Need an idea for your next agile retrospective? Or 127? Retromat eBook!

Wow, this was a looooong time in the making, but it’s finally here: The Retromat eBook! So, if you’ve ever wanted to front-load your brain with each and every activity in Retromat, check out the Retromat eBook!
Cover Retromat eBook

Find the perfect fitting activity for your team and situation! Never run the same retrospective twice. Unless you have to bring one back due to popular demand 🙂

While I was at it, I updated and included a lot of useful information around retrospectives, such as the basics, a default planPhase 0 & increasing follow-through on action items and the interview series about remote retrospectives. I hope the result is useful to you 🙂

PS: If you’re the source or submitter of one of the activities currently in Retromat you get a free copy! Just email me! Check the green box below for contact details.)

PPS: Interested in retrospectives? Sign up to the Retromat newsletter to get related news and tricks!

Retromat is not meant for beginners!

Aaaargh, I recently found out that there are indeed people who just use whatever random plan Retromat spits out. Errh mah God! I was in serious denial about this, despite evidence to the contrary.

I never, ever meant for anyone to do this. The random plan was always meant as a starting point from which everyone would merrily click left and right to create a plan that fits their and their team’s needs.

That’s what I meant with the “tweak it” in “Planning your next retrospective? Get started with a random plan, tweak it, print it and share the URL”. It’s a little too subtle. To me it’s obvious that most random combinations will not work well together. It’s obvious to me, because I’ve facilitated retros before and I’m experienced. It’s not obvious for someone new to retros. So here’s a handy note to self:

What is obvious to me is not necessarily obvious to others. In fact, it will be least obvious to the people who need the clarification most.

How could I not realize this for so long? I guess I only get emails from people for whom it works. I don’t hear from those that fail with a random plan or those that “have to pick up the pieces after an inexperienced colleague unleashed a random retro on a team” (actual quote!). I’m so sorry!

I’ll try to find the time to beginner-proof Retromat ASAP. I’ve also thought about the best out-of-the-box, beginner-friendly retro plan I can come up with. It’s practically guaranteed to be better than a random plan.

To reiterate: Retromat is a great source of inspiration for people who know what they’re doing. It’s not a good place to start for people who lack the experience to know whether activities go together well.

In theory Retromat offers millions of plans for retrospectives. In practice only a fraction of these combinations work well. A random plan is highly unlikely to work out!

When you plan a retrospective with Retromat you have to make sure that you know how the results of one activity will be used in the next activity. That’s what the arrows at the sides are for: To flip through the activities for one that fits to the activities before and after it, as well as your team’s situation.

Retromat needs some experience. Please do not recommend it to beginners! At least not without fair warning. Recommend Agile Retrospectives instead and if it’s urgent, this plan. Thank you!

PS: Interested in retrospectives? Sign up to the Retromat newsletter to get related news and tricks!

24 Work Hacks – Das Buch

[English summary: We wrote a book at work (in German) and it turned out amazing!!! It’s a cross between coffee table and business book. Watch out for “24 Work Hacks“! If you’d be interested in an English version, tell me so that I can make a case for translating it 🙂 ]

Buchcover von "24 Work Hacks"

Endlich, endlich, darf ich es offiziell verkünden: Wir haben auf der Arbeit (ich arbeite bei sipgate) ein Buch geschrieben und es ist fantastisch geworden! Eine einzigartige Mischung aus Business- und CoffeeTable-Buch, d.h. richtig gute Fotos plus knackige Texte.

Wir haben versucht einen Rundgang durch unser Büro in Buchform zu gießen. Im Herbst 2015 haben wir mit Touren angefangen und seitdem Tausende Besucher herumgeführt und ihnen von unserer Arbeitsweise erzählt. Die Themen reichen von agilen Klassikern wie Retrospektiven bis zu innovativen, eigenen Lösungen wie Open Friday, Peer Feedback und vielem mehr.

