Does anybody remember laughter?

Does anybody remember laughter?

I’m wondering if the #1 metric for agile teams (individuals, groups, organizations) is joy? Or to quote Robert Plant – Does anybody remember laughter?

I’ve often reminisced in my classes that I started developing software for the sheer joy of it. I had fun doing it. It was creative. It was something I could do alone and with teams. It was something that created something useful for a customer/requester and I could deliver it to them and see how it delivered value. It brought be joy.

Then somewhere along my journey the bean counters took over. As did the project managers. The folks who micromanaged me, put more stock in estimates than the work. Folks who, in many cases, didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing. They started pushing me for artificial dates and telling me the wrong thing to build. They didn’t listen to me or treat me like I was a partner. I became a software developing cog in their machine.

And, I lost my joy.

Developing software became a job, a chore, and joy-less. I lost the fun.

2019 & Beyond – Sharpening the Saw

2019 & Beyond – Sharpening the Saw

Every year I try to spend time on my own training. I usually start thinking about two things the year before:

  1. What are some knowledge gaps that I have that I’d like to fill, and

  2. What are upcoming trends that will cause me to become obsolete if I don’t get ahead of them?

Then I review the available courses, events, and actions and I’ll try to come up with 2-3 things that I’ll focus on for personal improvement.

I’ve posted a couple of "Sharpening the Saw" posts in previous years. Usually in March, but this one is a bit late.  I hope this becomes an annual post to remind me (and perhaps you) to plot a journey of continuous learning. And making it public also helps motivate me to actually DO what I say I want to do…

This year, I’ve planned on the following:

  • Agile Coach Camp in Raleigh

  • Evolving Scrum Alliance CAL-I content

  • Co-presenting, more & more...

  • Starting down the ORSC coaching path 

Coach Camp

The "Moose" on Writing, part-3

The "Moose" on Writing, part-3

Continuing on with my guidance for prospective writers…

Not for the $$$

I think my first bit of advice is that, unless your Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, you probably don’t want to focus on the money your book(s) will generate. Particularly if you have narrow markets for your subjects.

Basically, generating revenue isn’t the goal.

However, don’t let that deter you. There are incredible advantages to being a published author. Some that quickly come to mind include:

  • Establishing yourself as a published author and subject matter expert

  • Building your brand

  • Ability to provide classes around topic(s) within your book

  • Adding credibility to your consulting practice

  • Leveraging the book to gain speaking engagements

I guess my point is, your writing of any sort builds your personal brand. And I think that can be priceless in your professional journey.

Traditional Publishers

I haven’t had broad experience across multiple publishers. I’ve published one book with a traditional publisher Dorset House. I’ve also submitted manuscript ideas to 4-5 more publishers and advanced quite far in their selection and approval processes.

The "Moose" on Writing, part-2

The "Moose" on Writing, part-2

Continuing on with my guidance for prospective writers…


When I wrote the first edition of my Scrum Product Ownership book, my target audience was the beginning Product Owner. Someone who had literally no experience in the role.

Consider this my persona for the book.

I defined this focus very early, even before outlining the book. And it gave me a clear vision for flow, topic coverage, and literally every word I wrote.

In fact, I continuously asked myself – how is this section going to help the novice Product Owner? And – am I missing anything they need to know?

I can’t tell you how useful creating a primary persona (identifying your audience) is when writing. It helps keep you focused an on-point with your writing. It also helps keep the book lean, because as you edit, you always connect back to your persona. And if the content doesn’t align, then cut it.

Finding your Personal Style

I started public speaking in the late 1990’s. As I said in the introduction, I’m an introvert and I started doing it to improve. One of the early mistakes I made was copying another speakers style for my own. I’m embarrassed to say that I mimicked Johanna Rothman initially. And it didn’t go well.

The "Moose" on Writing, part-1

The "Moose" on Writing, part-1

I remember is as if it was yesterday. It was 2000 – 2001. I was working at Lucent (Bell Labs) at the time when the telecommunications bubble burst and I was laid off from my job. Along with thousands of others across the industry. 

