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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Adoptions, implementations, and transformations... oh my!

As an Agile Coach I need to help my client identify why they believe Agile will help them so they can set themselves up for success.

Adoption. Implementation. Transformation. Transition.

I've heard, and used, these terms when discussing a client's desire to be Agile. I've heard them misused as well.

There's a difference between all those terms. And that difference matters, because it sets so many up for failure. It also allows a mindset that is anathema to Agile.

Adopt is to choose or take on; as in adopting a child. When we adopt Agile we might be adding it to our existing processes, practices, etc.

Implement (the verb) is to put something into place or effect or start using. When we start using Agile, we can either be replacing or adding to current processes, practices, etc.

Transition is the process of changing from one state of condition to another. When we start using Agile we are transitioning away from other methods or practices.

Transformation is a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance; a metamorphosis. When we transform ourselves with Agile we are affecting a change throughout the organization. One which, when complete, will leave us looking very different.

I think diction is important and try to be precise when speaking and writing. But I have found that sometimes I must be less precise to appeal to my audience. Not everyone believes diction is important or even thinks about it. And if you sound like a pedantic professor all the time, people might lose interest in what you're trying to convey.

But when it comes to what I'm trying to help a client do, I think the distinction between these terms is critical. And I would call out two more as well, adapt and adjust; these come into play along with all the other terms.

Adopting or implementing Agile means the client either doesn't know what that means or they aren't willing to change their whole organization to be Agile. In many cases, I've heard a client say they only want their software or IT teams to use Agile because they feel that's the only place it will work or that's the only place they feel it's necessary.

But if you soup up your car engine without increasing the the air intake or the exhaust manifold you will have paid all that money for nothing. You won't go faster and in fact you might have problems with the powerful engine choking, sputtering and even stalling.

When I hear clients say they are transitioning or transforming to Agile it sounds like they understand this, but not always. Because a true transition means you're readying everyone and a true transformation means everyone is changing how they do what they do.

We are no longer a society that works primarily in factories mass producing widgets on conveyor belt assembly lines, with pieces and parts humans pull and fit together and then pass on to the next human.

Now we're asking people to think about how we can best give the customer what they need/want whether it's a financial product (quick loan on your credit card via your mobile smartphone), a game (for the kids, to vent frustration or maintain brain growth), or an feature that helps them be more efficient (e.g. voice dictated emails).

That requires living life so you understand the need and what features and functionality are best to offer; and keeping up with what is already out there. None of us wants to copycat another but we often end up doing that without trying because we don't pay attention.

We need to be out in the world interacting with our customers so we understand them and the world they, and we, live in. This might mean carving out a day or two a week or month to allow employees to explore the world outside work. Or fostering an environment where different business teams collaborate and share and learn from one another. Or sending them to conferences where they can interact with the customer as well as peers.

It also means inviting others to the table where we have the discussions about what we're doing and why and when. In this case, more heads are much better than the proverbial two. Especially if those other heads have information that might impact our decisions.

Sales knows that a competitor just released a similar app. Marketing knows the timeline puts the app on the market at the wrong time. Staffing/Talent Resourcing (aka Human Resources-a phrase I am on a mission to eradicate) knows they won't be able to find the developers necessary in time because they're hiring process takes six months.

Security knows that they will be in the midst of a compliance and regulatory driven audit and unable to review the changes or open the fire wall for them. Operations knows that the ramp up for procuring hardware will take three months of the timeline. Finance knows that there isn't enough money for six months without pulling it from elsewhere. Support knows that the lead time to hire and train enough people to support the new product is six months plus at least two weeks.

Why would you not take all this into account when making a decision about where you're going to spend money, on what, and when?

By all means, introduce Agile to your development teams, whether delivery or IT, but take a look at how your annual goals are selected and what the organization does to drive to them. Is everyone in sync?

Are the problems you run into because those other units didn't know the plan or didn't realize how they fit into working toward the goal? Did they (or you) think it didn't matter how they did things?Are the obstacles due to those other units inability to deliver what is needed in the time allotted?

