Sunday, 28 April 2013

So, the good sides!

Whilst Monday and Friday were pretty awful bookends to the week, the time in between was very good.

On Tuesday morning I was still feeling exhausted. It was not an enjoyable drive to the office and I drank coffee after coffee after coffee (I normally stop at 2 or 3 these days).  But I got into my work, had a chat with my boss - both a catchup and a chat about how I was feeling and things went OK.

Someone who has known since almost the start of the process asked me if I was OK as I did not look great and so we went for a walk to have a catchup. I told him how I was feeling the day before, the issues that I have been having in my head.  Outside of feeling a little delicate right now there were two things that have been getting to me.

The first is that fear of the operation that I have put here.  And there he had a really good point which I had not considered. I'm terrified of not waking up from the anaesthetic.  The chances of it happening are tiny, I know that, and yet it's still there.  I said it was strange that for so many years, whilst never seriously considering it, I spent time each day wondering if it would simply be easier to end it all and what method would be painless and guaranteed to work.  And yet I am afraid of death.  And was at the time as well.  His take on it was simple.  You are afraid because you are not done living yet and you want a lot more of it.  Actually looking at it that way felt really good.  Something I am going to try and keep in mind.

The other was a couple of comments that I have had recently. Nothing bad, nothing meant bad, and certainly not nasty.  But they were all reminders that I am still Stacy the Transsexual, rather than Stacy the Scrum Master.  Normally they would not have affected me at all, but with feeling down anyway they really hit me. He had some really great words there as well.  People are really relaxed around me, sometimes they completely forget what I am going through as I make it so natural. And in those cases these questions can come out without thought of the impact.  He has also had a dramatic year outside of work, and he has the same things.  People make comments thinking that they are saying something nice, but actually it just reinforces the issues that he has had over the period.  Again, it was a way of looking at things that helped a lot.

By the time we got back to the office I was feeling much better!

Then it was time for our Scrum evaluation. We have been using it for a little over a year now, and so far (almost) so good.  There are lots of places where we can improve, but that isn't too say we are doing too badly.

The whole IT department was involved and I was amazed at the energy from everyone, the ideas that people came up with and the fact that the problems that others came up with were the same as the issues I could see from my evangelical Scrum Champion viewpoint :)

The 90 minute session just flew by and we had a lot of good ideas at the end.

An evening spent with my in laws and their kids sealed a very good day! (Except for the traffic jam in getting there ;p)

Wednesday went well, I'm trying to think if there was anything special in the day at work.  It's coming up blank, so I guess not!

But the evening was very interesting! Since I took my Product Owner course I have realised that I will never be a product owner (which is fine, know what your strengths are and work to them!), but as I am supposed to be able to coach them I should make sure that I have an idea about the thought processes, about what makes a good product owner great and the issues facing most of the product owners.

So I joined a group on called 'Product Tank - AMS.  There are three versions of the group, one in New York, on in London and one in Amsterdam.  They meet up once a month for discussions, networking and generally they have presentations from external people.  I met someone who goes to these events at the training day and I could see his enthusiasm I thought I'd give it a try.  The first event that I went to was a networking only session.  It was attached to a large conference and so rather than have presentations it was a chatting session at the end of the day.

Oh dear.  A large group of people where I do not know anyone.  Crap.

But I went anyway, having no idea what I would encounter (just how many three headed monsters are in this world???) or whether I would feel out of place as a none product owner trying to gain an insight into product owners.

I was the first one there, and really welcomed by the person setting everything up.  People started to flow in a couple of minutes after I got there and I started chatting to the guy that I met at the training day. After 1/2 hour or so he went to make sure that his colleague who had come along (another Scrum Master) was getting on OK and I went to the bar.

Where I overheard a really interesting conversation about a Japanese start-up, ran by someone from Silicone Valley.  I waited for my drink and then did something I have never done before in my life.

I joined their group without an invitation.  I don't know about the water I was waiting for, I think I needed a scotch!