Lucent had a development center on the campus of NC State here in Raleigh, NC. There were ~300 folks that worked there and we were all let go.

But it was a protracted departure, as the process took about 3-months for everyone to pack up and leave the building in waves. I was one of the leaders who stayed until the very end and turned off the lights. Lucky me.

I had a lot of idle time and I started to write a book to fill that space. It wasn’t something I’d planned, but it was a topic that I had some passion around (and thoughts to share). The book became Software Endgames, which was eventually published by Dorset House in 2004.

Since then, I’ve self-published three books related to agile topics. One of them, Scrum Product Ownership, is in it’s 3’rd Edition.  

People often ask me for advice around writing. Usually, it’s related to how to get started. Sometimes the discussion is around their ambition to write a book. While I don’t consider myself an expert in either space, I decided to share my learnings in this 3-part article series. I hope you find some value in it.

Journaling – How to get started?

Journaling – How to get started?

If you’ve attended any of my leadership talks or workshops, you’ve heard me espouse the value of journaling as a leadership skills growth exercise.  

In my Certified Agile Leadership classes, I even give out a copy of my (current) favorite journal by Dingbats. It’s really an outstanding daily journal AND I encourage you to read the backstory about the company as well.

Since I talk about journaling so much, I’ve inspired a recent CAL class attendee to try it. But recently he sent me the following –

I've never been very good at journaling consistently and reading generic blog posts haven't really motivated me. I was wondering if you'd be willing to share the types of things that you journal and the benefits that you find from the practice? 

Which I journaled about and then it inspired me to write this post ;-)

Everyone Needs a Coach

Everyone Needs a Coach

The next time you’re looking to engage an agile coach, there’s an additional set of questions I want you to explore with them—

  • Do you (they) have a coach?

  • How often do you (they) meet?

  • What are you (they) currently working on in your journey?

  • What was the last crucial conversation you (they) had with your coach like?

  • Reflecting on your being coached journey, how coachable are you? What are the keys to your being coachable?

What I’m asking you to explore is their personal coaching journey. I feel that most agile coaches are comfortable coaching. But the counterpoint, being coached and being coachable, are often a different question. I guess it’s the age-old challenge of telling being easy and receiving being much harder.

Our Language

Our Language

I delivered a lightning keynote at the StarEast conference in May 2019. If you’re unfamiliar, this format is a 5-minute pitch on any topic you like.

I intentionally went into it without a predetermined talk our slides. I wanted to see what might inspire me before or during the conference. Unfortunately, I waited until the day before the keynote to decide what I would talk about. But I’m sort of glad I did.

My Observation

Mary Thorn and I shared 3 – ½ day workshops at the conference. And during those sessions, and in the hallways, I noticed a trend.

I was listening carefully to people’s questions, the discussions, the stories, and the challenges. And one pattern emerged that caught my attention. The language was very much around –

Leaving Your Nest!

I can’t believe our Meta-Cast podcast, brainchild of myself and Josh Anderson, is approaching it’s…

150th Episode


We began it in 2010 and will be celebrating our 10th Anniversary in January 2020.

So, yes, this is a PLUG for the Meta-Cast.

Leaving Your Nest…

But it’s also a plug for a recent 3-part series that Josh and I recorded about leaving your nest. That is, if indications are that you need to.

I’d recommend listening to the whole series…in order. And we hope it nspire folks to either Stay or Go.

Stay agile my friend,


Bringing and Being Ourselves

Bringing and Being Ourselves

There is the current notion in modern organizations of bringing our whole selves to work. That separating our lives from our profession isn’t a good idea, healthy, or even possible. 

Chris Murman recently posted an article that showed real courage and vulnerability in sharing who he is. He shared his emotional nature and how it has impacted his professional life.

I applaud Chris for this.

It takes an incredible person to share so much of themselves publicly. But if you knew Chris, you wouldn’t be so surprised.

From my perspective, there are different sorts of agile coaches for example—