Newsletters are great motivational tools

For the one sending the newsletter, not necessarily the readers 😉

Last month, when newsletter-sendout-time was nigh, I realized that I had not done anything agile-y all month. Nada. Zip. Zilch. There’s nothing like the prospect of sending out an empty newsletter to make you sit down and do stuff, like finish the 1-pager that’s been in the work for ages or finally add the 100th activity to Retr-O-Mat.

Offering an alternative to RSS for updates and connecting to my audience are both worthy ends. But ass-kicking in the GTD department? I did not foresee the newsletter doing this. Hope, I’ll not come to rely on it though …

Do you have a newsletter or something similar? Does it spur your productivity?

SMARTe Ziele auf deutsch

Hm, wie würdet ihr die SMARTen Ziele übersetzen? Für den deutschen Retromaten (um den sich ansonsten Patrick Zeisig hochverdient gemacht hat) habe ich es gerade folgendermaßen eingedeutscht:

  • specific = spezifisch
  • measurable = messbar
  • attainable = ausführbar
  • relevant = relevant
  • timely = mit Termin

3 davon sind ja sehr naheliegend. Auch “ausführbar” finde ich nah dran. Einzig “timely” finde ich kniffelig. “terminiert” und “Termin gebunden” fand ich beides weniger gut als “mit Termin” aber so ganz trifft es “timely” im Sinne von “zeitnah” nicht. Was meint ihr?

Month of Decluttering

Disclaimer: Lately I’m getting into Tiny Houses and Minimalism. I’ll write about these topics at in German and reserve for work related musings. As I had already started the following post, I’ll publish it here anyway, just this one article.

To make space for the baby, my husband and I defragmented our flat prior to the birth. We’ve thrown away what feels like half our furniture (probably was about 1/6th). We could easily have outfitted at least one other household with all the stuff we got rid of. I was afraid the living room would look cold with so little furniture, but instead we love the new spacious feeling. Somehow, tidying up and getting rid of stuff is good for the mind and soul, too. At least my mind and soul 😉

This clean out gave way to an intense interest into Tiny Houses. This movement’s central question of “What do you really need?” ultimately led us to Dusseldorf’s 1st minimalism meetup. There we got introduced to the “Month of Decluttering” challenge: On the 1st day of the month throw away 1 thing. On the 2nd day 2 things, until on the 30th it’s Bye-bye for 30 things. We decided to start right away in February so that we only have to go up to 28 things.

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What’s in a logo?

Last week I looked at this site and the logo jumped out at me. My side projects Wall-Skills and Mail-Skills have carefully crafted logos and my own blog was stuck with something I cobbled together one evening. :/


Old logo

Worse, I (co-)maintain 4 sites with 3 different logo styles. To my mind the sites are a family and the logo should reflect that. So here’s the new logo:


Shiny new logo

The colors of the 3 marbles in the brain reference Mail-Skills, Wall-Skills and Retr-O-Mat respectively. The latter one will keep its different style for the time being, but 3 out of 4 projects now show that they have something in common:logos-nebeneinanderThis is important to me because I’ve started to work on a book project that is kind of the love child of Mail-Skills and Wall-Skills. So far it’s great fun and I’ll be ready to share details soon 🙂

Fabulous Finding Marbles Newsletter

2015 is upon us, so I’ve decided to use this cutting edge new technology called “email” to spread a so-called “newsletter” to everyone who wants to stay in the loop about my projects. Some of them (Retr-O-Mat, Wall-Skills, Mail-Skills, …) are pretty useful, if I do say so myself. 😉

You’ll get at least 1 mail per month and at most 1 per week containing:

Convinced? Subscribe to the fabulous Finding Marbles newsletter now! 🙂

Update: Newsletter doesn’t exist anymore. Maybe you’d like the Retromat newsletter instead?

Half the work, twice the ideas – Get a partner!

Remember last year’s summer when I thought it would be a splendid idea to write a book? I quickly found out that deadlines I make with myself don’t count. Same with this blog: I attempt to post once per week, but rarely keep my commitment. I’m too lenient with myself.

That’s why I’ve tried a different strategy lately and it works like a charm: Pair up with someone for a project. If I commit to do something to someone else, who relies on me, I follow through. Plus other people have ideas and use channels I would never think of. E.g. on Wall-Skills we get most traffic via reddit. I don’t use reddit (I’m not even sure I understand the concept) but Roland does and he takes care of that part.

That partnership works so well, I decided to team up again for Mail-Skills, this time with Chris. Between the two of us we hold ourselves accountable and that’s worth a lot.

So, if you’ve got trouble following through in projects you do by yourself, maybe there’s someone out there to partner with. It’s also less work and more fun 🙂

What are your experiences with co-projects? Can you recommend them?

Addition: As someone on Twitter pointed out, the above is mainly for non-profit projects. With for-profit projects there are other facets to consider.

Mail-Skills: Methods for new Product Owners

mail-skillsAt the moment Scrum is extremely popular in Germany. In meet ups there are often newly minted Product Owners or people wanting to become a Product Owner. And they all look for orientation: What is expected of them? What skills do they need for this new role?

Despite the high demand, there’s not that much structured information out there, especially compared to other Scrum roles.

Given that a good PO is crucial to a Scrum team’s success, I sat down with Chris, who’s been a PO for many years. Together we brainstormed on topics that would be beneficial for fledgling POs to know about. Then we sorted them into two piles:
* “Skills / Methods / Actionable stuff” such as User Story format, Story Mapping, …
* “Debatable / No definite answer on that” such as Estimation units, what happens with Technical Stories, …

For all the former topics, the more hands-on skills, we’re currently creating an email course: If you sign up, you get 1 email per week with a method that’s relevant to Product Owners and the single, best link about that topic we can find.

Sounds good? We’re merely a week away from launching. If you want to be among the first to become more knowledgable POs, sign up for the free course over at:

Office Hour: Mondays 9-10pm CET

snoopyWhile I was on Sabbatical and getting bored, a friend suggested having “Office Hours”. He told me that a friend of his has “Office Hours” one evening per week as a group video chat. People can join to discuss stuff in her $areaOfExpertise.

With a few months delay I want to try out having an Office Hour, too. It’ll be on Mondays and January 2014 will be my trial period, starting on:

Monday, January 6th, 2014 – 9-10pm CET
Will repeat every Monday at least up until January 27th

Join this Google Hangout: <URL will be here when the hangouts on>

(What’s 9pm in Düsseldorf / Berlin / Vienna in your time zone?)

Join the hang out if you’d like someone to

  • brainstorm
  • discuss agile and human topics with
  • walk through an idea
  • talk about retrospectives
  • test a UI
  • edit your texts
  • suggest something for any of my projects (Retr-O-Mat,, …)
  • whatever else you can think of Continue reading