Personal improvement

Dear Kalle and Matte,

So, I have been thinking about this a lot lately…

Quite a while back I had a sort of epiphany to do with continues improvement (CI), I decided that CI was the true key to successful agile implementations, after that I started to see the need for this in everything I looked at, especially myself. But for this post I will focus on my role and a Scrum Master/Agile Coach.

So, there is a lot of places I want to practice CI, and I have had some limited success with this… Monthly meetings with the Scrumbeers group let’s bounce ideas off people, get feedback and think about new approaches… But, it’s not enough!

The issue is 2 fold:
1) Motivation and focus:
I basically know I need to spend some time reading blog posts, books, attending conferences,  probably a lot of other stuff… But I can’t seem to get my butt in gear and do it. I was trying for a while to read 1 fiction, then 1 agile book… The problem was it was always easier to read a fiction after a hard days work. I am thinking what I need is a solid plan of how often to spend on what. Like 2 hours book, 1 hour blogs a week. And 2 conferences a year… Or something along that line… Then I have to work hard on focusing myself and doing this. Thoughts? Maybe if we vowed to do something as a group? (Could include blog posts here)

2) What do I do!?!
There is soooooo much out there, it is really difficult to decide what to focus on. I tried looking online for a Scrum Master development path, but got no good results from that (Aside from the certification path). I feel I need to set some goals and limitations on myself, while at the same time leaving time to explore and examine ideas I would not normally…
Anyone got ideas about what to focus on? I have too many ideas is my issue…

So, what do you guys say? Who wants to commit a few hours a week to personal improvement? Or, do you think this needs to be a personal journey?

Also, any of our other readership is invited to weigh in on this conversation!

Jeff

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Rule of Three and the stuff that don’t make your board

Hi Kalle,

As you probably have noticed over the years, I have a tendency to get really absorbed and fascinated with some of my hobbies during a time period.

Since I have limited time and focus available, a sort of Kanban-like system has evolved for this without me actually thinking about it – I can really only focus on three hobbies at the same time.

Right now, my three are:

  • League of Legends
  • Civilization 5
  • Skyrim

Past examples of these include previous versions of Civ, Starcraft 1 and 2 (both as a player and a spectator), a crappy Facebook game called War Metal:Tyrant, another crappy Facebook game called Farmville, Fallout, NBA basketball, Wrestling (the fake WWE-kind), Magic: The Gathering and various other card games and surprisingly enough, front-end development (the XHTML/CSS Web Standards days). Yes, a lot of games on that list – what can I say, I like games more than most people.

What’s more interesting though is that this list only includes the things I’ve perceived as major hobbies and time-drains over the years. There are obviously a lot of other things that have both taken up time and energy and given me great fun, that I haven’t thought of in terms of this system.

These fall into a couple of categories:

Family and friends.

These are in a class of their own, since the “system” is mostly for the part of my free time that is usually “Matte time”. It would be weird to think I’d have to bump a friend in order to have time for another. In reality though, this is probably closer to the truth than I would like to admit (just ask Jeff and Mark…).

Things that are too small to register.

Right now, that would be this blog, Puzzle Quest on the iPhone, reading books, reading magazines and playing board games.

Things that aren’t easily categorized as “hobbies”.

Ironically, this might be work items that bridges the gap between work and freetime (like reading work-related articles or improving a mostly work-related skill).

Here is the point:
Your Kanban or SCRUM board only holds what you think about and label as stories or tasks, which probably isn’t all activities that your team performs (like maintenance, meetings, bug fixing, software installation etc).

Everything else, you still need to have a plan for – either that part of your work automatically flows into your day and is part of your velocity, or you have to make it visible in some way so you can track it, manage it and improve it (always improve everything, right?).

Can you remember how we did this at Lavasoft? It seems like a blur to me now… 😉

Have a great weekend,

Mattias