Saturday, August 16, 2014

Career Kaizen #7 - The Scrum Values

This week we'll explore the Scrum values a bit.

Monday - Courage

I share a story in my classes about courage. Some years ago, I and my family were visiting Yellowstone National Park. There are bears in Yellowstone, and when we first saw them, I was a bit nervous. I checked to make sure the car doors were securely locked and all windows were up. We were safe. But, just a few weeks later, an old couple came across a bear while on a hike in Yellowstone. It was a mother bear, and in between the couple and the bear was the cub. From 100 yards away, the bear charged. Now, some say that courage is the absence of fear, but I think you should be fearful of a charging bear. It's the appropriate response. I heard another definition of courage from Erwin McManus that resonated much more deeply - "courage is the absence of self for the sake of others". In that moment when the bear was charging, the man turned to his wife and said "Run!", but he stayed put. The husband was killed by the bear, but the wife had enough time to hide behind a log and play dead. The bear still found her. Actually picked her up by her backpack, but then dropped her, and walked off. The husband, in my opinion, was the perfect example of courage - absence of self for the sake of others.

We face lots of challenges in the workplace. It often takes this kind of courage to do what's best for the team. Instead of looking out for ourselves and our careers, the team members are looking for the type of individuals who are willing to deliver the hard messages, have the crucial conversations, with problem team members, expectant management, and demanding stakeholders.

Homework - Write down the top three items on your mind that make you feel scared, anxious, or give you pause. Why is that? For each of those, write down the worst thing that could happen.

Tuesday - Openness

Scrum has a core value of openness. Pause and reflect on this fact - we actually stop work and take time to just think and talk as a team. Well, we can have a scheduled meeting that says were supposed to do that, but whether people are open and honest with each other is another thing. How can we help cultivate that ourselves?

One great piece of advice I received a long time ago is to tell people what we're thinking. Sounds obvious, right? But I don't mean "what we're thinking" in the sense of giving a well thought out response. I mean literally what we are thinking. If you are talking with someone and they ask you something that sounds like a big commitment, you might pause and then say, "Well, I don't have a solid response now. I'm just thinking out loud here, and I'm feeling like that's big commitment for me because…" At times if there is expectation or time pressure, I might even only share my feelings and nothing else, but still trying to add to the conversation or the "pool of shared meaning" that everyone is around. For example, "I just feel a real hesitation about this, almost an anxiety or sense that 'yes, but what if…'" I'm being open, even though I don't have an actual response or statement on something.

Also, cultivate openness by affirming what others share, whether you agree or not. Joe says, "I think you're idea is doomed to failure!" You reply, "Thank you for sharing. Can you tell me more about that?" In the end, we all benefit by being more open - getting more ideas, getting to the root cause of issues and problems, vetting options through everyone's opinions, more buy-in from teams. My experience has been that most people don't need to be right, they just need to be heard.

Homework: Take a look at Powerful Questions and active listening

Wednesday - Focus

Scrum has a high value on focus. The framework gives us a structure that helps us to always know: what's the most important thing for me to work on today, what's the immediate goals of our team, how are we doing on those goals, how do we know if we're done or not, is there anything getting in our way, what are the biggest issues and problems plaguing the team?

Great stuff. And we can apply a lot of this in our own lives as well. For you, what are your immediate goals (not specific to the team's goals - just your own, or for your life)? How are you doing on these? Personally, I've had a lot of help moving the needle on these by using Scrum and kanban for my personal life.

Where do you keep your personal goals? I've used Agile Zen and KanbanFlow to list anything that I "should" do, including big goals and small tasks. I (try to) pull only one of these in to work at a time. Okay, Openness, I have 11 in progress right now! But I'm working at it.

I also use a pomodoro to do my work in time boxes, helping me stay focused.

Homework: If you don't already have a place to keep your goals and priorities, check out Agile Zenkanban flow (or any number of the web and mobile apps out there).

Thursday - Respect

Scrum has a value around respect because we value all team members equally. I don't value one person's opinion more because they are more senior, have been there longer, have a certain title. This shows itself in some teams by only leads and seniors being invited to meetings to "save time." While the numbers may show that we're saving money by having 3 people in a meeting instead of 7, we miss out on insights and ideas from others, and these don't depend on rank or position. Also, we sometimes inadvertently alienate others, so that even when we do invite them at other times, they don't feel as important or cared about, and therefore don't participate as much, if at all. It can become a downward spiral.

