Agile Goes to Hollywood

Breaking News

The first-ever interactive Agile business novel “The Dream Team Nightmare” is about to become to first ever film to be made about Agile.

We’ll be paying Hollywood a visit this summer when filming is scheduled to start.

Check out the InfoQ interview with the author here.

Who’s Who

The initial cast list looks something like this:

  • Jim Hopper, Agile Coach – Jake Gyllenhaal
  • Emily, Jim’s girlfriend played – Ginnifer Goodwin
  • Patrick, Head of IT – Liam Neeson
  • Cassandra, Product Owner – Julianna Margulies
  • Jason, Developer – Steve Buscemi
  • Ben, Scrum Master – Seth MacFarlane

Open Audition

If you’d like to audition for a role, get reading “The Dream Team Nightmare” then contact J.J. Abrams directly.

Time Out for Adults

Light of Mind

The State of Play

Every so often, people come to me for advice. “How are you?” I ask. “Life is good. Lots going on. Plenty to do,” says my friend. Then just before her voice trails off, “Perhaps too much.”

In our frantic world of go-getting and Blackberry prayers at the dinner table, there can be little time to catch our breath, let alone think. And think clearly.

The Value of an Empty Mind

The most effective thing I’ve learned to do is to take time out. That’s easier said than done, of course. The trick is to first recognise when your head is full. Then you look out for the next moment when you find yourself sitting still in a quiet spot. You then seize the moment and empty your mind.

Staring out the window is a great way to decompress quickly. Notice all the minutiae your eyes usually gloss over, like that robin staring straight back at you through the window. Or pay special attention to the sounds around you. If you listen carefully, you may even hear Nature’s symphony of spring.

“How long do I need to sit for?” you ask. “I’ve got stuff to be getting on with.”

Mindful Thinking

Taking a moment to pause for breath helps empty my mind. I know I’ve paused for long enough when the curtains of the empty stage that is my mind begins to twitch and fresh ideas skip in, gently reminding me of why I rush around so much. Of how I’d like to live my life.

Time out isn’t just something that can help our children pause for thought. When we’re able to take ourselves to the time out place as adults is when we’re able to become whole again.

Good Deeds Indeed

Be Good

Be Good

Growing up, all the adults around me used to say, “Be good.” And when I asked why, some simply replied, “Because it’s important” with no further explanation.

Then one day, one of the more knowing adults, a teacher, told me how if I did good deeds, good things would happen to me.

So one Saturday, when I was 12 years old, I decided to test my teacher’s assertion. Not so much to see if she was telling the truth (since many of the same adults also told me lies), but rather that my heart told me I was onto something important.

In Search of Good

The experiment went as follows. I decided to “be good” for the entire day and keep a tally of my good deeds.

On my way to the library, I met an old lady waiting to cross the road. With naive enthusiasm, I grabbed her frail arm and said, “I’ll help you cross the road.”

Afterwards, as I beamed with pride at my obvious first good deed of the day, I noticed a bewildered look on the old lady’s face. “What’s the matter?” I asked, “Can I help?” To which she replied, “I didn’t want to cross the road. Now I need help to get back to the other side.”

By the time I returned the old lady to the other side of the road, I’d learned an important lesson. A deed is only good if the recipient benefitted from my help, regardless of my best intentions.

Full of youthful gusto, I went about the rest of my day doing good deeds, starting with handing in a purse I found on my way to the shops to the nearest store to give the person who lost it the best chance of finding it again. This taught me my second lesson of the day. Good deeds are rarely done in isolation and I needed to trust others to do the right thing for my good deeds to work.

When eventually I got to the library, I was disappointed to find the last copy of the novel I wanted had just been taken out minutes before my arrival. “Never mind,” I told myself. “I’ll just have to wait a bit longer.” Then, as I was leaving the library, one of the librarians called me back to say that luckily, someone else had just returned a copy and would I like to borrow it?

Of course I did! I smiled to myself as I clutched my treasure of a book. Perhaps good deeds did happen to people who do good, I mused.

Be the Change You Want to See

By the end of the day, I was convinced. For each good thing I did that day, I was rewarded by something good happening to me. It didn’t matter how big or small my good deed was nor how big or small my reward was. The fact that the numbers tallied up was what made the difference to me.

I stopped keeping count after running the same experiment on several more occasions as it seemed simpler to do good whenever I could. It’s not always easy, but it makes sense to me.

It’s true what the adults say. What you focus on, you get more of. And what goes around comes around.

Zombie Test

Welcome to the City of London

The Inhumane Condition

The risk with working in London, or in any large cosmopolitan city in the 21st century for that matter, is that we sometimes lose touch with our own humanity.

The Stress Test

For instance, how was your journey from your home to your desk this morning? What do you remember of it? And what of the people you spent your 45-minute commute with?

For many people, it’s a case of tune-out-the-outside-world until you make it to your desk. Avoid eye contact and social interaction at all cost.

For some, this zombiefied way of living continues from waking until it’s time to go to bed. Again. And again. And again.

