Peter Stevens’ Scrum Breakfast Blog

Peter_steven's_scrum_breakfast_blog

Peter Stevens, Entrepreneur and Scrum Trainer

Scrum Breakfast

Blog about Scrum: Getting started, Crisis Project Management, and Transforming IT into a Lean Organization.

A conversation about My Personal Agility

Posted on February 22, 2017, 9:27 am
Next week, I will be giving a webinar on My Personal Agility for the Discussing Agile group in India. Yesterday I spoke with host Piyali about the essentials of My Personal Agility. What started out as a way to get more get stuff done has become a way to do more that matters and recognize who you are and who you are becoming.

We talked about how it works and what it can do for you:




Next week in the webinar we'll talk about how you can get started! Have post-its and some wall space ready, because we are going to get practical! You find out about the Personal Agility Webinar Workshop on Discuss Agile web site page. See you there!




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The Story of Tesla, by Elon Musk

Posted on January 9, 2017, 8:00 am
They didn't know it at the time but they created the first Tesla Roadster by taking a working prototype and iterating on the design. By the time the Roadster was announced, they had replaced 96% of the original prototype. "It's amazing what we can do with small teams and tiny budgets." BTW this is part one, you'll want to stay for most of part two. Another video I had to watch to the end!





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Clean Disruption

Posted on January 8, 2017, 1:13 pm
Why Energy & Transportation will be Obsolete by 2030 by Tony Seba. The horse was displaced by the automobile in just 13 years. Oil, Cars and the Power Grid are about to be transformed in a similar way. What other technologies will be displaced faster than you think, and why?


I don't usually have patience to watch a 45 minute video, but I had to watch this one to the end!
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My Personal Agility RC1

Posted on December 16, 2016, 10:07 am

How to do more of what you really care about

My Personal Scrum Agility is a simple framework for people who want to become highly effective individuals. My Personal Agility is based on the same values, principles and patterns as Scrum, but recognizes that organizing your life is a different challenge than developing a product in a team. The article explains My Personal Agility and how to use it to do more that matters.

In a business context, My Personal Agility can enable managers and their staff to achieve high alignment and transparency about goals, forecasts and milestones achieved. In a personal context, spouses and partners can coach each other to set and achieve objectives together. And as a coach, you can use My Personal Agility to enable your clients to identify and work toward their important goals in life and work.

Why My Personal Agility?

It takes just as much time to flip a quarter as to flip a penny, but the quarter is more valuable. So where should you invest your time? On the quarters, i.e on the things that bring value to you.

Sometimes resting or "chilling" is the right thing to do, and that's OK too. My Personal Agility doesn't try to tell you what's important; it just helps you to recognize what's important to you, so you can do the right thing.

My Personal Agility enables you ask and find answers to the key questions that enable you to make better use of your time:
  • What really matters?
  • Of the things I could do:
    • What is important?
    • What is urgent?
  • What do I want to accomplish this week?
  • What am I going to do today?
Like Scrum, My Personal Agility is defined through a small number of roles, artifacts and activities. Each of them exists to help you ask and answer these questions, and ensure that your answers are still the right answers as you and your situation evolves over time.

Unlike Scrum, My Personal Agility has no rules to follow. My Personal Agility consists of a few agreements to make with yourself and maybe one other person, so that you ask yourself important questions at regular intervals. If you miss a week, it's not the end of the world. If you find that certain aspects don't bring you value, it's OK not do them.
I think of My Personal Agility as kind a gravitational force - it exerts a gentle, attractive guidance that always pulls me back to doing the right thing. 

How does My Personal Agility work?

In a nutshell:
  • You meet with your coach or manager once per week to review the last week and plan the upcoming week.
  • You discuss what's important, what's urgent, and what you want to accomplish this week
  • You visualize your goals and tasks with a Priorities Map
  • You reserve time for important, but non-urgent goals.
  • You plan your day
I use Trello to visualize my Priorities Map and my calendar to plan my day.

Read all about it

Want to find out more? You can find the full description of My Personal Scrum, including how to get started, at my Saat-Network site.

Call for Participation Join the Private Beta!


Update: The initial call for participation is complete. I am now working with a small number of beta-testers from 3 countries on both sides of the Atlantic. If you'd like to join the beta-test program at a future date, sign up for our Private Beta Test!

Previous text:

As I write this, I have been exploring personal self-organization for four months and doing My Personal Scrum in its current form for 2 months. I know it helps me in my context, but I how do I know if it will help other people, especially if their context is significantly different from mine? In particular, the alternative of working with your manager as your Personal Product Owner needs validation.

I have started asking people to help me validate the concept for a month. Learning continues!

If you think this is cool, feel free to try it out! I would love to discuss with you what works, what doesn’t, what can be left out or what is still needed! Comments, Please!

EDIT: 4-Sept-2016 After much constructive feedback, I have renamed this "Personal Agility" (or possibly, "My Personal Agility." Although I was inspired by the patterns of Scrum, some important differences between Scrum and my Personal Agility have emerged.

EDIT: 9-Sept-2016 - Updated the questions to reflect how I actually ask them. Added the most important: "What really matters?"

EDIT: 14-Dec-2016 - I realized that I had not consistently renamed Personal Scrum to My Personal Agility, so I updated the name everywhere it applies

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Working towards my Personal Scrum

Posted on November 24, 2016, 6:39 pm
Two weeks ago I read an article that changed how I organize my life.