Die bisherigen Rückmeldungen zu Beta-Versionen des Buchs bestätigen uns, dass “24 Work Hacks” richtig Lust darauf macht, agil und lean zu arbeiten. Ich wünschte, das Buch hätte es gegeben, als wir 2010 mit Scrum anfingen, denn wir hatten damals keine Ahnung, wie das alles aussehen könnte, wenn wir’s durchziehen. Naja, es hat auch so geklappt, aber leicht war’s nicht und die Inspiration und Vision im Buch hätte uns sicher geholfen.

“24 Work Hacks” erscheint am 15. September. Ihr könnt gerne schon mal auf Amazon vorbestellen 🙂

Mehr Infos, Bilder, ein Kapitel zum Probelesen usw. findet ihr auf der offiziellen Website zu “24 Work Hacks“.

Product Owner in der agilen Transition – Podcast

[English summary: Popular podcaster Toby Baier and me talk about the Product Owner during the initial transition / adoption / ignition / <find a better word> to Scrum in his podcast series “Agiles Produktmanagement”.]

toby-baierDie POs unter euch kennen wahrscheinlich schon Toby Baiers Podcast “Agiles Produktmanagement”. In Folge 14 unterhält sich Toby mit mir über den “Product Owner in der agilen Transition”. Dem geht ein Exkurs über die Unzulänglichkeiten des Wortes “Transition” voraus 🙂

 

Die Folge bekommt ihr hier. Viel Spaß beim Hören!

Radical Gratitude Applied

unfall

One lucky person

2 weeks ago I read a nice piece about how to be luckier overnight: Being grateful about adverse things changes your perspective. I really liked it and have tried to do this more conciously. Admittedly, there are a few things I refuse to be grateful for in any way whatsoever, but for most nuisances in my life I can find many aspects to be genuinely grateful about.

Yesterday my bike wheel got stuck in tram tracks and I banged up my knee, wrist and face. Here’s what I’m profoundly grateful for:

  • There was no tram or car behind me when I crashed
  • I haven’t found a child bike seat yet, so I did not have my little one with me
  • Health insurance will cover the ambulance, stitch and x-ray. At no point in time did I have to worry about money
  • There are people working when others are party-ing (It was the first day of Carnival – major party all day. And no, I hadn’t had any alcohol. I was completely sober.)
  • No permanent damage (maybe a mini scar next to the eye)
  • I can easily afford new glasses
  • There were 5+ passengers helping me
  • I’m not a single parent so I could call my husband to pick up our daughter from daycare

I’m a very, very lucky person! Take care!

PS: If you end up to be a helper in a similar situation here’s 2 things I would have wished for: 1) Not to have a tiny dog bark in my face while I’m laying on the pavement on the verge of passing out and 2) for at least one of my helpers to kneel. When you’re laying on the ground you look at a wall of shins. Shins are not friendly.

These are optimizations on a high level. I’m very grateful so many people tried to help!

 

 

Goodbye 2015, hello 2016!

A new year! I love the clean slate! A good opportunity to reflect on the past, present and future.

Past

Professionally speaking, last year might well have been my best year yet. Definitely in terms of exposure – not just for me but also for sipgate. I used to read about Spotify, Jimdo and other great places to work thinking “We do these things, too! We are just as great a place to work at! Why does nobody ever mention us?”

I mean, Olaf Lewitz said on Twitter that sipgate is

the most agile company I know

He knows us because we’ve had the privilege to work with him several times. I’d like for others to know, too. Consequently I’ve never spoken at that many conferences before. With these and other efforts in 2015 we have started to slowly but surely put ourselves on the map. 2016 is gonna be even better because several of my colleagues are preparing talks about topics, such as how we implemented and work with our Pattern Library, how we migrated a core system in teeny-tiny steps, or how we reached continuous delivery. I can’t wait to see those!

