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Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Most Important Book on Scrum Since the Original

I have just finished reading a book that is, without a doubt, THE most important book on Scrum that has been published since the original.  This book is Tobias Mayer's, The People's Scrum.

Why should you read this?  

You should read this because you are likely in a system that must be improved--I deeply believe that all of us are.  You will likely not agree with everything, but in order to truly realize the value of Scrum or any agile development framework, there are things that you need to know contained in this book.  If you find yourself in agreement with everything contained within, this will be an excellent reference to share with others who may not be so fortunate.  Ultimately, you want to better the lives of your team mates and yourself in ways that are founded on experience and love (how's that for a bold and courageous statement?)  It's also a nice fast-paced read as these are essentially edited blog posts, none of which are more than five pages.

What was my experience?

As I read this book, it reminded me of the first time I read the Agile Manifesto--my head was nodding in accord so many times, I nearly became dizzy.

Based on the foreword, I was convinced that I would find something to disagree with Tobias on and was looking forward to the opportunity to have a great conversation with him and potentially have my mind expanded. But I didn't...his views are so close to my own as what he says could have been written by me (although I couldn't have written them as well). I suppose that comes as no surprise as one of my early strong influences was Kert Peterson as well. We also seem to share strongly-held (as in concrete reinforced with rebar) views on the importance of humanity, decentralization, and co-location in innovative and creative work.

I suppose I didn't learn too many new things in the book, but they were told in a way to convey important meaning to the people who actually do the work and are the main focus for the Scrum framework. Of course executives and managers should also be exposed to these ideas as they are (fortunately or unfortunately) ultimately responsible for maintaining or at least spawning the systems where the workers create value. These are the people that will receive the most benefit of these essays as I share them with the teams I serve and advise others in the community and our industry.

Agile Austin - Here we Come!

I plan on ordering five copies of this immediately and sharing with the Agile Austin community. We will likely conduct a book discussion group on this book in the July time frame and will report back with comments and observations.

A few shout outs.

Thank you Tobias for this important compendium of essays that continue to be sorely needed across our industry to maximize joy and potential of our people, organizations, and technology users.

Also, a big shout out to Bernardo Salinas for catching me in the airport in Austin and recommending (insisting?) that I read this book!


Friday, June 7, 2013

Improvisational Running

Hi all:

Some of you may know that running has been a major part of a number of life changes I made on September 11th, 2001.  I usually run with either my running group (AustinFit) or my running partner who happens to be my very good friend and neighbor.  These runs are designed to keep me in shape (or at least try to retard the ongoing damages of age and Friday morning doughnuts) or prepare me for an event such as a 5k, 10k, or half marathon.  The thing that almost all these runs have in common is that they are timeboxed to get on with a normal workday and/or regimented to achieve a personal goal.  Unlike "Whose Line is it Anyway," improvisation is an afterthought, if it's there at all.

Vacation runs are different--while I start out with a specific goal in mind, I almost always become diverted.  Paths that veer off to the side seem more interesting than staying at a steady pace.  The quick reflection behind a copse of trees could lead to running water (maybe even a waterfall!).  I'll have to squeeze through an opening generally smaller than me and I might have to turn off my music, just when I was getting into it.  About half the time, my concentration is broken and I end up walking and needing to psyche myself up to start pounding miles.  However, many other times I'm rewarded with a hidden waterfall, a secret overlook into a gaping chasm, or a chance encounter with a local inhabitant who clues me into other treasures off the beaten path that will bear further exploration now or later.

A chance encounter on this morning's run in Kauai
There is another "lucky" factor at play here of course.  Vacation spots, at least for my wife and I, tend to be filled with these types of gems.  That's why we're here, to engage in a target-rich environment for adventure and exploration.  While we have guidebooks and do some level of research, some of the best finds are done by foot.  Many do so by walking/hiking, but running offers the option of covering approximately twice as much ground in the same time frame. It's something like a fast forward button to skip through the boring parts and focus on the YouTube equivalent of the cat actually playing the piano.

But is this experience only limited to those places surrounded in natural beauty in concentrations as rich as Thomas' English Muffins' nooks and crannies?  Probably not.  Now that I think about it, some of my best regular trails came about from a minor incursion into some foreign territory.  They were so good, I just stopped improvising and tuned out to focus on the "main objective." Perhaps I need to rethink that strategy as well-worn ruts can be certainly comfortable and objective-oriented, but they'll never result in a new experience inspirational enough to blog about.