second, you are removing that energy from helping the people that actually perceive the value added by working on this way.