@#$% the Dip!

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Photo by Thomas Hawk

In working at various companies, I've come across a common concern from managers when we start talking about their teams learning something new:

"How long will we be in the Dip?"

"When will be out of the Dip?"

"How can we avoid the Dip?"

It seems that we've come to understand that learning something new involves an initial dip in productivity or results, and now managers are trying to decide when is the right time for the learning to happen.

THE TIME IS NOW.

In my experience, delaying learning is a bad choice. Clearly the status quo is not sufficient, which is why the subject came up at all. Typically it's around the technical practices learning needed to become a two-star team. It's often not as bad as we imagine it to be, and empirical methods help us evaluate progress along the way.

Promote learning when there is interest or need. Support it when it's difficult. The Dip was not meant to deter us from trying new things. It's about the journey to mastery.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Technical Excellence Doesn't Just Happen

Photo by Peter Casier

Photo by Peter Casier

Mike Rieser and I recently co-presented at Houston TechFest, and a recording of our presentation is now available. We talk about why technical excellence matters and some of the things we did as coaches to help an organization avoid technical bankruptcy.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Reflecting on Technical Craftsmanship

Photo by torbakhopper

Photo by torbakhopper

The folks at Agile Velocity were kind enough to interview me about technical craftsmanship and post it online. I feel like I'm occupying a special role as an advocate for technical excellence here. Those who know me realize that I don't consider myself a "technical coach," and I am not the person to look to for hands-on mentoring in technical practices. However, I find it impossible to work in the software development sphere and not pay attention to the technical practices of the teams and organizations that I work with. That's the craft. Whether you know how to write code or not, be in the conversations about the technical practices used where you work and find out how you can support improvement.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Asking for What You Want

Photo by Angélica Portales

Photo by Angélica Portales

I had a realization earlier that struck me as funny.

I've been holding myself back.

Ok, that wasn't the funny part. It was my immediate next thought:

Of course I've been holding myself back--no one else can!

Who else would stop us from our dreams? If it's important to us, we'll find a way. And yet we stop ourselves, hinder ourselves, make things more complicated for ourselves.

I've had this notion that telling people what I want will cheapen "it" if I get it. Like because I had to ask or say something about it, it's less thoughtful or deserved when I receive it. Whatever "it" is. This isn't the same as not saying what you wished for when you blow out birthday candles. This adult version of not sharing what I wish for is holding me back in life!

Where are you holding yourself back?

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Something New - Lightning Talks

Photo by Carolina Odman

Photo by Carolina Odman

I've presented a number of different topics at various conferences with different co-presenters, and I thought it would be fun to stretch my skills by trying something new. I've submitted a 7-minute Pecha Kucha on Communities Support Transformation and a 3-minute lightning talk called Coaches Say the Darndest Things. Both formats are outside of my comfort zone, and I'm hoping at least one will be selected for the Agile 2016 conference. If you are attending the conference, please vote for my topics at the links above. I'd love to have a deadline to create and refine the talks by--external accountability helps!

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Software Development--It’s All About Learning!

Photo by Sonny Abesamis

Photo by Sonny Abesamis

Sometimes I learn new things at conferences and training classes. And sometimes I am reminded of things that I already know.

Two events caused me to see something I knew but had lost sight of:

  1. Craig Larman mentioned in LeSS class that software developers are trained in computer science programs to gather requirements, design, code, and test, so doing these activities within a self-organizing team is not a big stretch for them.
  2. Diana Larsen pointed out during the Organization Design Forum that “knowledge worker” is a misnomer for software developers—a better name would be “learning worker” because we are continually learning more about our customers, our business, technology, etc.

Software development is all about learning! That sounds obvious, and in some ways, it is. It is the foundation of our work. Learning is the bottleneck in delivering software. And yet I see organizations try to optimize teams and processes based on knowledge rather than learning. Teams are often designed based on people’s roles, assumed skills, and existing domain knowledge instead of allowing cross-functional teams to self-design based on their understanding of people’s skill sets and social preferences.

I also remembered a few facts about adult learners that further amplified for me why scrum teams can be great learning vehicles:

  • Groups learn faster than individuals
  • An individual’s commitment is proportionate to personal investment in design
  • Highly cohesive groups influence each other more than non-cohesive groups
  • People have to see practical connection

How is your organization design supporting learning rather than knowledge? How is it not?

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Avoiding the Accountability Bat

Photo by Dan Pearce

Photo by Dan Pearce

For the longest time, the word “accountability” bothered me, and I couldn’t put my finger on why. I’m a fairly responsible person. Before saying yes to something new, I try to pause and reflect on what I’m committing myself to and what I might need to say no to as a result. Being held responsible for my commitments is fine. So what is it about “accountability” that makes me feel anxious?

One day as I heard someone talking about how people need to be held accountable throughout their organization in order for real change to happen, I felt the anger and frustration in her voice. Her values hadn’t been honored. Sadly, I sensed she wanted to shame people for not doing their jobs the way she wanted. It’s like she was holding a baseball bat in her hands as she talked about needing to hold people accountable. No wonder I felt uncomfortable.

Most people don’t come to work to do a bad job. They are not children who require babysitting. They are humans who are trying, doing the best that they can, and occasionally making mistakes. Christopher Avery has a great view on accountability:

Accountability is external. Accountability is always a relationship between you and somebody else. Whether or not you are held to account isn’t up to you — it’s up to that other person.

We all need feedback in order to know how we’re doing and what we can improve, and the way that we deliver that message matters tremendously. We can show up with our imaginary baseball bats, hurt relationships, and allow a toxic culture to develop when we hold people accountable. Or we can be in alignment with our values and have healthy conversations about expectations, how are current behaviors are impacting others, and the results they’re producing. Accountability can build relationships and a culture of trust or it can be an excuse to tear people down. What is it doing in your organization?

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Ask Me About Agile Lunch and Learns in Dallas

Photo by Adam Simmons

Photo by Adam Simmons

It's been incredible visiting Phoenix, Indianapolis, and even Cornwall, Ontario this year meeting other agilists and sharing ideas--I love the conversations that start from one person sharing their experiences. However, this post is all about Dallas.

The agile community in Dallas continues to grow, and I want it continue to thrive. If your team or organization would benefit from a lunch and learn presentation related to an agile topic, please contact me. I would love to share my knowledge and experiences, answer questions, and get to know others in the local community. I've grown through my involvement in Dallas, and it's a joy giving back.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Technical Excellence isn’t Something You Just Sprinkle On

Photo by Michael Coppola

Photo by Michael Coppola

Mike Rieser and I had the pleasure of presenting Technical Excellence Doesn't Just Happen--Igniting a Craftsmanship Culture at Keep Austin Agile 2016. Mike and I partnered as coaches to help an organization through a technical turnaround, and the session is about why technical excellence matters and what we did to support 20 scrum teams improving their technical practices. Check out this interview we did with Howard Sublett on the subject:

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

My First Podcast Interview - Scrum Master Toolbox!

Photo by podcast

Photo by podcast

I am very excited to share that I've done my first podcast interview! Over the last year, I've been listening to podcasts more, and Vic Bonacci of Agile Coffee was kind enough to introduce me to Vasco Duarte and his Scrum Master Toolbox podcast. The podcast interviews Scrum Masters and practitioners to share their experiences and perspectives on failure, success, and change. Visit http://scrum-master-toolbox.com/ for more information and volunteer to be interviewed if you're interested.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.