For me, respect is a way of looking for what someone does or is that is estimable. Even if they frustrate or irritate me in some way, many times there can be something that's good about that very trait. For example, if someone is abrasive and brash, the great thing about this is that she will always tell you what she's thinking (which is a welcome and refreshing change from the political phrasing and positioning that goes on in much of corporate America).

Homework: Think of someone that you know whom you don't respect, or perhaps like. Write down three positive qualities of that person. Extra credit: In regards to their bad qualities, in what ways do you do the same thing? :-)

Friday - Commitment

Commitment is scary because we don't know what's going to happen in the future. Yet commitment is a powerful, and often required, part of achieving great things.

But if I'm going to invest my blood, sweat and tears in something with someone else, I want to know they're all in. No matter what the circumstances, what comes up. It's a bit like what they call a fair-weather friend or fan. Might as well make it explicit and say, "Well, if it doesn't go perfectly, if anything new comes up at all, or changes, there's a chance I'll bail."

Think of marriage - it's a commitment. "For better or for worse," not "let's see how this goes." The challenging times that working through tough circumstances to keep a commitment fuel our resolve to fix things - it changes us.

Homework: Take one of your goals and make it public. Tell a friend, tell the team. Post it on Facebook. Even better, make a progress bar and post that as well, and a print out on your cube wall.

Weekend Warrior
Decide which of the five values you want to extend in your life and do something practical to grow in that area this weekend. Keep it in front of you. Mark the month on your calendar, such as "Commitment August" or "Focus December." Share this in your next retrospective. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The One Thing I'd Add to the Agile Manifesto

In class yesterday, someone asked if the Agile Manifesto was still considered enough. This was an unusually advanced group of Scrum Product Owners, so we spent some time on it.

My first answer was "No," and that I haven't seen anything needed to do excellent work that wasn't a part of it.

But then, I made the mistake of continuing to think about it over lunch. Thinking...such a bad idea. :-)

I recalled how I had written my Work Manifesto many years earlier. Why?

I thought of how my Scrum Master classes often watches Daniel Pink's TED talk on what motivates employees. Why? Partly to say that Scrum takes care of two of the three things Pink says are needed, but that not this one thing.

And this one thing is what Millenials want most of all in their work.

Purpose. That it matters what they do. That this work is making a difference. To answer the question, "Why are we doing this, and why should anyone care?"

As the ScrumMaster, Product Owner, or even a team member, help bring purpose to your work any means of creating a noble vision. This can be anything that pulls the team forward to something bigger, brighter, better. I've seen consistently with healthy teams that the common purpose and values pulls them together into working in a healthy, productive way that makes work fun and fulfilling.

To paraphrase Leo Tolstoy -

 “Happy teams resemble one another, but each unhappy team is unhappy in its own tragic way.”

Something that I've come across recently that have inspired me - Crisp's vision and strategy. This is so refreshing in out scarcity-mindset, competitive world. Yes, Dorothy, even among agile training and coaching companies (and you know who you are ;-)

On a related note, check out the Cult of Done Manifesto and the Software Craftsmanship Manifesto.

And thank you, Mehul, for asking the question...

Friday, May 02, 2014

Career Kaizen #6 - 5 Agile Sayings to Empower Your Team's Success

This week we'll walk through some common sayings in agile and explore their meaning a bit.

Monday - The Wisdom of And

Even if you are an expert, you'll benefit from hearing
and getting input from others.
When I worked at BigVisible, one of their coach's conference themes was "The Wisdom of And." This is drawn from Jim Collins work when he talks about the wisdom of "and" and the tyranny of the "or". The point is that there are often more choices available to just either/or choices, sometimes called "sucker's choices" or "false polarity," if neither option in its entirety or alone gives everyone what they're wanting. For example, "Well, we can either go over budget to build X, or we can lose all our best customers to the competition." That's a fool's choice. There's something in the middle.

If a group is sitting around a table, the best option doesn't lie with one person. It more likely lies somewhere in the middle of the table. Even if you are an expert, you'll benefit from hearing and getting input from others.

