Monday, September 14, 2015

Taking tasks from the board ...


I've been doing an excellent bootcamp with my personal trainer the last month.  Called "Dan's playground", he's been training us in a series of exercises, with things getting interesting this last couple of weeks.

We've been given a board of tasks to complete as a team ...


We have to complete all these activities to a number of repetitions (which can be shared amongst us as we see fit).  The only constraint is we have a fixed time to finish it - typically 40 minutes, but it's being reduced to 30 minutes recently.  We get 2 minutes as a team to plan, and then we have to get down to it.

I'll ask this now ... DOES ANY OF THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?  [Hint: agile]

Our group has a diverse level of fitness levels and body types.  With my scrum training (and I mean rugby scrum here), I have no issues doing the bench pushes (see below) ...


But as for hanging from the monkey bars for 180 seconds, no thanks.


Here's how we typically do it.  We ask people in the team "what do you feel most comfortable / really want to do?".  And start from there.  People go away, do as many as they can, and come back to see what's left.

Inevitably there's some areas which none of us are really too keen on, and it ends with us all working together at the end to get it done, but we do get through it.  It's also important to me that I don't monopolise the bench pushes, and encourage others to "have a go", because they might really love it when they try it.

But most of all, with this approach we get the job done.  There are some things we really know we can do, and some things which are either a bit unpleasant, or else stretch us.  And that's okay as well.

What's interesting is how much this overlaps with what we explored recently in the Kiwi Workshop on Sofware Testing, exploring testing roles.  Two of the experience reports talked on stepping outside of the testing role when needed, and how important it was for the whole team to step outisde of their role once in a while to "get shit done".

In the gym exercise, it would be very easy to define ourselves by roles,

  • "I'm a strong man, so I only do bench pushes"
  • "I'm a gymnast, so I only do monkey bar work and floor exercises"
  • "I'm a runner, so I only do running stuff"

With such an attitude, we'd fail every one of our challenges.  Instead as an agile team, we need to define ourselves by the activities we have on either our sprint board (if we're agile) or our personal trainers activity board (if we're doing a gym session).

We need to focus on "what needs to be done" and "what can I do".

As I talked in the previous blog on Storming-Norming-Forming-Performing, there's something fascinating about looking at how we make decisions and evolve as groups.  I often feel the even two-week sprints aren't rapid enough for learning.

Earlier this year, a project I was working on arranged a series of bootcamps, and it really helped to connect together everyone who attended - it was all about working together.  Without doubt, if you're starting a new agile team, it's well worth engaging the services of a local personal trainer, and have a couple of compulsory exercises to help the team work out how they approach activities and work together to a common goal.

1 comment:

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