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!

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“.

Visualize remaining time with TimeTimer

How do you keep track of time when you facilitate a retrospective or other meeting? How do you make sure you all keep short timeboxes? A timer on a smart phone is one way to do it, but for me it lacks visibility. I forget the timebox and only remember it, when it’s used up.

TimeTimer

What works beautifully are TimeTimers. With a TimeTimer you set the timebox by pulling out a red disk. As soon as you let go, the red disk slowly starts retreating back below the white parts. That way you always have a pie chart of the remaining time. Elegant, easy to use and it communicates time very effectively!

 

 

Badass – Making Users Awesome – Book Tip

cover_badassOh wow, where do I even start? “Badass – Making Users Awesome” by Kathy Sierra is a truly enlightening read. It contains ideas I’ve never heard before in the very accessible style of the “Head First” books. Sierra makes the case that in order to build a great product and a loyal customer base you have to make your users better in the use of the domain your product is in. If you make a marketing tool, make your users better marketers. IDE? Help them advance their coding craft.

Badass-Master-Any-Skill_Wall-SkillsTowards that end she devotes about half the book to explain how humans acquire skills and become experts. I got so carried away that I condensed it into a Wall-Skills 1-pagers. But it can’t possibly do justice to the book, so read it. It’s very insightful!

 

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!

Open Friday – Lernende Organisation mit Open Spaces

[English summary: I’ve translated my experience reports about regular, company-wide Open Spaces into German.]

Bei sipgate haben wir supergute Erfahrungen mit regelmäßigen (alle 2 Wochen) Open Spaces gemacht. Auf Englisch habe ich dazu schon mehrfach gesprochen und geschrieben. Inzwischen gibt es den kompletten Erfahrungsbericht auch auf Deutsch, bei der Informaktik Akuell. Wenn Dich nur das Ergebnis und weniger der Weg dahin interessiert, findest Du im sipgate-Blog eine kürzere Variante.

Open-Space-Unconferences_Wall-Skills

 

 

The Coach’s Casebook – Book Tip


Cover of The Coach's Casebook
If you’re even remotely interested in Coaching, I highly recommend “The Coach’s Casebook” by Geoff Watts and Kim Morgan. I’ve just finished it and it absolutely lived up to the raving reviews I read on Twitter! For the record, I’m a coaching newbie. I’d figure that newbies and intermediates will gain the most.

The book looks at 12 specific human traits ranging from Perfectionism to Fierce Independence to Procrastination. For each trait they look at a fictious yet very concrete case that’s based on reality. It’s a first person narration from the perspective of the coach and very relatable. The coach’s supervision with their own coach is part of this and really underlines the importance of supervision. Then come 3 methods that one could use to support someone with the respective challenge. At the end of each chapter is an interview with a successful person that overcame the trait.

Of all of these, I could have done without the interviews. They didn’t always seem relevant to me. I love the case studies and the methods. You get to see a wide range of approaches and the inner workings of the coach on top. I’ve learned tons and highly recommend it!

Watching Users – Rebuttal

Have you seen this cartoon lately? With the caption “How it feels to watch a user test your product for the first time”

tumblr_n9hwotyVf11rgs4xgo1_500

I laughed when I first saw it. I’m pretty sure I’ve retweetet it from this guy (his source (their source)). Ever since, I can’t shake the feeling that I betrayed my User Experience education. Yes, that cartoon captures what it feels like to watch users try to use something you created. You think you made it obvious, when you didn’t.

But I’d bet that for most people who retweeted the cartoon it seemed to capture what users behave like, thus continuing the “users are stupid” narrative. That’s why I made this:

watching-users-rebuttal

There, I fixed it. Sorry for the crude drawing. I hope my UX honor is restored.

PS: From the conversations on Twitter it’s perfectly clear that the guy who tweeted it is aware that the designer is to blame. It’s less obvious to people without an UX background.

Favorite Quotes from Joy, Inc. – Menlo #1

Cover of Joy, Inc.What a blast! We (sipgate) just hosted Richard Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations and author of “Joy, Inc.”. Both, the real life Rich and his book are very entertaining and inspiring. So much so, that I’ll write a small series. I want to help spread the word about:

For starters, here are my favorite quotes (okay, passages) from the book:

“You can’t invite users into your office and ask them what they want, because they don’t actually know what they want. It’s not because they are stupid; it’s quite the opposite. They are unconsciously competent at what they do all day, so they can no longer deliver the most important minute details simply because they are unaware of them. The only way to get around this limitation is through keen and patient observation.” – Page 111

That’s where High Tech Anthropologists come in handy.

“To truly run an experiment, you need to try something out more than once, because at first –  no matter what you try – it will probably be bumpy.” – Page 132

“[A]n aspect of scaling that no one ever considers: scaling down.” – Page 195

Indeed, when do we ever consider scaling down? “Scaling” in everyday tech use only knows one direction.

“We have always felt that our contracts […] should be ones we’d be comfortable signing no matter what side of the table we were sitting on. When we receive contractual terms from our clients, many of them are completely one sided; it is left as a difficult exercise for us to add in terms that protect our interests. We see this as incredibly wasteful and a terrible way to begin a relationship between two companies.” – Page 224

In other words, ye olde “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” is universal, even and especially for contracts 🙂

Have you read the book? What’s your take on it?