To get more input from a quiet group, ask questions such as "Anything else on this to consider?" "Are there other options?" "Any unanswered questions?" "What are we overlooking?" "What assumptions does this depend on?" "Is there another approach?" "How could this fail?" "Let's get at least two options on the board for this issue."

And you can control difficult people by replying to their solution with, "I'm sure that's a great option, I just want to hear what others have to say." or "Yes, and I'd like to just gather additional information and input."

Homework: Practice replying to positions and opinions with "Yes, and…" instead of "Yes, but…"

Tuesday - Art of the Possible

We often think things are impossible, but in actuality are possible and likely take a lot of hard work and a long time.

For example, for many of you, running a marathon might seem impossible. It might be if it were this weekend, but if it were six months away, and you started getting up in the morning and lacing up the shoes...given enough time and effort, you could do it. And if you did, what a sesnse of accomplishment that would be. It's a big deal. That's why people put the sticker on the back of their cars with 26.2. They don't put stickers that say "I walked around the block today." That's no big deal.

Most anything important, that's of value, takes some investment of time and effort. And that journey is actually part of what changes you, grows your character, and gives you a story worth telling, a story that others want to hear.

Homework: Watch the amazing transformation of a man who commits to running the Boston marathon:

Wednesday - No one of us is as smart as all of us.

Scrum depends on team. If the team isn't all in, if they're not involved in estimating the work, collaborating with the Product Owner on what, why and options in the requirements, and if they're not committing to the work, then we are missing a lot of the magic. When it comes to ideas, options on approaches, the architecture and more, no one person has all the answers. No one person is as smart as everyone else put together. One person might have more knowledge in a particular area, but others can learn that, too.  I've been amazed at how many times the new person on the team has had the best idea.

The same is true for us. On our own personal journey, on our own goals or challenges, we'll always benefit from hearing ideas from others, getting feedback, hearing their stories. We're built for community. Help yourself by getting connected in the local or online agile communities or coaching circles.

Homework: Do a quick search for local meetings or meet-ups for agile, Scrum, project or product managers, lean start-up or business sector you're in, and do the same for groups on LinkedIn, Yahoo, Facebook and other social sites. See anything interesting?

Thursday - Create your own Reality

We need to empower our teams, our team members, and
ourselves that we can create the reality we want
When I worked at Rally, this was one of their core values and sayings. And they lived it. If you felt that you needed something to do your job, if you wanted to grow into another role, they supported you in creating that reality.

I see my wife doing something similar with our two younger kids. When they say, "I'm thirsty," she replies, "So what are you going to do about that?" When they say they can't get ready because they don't have their shoes, she answers with "You can solve that problem."

We need to empower our teams, team members and ourselves that we can create the reality we want, we can solve our problems. I'm often met with the opposite in companies, a response of "Management won't let us do ____," but when I ask if they have actually asked for it, it's usually "No, but they know this is a problem." A particular training exercise I do highlights this. I do the ball point game, and the vast majority of the time, the participants don't move around to where the spacing works best for them. They just accept the circumstances or constraints without even asking me.

Homework - Think of the team, a team member, or yourself, and ask "What if..." and see what comes.

Video Fridays - What's the simplest thing that will work?

Breaking down life into what moves it forward today, not what's the best, comprehensive solution. A little like the debt snowball or weighted short job first.

To look at the entirety of the mountain to be climbed may seem overwhelming, but there is truth both in the saying that the journey of a 1,000 miles begins with one step and that the joy is in the journey.

About the big challenge or goal in front of you, what's one part of it that you can do today? Even better, what's something on it that you can do before noon? You might say that that one thing isn't the most important or highest priority. True, but also perhaps not true. It is a priority in the sense that you getting a "less important" task done actually gets the motivation and confidence going to tackle, and succeed, at the big thing.

Often our risk aversion, all the unknowns, take us out of the game of tackling big and challenging goals. But the very fact that the goals are big and scary are what make them worth doing, noble even. And through that challenge of tackling what is too much for us, we are transformed from someone who could not, before, into someone who can, afterwards.

Homework: Watch the amazing transformation of a man with a broken neck learning to walk again.

