Blog Index

What Mistakes did you Make This Sprint?

December 11, 2020
It's time for the Sprint Retrospective and people are submitting their thoughts on what went well and what to improve. As the team submits their ideas, the what to improve column remains minimal if populated at all. Are things going so well that there is nothing to improve? This seems statistically unlikely; how can we seek a more balanced retrospective? Before we can do anything we should first examine if the group has a shared sense of psychological safety. This is the foundation for healthy discussions within the group. Without it, the group is unlikely to engage in sharing obstacles to overcome for fear of retribution or appearing incompetent. A tell-tale sign that the group lacks psychological safety is if people are afraid to say they…
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The Importance of Creating Psychological Safety

December 7, 2020
We've all probably experienced some truly amazing teams and some dreadful ones. What sets them apart? It isn't pure happenstance or a roll of the dice. The foundation of healthy teams and cultures is a concept called Psychological Safety. While this concept has been picking up buzzword steam, it has been around since 1999. In her paper, Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior in Work Teams Amy Edmondson defined team psychological safety as "a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking". Why is this so important and how can teams work to create it? Within any given team, it is necessary to engage in learning behaviors. Learning behaviors are a means for the team to collect and process data…
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Giving Ourselves Space to Create

December 1, 2020
This year has thrown in my face that I have an overcommitment problem. It's easy to get wrapped up in exciting things to solve, experiment with, or people to interact with. Unfortunately, too much of even good things can have strong negative consequences. One of the associated problems with overcommitment is burnout. How can we create and produce valuable content, code, thoughts, when our brains and commitments are brought just shy of our breaking point? It's an unsustainable pattern and eventually something will give. I've been talking with friends about my desire to start writing again for months, but never actually made any progress. The truth is I was beyond exhaustion at the commitments I had made, perceived or actualized. Creative…
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Overcoming the Fragility of Goals with Themes

November 30, 2020
I’ve never been a fan of New Years Resolutions in terms of making life changes. They often were lofty aspirations which were thrown out after the first few failures. The problem is that these resolutions are often too specific and don’t account for the inevitable unknowns of the future. This excessive rigidity creates the perfect foundation for failure. Short term goals can help mitigate some of these concerns by forcing a more constrained mindset around what can be completed in that timeframe. However, my personal experience has been that these continue to adhere to a similar pass/fail paradigm. In contrast, themes provide a flexible construct that is able to adapt and refocus as the unknowns of the future come into light. A theme is a…
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Empower Teams with Sprint Goals

November 25, 2020
The Sprint Goal is a core tenet in Scrum, an agile development framework. According to the Scrum Guide, the sprint goal is the “single objective for the sprint....The Sprint Goal also creates coherence and focus, encouraging the Scrum Team to work together rather than on separate initiatives.” It is an artifact of the Sprint planning session and empowers the development team to prioritize and focus work. Recently I had the pleasure of working on a project that embraced the creation of Sprint Goals for each sprint and experienced first hand the focus and empowerment they provide. Inevitably there is the sprint where some tickets take longer or other tickets are created mid-stream to help achieve the Sprint Goal. When these occur, the Sprint…
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