But it was fine, we introduced ourselves and they guy continued with his story.  And I stayed with that group for the rest of the evening, having a really great conversation about the trials and tribulations of Product Owners, trying to get management to work with you rather than working against you and trying to figure out what items on the backlog should be done when.

A great evening, and I will be going back next month to actually see one of the talks.  :)

Thursday was another 'what did I actually do' day.  One thing that does fly out at me is our Scrum of Scrums that we have weekly.  The idea is that all Scrum Masters come together and chat about what's working and what isn't inside our teams.

This time one of the guys was really getting stressed about his team.  The daily stand-ups were taking too long, had turned into a planning session where work was negotiated with the Scrum Master and product owner daily and had no energy any more.

We decided to do a hard reset of the team.  He is going to talk to them and say the stand-ups are being reverted to straight Scrum stand-ups.  Three questions need answering from people each day:

  1. What have I done since the last stand-up
  2. What issues am I facing at the moment
  3. What I am planning to do before the next stand-up

But...  He is also working for the team, as well as being Scrum Master and what ever he does seems to place him back in the role of project manager to the team.  I think they want the security of that role over their heads.

So I am going to play the bitch for the next few weeks.  I am going to be hard and anything that deviates from the actual meeting is going to be stopped dead before the meeting gets derailed.  The product owner is going to ask no questions of the team.  If he sees something that makes him think of a questions he can ask afterwards, as it should be.  The team will not get to update their expected work on tasks in the meeting itself.  That will be done during the day as it should be, and the Scrum Master is going to update their burn down chart for them before the meeting starts.

Base Scrum.

I'm actually really looking forward to it.  Not because I like being a bitch (no matter what some people say!) but because I think the team can work so much better than they are, and have a lot more fun in doing so than they are having at the moment.

And that thought fills me with energy too!  Let's see how long I can keep it ;p


  1. You gotta do what you gotta do! (And for as long as it's needed!)

    Go get 'em, girl! :-)

    1. Sometimes you have to go slowly, and gently and sometimes you need to be the strict one not giving an inch and enforcing the rules. I think this is a case for the latter...

      But I expect (hope) it won't be needed for too long!


  2. Stace, I cannot possibly imagine you being a bitch. lol Your sweetness comes through in every word you write!

    That said, I'm glad the balance of your week was so positive. And you are lucky to have such a wise friend. They are invaluable, aren't they?!?

    Aso, I *promise* to respond to your email ASAP! This has been a very busy weekend (as you will see when I *do* respond!). :c)

    Have a wonderful Monday, sweetie!

    Major hugs,

    1. Ah, you've only my good side :) I will admit that when I need to be hard, I can be hard (and people complain!) I just try not to do it very often :)

      It was a great chat, and he can have some great insights - I'll try to find time to pop a few into a mail :)

      The Monday was great :)


  3. For what it's worth, there's a difference between being on-track and being a bitch. The latter? I don't think that's you at all... and I mean that in a nice way! You don't have to be cold hearted to keep people focused. Firm, yes, but not mean. :-)

    1. OK - I'll accept that :) I'm not going in there wound up ready to annoy everyone in the room. I'm going in there ready to stop the first person that goes off on a tangent, and the first person that fires a non stand up question...



  4. Sometimes teams need someone from outside them to come in and make them do things the way they should. Although you might decide as a team that you are going to do something properly all it takes is for one person to decide that they are going to do things their way and it causes a lot of stress. Being too familiar with whoever is leading the meeting as well can mean that things slide because you push the limits.
    I was involved in some stand up meetings a while back, we'd changed our normal team meeting to literally have everyone standing up rather than sitting around the table. All but one person stood up. Next meeting one of the other managers led it and insisted that everyone stand up.

    1. In our case the big change came when our manager changed. Our old manager tried to implement Scrum two or three times - but without any "pain points". So we had to work as we did, but in Scrum. Obviously that lasted all of minutes before it fell apart. Our new boss saw the issues and wanted to try something new. And when we did it was a rather large pain point! But it passed quickly and we are I a better place now!

      Our bi-weekly department meeting is a stand-up, but we do give one woman special permission to sit down. She's heavily pregnant :)