Weekend Warrior
Check out the story at the beginning of Habit. Read up on Jim Collins "Big Hairy Audacious Goals" and Dave Ramsey's Debt Snowball.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Career Kaizen #5 - 5 Days of Leadership

Monday - Level 5 Leadership

Leaders help team members
solve their own problems.
Most agree leadership is important, but there are many definitions out there. Are you a leader? Do you have leadership in you? The ScrumMaster role is often described as a servant leader, so it's worth some focused time on it.

One of the classic business books is Good to Great. In the book, Jim Collins talks about Level 5 Leadership, the highest of all and a level few CEO's attain. There are good metaphors that describe that type of leader.

First, these leaders look out the window to assign credit, and look in the mirror to assign blame. Always try to deflect to the team when someone looks at the results and says "You've done a great job leading the team," especially if it's in a public situation, like a meeting. There are many ways to do this, for example, "It's not me. It's the team. Anyone could have done it if they had a team like this," or "Thank you, but really, the team is the one responsible. They have really put in a lot of time, effort and heart into this, " or even just point to some specific positive aspect of the team (perhaps from one of their retros), "The team really feels that _______ has been the key ingredient to the success we've had."

Second, these leaders want to make clock-builders, not be time-tellers. Rather than always have the answer, or be quick to solve someone's problem, Level 5 Leaders help team members solve their own problems or find their own answers. This builds their own abilities, ownership of the solution, empowers self-organization and makes teams faster. Many times making a clock-builder can be started by responding to a question with "What do you think?" I've been surprised how many times they already have an idea, they're just looking for feedback, support, or political covering. You can answer with, "Well, try that out and let me know how it goes," and watch as the team begins to solve more and more of their own problems.

Homework: Ask yourself: Does it feel good to solve people's problems? To be needed? Or to be able to help? Is your value based in part on how critical you are for things to get done? Are you okay with them figuring out everything by themselves?

Tuesday, Common Team Needs

Marcus Buckingham said that the difference between management and leadership is that management looks at what is unique among people, and capitalizes on it, while leadership looks at what is common among people and capitalizes on that.

Knowing what the common concerns are, or addressing a common need, is important. Vision, a key leadership trait, is pointing to a common goal or destination that enables a group to rally around and towards that - a common goal or challenge as they struggle, fail, win and journey together.

Homework: Look at the common felt needs of employees compared to what management thinks they need. What do you think the top three for your team members are? List them in the next retro and have the team dot vote them.

Wednesday - Positional or Influential Leadership

The challenge, and the blessing, of leadership in the ScrumMaster role is that you do not have authority over the team. You can't tell them or force them to do anything. Yet, traditional, authoritative leadership is actually the lowest form of leadership. People aren't as likely to truly be following you as a positional leader (for example, a manager). They are doing what you say, whether they like it or not, because they have to. In those situations, they're not giving the positional leader their best, but only the minimum required. Just enough to not get in trouble or fired or noticed.

Having people listen to you, follow you, as a servant leader means you must learn and grow in the powerful area of influential leadership. Forming relationships, understanding their needs and concerns, fighting on their behalf, protecting them, taking hits for them.

Homework: Looking back over history, who do you admire? Any heroes or people that you respect the work they did, the impact they had, or the challenges that they overcame? If so, in what ways can you apply lessons from them for your life and work now? What would they tell you?

Thursday - People Development Wins Championships

You must develop team members to win championships
John Maxwell wrote a very popular book on leadership. A few quotes from him:
"You can't lead people without liking them."
"At one level, you focus on becoming a change agent - focusing on productivity."
"Productivity wins games. People development wins championships."
"Besides the obvious competence, effort and skill, leadership also depends on intentionality."
"To succeed as a leader, you must help others move forward."

Homework: Pick one of the quotes you like (or another quote from the web page), print it out large to post on your wall at work, and small to put on your bathroom mirror or car dashboard. Keep it in front of you for a week. Don't start your computer or end your day without looking at it (even better to say it to yourself) or start your car or brush your teeth without the same.

Video Fridays

Stanton Complex - face the brutal facts, but don't let go of hope. In 1965, Captain Stanton was shot down and in a POW camp in Vietnam. While others kept believing any day that they'd be released, the reality was they weren't. These people ended up giving up, or worse. Stanton was hopeful, but not unrealistically so, and faced the reality that, also, they may never be released.

On your team, in your company, it may look grim. It doesn't help to believe things will magically change based on nothing other than your wishful thinking. And yet, we have to hope and believe that there is a chance, a chance worth fighting for, that they someday could.