Maybe Staffing/Talent Resourcing needs to examine why the hiring process takes so long. Maybe Security needs to create a Jedi team that takes on the annual audit freeing up others to review new releases. Maybe Finance should look at how to fund a team or a product so there is no need for creative financing (which gives everyone heartburn). Maybe executives should examine how many initiatives make sense to run in the same time frame.

Maybe you need to adjust or adapt your adoption and implementation of Agile to include a transition to a transformation where you get everyone one the same page. Increase the air intake and the exhaust manifold; your engine will run much more efficiently.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Partners in Agile - Pair Coaching

As an Agile Coach I need to provide good coverage with large adoptions as well as appeal to or connect with different personalities so I can help guide the client to success in Agile.

Most of the adoptions, implementations, and transformations (there's a difference between all those) I have worked on have been solo gigs for me.

This last gig two of us were brought in to work together with this client after the group had a particularly strained experience with coaching. We realized right off the bat we'd need to walk very softly and coach where each individual and team were at the moment we interacted with them rather than try to round everyone up and create a baseline or offer something they'd already done. One example, no training; we couldn't use the word. We had to figure out how to train them without telling them we were training them.

This was something we were both interested in doing as it was outside our norm and luckily we were both of the same mind--any new experiences for us are good. It makes us better coaches in the long run, pulling us out of our comfortable groove. It put us very much on par with our client. Except that we had faith in Agile and the client was starting to lose that faith; if they'd ever had it.

Initially, because it was such a large group we tried bringing in two other coaches to help with the load and ensure we met the client's timeline. Unfortunately, they were not a good fit for where the client was and could not adapt themselves to coaching in the moment.

And I'll admit, after hearing the stories of the coaching experience this client had, we were wary. We didn't want to lose the client because another coach told them they had to do it the "right" way. So we scrapped that idea and forged ahead, just the two of us... and about 400 hundred people in multiple teams and units across the globe--who were not doing traditional software development. These were support, operations, and other internal end user service groups and teams.

At first, since we'd never worked together before, we chatted about what to do, when, and how, and checked in with each other before doing something with a team or individual. We had a stand up every day to assess where we felt the group was and what they needed. Very soon however, we didn't have time for those formal scheduled stand ups and ended up having informal debriefings with each other at the end of each day--standing in the parking lot.

Eventually, we found a way when passing in the hall or stopping for lunch to pass on information to each other about a team or individual who might need focused coaching from the other as we felt the personalities didn't mesh or they needed something the other had a better handle on or more experience.

We learned what our strengths were through each other's eyes (not always what we thought they were), supported one another when we felt frustrated, and celebrated our successes with high fives and little happy dances, and generally became better coaches.

Because sometimes two coaches are better than one. We were likened to yin and yang. We complemented one another and were truly in flow when working together. I'm much more a planner and my partner is a doer. He doesn't need to think too much about what he's going to do or say and just let's it happen in the moment. I felt a little like we were walking a tight rope with no net underneath the first few times we did this. But I got used to it and eventually liked it.

Now I'm much better at flying by the seat of my pants; his forte. I learned to trust myself more and because my coaching partner had such faith in my ability I did too. He was also great at making me feel I had done well when trying something new.

I supported him when he took flyers and eventually realized that I was helping him because he wasn't always sure either. For example, he made up a new activity for one group that was suffering several maladies, including lack of immediate leadership, and feeling lost. It worked and not only did the team love it but the VP of that group did too. My partner told me later, he wasn't sure it would work but it came to him that we needed a way to help them break the hierarchical logjam without using the term stand up which this team wouldn't do.

We hosted sessions locally and globally, in person and via teleconference, without a script, and invariably got rave reviews for our mingling of experiences, stories, examples, and approaches. Many people thought we'd worked together a long time to achieve the ease and close collaboration we exhibited.

It was truly a perfect storm of unique backgrounds, cultures of origin, specialties and strengths, and it energized the people we worked with helping them to find success in adopting Agile practices and concepts.

It was the best gig I've had to date. My only regret is that we can't pair up on every contract.