Privately it’s been a mixed year. It’s my first whole year as a mom and time is even dearer than it was before. I once read that as a parent you can have exactly one hobby. It’s true for me and the hobby I picked were Retromat, Wall-Skills & this blog. Those of you who can count might spot a slight problem there, and yes, 3 is too much on top of a full-time job and family. I’ve had more sick days this year than all sick days prior to 2015 combined – with a wide margin! To illustrate: I did my first keynote. Should have been a stellar moment for me. And it was. But I’ve also rarely been more ill than at that point in time.

Apparently the first year of kindergarten is hell for parents. Your child is building up it’s immune system and is constantly sick. And you along with it. For us it culminated in all three of being more or less ill for all of December. Yay. Not.

For the record, I wouldn’t trade. The little one is amazing and I love her so very much! I’m just not used to being sick all the time.

Present & Future

That aside, my body tells me very clearly that I can’t keep up the pace I set in 2015. Especially, without doing any sports at all. That’s why I bought a bike and will cycle to work this year. Unfortunately my tram commute was my only quiet “me time” in which I wrote all blog posts and most of the Wall-Skills 1-pagers. Not sure how much I can get done in evenings. Posting 2 times a week is definitely out of scope. I’d consider 1 blog post per week a great success. And maybe 1 Wall-Skills 1-pager per month? Plus, the 2 books I’d like to create … Focus! I need more focus.

Or more time. I’d love to be able to take 1 week of unpaid leave several times a year so that I can burst-work on a project: Create 5 1-pagers. Write 50 pages. A new project that strikes my fancy. (I’m still toying with the idea of actually producing these.) Useful stuff like this 🙂

It would be much easier to do, if the time taken off paid for itself in some way. As much as I hate the word “monetization”, it would make things easier. The Wall-Skills collections are a step into that direction. The websites will always stay free!

At work I will have to face the fact that I am not a very good developer. At the end of the day I’m always more interested in the human side of tech and invest my time there. Time to find new role inside sipgate that’s a better fit. It’s gonna be fun figuring that out 🙂

“What was your favourite session?”

In 2013 I wrote this piece on “Ready-made Conversation Starters – for Conferences“.

It’s a suggested solution for my reluctance to initiate first contact at a conference lunch table. I mean, I’m there to get to know people and yet I don’t manage to casually start a conversation.

lunch_2536701726_468b0f9626_m

In August I’ve been to the US for the first time and at this conference I managed to start conversations. I think that 2 things changed. Firstly, I really wanted to get over myself and secondly the other ones were American. What I know about US culture gave me permission to try to chat people up. When in Rome, do as the Romans do…

Luckily I found out early on that “So, what’s your favorite session so far?” is an excellent conversation starter.

I want to keep that line and to keep making contact. For the mostly German confs I attend, I plan to get my inner American on and get to know people. 🙂

Agile & Scrum – Wall-Skills Compilations

For a long time I’ve wanted to group the helpful 1-pagers on Wall-Skills.com into books (well, PDFs), so that it’s easy to study or display all those for a certain topic.

cover_agile-scrum

The topic currently dearest to my heart is a collection for Product Owners that are just starting out. That one’s still in the making but 2 sub-collections (they are gonna be chapters in the big one for Product Owners) are done and live on LeanPub: Facilitation (free!) and Agile & Scrum. Let me know what you think!

Update January 24th, 2016: “Skills for Successful Product Owners” is available 🙂

Thank God it’s Open Friday – Agile 2015

[This post is one of many sparked by Agile 2015.]

Oh wow, back from Agile 2015. My first Agile. What a ride, so full of impressions and met so many interesting people! I feel about a gazillion blog posts coming on 🙂

But for starters, here’s the paper for my talk “Thank God it’s Open Friday!”. I recommend the paper over the slides, because it’s self-contained. The slides miss a lot of commentary, even with speaker notes.

What is this “Open Friday” thing you ask?

“Every other Friday all employees in our company hold an Open Space. It’s how we spread knowledge, solve problems, gather ideas and superseded meetings.” – Me, 2015
Update: Here are the questions people have asked me about Open Friday. The answers, too 😉