Always respond positively. Don't join others in their complaining. Focus on solutions - what can you change, what experiment, what can you ask for, that might help. If you're not sure, ask yourself, "Is this noble or excellent?"

Homework: Watch the video of Jim Collins (or listen to his audio clips), or Patrick Lencioni.

Weekend Warrior: Review all of Jim Collins Hedgehog Concept items. List out the five levels of leadership.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Career Kaizen #4 - 5 Ways to Make Real Change Happen

Monday, It wasn't easy - I had to change a LOT

The challenges you face are what make you better
Difficult days are rewarding. The challenges you face are what make you better, more than what you were last week or last year.

Imagine that you are observing some amazing team, better than any you've ever been around. You ask the ScrumMaster, "Wow - how did you help them get to this place?". He replies, "Nothing, they were like this when I showed up." What kind of inspiration is that?

Yet, when you feel challenged, maybe even too much at times, these are exactly the points that push you into responding in new ways, trying things you haven't before, becoming someone, perhaps, that you weren't before. So when someone asks, "Wow - how did you help them get to this place?" you smile, laugh and say, "It wasn't easy - I had to change a LOT. This is where it started…" and they will be all ears.

Homework: Do your own speedboat exercise. Draw a boat on a sheet of paper (yes, really - drawing connects with a different part of your brain). Now, draw three or so anchors off the boat that are slowing you down. For each anchor, write three actions that might help with each area. Now, choose three, and either add them to your personal kanban board, or calendar them.

Tuesday, If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes

Yes, you really can change. I've wanted to learn to play guitar for years. In fact, I have one. I've had it for 16 years. Up until several weeks ago, I hadn't played more than a song within any given season for at least 8 years. Maybe picked it up once in a month or two.

But now I've played it every day for weeks. I've caught up to where I was a decade ago and passed it. I've learned new songs and notes. I have callouses on my fingertips again. Not only am I playing, but my family is often joining in singing as they walk in and out of the room. Wonderful repercussions.

Why the change? It's something that I really wanted for a long time, so not a lack of desire. Well, it's habit. I added it to one of several daily check-off items on an app I use. Just wanting to flip it to green - done - has made me stop and do it. And now that I've gotten used to just finding a moment to do so, I'm finding more moments and connecting that decision with the reward of the feeling while I'm playing.

It may or may not work for you. It actually took me a couple of weeks, and some tweaking (I had to set a goal of having at least one day where I did ALL items on the check list). But, do something, and inspect and adapt. Because, if nothing changes, nothing changes.

Homework: If you have a smart phone, check out some of the habit-building apps. Start with one positive habit you'd like to build. If you don't have a smart phone, try an online version, or try adding it to your calendar or daily to-do's via Outlook or even good old paper.

Wednesday, Help the Elephant

What specifically needs to happen to turn the elephant?
What is an intermediate achievable turn for the elephant?
The elephant and the rider. You may already be familiar with the story. Elephants can be guided by a rider down a path, but if the elephant really wants to go somewhere, it's going to go there. Same with us and our desires and goals. We may want to go somewhere, but we're often taken somewhere else by the elephant - our emotions. I may want to lose weight, but on a stressful day, I'm much more likely to eat chocolate (true). Or I can want to go running in the morning, and so set the alarm, but once it goes off at 5:30 AM, I don't feel like getting up very much. It could be the same for wanting to speak, get into training, go back to school or a certification program.

Help turn one of your goals into a reality by helping the rider. Look for bright spots - times or situations that things did go well, or you did have some progress. What was happening in that? Script the critical moves - don't inundate yourself with too many choices. What, specifically, needs to happen? Point to the destination - is there an end goal that the habit lines up with or supports?

And help the elephant, too. Shrink the change by lowering the bar so that you can get some success. One habit I had was popping my knuckles. Rather than trying to go all day, my first goal was just not to do it before 10 AM. Then it was 1 PM. Now it is all day. Studies were done that showed that people were 40% more likely to return to a car wash if they were given a 10 punch card with two punches already done, versus an 8 punch card with none.

Homework: How can you help the rider? What are the critical moves to successfully achieve the task? How can you help the elephant? What is a small starter goal to incrementally move toward success?
Share your ideas in the comments below...

