Scrum Teams' Sprint data
- points committed per sprint
- points achieved per sprint
- iteration length
- total points in the backlog at the end of the sprint
A few months ago I was approached by a large US consultancy with a view of helping them with very short assignments across Europe. Somebody I know had recommended me to the recruiter and I felt excited because I like the idea of doing high impact short assignments with a clear idea how I add value. The initial conversation by email sounded very promising to me so I agreed to a call with the hiring manager.
On a rather cold day I decided to take the call while walking along the canal in Reading and that certainly added to a sense of urgency – I can only appreciate this now, a few months later. The call begun with a general chat and I tried to emphasise on every step that I am only interested if the role fits with what I am after. It was soon clear that the person I talk to is:
So 15-20 minutes into it, it didn’t look like our opinions converge and I had decided to interrupt the conversation and call it a day. Why was I surprised? I was approached by a large (alarm bell #1) US (alarm bell #2) consultancy (alarm bell #3). That should have been enough, right? Unless I was not listening to the bells… I believe the answer is relatively simple – the company were recommended to me and I was recommended to them by someone I knew therefore this activated my social brain who then obviously took over… But this is not the main point that I wanted to describe in this post
Over the next few weeks it so happened that I got several calls from other agencies and consultancies and as if on purpose the conversation always was around “doing this job” with a focus on fulfilling a role requirement and executing something written in a role description as opposed to making a positive difference or adding value to a business. At that point I knew that it is all broken. All I have seen and experienced in all these years of working for other companies has been mostly broken. Something like “do this activity for me” and I will pay you vs “help me do better”… Sounds to me very similar to my friend Mike Sutton’s post on working with someone vs working for someone.
So I think I developed this new understanding that I really have no interest in just doing a job. That I really am after an opportunity allowing me to add value to a team or an organisation with a clear vision that I can subscribe to – like “delighting customers” or “improving people’s lives” or “helping reduce waste” and while there may not be many of these organisations in existence then I can at least try to get as close to this as possible.
And this is how my not so conscious decision to end the call on that cold winter day now makes sense to my conscious mind. I do want to work with you to add value but I am not that interested in the purely transactional doing a job or working for you.
That’s how it is for me. How about you?
Comments and improvements are welcome and I hope someone finds this useful!
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A friend of mine sent me a message last week. It was a polite message asking if we can play tennis some time, but what I found interesting was that he added an explanation of his skill level which he probably found to be a reasonable thing to do since we’ve never played before. That short description of his skills got me thinking about how would I describe my skill level in tennis. How about how I achieved it? Or how would I go about improving it?
I started playing tennis when I was in high school because I liked it. I never took any lessons from an experienced player or coach. I read a little bit about how it’s played in a book and then I just played and learned by my mistakes. This got me to a skill level that I think is good enough to play with my friends of a similar skill level and enjoy the game. At the same time however when I look at the 10 or 11 year olds play at the tennis training ground where I take my daughter every Saturday I am convinced that most of them will get bored playing with me within just a few minutes.
If I want to improve my tennis skills I am faced with a significant constraint - I only have 1-2 hours per week available to play and I fear that if I continue learning by mistakes it will eventually take me many years and I might just lose interest. There’s an easy and affordable solution to my tennis problem – coaching is available and is proven to get results. But the point of this post of course is not so much about my tennis skills.
I think that some organisations I’ve worked with have taken my approach to learning tennis and applied it to building software and the entire organisation. From my day to day experience with these companies they appeared to have read a book and then they learned by their mistakes. This is not to say that we should not be learning by mistakes but rather to recognise when a major shift in our approach might be required. So it does not surprise me that as a result such organisations managed to develop fairly average (and in some cases awful) software that in most cases costs a lot to develop and run. I judge by the number of defects I’ve seen reported by customers and the time these companies required to take a product to market. When you build software of similar quality then the costs of supporting and enhancing it grow exponentially and it is soon being declared too expensive to maintain or make money. And while as a tennis player I get more than one chance to fail and learn, it also appeared to me that these organisations had been set-up to limit the learning opportunities, punish failure severely and therefore not surprisingly to me many of these companies no longer exist . Using my tennis learning approach is not something I would recommend in all cases however it seems to me that it is widely and explicitly used coupled with complete disapproval of failure and limited ability to learn.
Ok, How do I know all this?
Check the the saddest statistic in the world (in an article by Steve Denning).
What’s the percentage of people who truly love what they are currently doing at work? It's a 6% meaning that 94% of the people are miserable at work.
This is how I know.
Organisations can and should be built better.
And when they are stuck they need to get appropriate coaching (which is what I am doing to improve my tennis skills )