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Showing posts from January, 2017

The Year of Being Agile -- To Light the Way

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This is part of a series of posts on being more agile in 2017. For the full list of related posts, see the Index.

The trouble with defining an agile end game is that it can be hard to keep it in mind over the months. It's hard enough to keep very concrete goals in front of you over time, let alone a squishy agile goal. Here's how to get around that.


First, you immediately create a few backlog items that are concrete. After all, just because you don't know exactly where you're headed doesn't mean you won't have a first step in mind. So think of of a couple of ideas that you can do RIGHT NOW. This is your first step and the sooner you take it the better.

For example, if your agile goal is financial optionality, you probably have a couple of ideas of things to try right off (spend less, alternate income streams, etc.). Your immediate tasks can be as simple as checking out the library for new books and movies (instead of buying them) or shopping with a list and sti…

Sustain-ability: Neutral Territory

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Could not have picked a better week to leave the US in favor of Switzerland. I haven't seen any TV or news since leaving home and am better for it. And during the most emotional, the most fraught day in recent US history, I will be flying (staying coherent is easy when the drinks are free).

I want to be very careful here not to engage in bragblogging (is that a thing? It should be a thing -- lifestyle bloggers, I'm looking at you). I'm aware that I'm extremely fortunate to be able to travel and doubly blessed that someone else is paying for it. It's the culmination of a lot of years of both mundane and magic work that finds me here (currently Old Town Zurich, but for the past week a 100-year-old hotel in the alps).

Everything here is high end IKEA, but it was all Old Europe in the mountains -- snow and horse carriage rides and cheese. My room barely had Internet and, in addition to a brisk walk in -18F temperatures (windchill -22) I spent a silent afternoon actuall…

The Year of Being Agile -- Agile Method and Magic

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For those who aren't familiar, the agile process is a very simple and streamlined method for having a regular cycle of planning and review and supporting rapid iteration, fast failures, quick recoveries, and course corrections. It was created for software development, but works well for all kinds of other projects where you may not know everything in advance (no map).

The core unit of time is the sprint. Typically, this is from 2 - 6 weeks. For a magician, what could be better than a monthly timetable (either solar or lunar)? In between the sprints, there's a single process that involves:

Reviewing what you accomplished (and what you didn't)Retrospecting how things went and adjusting course as necessaryIdentifying new tasks to do with your end game in mind (this is called the backlog)Planning the next sprint by forecasting and choosing the tasks you want to do The only other required activity is a quick daily check-in against your planned activities (it's called a stand…

The Year of Being Agile -- End Game

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Happy New Year. This was a challenging one for me, feeling ill and somewhat emotional. But we're warm and safe and fed and that's going to have to be good enough for right now... in fact, it IS good enough. My goal for today is hot tea and buffalo chili... and a little looking ahead.

Yes, we are starting the beginning by thinking about the end. But this isn't the typical resolution post (though if you are considering resolutions, go check out this post from last year). This is about the types of goals that will allow you to be as agile as possible.

One of the misunderstandings that people have about Agile Project Management is that there are no goals. That you just try stuff out and see what your audience likes and the product owner (that's Agile-speak for project manager) can change his or her mind at the end of each sprint (a defined duration of team work, usually between 2 and 6 weeks). Well, it's true that agile makes it easy to change direction, but that doesn…