Thursday, The Growth Mindset, or the Fixed Mindset

People generally fall into one of those two categories. The fixed mindset believes that we have a certain amount of abilities and that if we do or don't do well at things - subjects, jobs, life, it's because we don't have what others have. If we did, we'd do well, naturally. The growth mindset believes that we can learn, grow and change in these.

Homework: Answer the questions:
1. People are born with a certain intelligence that stays fixed throughout life. True or False?
2. Choose one: Do you demonstrate your ability or increase your ability?
3. When you fail, what does it tell you?

Video Friday:

Watch the TEDx video The Power of Belief

Weekend Warrior:
Check out Linda Risings YouTube videos on the Agile Mindset

Watch Carol Dweck's Mindset video or check out the book or audio book.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Career Kaizen #3 - Your Culture

Monday - Your Cultural Context

team meeting in  circle
Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
What is your company culture?
This week we'll be looking at your cultural context. A mentor once told me "People trump process, but politics trumps people", and for the business, "culture eats strategy for breakfast." So, what is your company culture? And what does that mean to you?

The technology innovation adoption curve is a model adapted by Geoffrey Moore that plots the relative number of people who fall across a continuum of their response to new technology. There are innovators, early adopters, early and late majority, and laggards.

This matters for you because agile is, in the same way, new. IT changes how many people in the organization work, aspects of their roles, what's expected of them, and even deeper and more importantly, it changes what's expected of people's mindsets and what the values are.

An agile survey showed that the number one reported problem with agile adoptions was management resistance.

Homework: Read up on the curve, plot where you are, where your team is and where you think your company is.

Tuesday - Lead with Vulnerability and Transparency

You are part of a team. Even more so with agile, we can't find our success outside of that. Like a relay race, you may claim a fast time for your segment, but if the baton is dropped, you still lose the race.

Patrick Lencioni wrote about what makes teams healthy, and what holds them back. The common problems are absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. Many teams asking for help are stuck at the first two levels, so let's focus on how you can help with those.

To help with the absence of trust, first, lead with vulnerability and transparency. Tell them how you blew it (they usually already know anyways), when you were stressed or worried. Affirm them for what they do that you can't do so well. Be the first one to share, ask the difficult question or talk about the elephant in the room. Model transparency. Affirm them when they do it.

Second, look for conflict, don't avoid it. We should cultivate environments where it's okay to disagree, and passion is okay. No personal attacks, of course, but freedom to speak your mind and have opinions.

Homework: Look at the documents on Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Wednesday - Get your Team's Perspective

What does the team think? Schedule a meeting, or include it in the next retrospective, to have them say what they think they have, both on the curve, and with dysfunctions.

Homework: Schedule the meeting (unless it will be part of the next retro) and review the documents with the team.

Thursday - The Change Agent

Healthy things grow. Growing things change.
Lead by embracing change.
How and why do people change? What motivates them? What motivates you?

There's a saying - healthy things grow, and growing things change. But we can't make people change. Just look at corrective institutions, rehabilitation centers or many marriages.

But we can lead by embracing, and living out, change. Although I may teach and coach about change, I'm surprised how often I'm actually resisting it. For each of us, this is true for many reasons, but the point is to be mindful that we all struggle with it, not just others. Is there a habit you haven't broken, a goal you haven't attained?

Two reasons that change is hard are emotion and habit.

Homework: Look at the summaries for Switch and Habit. Note three points or items that stuck out to you.

Friday - You, Your Team, and Your Response to Change

By now I hope you have some feel for both the culture around you, your team and your own response to change.

Homework: Watch these Switch and Habit videos on YouTube. 

Weekend Warrior: Do a force field analysis of what changes are supposedly wanted by the company and what is hindering them.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Career Kaizen #2 - Your Story Matters - Storyline

Monday - Where do You Want to Go?

rural road through fields next to fence
Everyone is on a path. Paths take us somewhere.
Is yours taking you somewhere that you want to go?
Some say that if you don't know where you're going, it doesn't matter where you are. What are your goals? Where do you want to be, and what do you want to be doing in 6 months, a year, 5 years?

The ScrumMaster role opens up many opportunities. I've seen people thrust in this leadership role suddenly realize that they have leadership in them. I've seen people fall in love with the coaching aspect, and others grab onto the educator and trainer pieces.

