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Guest Post – Jessica Kennedy – Personal Agility

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Living Agile – What is living agile?

By: Jessica Kennedy

Are your ready to embrace change? Put your obligations into perspective? Do what you want to do?!?

Living agile is being adaptable. Bringing into your life new experiences, new opportunities.

Living Agile is maximizing all your resources; your time, your money, and what you want to experience. Apply this to what you want to do, need to do and have to do.

Items that you may see on my list would be:

  • Workout (boot camp) 2X per week
  • Meditate 10 min per day
  • Make the new recipe X
  • Do a particular activity with my daughter
  • Grocery shop
  • Shop Farmer’s Mkt

This list is a combination of what I have to do, what I need to do and what I want to do.

Week Long To Do List

With this visual representation, I can see how to balance my week of activities. Taking care of myself is my top priority so I list it first, then spending time with my daughter, then trying a new recipe. You will notice shopping for food is the bottom of my list. My least favorite is a “have” to do so I will need to make a time allowance for that activity.

How do you create one of these charts? You can use a nice sized piece of poster board to lay out the columns and headers. Then use post-it notes to populate your “to do” list so that they can move across the board, successfully to the DONE column.

This type of board can be done for the week as above or for a day as below:

Daily To Do List

Daily To Do List - Kanban Board
Daily To Do List – Kanban Board

With this tool, in the layout that works best for you, visibility can be gained from all the activities you are committing to for a given time period. If you are over committed, you can gain control over your life by identifying what has to be done and pull into your schedule what you need to do for yourself.

This is a key in getting out of an autopilot mode of your daily routine.

So many people say, “I want better health!” So what are you going to do differently!!!!

Jessica Kennedy
Jessica Kennedy

- Jessica is an Wellness Coach & IT Professional in Nashville, TN. She is a Certified ScrumMaster and Certified Scrum Product Owner. As a long term friend of Braintrust we are proud to feature her article here on our Blog!

Ever Wonder What Its Like To Be An Agile Coach?

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Many of you may have misconceptions about what life as an Agile coach is like. You probably think that all Agile coaches; fly first class, stay in the finest hotels, and have tons of screaming fans to sign autographs for. The reality of the job is quite different. Agile coaches are road warriors, often traveling for weeks on end without their families.

One of our Agile coaches, Erick Fleming, recently was on the road coaching and training our clients. During his trip he faced some adversity that needed to be overcome. Thankfully he was able to get remote assistance from the dedicated support staff at Braintrust.

Erick took a minute to write a poem to talk about his adversity and to thank the support staff for their help. Check it out:

“A Prima donnabraintrust-fleming-family-photo
Begins his travel
Going from east to west
While trying not to unravel

 Along the way
He relies on support
From Jeff to Alyssa
And people in airports 

There was Jeff in salt lake
Who cooked and shared the world cup
To Kate from somewhere
Who fixed his Expensify f@%kup

And then there was Alyssa
Who was at his beckoned call
When he panicked and stressed
About the dropped supplies ball 

I’m sure there were others
But time does not permit
So, to end his tale
I leave you with a small tidbit 

When life gets overwhelmed
And it seems your sure to bust
There’s someone with a Brain
That is worth your valuable trust”

- Erick Fleming

Braintrust World Cup 2014 Pick the Winner Challenge

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World_Cup_2014

 

As we have several members of the Braintrust team that are avid soccer fans we have decided to have a “Pick the Winner” contest.  Who is going to win the World Cup?  Pick the winner and you could win some great prizes.

 

 

 

Prizes:

1st  Place – Authentic USA Away Jersey USA_Jersey

 

2nd Place – World Cup 2014 T-shirt (men’s or women’s) Mens_World_Cup_T Womens_World_Cup_T

 

3rd Place – FIFA World Cup “I Love Soccer” keychain FIFA_I_Love_Soccer_Keychain

 

We’ll also throw in some Braintrust items for each winner!

How to Enter:

  • Enter your entry as a comment here or on one of our social media posts
  • If you are not already, follow us on one of the following social media platforms –

o   Facebook https://www.facebook.com/braintrustgroup

o   Twitter https://twitter.com/braintrustgroup

o   LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-braintrust-consulting-group?trk=biz-companies-cym

o   LinkedIn Group “Live Agile!” https://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=6658290

  • Pick the semi-final teams and the winner of each semi-final game
  • Pick the ultimate winner
  • Specify the score of the final, including the penalty kick score if you believe it will come to that
  • Pick the 3rd place winner , and the score
  • Finally, (not required) write a paragraph as a comment on our World Cup 2014 posts on “How Agile and the World Cup are Related.”  (This will be used as the final tie-breaker, if needed, and be judged by our trainers and coaches)

Rules:

  • You must follow The Braintrust Consulting Group on a minimum of one platform
  • Entries must be in by midnight July 3rd, 2014
  • First tie-breaker will be the teams in the final
  • Second tie-breaker will be the final score
  • Third tie-breaker will be the four semi-finalists
  • Fourth tie-breaker will be the winner of the 3rd place match
  • Final tie-breaker will be the comment relating Agile to the World Cup

Have fun & Good Luck!!