My sincere hope is that I can find other coaches with whom I can pair and find something similar in my upcoming opportunities.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Owning My Imposter Syndrome

As an Agile Coach I need to be confident in leading, teaching, and mentoring people so my clients will trust me and feel comfortable when I ask them to take the risk of changing.

I have imposter syndrome

There, I said it. Well, I wrote it.

Here's how bad my case is: I wrote a post a few weeks back where I was going to say I suffered from the opposite of the Dunning-Kruger effect--which according to Wikipedia iscognitive bias wherein people of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is--but I didn't write that because I didn't want people thinking that I thought I was smart. 

Another example? I didn't want to use the word syndrome in this post but the less diagnostic term experience; because syndrome sounds like a big deal and I'm not important enough.  

One more: I attended a coaching summit recently; I was so excited to meet other coaches. After nearly two years of solo coaching I really needed to find a tribe. They had a session on imposter syndrome and I didn't go because I was worried they'd find out I wasn't as good or experienced as them. Really.

Yeah, that's a bad case. Sometimes crippling. I know; I struggle with it every day.

I did not grow up confident or with a good sense of self. I was told overtly and covertly for all of my childhood and young adulthood that I was less than, not smart enough, and just generally a burden.

I won't go into detail, but my home life was not conducive to me learning that I had value as a person. I was not valued; in fact I was aggressively devalued--physically, mentally and emotionally.

This was reinforced at school; teachers in the STEM classes (all male) told me that I didn't need to worry about my C grade in math or science because I was a girl and wouldn't need that knowledge.

As soon as I finished high school, I got married and had my daughter. I was 18 and truly believed that was the totality of my destiny. But my hope was that this amazing thing I had done, creating a whole other human being, would confer on me some credibility.

Then I started in the adult world of work as a receptionist and secretary. Every day I was surrounded by men who felt it was their duty to tell me that I should or shouldn't dress a certain way, how much I should weigh, what I should eat when out to lunch, when I could or couldn't speak and what to say and how, what choice of perfume or fragrance was acceptable, and that my input on anything was not welcome; but that I should smile more often as I was so much prettier when I did.

I changed the way I dressed, what I ate, my language, my volume, all of my communications--verbal and non-verbal. And I got along in that world. I learned which men would allow more of the real me to participate and those who expected the 'seen but not heard' version; and I watched, listened, and learned. 

I believed them when they said I could not work on computers unless I had a degree and tried to attend college part time, while working full time and being a mother to a toddler. It didn't work out for me and though I still sometimes wish it had, it did set me down a path of largely self taught, hard won knowledge and enlightenment.

I don't want this to sound like a diatribe against the patriarchy; it's not. But it is my story. And my story also includes many men and women who lifted me up and supported me and helped me and accepted me. They are why I'm here and haven't given up.

Though my confidence built as I stretched to try new things and I was supported by friends and colleagues, I always had this little voice in my head telling me that I should be careful, that I was not really in their league and they might find out; or worse they knew but were being nice and if I overstepped they might decide to stop.

I've long had cognitive dissonance; I feel like a fraud, but am aware that I am really good at what I do, and I like doing it. So I get up every day and forge ahead acting like a confident, experienced and knowledgeable person... because I am. Even though the voice is there all day long, every day.

My colleagues have encouraged me to speak at conferences and I always said I don't have anything to say that people want to hear. They tell me I should write a book and I say I don't have anything new to add to the conversation; what I did or how I did it isn't unique. (I only moved to another country and lived there for nearly two years while handling a transformation in a different culture for about 200 people by myself... and was successful.)

I short change myself and in doing so probably short change others. (I say as my inner voice says, Ummm, probably not.)

It's not easy but the fact that I am aware of it and actively work at dispelling the voice, and have discovered that so many other people feel the same way means I can be honest and sincere about who I am and my own fears when working with people.

Which, it turns out, is the best way to build the relationship necessary to guide people in the change to an Agile environment; which effects not only their work but hopefully their personal lives too. Because if we're building true, open, honest relationships how can it not?