Homework: Ask three people if they have, or have had, any goals. What are or were they?

Tuesday - Your Strengths, ScrumMaster Roles, and Goals

The ScrumMaster job has many roles: Servant Leader, Impediment Remover, Coach, Educator, Organizational Change Agent, Evangelist, Chief Mechanic, Shepherd and Guardian of the Process, Facilitator.

Some of these might leap out at you, or perhaps are what you're already doing and especially love.

Your strengths might shed some light on why that is. Perhaps you love coaching because you're someone who loves building deep relationships or like watching and helping people develop and grow. Or perhaps you love the mechanic role or trying out some experiment and seeing what happens because you love making things great (just being average bugs you). Or you might love being the impediment remover because it's always a clear checklist that means you've had a good day when all those things are checked-off.

When you combine the insights and fuel of your natural strengths and passions coupled with goals that move you forward and motivate you, you'll have a powerful catalyst for change and growth. Not just for you, but a better you to serve and help the team.

Homework: On a sheet of paper, list your strengths in a column on the left, and on a column on the right, list at least five roles of the ScrumMaster, preferably the ones that appeal to you. Draw a line from each of the strengths to a role to which it relates, is a part of, or might help. You might have a strength that relates to several roles, and a role that is related to more than one strength.
Pick one of these roles, or the ScrumMaster job as a whole, and use it to help determine some goals. Extend one goal for 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and 18 months.

Wednesday - What's Your Story?

We, as humans, are story-driven. We love movies because they tell stories of someone who wants something and overcomes some conflict to get it. We learn best as our brains web new information much stronger via stories.

You already have part of your story - you want something. You have a goal. Now, the reality is that life can be difficult. What challenge, opposition, conflict can you anticipate that might get in the way of you achieving that goal? Is it finding the time? Getting the money? Getting approval from someone? Keep in mind that overcoming these challenges is part of what makes it all worthwhile - you come out better for it, and it makes it a better story to tell others (perhaps even inspiring). Sometimes it takes practicing on overcoming smaller challenges as part of smaller goals.

Leverage inciting incidents as a tool to move forward. These are decisions or actions that catapult you forward, partly because there's no way back. It's the signing up for the 5K race, the email to the boss asking for approval for training, submitting a proposal to speak at a conference, showing up at that local code camp or user group, emailing that famous expert to ask for advice. Not sure what happens next, but something will, and it will be different from all the nothing that happened the weeks and months before.

Homework: Create a Storyline account on and enter your goal and whatever other information you can. Take a look at some of the other goals in the community.

Thursday - Make Your Goal and Progress Big and Visible

Just like agile, make your goal a priority
and the progress towards it big, prominent, and visible.
Well, you now have a goal. Perhaps you've had some before, as well. Many people have. New Year's Resolutions are very common. Approximately half of Americans make them. But less than 10% succeed. Why is that, and what can you do about that?

One of the best things that you can do to help yourself is to tell others about your goals, preferably people that you're close to and care about their opinions. Next, just like agile, make these priorities and the progress towards them big, prominent, and visible.

Movement on some goals needs to become part of your daily routine, a habit, and therefore also have a low effort or barriers to see and update them. You might use post-its or index cards on a wall, a goal or habit tracker app on your phone or computer, scheduled reminders or appointments with yourself, or a chart that you print out and pin to the wall.

Homework: Choose at least one way that you add working on your goal as part of your daily or weekly routine. Choose a way to make the goal and progress big and visible. You could add yours as a comment on this post as one step.

Friday - You're One of the Few...

Congratulations - you're one of the few that has a goal that's known by others, has clear next steps, and has built-in support via schedule and visibility.

This is very significant, not just for you and these goals, but in other ways, too. At the meta level, you're dealing with how to change, how to improve, clarity on goals, the value of making progress. These all relate to your team and the business. And, in addition, as a servant leader, you're being a model to others on how to improve, how to grow, dealing with challenges, ambiguity, inertia, and perhaps bad history.

Well done.

Video Fridays: Watch the Storyline video by Don Miller

Weekend Warrior: Take a look at some of the posts on the Storyline blog. If this has really resonated with you, take a look at the books and audiobooks on the topic, such as the Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business , Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, and The Dream Giver (a little corny, but simple and powerful metaphor), and grab one.

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