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The Year of Being Agile -- Agile Risk Management, Informed Intuition, the Hard Part

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In our last installment, we collated a list of known risks in our lives and we identified the ones we could do something about. But that's the easy part and it's only a start.

It's much more important to identify the risks you don't know about, the "unknown unknowns" to quote some douchebag. And that's more challenging and doesn't just require objectivity, but also informed intuition.


This is going to touch on some some of my old posts, so I recommend following the links.

Here are the three approaches I've identified that can help you get a feel for where the risks are that aren't objectively obvious:

1. Divination
2. Fragility identification
3. Alternative analysis

Divination Divination loves dirty laundry. I've long found that the Tarot, for example, is better at delivering the bad news than the good. I used to think this was just me or the nature of the cards. After all, different types of divination have different modes, approaches, or …

Project Ivy: End Game

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I started my year-long personal PMPM project in 2016 on the autumn equinox. Therefore it's time to take a final look at what I wanted to accomplish before the project wrapup and post-mortem.

Of course, what I want to accomplish is less interesting (except to me obviously) than how to run a year-long project. So this won't be so much about my progress as the hows and whys of following and ranking progress on a long-term project. Note: see the Index for other posts in this series.

So, with just a couple of months to go, I decided to do a gap analysis. This involves looking at the original plan and comparing it to the current plan and status in order to identify anything else I want to focus on or wrap up before the project ends.

You should know that my project had several different goals that landed in different areas of my life. I tried to create a balance of mental, physical, emotional, and magical/spiritual items so that my project would be well-rounded and I could easily shi…

The Year of Being Agile -- Agile Risk Management, Objective Analysis, the Easy Part

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In the previous post, we talked about adopting the correct mindset for risk management. This is critical, because people are either all "la-la-la I can't hear you" or "OMG it's the end of all things!" about risk. Neither of these attitudes are at all helpful. What is helpful?



Objective analysis and informed intuition.

First, analysis: If you are going to deal with the risks in your life you need to be able to look at them. Let's start easy... with the risks you already know about.

Once upon a time, when we were so young that looking back, I'm surprised we ever survived our own naivete, the fellow who's now my husband and I moved in together for the first time. And someone older and wiser (read, late 20s) suggested we get renters insurance. These days no one's going to rent to you without proof of insurance. But back then this wasn't the case and we were pleasantly surprised to realize that for about $11 a month all of our stuff would be …

Sustain-ability: Bitches Get Shit Done

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So, for the past couple of weeks I've had reason to be a bit emotionally under the weather -- sad even. The reason doesn't matter. But due to a couple of techniques, I've been in the upside position of being able to objectively evaluate what I'm feeling and see how it's impacting me... and therefore to do something about it.


As a disclaimer, this isn't about clinical depression, I'm not a medical provider, and I don't give medical advice. In fact, this isn't even about me so much as it's about this process that I went through that I found helpful. Your mileage is totally going to vary.

First, the new things in my life that helped me:

1. Mindfulness practice. In recently months I've been much better about meditating. This is due to a recommendation by Gordon over at Runesoup for Headspace. So credit where credit is due and both are highly recommended. This also happened to be a goal of my PMPM project (kicked off last year and blogged about o…

The Year of Being Agile -- Agile Risk Management, Part One

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This is part of a serious of posts on using the agile development method as a PMPM (Practical Magic Project Management) technique... go see the Index page for links to the full series.

OK, first off full disclosure: Agile doesn't have much time for risk management. It's not that the methodology is against it in any way, it just doesn't address it. I think this is because it was developed to mitigate particular risks (the risk that you might put in a ton of work building the wrong thing) rather than addressing risks in general. However, the core features of agile can be used to address risk -- and I think there are very good reasons for doing so.

Still, I'm going way off book here, based not on the official Agile Methodology but on my own experience and interpretation.

But first, let's take a look at how risk management is currently practiced:

Formal Risk Management


Identify the risksAnalyze the risks for likelihood and consequenceRank the risks based on a combination…

Sustain-ability: The Other Option

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This is a personal story about how the modern world isn't set up for sustainability and how we managed to get around that fact recently (and I promise every word is true).

Our household has two cars, both paid for, and both a bit long in the tooth. Our older vehicle is a small SUV that we purchased new just a few months before the budding psychonaut was born. It's currently 15 years old, with not as many miles as you's expect. The other car is a hybrid and is currently 10 years old. We bought it used in 2011 and it's also in really great shape... or it was.

Last week, we were driving the hybrid when the car suddenly went "ping!" and all the dash lights came on. And I mean ALL the dash lights. The anti-lock break light, the check engine light, and several mysterious lights that were nothing but red and yellow exclamation marks (that can't be good). In addition, the little status panel started announcing that we should CHECK HYBRID SYSTEM and CHECK VSC SYST…

The Year of Being Agile -- Active Management

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Like any self-contained and self-referential system, agile has its own rather odd sounding terminology. For example, each team has a ScrumMaster and a Product Owner. The ScrumMaster is the person who keeps the team on track... not by telling them what to do, but by encouraging them to follow the process of agile. The ScrumMaster schedules the daily scrum meeting and keeps people on task. He or she touches base with the product owner to make sure the backlog is updated and prioritized for planning. And also runs the planning meeting, including making sure that team tasks (which are called stories -- again with the special names) are correctly framed and defined so the team understands what to do. The ScrumMaster tracks the team's velocity and uses prior information to help the team make better estimates for the current sprint. He or she is the team's main interface with the product owner.

The product owner, on the other hand, is the team's face to the customers. The product…