Which doesn't mean I talk about or share all this personal information with my clients; I don't. (I realize I now have a fear that my contract opportunities will dwindle with publication of this post.)

But my new mantra is to take risks. I learned to scuba dive while in the Philippines, a risk I would not normally ever have taken... ever. Right up there with moving to a foreign country. And flying, which used to scare the absolute bejeezus out of me. Now I jump out of airplanes and drag my husband cross country for concerts with a band I am Deadheading over (Imagine Dragons).

So I'll keep repeating to myself I am not a fraud, and actively seek ways to validate that. I spoke at an Agile conference this year and survived it unscathed. In fact, people thanked me for the honest approach and information. So I am submitting my talk for next year's round of conferences.

I've resurrected this blog and made a promise to myself to let it go wherever it wants as long as I can tie it in with my work as a coach.

Maybe I will write that book.

I'm not sure if the voice will ever go away, but I'll use it to my advantage and create honest, truthful interactions with people who have their own internal voices so we can build workplace environments that are successful for everyone; employer, employee and customer.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Why I am an Agile Coach

As an Agile Coach I need to share my origins and motivations with people so they can understand why I do what I do and we can build the relationships necessary to be successful.

When I first started working in the world of software development I was enamored of the idea that computers would make our lives easier; in addition to that it was just so stinkin' sci fi awesome to be working with computers and networks. Of course this was in the late 80s and early days for personal computers, though not my latent geekiness.

This was around the time when I worked for a "baby Bell" spin off, US West; they were busy creating the first of what has now become the worldwide ATM banking network. Interesting and exciting times for a 20-something girl.

Fast forward to today, 30+ years later and I am now an Agile Coach. Having held nearly every position in software development I have unique experience to aid me in coaching teams in their transformation. I have been in their shoes, or worked closely with someone who has, and can help them see how things can be different as well as what the benefit is to moving toward Agile practices and concepts.

My time as a project manager in particular was illuminating, if also frustrating. You can not pay me enough to go back to the days of spending hours on a MS Project file, with associated Gantt charts, guessing and tweaking those guesses to try to fit all the work into a timeline and budget that were completely out of sync with the ask. And don't even get me started on trying to make those plans work in the real world.

That's what I love about Agile. We don't say 'no', we just say here is how much we can get done with that much money and/or in that time frame. What do you want first? If necessary we may have to ask questions like, 'what can you live without?' But by that time, we should have delivered something that has made our customer happy and the question usually goes down much easier especially since the work in question is probably not something they want anymore anyway.

I believe my time as a wife and parent has also shaped much of my approach as a coach. My negotiation skills, honed over 28 years of marriage, are super useful when I need to get managers to loosen the reins a little bit, which requires that they trust me enough and are willing, and you don't get there with a simple please.

Similarly, many times I have had to stand by and watch teams fail at something because they needed to learn on their own. Early in my coaching, I had much difficulty with that. It's become easier and I believe it helps build much stronger more cohesive teams by allowing them this opportunity.

Getting to meet new people, learn about different cultures (both organizational and geographic), build relationships with people I might never have otherwise interacted with--enriching my life and theirs--are all part of the gig.

I love what I do and I think that makes me better at it too. It's a little like switching a light on for people who have been in the dark for a long time. Seeing their faces light up and the energy flow when they realize how much easier their life has become and how much more joy they have in their day is pretty special.

I truly believe so much of what we teach in Agile is humanity. People first. Work together. Talk. Agree. Compromise. Work hard. Play hard. Have fun. Get stuff done. Spread joy.

That's why I am an Agile Coach.

Monday, November 27, 2017

A very merry unplan to me!

As an Agile Coach I need to help my client understand that planning a transformation is not productive use of time so we can collaborate, experiment, inspect and adapt to achieve a successful transformation.

Generally, I am hired to come in and coach delivery teams in how to be Agile so they can deliver things faster and hopefully with better quality. This is actually what the leaders who bring me in say to me. The problem with this approach of course if that Agile is not and never has been about delivering faster. Quality has always been a focus however, so they're only half confused.

