Archive for June, 2013

I read tons of books.

When people asked me how they could learn to read more, I told them I read X nr of pages a day. When I was 13/14 I actually read 1 book a day. Although it was an unhealthy habit for multiple reasons (I had to repass exams during the holidays to mention one) I learned a lot about creating habits.

When I started to work, I gave myself the limit of 30 pages a day.
When I got kids, this limit became 10 pages a day. A lot less, yet still +3600 pages a year. A lot more then most people I know.

My advice to people these days is to start creating a habit of reading a nr of pages every day, even if it’s only 1 page. 365 pages a year, is one book a year. Better then nothing.

For that I realized lately that there is a better way to create habits. A chain calendar.

This year I participated in a creative initiative, where people are encouraged to create one creative idea per day. (www.eenideeperdag.be )
And every day you did that, is counted. When you don’t publish an idea, the next day you start back at 0.

Such a creativity chain is very addictive. The first few days were very easy for me, I had a lot of creative idea’s. By the end, I felt stuck, yet, the fact that I had already such a long chain, I did not gave up.
In the end I published new idea’s for 64 days in a row (The maximum period.) Not because I am a genius. I could do it, because they have put a great system in place.

While I wrote this post, I realized that I have been using similar systems in most parts of my life.

  • Nr of steps I am talking (on my walking desk)
  • the weekly blogging of my who is serie 
  • my weekly republishing of who is agile
  • I think that Foursquare reward system is also a habit creating system
  • My daily tweets at @Retroflection (I hope you agree that 1264 days in row is a nice chain

What habit have you created to enhance your life?

y

At the start of 1990, I listened to a life concert that U2 gave in the Point Depot in Dublin. (I just found this back on YouTube, I did not even know there was a video footage of it. I only had this on tape)
During that concert Bono said “

It’s your future. The only limits are the limits of your imagination. Dream up the kind of world you want to live in – dream out loud. At high volume! That’s what we do for a living.

I was 18 and that statement made a high impact on my life.  I was happy to see Dream out loud came back in the lyrics of Acrobat. He actually added “don’t let the bastards grind you down” which is an important part of living your dream.

That last sentence, helped me during multiple periods in my life to break with people who prefer to remind the people around them that they should not dream. If a bastards keeps trying to grind me down, my best way is to break with them. Life is too short to be surrounded by people who limit their lifes and mine.

The limits sentence I tweaked a bit and it became my company tag line:
We are only limits by the limits of your imagination.

Next video does the same thing.
It reminds me of
– Bono’s message,
the 7 habits of highly effective people
– for me the best session from ACCDE10: getting out of your comfort zone

Thank you Vincent Vanderheeren (and his wife Maaike) to bring this video to my attention.

PS: And one of these people living her dream is Bonnie.
She moved to London to study and ended up kickstarting teastorks
If you like Tea. check out their kickstarter project. Only 23 hours left to support her.

This is blogpost III on work retrospectives.

At one of my clients, we are doing one week sprints.  Changing the way a team works every week, sometimes feels overkill. People want to see the effects of what they have.  For this we have decided to also try another kind of work retrospective.

A discussion workshop.

We don’t plan any actions in this one. We discuss some common statements. Actually common statement about agile that have been personalized for this team.

This was the format:

A) Checkin

mad, glad, sad, afraid

 

B) Discussion workshop

B.1 5 minutes explaining six different statements

  • we learn enough

  • it’s better to finish then to start

  • it’s important to be predictable

  • the quality of our work is excellent

  • in our team, we tell eachother everything

  • retrospectives are very useful

 

B.2 5 minutes silent sorting the statements: done by the full team, without SM or PO.

 

B.3 Divide team + SM + PO in two groups.

 

B.4 Take first statement

 

B.4.1 5 minutes of finding arguments

group nr 1: finding arguments why the statement is true

group nr 2:  finding arguments why the statement is false

 

B.4.2 Change groups (one person stays behind)

B.4.3 5 minutes of finding arguments

Group nr3 : finding arguments why the statement is true

Group nr 4: finding arguments why the statement is false

 

B.4.4 select your prefered position for this discussion. (might be the opposite of what you think yourself)

B.4.5 10 minutes of group discussion

 

B.5 second statement

repeat steps of B.4

 

Yves why do you still call this a retrospective, isn’t this just a workshop, training exercise?
Good question. I think it’s in between. We did this at the moment of a retrospective. We started by a check in that was very much related to the last sprint.
Second, as this is not yet a mature team, discussions are an important part of creating the team.
Discussions about more generic topics, instead of full force on hot issues in the team are more safe. So for me, it’s is part of improving the team. The big difference is that the improvement happen as part of the retro, that is why I put this inside my series of work retrospective.

Yves what is lacking, is a real conclusion/next step/action based on this exercice.
True. For the public version we want to play at conferences, we will experiment with an audience voting on who was the best debater.
Do you have a better idea how we could add a next step to this?