Sprint 1 Retrospective
Regular readers may have noticed that I'm not coming up in their RSS feeds as often these days. It's partly because I haven't felt like blogging, and partly because I've been too busy. I'm responsible for some OpenAjax editing (we're *still* trying to finish up 1.0 of the metadata specification), hockey season has started, and I'm trying to plan birthday events for both me and the Beaner. Oh, and I went back to work (on a contract-to-hire basis, which reminds me of "try & buy" in software parlance) at the end of September.
Yep, that's right, I'm working. A couple former colleagues noticed that I'd updated my LinkedIn profile—and that I'd gone from being a developer to being a ScrumMaster—and wondered if I'd changed career paths completely. The answer is no; I got interested in software engineering management while working at Adobe (and specifically while acting as Team Lead for the development team in Hamburg, Germany), and my brief experience with Scrum at Aptana really got me thinking about software development process. I ended up taking a ScrumMaster certification course (on my own dime) over the summer, reading about project management with Scrum and software project management in general, and talking with anyone who'd indulge me about plan-driven vs. agile methodologies and individual teams' experiences with them.
Yeah, I'm a geek. I know.
I wasn't specifically planning on becoming a ScrumMaster—I played the Product Owner role at Aptana, and after taking the SM certification course, I was more sure that PO was the right role for me—but I was interested in the challenge presented by this opportunity, so I decided to try it. So far, it's been pretty cool. It's fun to realize that Scrum has an answer for most of the problems the team has encountered thus far, even if we're still not in a purely Agile environment (we're definitely trying to strike a balance between agility and the need for long-range planning, and I'm personally trying to limit the amount of radical change I introduce into a team that's already mid-project). And honestly, at this company, in this industry, and for this group, ScrumMaster probably *is* the right role for me. It gives me a chance to scratch my software development process itch and practice the encourage/inspire/remove-obstacles-to-success part of management without having to be responsible for anyone else's career goals (or write performance reviews).
I've been at it for three weeks now, and I have a few random observations to record:
- The first week was hard, and I did worry that I wasn't doing it right—and consequently I spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights that week Sprint planning in my sleep and waking up exhausted—but the team has been very forgiving and willing to let me learn as I go.
- Being in the office, in direct, face-to-face communication with the people I work with is great. I often communicate so much that I find myself needing some quiet time in my cube (hello, introvert!)... but then I come home and excitedly tell Al what worked and what didn't that day.
- I'm almost as excited when something goes wrong as when something goes well. So far, I've been able to see the learning opportunity/teachable moment each time. I hope that continues.
- So far, I'm not missing writing code. There was one moment where I had the urge to volunteer to help with some front-end HTML/CSS/JS development, but I stopped myself. (Al and I have an idea for a software product that I started scoping out before I went back to work, so if I really feel the need to produce something and not just shepherd production by others, I can work on that.)
- So far, I haven't brought work home with me. Last night, for the first time, I had the urge to work after hours, but I'm hoping that for the most part I can leave work at work, and that my home office with the three laptops can scale down to a writing, photo-editing, and bill-paying spot. (We'll see if I can manage the work/life balance as I become more invested in the projects and people at the office.)
- This is a great exercise in staying humble and helpful, about being the grease, not the wheel. It's bringing me more joy than I thought it would.
- Moments like this make me really happy:
For those of you unclear as to why, it's because I'm watching my team be really productive. Everyone's talking to the people they need to talk to, they're looking over each other's shoulders instead of just exchanging e-mails, they're figuring out complex issues by drawing on whiteboards. It's colocated Scrum at work.
- My commute is really convenient (a 7-minute walk if I'm wearing practical shoes; a slightly longer one if I'm wearing heeled boots and can't make forward progress as quickly, as happened on Friday), but it's not long enough to listen to audiobooks or podcasts. Consequently, I'm very much behind on my podcast consumption. Time to clean the house or do laundry so I can catch up!
- I love seeing Al during the day. (Did I not mention that I work in the same building as Al?) We were intially worried that this would be a problem, but we've found that we don't usually run into each other accidentally, and being able to eat lunch together occasionally or to walk home together (more regularly) has been an unexpected benefit.
- I miss playing golf 2-3 times a week. I'll get to golf next weekend, but I do miss the regular outings. Of course, going back to work coincided with the end of summer (and thus the peak golfing season) anyway, so it's not like I'd really be out on the course if I weren't working (especially not in 45-degree rain).
- I miss the flexibility of being able to get things done during the day while everyone else is at work; now I have to wait until the weekends like everybody else.
- I'm looking forward to football, introducing the Beaner to new vegetables and figuring out which ones he likes best, reading the Sunday New York Times, and working on Halloween costumes tomorrow; I'm also looking forward to the Sprint demo, Sprint retrospective, and Sprint planning on Monday.
- Life is good.