If you are applying lean concepts and eliminating waste (not doing things that don't provide value) as well as incorporating other concepts like self-organizing, cross-functional teams; short iterations; and collaborating with the customer to ensure you're on the right path, then it may feel like you're delivering faster. But the reality is, if it takes 6 weeks to code and test a feature it will always take 6 weeks to code and test that feature. It's just that we all know we're doing the right thing because we got the necessary feedback; and hopefully we're delivering it in small increments if possible to continue that feedback loop.

But if other units or groups in your organization are bottlenecks delaying or obstructing the flow of something necessary to those teams, then it doesn't matter how good the plan is or how Agile we're being; we won't achieve the outcome we're looking for in the time our customer needs it.

Although the concept of holistic Agile has been tickling the edges of my consciousness for some time, it's only within the last six months that I started committing time and brain space to figure out what that actually looks like--researching who is doing it and how they made the case. How did they "sell" that to companies and leaders who believe Agile is only for their IT and software development teams? How did they convince those leaders that they might need to change what they do or how they do it in their HR and Finance and Sales and Marketing groups? Were they just lucky?

It's not easy to map this out into a plan, especially with some of the organizations I've worked with in the last 6-8 years. They're really big ships that are actively moving forward with years of momentum pushing them along, and pockets of resistance that are hard to engage since they believe it's all about delivery teams and/or they're 'busy and don't have time.'

But the plan to transform only delivery teams is flawed because it gives us the illusion that this is what will happen, but doesn't take into account what happens when someone quits because they got a bad review even though their team delivered consistently and delighted the customer every time. Why did they get a bad review you ask? Well because outdated business practices say managers can't give everyone glowing reviews; someone has to have a lower ranking or "needs to improve."

The plan doesn't take into account what happens when we can't fill open positions because the HR process takes six months to find the skilled person we need, or Accounting balks at paying more than they believe is warranted or is "industry standard" for the title.

Even a coach can plan how to implement Agile practices and concepts for a client and find on day one or two that the plan is already off track for many reasons--including those mentioned above.

We want our plans to tell us how we will do something and how long it will take but without knowledge of all people and events beforehand (or a crystal ball) that's just not possible. So we start with what we know and continue from there experimenting and reviewing the empirical evidence. At least that's the hope.

This has worked to a certain degree with most of the transformations I've worked on, but the next thing I hear from my clients is how do we measure where we are and/or how well we're doing? Which is a whole other post, and right now I'm pretty consumed with trying to create a plan that isn't a plan but will satisfy the needs of my client today. It's a little Alice Through the Looking Glass; I need to create an unplan.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Let's Make a Meal!

As an Agile Coach I need to find a way to help people practice the concepts I'm teaching in a way that makes it relevant and easy to understand and apply so they can start using those concepts immediately in their daily work.

I wrote about using games to help teach recently and wanted to share a game I created because I think it's so helpful with illustrating the reason we have to work so closely with our customer/product owner and team; and it's relevant to all cultures.

It's essentially a planning session where the team is working on something they are all familiar with and all consume.

I called it "Let's Make a Meal" because I am nothing if not a child of American culture; there once was a television game show called "Let's Make a Deal" and in looking for the link to share I discovered--to my surprise--it's still airing.

Bad puns aside, the game is actually fun and quite good at helping people practice multiple Agile concepts. But don't just take my word for it! Read on...

Let's Make a Meal!

Teams work together to plan an event which includes food. Cards with food names written on them are provided along with other materials: sharpies, post its, pens, and blank paper. The time box is about ~1.5 hours; though it can take up to 2 hours depending on the number of people.

If there are really good conversations happening I'll encourage them to continue just to help drive that message a little deeper into their psyches.