A Different World

Now imagine a world where we greet one another with a polite smile when we board a train. A world where we offer those more in need than ourselves a seat instead of shoving aside the young, the old and the needy before squeezing into a seat ourselves.

The cynics out there will complain that no such place can exist where mankind, womankind and childrenkind tread.

Live Dangerously

What if you could change the world one seat at a time by gifting it to those who truly need it? After all, it only takes one living person to awake a carriage full of zombies.

A Christmas Message

Merry Christmas

“This too will pass”

As Claire Rayner once said, “When things are spectacularly dreadful; when things are absolutely appalling; when everything is superb and wonderful and marvellous and happy – say these four words to yourself. ‘This too will pass’. They will give you a sense of perspective and help you also make sense of what is good and be stoical about what is bad.”

To some, Christmas is a time for celebration. To others, Christmas may be a curiosity. Whatever Christmas means to you, it too will pass. Here’s wishing you a fun and restful holiday with the people you love.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches

The 7 Habits

Food for Thought

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches is my mini series inspired by the style of Paul Coelho‘s “Manual of the Warrior of Light“.

For more ideas on personal and team development, take a look at “The Dream Team Nightmare - Boost Team Productivity Using Agile Techniques“. Happy Coaching!

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches – Habit 7: Flow Like a Stream

Tick Tock

Habit 7: Flow Like a Stream

A coach works with ease like running water. They are patient, pragmatic, and present. The effectiveness and efficiency with which they work inspires others to strive to achieve the same. To coach with ease is the result of years of conscious practice, perseverance, and a promise to be better.

Exercise: Pick a Tool

Pick a tool you’d like to improve in your use of. Set aside seven days. Identify improvement ideas, then implement them in those seven days. Measure and reflect, then repeat as desired.

I suggest short improvement time boxes such as seven days because the act of measuring progress in small increments and often not only keeps it in the forefront of your mind but it also encourages you to keep moving forward.

For more information, see: “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell in which he describes the “10,000-Hour Rule,” which states that the key to success in any field is through practice for approximately 10,000 hours.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches – Habit 6: Talk Less, Listen More

Exceptional Characters

Habit 6: Talk Less, Listen More

A coach listens more than they say. A coach postpones judgment on what they hear and lets others talk while they listen with care. To get to the heart of a problem or gain a deep understanding of a situation, a coach asks open questions, questions that cannot by answered by a mere “Yes” or “No.” Open questions begin with words like “What happened?”, “How would you do things differently?”, “Why do you think the same problem keeps recurring?”

Exercise: All Ears

Imagine all you can do is ask questions and listen. And, when asking questions is inappropriate, the only option is to listen.

What do you notice about the quality of conversations you have in comparison with your usual way of communicating? And what about the differences in the level of engagement you get from those you usually interact with?

My grandmother used to say, “There’s a reason why we have two ears and one mouth.” Help people answer their own questions and maybe they’ll help answer yours.

Give peer coaching a go with “The Yellow Brick Road—Fresh Insights Through Peer Coaching.”

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches – Habit 5: Pull not Push


Habit 5: Pull not Push

As the saying goes, “the teacher appears when the student is ready.” A coach waits and is always ready when someone asks for help. A coach creates and offers learning opportunities instead of thrusting their ideas, advice, and views onto others.

Exercise: Coaching Offer

Make yourself available by offering 20-30 minute coaching sessions over coffee for free. Advertise by word of mouth and poster or wiki page so people can contact you to arrange a session. Explain up front how the session serves two goals. The first is for you to assist the person asking for help. The second is for that person to give you feedback on your coaching so that you can improve. If no one takes you up on your offer, reflect on why that is, as this may provide a useful lesson in itself.

For more ideas on personal and team improvement, take a look at “The Dream Team Nightmare: Boost Team Productivity Using Agile Techniques”.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches – Habit 4: Think with Your Head and Feel with Your Heart

Agile Fairytales: The Yellow Brick Road

Habit 4: Think with Your Head and Feel with Your Heart

In solving problems, people typically favour one or the other, thinking or feeling. A coach balances thinking and feeling. They apply logical thinking as well as empathy when solving problems. A coach is both the Scarecrow and the Tin Man. A coach understands that change begins with the individual and that only you can change yourself for the better. They speak and act with understanding, compassion, and determination.

Exercise: Facts and Feelings

Think of a problem you’re trying to solve. On the left side of a sheet paper, write down up to seven facts about the problem. On the right side of the same sheet of paper, write down your feelings about the problem.
If you find it easier to come up with facts, it’s likely your preference is thinking over feeling. If you find it easier to describe how you feel about the problem, it’s likely you prefer to feel than think. Neither of these is good nor bad. It simply increases your self-awareness when it comes to achieving a thinking-feeling equilibrium.

For more information, see: What Type Am I? Discover Who You Really Are by Renee Baron, a book that examines the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, including the two preferences of thinking versus feeling.