 

Don’t Let Technical Debt Rent Space In Your Mind

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Broken Down Car
Broken Down Car

When was the last time that you were bitten by putting off something that you should have taken care of immediately? Did it cause a big inconvenience in your life? Did it cost you a lot of money? Technical debt is sneaky because we often don’t recognize when we are incurring it.

Technical debt is a catch-all term used to describe anything, that when not done today, will cost us more money down the road. For example, recently I dropped my car off for an oil change. When I picked up my car they told me that I needed a new battery. I grumbled about the cost, told them thanks for letting me know, and said I would take care of it next time I am in for another oil change. Now its summer, the days are getting hotter, and its hell on a car battery. If I don’t replace the battery soon, I am likely to hop in my car one day and find that it won’t start. Then I am going to need a tow, a new battery, and it will probably happen at a very inconvenient time too. As much as I don’t want to, replacing the battery now (paying down the technical debt) is the right answer.

Where do we find sources of technical debt in our lives?

  • Deferring maintenance on our home or automobile

    Live Agile!
    Live Agile!
  • Owing a friend money and not getting around to paying them back yet
  • Not taking the time to go and see a loved one
  • Waiting too long to take a vacation or mental health day

When I take stock of technical debt in my life, I am often surprised at how much I find. Not only can technical debt cost me money, it has a bad habit of “renting space in my mind.” What do I mean by that? It causes worry; every time I put the key in my car and crank it I am concerned that it won’t start. Worry can becoming all-consuming and cause stress and even illness. It’s for those reasons that I try to eliminate all sources of worry from my life. If technical debt causes worry, then I should try to minimize it in my life.

Here are some practical ways to pay down technical debt:

  • Go ahead and schedule the appointment, even if it’s down the road. Whether it’s taking your car in for service, visiting the doctor for your annual physical exam, or spending time with loved ones. Once it’s on your calendar it’s easier to remember and you can better prepare for it.
  • Adopt the mantra of “Do it now!” rather than “It can wait until tomorrow”. Sometimes taking five minutes to take care of something now can save you hours later.
  • For things that cost money it’s a good idea to set aside an emergency fund. That way when an unexpected expense comes along you don’t have to go into debt to cover it.

While it may not be possible to totally eliminate technical debt from your life it is possible; to become skilled at recognizing it, plan ahead to avoid it, and align how you live your life to minimize it. Don’t let technical debt rent space in your mind. Eliminate it and live the life that you want to live.

Have a great story of how technical debt ate your lunch? Please share it in the comments section below.

Failure Sucks! We all fall down, but do we all get back up?

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Entrepreneurial Spirit
Entrepreneurial Spirit

I failed today! I was teaching the second day of a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) class and I didn’t show up on time. Here is what happened… Lately I have been under a tremendous amount of stress; I am launching a new book, delivering a marathon of speeches and training classes, and running our business Braintrust. Last night I simply forgot to set my alarm or perhaps my subconscious didn’t want me to set it. When I awoke this morning it was 9:17 am and I was supposed to start the CSPO class no later than 8:30 am. In all my years of teaching I have NEVER shown up late for a class.

My one saving grace was my new team member Erick who was co-training with me. Erick did show up on time and when I was MIA, he stepped in and started teaching for me. I got a text from Erick shortly after I awoke and I had to confront him first about my failure. I explained to him that I had overslept and he assured me that he had things under control so that I could have a few minutes to get dressed. If Erick hadn’t have been with me this morning then I would have expected the entire class to have gotten up and left. It would have been a nightmare if it wasn’t for Erick.

When I finally walked into the classroom this morning I was feeling so much shame for my failure. As many of us in the Agile community would do I got in front of the class, admitted to my shortcomings, took a failure bow (literally), and asked for forgiveness. Despite my apology to the class, I spend the entire day beating myself up about my failure. My self-pity and self-loathing reached a high point in the middle of the afternoon. It got so bad that after class I felt myself entering a state of depression.

Rather than sit in my hotel room and sulk, I decide to go for a workout. Fortunately the gym that I frequent was doing a grueling marathon of a workout. It was brutal and it took everything I had to finish it. There were times when I was hunched over, gasping for breath, and wondering if I could continue. At those moments I took a few deep breaths, dug deep, and carried on. But I did persevere and I was actually one of the first people to successfully complete the workout.

On my commute back to my hotel I realized something, that workout was a metaphor for my day. At times during the workout I wanted to quit, I wanted to fail, but I didn’t let myself give up. I gathered up all that emotional

pain and I channeled it into pushing harder. I didn’t let failure overcome me, I learned from it, I used it to light a fire in me. I learned from my failure and I used it to keep me going.

Personal Agility - Level 1 Practice
Personal Agility – Level 1 Practice

You know what, despite having a crappy day, I chose to get back on the horse. I chose to not let what happened today define me. I chose to follow the words of Fred LeBlanc from Cowboy Mouth and “Let it go, let it go, let it go.” I will live to fight another day.