I have a problem. Despite teaching people and organizations how to organize their work effectively, how to prioritize, about the evils of multi-tasking and the importance of sustainable pace, I have never been able to get my own to-dos under control. By extension, my life has never really been under control either. So I often work late into the night, almost every night, and on the weekends as well.

I have experimented with the Pomodoro (I could never get myself to stop working after 25 minutes. I want something done before I can put it down) and Personal Kanban (post-its with waiting-working-done around the screen of my notebook (the problem wan't the WIP but the length of the backlog). The results of my attempts was always the same: I worked very hard, getting things done one after the other, but my work schedule always extended into the night and over the weekend.

An experiment with timeboxing tasks/goals

Two weeks ago, a read an article on linked in, Critical Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day, by Travis Bradberry. His first recommendation: "[F]ocus on minutes, not hours." Enter your program in your agenda. A light went on. If I am going to do something, the first question I must answer is when am I going to do it? Then I block the time for that activity. What happens if I don't have time for it? Either postpone it, don't do it, or cancel something else.

So I decided to try an experiment. For one week, I would schedule every major activity I needed to accomplish. From Sprint Planing for the SBC website, to quotes I needed to send customers, a talk I needed to prepare, to packing for my trip to the Scrum Gathering. Everything went into my calendar. Looking back on it today, I see that I had 30 individual items over five days. Only once did I schedule work into the evening.

What happened? The good news: Friday morning, when it came time to leave, my wife said, "it's time." I said, "OK," put my suitcase in the car, and off we went. On the way, she said to me, "I have never seen you so organized and ready for departure before a trip like this!". (And I hadn't even told her about my experiment!). I accomplished every major goal I set for myself that week (except one). And I had time to watch 4 hours of amateur Star Trek videos on you tube without feeling guilty! Wow.

The bad news. My estimates suck. It starts with the assumption that 30 minutes every morning is enough to deal with routine emails. So I had to deal with that.

Having a schedule in my calendar, and new goal starting half an hour from now, has proven to be an interesting attractor. It reminds me to focus my attention on the right thing. I can look at my calendar and see what I should be doing.

If I get to the end one time box, and the goal has not been achieved,  I have to ask myself the questions, what do I do now? Do I keep working on my current goal? Or do I schedule the remaining parts for later? Or do I cancel or postpone the next goal?

Depending on the situation, I have already done all of these. Remember, I said there was one major goal I did not accomplish? Well, I got to the time when I was supposed to start it, but I was nowhere near finished the previous goal. I evaluated the importance of the two goals and decided that it was more important to finish the goal I that I was working on. So I finished it and dropped the other one (urgent but not important). So timeboxing individual goals enables me to prioritize and ensure that the most important things get done. After a week of this, I was pretty happy with my results.

What does this have to do with Scrum? 

For me, Scrum consists of 6 essential patterns:
  1. Inspect and Adapt at regular intervals
  2. Produce something that might be valuable at least once per interval
  3. Management leads and supports, and knows when to stay out of the way.
  4. The whole team solves the problem
  5. One voice speaks for the customer/maximizes the value of the work done
  6. A coach helps everybody achieve higher performance.
How does planning my time on my calendar in this detail get me closer to doing Scrum? Let's look at how this implements the patterns:

Inspect and Adapt at regular intervals.
Produce something that might be valuable at least once per interval

First, I have stopped calling it task planning. I allocate time to achieve a goal, not perform a task. So I keep focus on the fact that my work should produce value. At the end of a time box, I hope that the goal will have been achieved. If not, that is the moment to Inspect and Adapt. I allocate time in Pomodoros (units of 30 minutes, including a 5 minute break). Nothing takes less than one Pomodoro, and I never block more than 4 consecutive pomodori for a goal. Often I achieve my goal. Sometimes I don't. That is when inspect and adapt is really helpful!

The whole team solves the problem

This one is actually pretty easy. I am the whole team. 

Management leads and supports, and knows when to stay out of the way.

I don't think this is really relevant in my context. I am basically a one person company. Not much of a management layer. 🙂

One voice speaks for the customer/maximizes the value of the work done

This one is a bit tougher. Can I effectively be my own product owner? I think so, but I am going to keep an eye on this one. I started to set longer term goals by allocating time further in the future to achieve them. Aside from managing time I am not yet managing a formal backlog. 

A coach helps everybody achieve higher performance

Is it possible to be my own Scrum Master? I don't think so. An essential aspect of being a Scrum Master a Scrum Master is the independent perspective. On the one hand, I don't feel like I have systematic impediments. On the other, how do I know that I am focussing on the right goals? How do I know that I am working effectively? I think there needs to be second person involved.

Next experiments

This week, I will continue with the approach. I have also asked my wife to play the role of Scrum Master and I'd like to add a Sprint Planning/Review and maybe even a retrospective. Hmm, that means scheduling time for it...

My Personal Scrum, v0.1

How am I doing Scrum for myself?
  1. When I decide I want to achieve a particular goal, I also decide when I will work on it, and block that time in my agenda
  2. If I have no time to work on a new goal, I have to either postpone the goal, reject the goal, or reschedule or renounce another goal
  3. I strive to work on / that which  is planned at any given time
  4. I know my estimates suck, so I leave slack in my agenda and forgive myself if things don't get finished when I hoped/expected.
  5. My agenda serves me, not the other way around. So if reality is different than plan, I adjust the plan to reflect reality.
Do you have a personal Scrum? How does it work? I'd love to continue an exchange on how I as an individual can organize myself.
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