  • Break group into teams of 5-7 people and select a Product Owner and Scrum Master (2-3 mins)
  • The Product Owner decides what the event is (the vision); decides on a menu using the cards provided; the Scrum Master helps the Product Owner get organized and the team listens (5-10 mins)
  • The team works with the Product Owner to start writing stories (10-20 mins)
  • The team discusses and decides what the Definition of Done is for the event (5-10 mins)
  • The team and the Product Owner discuss stories and edit them for clarity and to identify/understand acceptance criteria (30 mins)
  • Then the team estimates each item with story points and breaks the stories down into tasks to estimate the time to Done; Product Owner provides clarity as needed (5-10 mins)
  • The Scrum Master keeps everyone on track for time; ensuring they keep the game outcome in mind--each team should have:
    • an event description; artwork/posters are optional
    • a menu
    • stories complete with acceptance criteria 
    • the definition of done
    • total story points and estimated duration
  • When all are done each team reads the event description, menu, definition of done, and totals to other teams; if there is time they can possibly share a story or two with acceptance criteria.
The most awesome part of this exercise is seeing the light bulb go on for the people who said at the beginning of the class that they thought there was no value in story writing or planning sessions. 

In the game, these teams spend about an hour and a half planning an imaginary event with food they're not going to eat and they are serious about it. I've seen arguments (albeit good-natured) about how to cook a specific item; that's how serious some people take it.

When I point this out, and ask how they think (hypothetically) the event might have turned out without the discussion and clarification they almost all say something along the lines of "It will be better because we did that."

It turns out there are some people who know how to cook and others who don't. Those who don't make assumptions about the time it takes and what the ingredients might include. There are food items no one has ever heard of and they have to figure out what to do about that; some of them decided for themselves what it was and others Googled them.

There was one team whose Product Owner chose to plan an event for her elderly grandmother and wanted to include a dish that everyone was familiar with but there was a twist; her grandmother always made it a certain way with extra ingredients. 

Her team would have planned to make it the way they knew how if they hadn't discussed it with her. Because although she'd written it in the story and acceptance criteria they just thought she didn't know how to make it; they would have ignored what she wrote.

Then there are the story point estimates and duration estimates. Many times have I heard the claims that story points are a waste of time, or should have time attached to them, or should be "normalized" so everyone understands what they mean across teams.

When the teams in this exercise look around at the differences in the estimates and realizes that each team has widely varied expertise in event planning and catering the penny drops. The sudden realization is sometimes comical, but always electrifying.

I've had very excited students come up to me after the class asking for the game instructions and copies of the food cards so they can share it with their team at work.

What I point out to them at the end is this: we all eat food and we all hold or attend parties but we don't do it exactly the same. Our experiences and knowledge may be similar but are not the same. We all may know what tira misu is but not necessarily what's in it or how to make it. 

We all know what a wedding is but they are culturally vastly different--an American wedding generally lasts about half a day; an Indian wedding can go three days--that's a lot more food and planning.

We have to talk to come to an understanding of what we're doing, when, why and how. This game is a fun way of getting people to see that. 

As a side note, the reality and creativity people bring to this exercise consistently blows me away. It's really their energetic participation that makes it so much fun and resonate so deeply. 

I often tell the students they should take the same energy to their teams and they're often a little sheepish about that, telling me they didn't realize they could.

That is why I'm sharing this with all of you. Because we all should have that kind of fun with our teams... every day.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Blogging and tweeting and Facebook... oy vay!

As an Agile Coach I need to maintain a social media presence so that I can keep up to date on my chosen field, learn from, share and maintain contact with my colleagues, be aware of relevant events, and show up on the radar of potential colleagues/clients.

While trying to keep up with social media personally is usually fun--though can easily turn into a huge time sink--trying to maintain a professional presence while tracking other professionals I admire and/or want to learn from can be daunting.

I want to keep up with the latest in my field and see what others are doing and experiencing and sharing but the beast requires that you feed it as well and that takes a LOT of time. One of the reasons I stopped blogging after nearly a year in the Philippines was because there just wasn't enough time.

Now granted, I was also trying to maintain family and friend relationships with people in the US while creating and nurturing new acquaintances in Manila, learning a new skill (scuba diving) which took me all over the Philippines, and actually work 40 hours per week (not to mention factoring in the traffic and increased travel time for even short distances).