Some days you will fail. Some days nothing will go your way. Its days like these that the world is testing your mettle and your resolve. Are you Agile? Can you roll with the punches? Can you get back up and learn from your mistakes.

Know that you are not alone. If nothing else you can call me for a pep talk, my number is 205.329.3794.

Failing sucks, don’t beat yourself up. Get back up and live to fight another day!

To Be More Agile Learn To Say No!

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LIfe As Flow
Life As Flow

Do you have a hard time telling someone no when they ask you to do something? Do you tend to overcommit yourself on a regular basis? What affect does this over-commitment have on your life?

Remember being a student and studying the night before a final only to have a friend ask you to go out and party instead? If you did go out to party how did it make you feel? Were you relaxed and able to let loose? Or was your mind keeping you uptight because you knew you should be back at home studying? When we over-book our schedules it can cause us undue stress and anxiety.

There are other ways that we can over-book ourselves too; we can work multiple jobs, have too many friends, or even volunteer for too many charitable causes. When we overcommit we can find ourselves in a situation where we literally have no time to for important life activities like; eating well, exercising, paying bills, cleaning our home, etc. The avoidance of these critical activities can lead to anxiety, stress, worry, fear, and even degrading health.

There are lots of reason why we tend to overbook ourselves:

  • Avoidance – there is something that we don’t want to deal with so instead we overbook ourselves to be too busy to deal with it
  • Competitiveness – internally we want to compete and whenever we are asked to do something we see it as a challenge that we can’t back down from
  • Emotional – we are lonely and being surrounded by others makes us feel better
  • Laziness – similar to avoidance in that we use the commitment as an excuse not to do something (e.g. If I hang out with my friends I won’t have to mow the grass this afternoon)
  • Peer pressure – we want to look cool in front of our friends, so we can’t say no

I have been guilty of overbooking myself for all these reasons at one time or another in my life. When I first started my business I couldn’t say no. I found myself speaking all over town for free, mentoring numerous people looking to make the entrepreneurial leap, and serving on multiple boards of non-profit organizations. It felt great to be in such high demand and people just kept asking me to do more. Unfortunately I had so many balls in the air that I started to drop some of them. I couldn’t keep up and I started letting people down. Not being able to meet my commitments due to my over-booking caused me to let other people down and it felt horrible.

How can we avoid overbooking ourselves? It’s actually quite simple in concept, but hard to do in execution. We have to learn to say “NO!” When a friend or family member asks you do to something and you know you are

Personal Agility - Level 1 Practice
Personal Agility – Level 1 Practice

already committed say “NO!” When you are volunteering and you are asked to take on an additional responsibilities say “NO!” Even when your plate is full at work and your boss asks you to take on an additional assignment say “NO!” It will be very hard at first, because it feels awkward. However, as you say no more often it will become easier and easier. In fact you might eventually enjoy saying no.

The benefits of learning to say no are immediate. You will find that you are only doing the things that you truly want to do and that you can give your full attention to. You will find that you have time for yourself and the important activities in life. You will find that you are less stressed and generally happier. The important people in your life will be happier as well, because you will have more to give them. There is a saying in Lean, “In order to do more, do less”. This is counter-intuitive but very true.

I challenge you to evaluate what commitments in your life are truly adding value. If you find something that isn’t then stop doing it. Next time you are asked to do something you know will be a distraction say “NO!” You might just find this practice liberating.

Tell us what you said no recently in the comments section below.

Braintrust President To Keynote – 2014 PMI Northern Utah – Professional Development Conference

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Live Agile!
Live Agile!

This Friday (May 9, 2014) Braintrust President, Brian M. Rabon, CST PMP will offer up a keynote address entitled “Living An Agile Life! – How To Use The Values And Principles Of Agile To live A Passionate, Purpose-Filled Life” at the 2014 PMI Northern Utah – Professional Development Conference. This energetic, edge-of-your-seat keynote is scheduled to begin at 12:00 pm MDT. In order to register for this excellent 2-day event at the Larry H Miller Center Salt Lake Community College go to – http://projectmanager.org.

KEYNOTE ABSTRACT: Do you find it can be a struggle waking up every day with energy and passion for what is to come? Do you find balancing your work, personal, and family “to-do list” to be a challenge? Do you yearn for work projects that consistently succeed and leave everyone feeling great? Agile is founded upon a set of 4 values and 12 principles. These values and principles, when applied to how we live our lives, can help us accomplish amazing things. We can; find our passion, take control of our to-do list, and succeed with products/projects at work. This keynote address will explain how you can employ some simple techniques in order to live your own Agile life.

BIO: Brian M. Rabon, CST, PMP is the President of The Braintrust Consulting Group, a worldwide leader in Agile transformations. Throughout his 17 years of IT industry experience, Brian has applied Agile methods in order to successfully deliver working product to his customers. Brian holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Auburn University and a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. When not in the classroom, Brian can be found around the globe evangelizing the benefits of Agile to the likes of Agile 20XX, the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) many chapters, and the Scrum Alliance’s Scrum Gatherings. Brian is the author of Scrum For The Rest Of Us and an avid blogger, writing for his company’s blog at http://www.braintrustgroup.com/blog.