End-of-Year Retrospective on Learning and Change

Photo by Roy Wangsa

Photo by Roy Wangsa

It's the end of the year, which makes it a perfect time to reflect and show gratitude, and I facilitated an organization-wide retrospective at a lunch and learn to do just that.  It's been a long year with a lot of hard work, and it feels like the benefits are becoming visible to all.

As a quick check-in, I asked the group to describe 2013 in one word, and to further set the stage, I followed their thoughts with a short summary of the organization's wins.  There was a lot of learning and growth that took place over the year, and it was worth exploring.  They broke into small groups and drew pictures of what it felt like to learn and change in 2013.  The creativity was great--an exploding brain, a juggler, a rainbow above blooming flowers and rainfall…. WOW.  This gathering of data and generating insights revealed that learning and changing had been difficult, but it had been worth it--YES!

As an agile coach, I felt obligated to ensure some valuable action came out of this retrospective even though the year is nearly over, so I asked the group: who helped you to learn and grow in 2013?  Each person wrote down names of individuals and then selected one person to thank by the end of the week.  We closed by talking about what people are excited about learning next and how to best use the lunch and learns in 2014.  It was an overwhelmingly positive session.

I've already seen some Thank You notes floating around the office, and I'm hopeful to see more over the next few days.

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.

Mentoring and Gratitude

Photo by Shannon Kringen

Photo by Shannon Kringen

I just finished a virtual coaching class, and I am now an ICAgile Certified Professional in Agile Coaching!  I loved the class, and I learned a lot by practicing coaching skills over the 7 weeks.  During the class, we watched a video about gratitude that got me thinking about the role of mentors in the agile transition:

By the time I "really" became a Scrum Master, I was already part of the agile community and knew people with more experience that I could learn from.  I had someone to tell me to trust my instincts and be proud of my small wins.  I was excited to tell him about the magic I had found in posting 300 index cards with features and defects on walls for our business folks to prioritize, and he laughed and smiled with delight.  He has been instrumental in making me the coach that I am today.

Now as a coach, I find myself showing gratitude for the Scrum Masters and teams that I work with:

 

And showing gratitude for my peers:

And I'm in an environment of gratitude:

And some are showing their gratitude for my coaching:

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.

Recognizing the Joys

Photo by Jennifer

Photo by Jennifer

Johanna Rothman led an exercise during AYE where each individual plotted his/her career on a timeline; the x-axis represented time and the y-axis represented feelings.  We then formed pairs and talked about our graphs, looking at the highs and lows for commonalities.  Here's a glimpse at mine:

cropped-timeline.png

We noted that everyone's timelines had ups and downs.  By the end, we were writing individual action plans to increase the highs (the joys) in our careers.  I had already started pondering a few days earlier my current career position and where I want it to go, so I found the exercise to be timely.

The exercise reminded me of a blog post I read recently about motivation:

You can’t do great work unless you love what you do. It’s this love that drives your actions.

Look back at all the projects you were proud of finishing. You’ll notice the underlying theme of love behind all of them.

Once you understand how your emotions trigger your motivation you will get a better grasp on your productivity.

Tip #3 from that post suggested keeping an appreciation journal to recognize effort, which I've done in the past.  I'm terrible at keeping up with the practice, but it's helped me get through periods where I initially struggled to identify the impact of my work, and I should probably start journaling again.  I first encountered this kind of journal in Lyssa Adkins's Coaching Agile Teams book, and I remember excitedly writing down how a coworker used the term "agile smell" one day in conversation--I knew I had positive influence!  

Identify the things that bring you joy is essential to increasing those moments in your day-to-day work.

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.