But now that I'm back in the US and things are a little more 'normal' schedule wise, I still find it a large investment of time to maintain social accounts. There's:
  • Facebook with family and friends; keeping up with what they're all doing and sharing our lives, photos, personal highs/lows, and political woes. As well as following my agency and other business pages (including my own which is in indefinite hiatus), etc.
  • Twitter; a little more personally removed but no less relevant to my life and those aforementioned political woes. I have two Twitter accounts because I thought it would be smart not to share personal feelings/beliefs with my professional world, since for me it equals possible working relationships and clients. But it's more than twice the work; there's the emotional weight of not remembering which account I'm logged into and then deleting tweets sent from the wrong account and resending from the right one. (And I know by doing that I'm not being my whole self with those potential clients and working relationships, but that's a whole other can o' worms. A girl's gotta eat and pay her bills and keep her stress levels down.)
  • Instagram; a place where I can follow people I admire or am interested in and share my own updates with family, friends, and complete strangers--which sounds weird, but I find it oddly comforting. That we can all connect over photographs of nature or other shared interests but maintain that distance... like a gallery or museum. Plus, as an amateur photographer it's validating to have people like and comment on my photos.
  • LinkedIn; where I want to be more active--I currently check the feed about once a week, 'like' posts and sometimes comment--but feel reticent about say, publishing articles since it's more professional in nature and topics, and my first instinct is I don't have anything new to add, or better or more enlightening to say than others. (Yes, I have impostor syndrome; I'm working on that.)
  • Slack; where I am most active--mainly reading what others have posted; though that's great for me. Learning and understanding how other people are viewing the same things I see in our chosen field of work as well as those who are struggling and how they solved for those issues. I do try to participate and share--it's one of my goals toward dispensing with that impostor thought process. But I have six active Slack work spaces; one that I own and maintain.
  • My personal blog; which I started thinking it would be about the transformation I was working on in Manila but more often than not blurred into personal posts. I realized that the whole culture shift was just as important as what I was doing as a coach during working hours; because I was working with people in that culture and needed to understand that if I was to understand them. (And now that I'm trying to get back to consistently posting to the blog, I think I should just go with the flow and not try to force it into a mold.)
I generally only use Twitter, LinkedIn and Slack for business, but all of it takes time; not just to read through the feeds and linked articles but to follow up, respond, or post requires thought and sometimes research.

And since it's the nature of the game I try to maintain a steady stream of timely and relevant content--depending on the account--which means looking ahead and scheduling (Hootsuite is great for this), as well as keeping my eyes and ears open for the new and yet unknown, which takes yet more time. It can be a huge mental lift, but can also be mentally exhausting too.

Sometimes I think back to the day when we didn't have this access to each other and to the world at large and wonder if it makes a difference to be so connected and to spend the time. If I stopped doing all of it what would happen? Would it really affect my day to day life and work opportunities?

But then I think about how I feel to see a post from someone across the world who feels the way I do about something and feel connected. A stranger likes a photo I posted on Instagram and maybe comments simply, "That's stunning" and I feel pretty good about that. I see updates from family and friends who live far from me and feel a little closer.

And I know that people have followed me professionally on Twitter because I offer something that most do not. My tweets are usually centered around lifting others up. I didn't set out to do that and didn't even realize I was doing it until I saw the responses I got from those tweets; likes, retweets and follows. I thought my brand was "agile coach" but I think now it's 140 character comments about how awesome others are; especially when said peeps are live. (Though I have no clue what that might be called, in terms of a brand.)

I think its important to stay connected; I think it makes the whole world a better place and feel a little smaller. I think sharing our hopes, photos, wonder, and the feelings those evoke are all good and truthfully Agile. I have said before, and will continue to say, I think Agile is all about humanity.

So for now, I'll carve out an hour or two a day (that's my new target) to read and respond, find new and interesting to share, post my photos, like my family's silliness, write about my professional challenges or thoughts and just generally participate in the sprawling, sometimes chaotic, hubbub.