Author Archives: Hillary Louise Johnson

Would ya take today off already? Yeesh…

“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”

From The ‘Busy’ Trap by Tim Kreider (New York Times), the best essay I’ve read in a long time about the value of slack, down-time, etc. (Our own Steve Bockman has designed exercises to teach software teams and software managers that utilization–ie, “busy-ness”–does not equal productivity).

Why, just yesterday Chris and I spent part of our 4th holiday on a fool’s errand, running to Daly City to look at an unlocked cell phone he found on Craigslist. It was a beautiful day, and we rode surface streets, with the top down on the convertible. Along the way we started looking at crazy stuff on Craigslist, and having silly conversations. We almost bought a private island, and a sailboat, but in the process we stumbled on office space that may just become the new Agile Learning Labs world headquarters. All because we took the time to run a fool’s errand, slowly, on a gorgeous day. Today is another gorgeous day… so try it!

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Hear Chris Sims on the Agile Weekly Podcast

In Integrum, Chris talks to Roy van de Water and Drew LeSeur of Integrum about running Agile Learning Labs as a transparent company with a radical compensation plan, writing The Elements of Scrum using scrum, and how our new book, Scrum: A Breathtakingly Brief and Agile Introduction is an iteration of our first one.

Roy and Drew ask some excellent and hard questions, so tune in and give a listen!

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How to play the Team Estimation Game

The Team Estimation Game is the best technique we have found to get a scrum team up-and-running with useful estimates. It plays like a game, but it accomplishes valuable work: assigning story point estimates to user stories.

Teams using this technique are typically able to estimate 20 to 60 stories in an hour. The game was invented by our friend and colleague, Steve Bockman. Here is how one team plays the game:
Read the full article…

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Chris Sims is signing copies of The Elements of Scrum at the Atlanta Scrum Gathering on Tuesday

If you are at the 2012 Atlanta Scrum Gathering, you got a copy of The Elements of Scrum by Chris Sims and yours truly in your conference goody bag, as we are proud sponsors of this year’s event. If you’d like Chris to sign your copy, he’ll be doing so at 12:30 pm on Tuesday in the Heritage Room. And I promise: if you bring along three rubber chickens, he will juggle them!

What, you say you don’t yet have a copy of The Elements of Scrum and are consumed with envy? Easily solved! Take one of our CSM or CSPO classes and you’ll get one, or if you just can’t wait, buy yourself a copy here on Amazon. Makes a great Mother’s Day gift! Just kidding. That would be, like, the worst Mother’s Day gift of all time. If you need a Mother’s Day gift, buy her a copy of my mom Ricki Grady’s book, BeBop Garden instead.

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The best example of teamwork ever recorded?

Seriously, this video (via David Chilcott, via Mitchell Levy) makes me think: I want to do this with people some day. It may be in software, or it may be in publishing, it may be in basket weaving (it certainly won’t be in guitar playing or singing), but I want to be one of these guys!

The most common thread in the video’s comments on YouTube seems to be about the bearded guy on the left. He seems to answer the question of whatever-happened-to-The-Captain, which still leaves unanswered the question of whatever-happened-to-and-Tennille.

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Want a smart team? Make sure it gets the recommended daily allowance of estrogen

A team without a woman is like a bicycle with… some fish? So it would seem, according to Grace Nasri, who writes in the HuffPo about the gender gap in tech from an interesting perspective. She got my attention with a 2011 HBR story profiling research by Anita Wooley and Thomas Malone showing that the one significant factor that demonstrably upped the measurable collective intelligence of a team was the presence of females on it.
Read the full article…

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Hello Chase, Goodbye David: A change at Agile Learning Labs

Our friend and colleague David Parker is leaving Agile Learning Labs’ staff. He has received a much better offer–and one we can’t possibly counter–that of stay at home dad to Chase Kamran Parker-Katiraee, who assumed his post of infant-in-chief earlier this week.

We predict a fair bit of wrangling over just who is the customer and who the product owner on this particular project, but anticipate that development will flourish nonetheless. If we’re lucky, David and his wife Layla will supply us with lots and lots of adorable sprint demos along the way. Our compliments to the team!

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Scrum master in a box! Innovation, fun, and games…

Who knew Innovation Games could be a competitive sport? Our own Director of Biz Dev, Laura Powers, is in a class with Deb Colden called “Innovation Games for Customer Understanding” today, and sent us this pic of her winning entry for “best design and product pitch.” She calls it Scrum Master in a Box:

We never thought of ourselves as a product company before, but that may have to change!

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