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Five Keys to Your New Years Resolution (and mine)

Welcome to 2018!

Did you make a new years’ resolutions? Have you managed to keep it through the first day of the new year? If so, congratulations. I’m sure you’re doing better than most folks.

I’ve never really been one to make resolutions. More precisely, I’ve dabbled in resolutions in the past, but never followed through on them. But, as the saying goes “if at first you don’t succeed….” Here’s what I’m resolving to do in 2018, and hope the five keys work for you as well. Please read to the end. There is a way you can help.

Five Keys to Your New Years Resolution

  1. Making a Public Commitment
  2. Have an Accountability Partner
  3. Be Realistic
  4. Habit Stacking
  5. Ask for Help

Step 1: Make a Public Commitment

This will be done as soon as I hit “Publish.” Of course, your “public” commitment might be to anyone who will help you with step 2.

Step 2: Have an Accountability Partner

I intend to have an accountability partner from among the fine agile coach team at my employer, AgileThought.

Step 3: Be Realistic

At times, it feels like sharing ideas needs to be  large, completely unique, or world-changing. This year, I’m just striving to share more of what I find interesting. It may not be revolutionary, but hopefully it at least sparks some conversations.

Ever since I started working as “an agile coach,” I’ve had a vague notion that I should do more public writing. Or, if not writing, I need to share my ideas and experience through conference presentations or sharing at user groups. There have been periods of time where I was fairly consistent in sharing, and there were times where I went completely silent. But, with the new year upon me, I’m going to give it a go. I’ll be posting a blog article at least once a week and tweeting something each day.

Step 4:  Habit Stacking

I’ve started reading the book Habit Stacking by S.J. Scott. This book boasts the subtitle “127 Small Changes to Improve Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness.” I’m skeptical about the subtitle’s claims, but there is an interesting notion about building habits and putting a bunch of small activities together into a single time-slot. So, that will be one of the experiments I will be running. And, I’ll let you know how that goes in a future post.

Step 5: Ask for Help

I could use your help.  If you find something interesting, please leave a comment. If you disagree, leave a comment. Just feel like saying “hi?” Leave a comment. I expect to learn from the feedback, so please leave a note.

What do you think?  What has worked for you in the past? Please leave a comment.

What does a Scrum Master Do?

I don’t know how many times during my years of agile coaching that I have been asked “What does a Scrum Master do?” Yes, the Scrum Master is responsible for effectively using the Scrum framework. Yes, they act as servant leaders for the team. But, what do they do?

We like to feed the birds in our yard, and I have an interest in photography. On Thanksgiving this year, we had our regular flock of sparrows flitting about. They would sit in the bushes, fly to the feeder, eat seeds, and then go back to the protection of the bushes. Because I had the day off, I chose to try to get some good photos of the birds. Of course, as soon as I stepped outside, the birds scattered. They were fearful of the intruder into their domain.

So, what does a photographer do? In this case, I sat. I waited. I counted to 200, slowly, to make sure I was not in a rush. I listened to the birds in the distance. I waited more. I was still, and calm. Eventually, a single bird landed nearby.

Male Sparrow on a Branch

I continued to be still. Shortly after one felt safe with me sitting near their feeder, the others arrived.

Sparrows in a Bush

They left the safety of the bushes to come near the feeder. Then, and only then did I slowly move my hands to the camera, and aim the camera at the birds, and begin to take photos.

The birds behaved as if I were not even there. A squirrel eventually walked along the top of the fence, joining the birds at the feeder.

Squirrel in a Tree Trunk

A woodpecker and chickadees joined the sparrows. I kept shooting photos, making sure to not make sudden motions and scare the birds. All of the sudden, the birds scattered. Wings flapped as the birds took off in all directions.

Sparrow Taking Flight


Silently, and without warning, a coopers hawk flew through just above the bushes and landed in the black walnut tree. Coopers hawks prey on birds.

Jouvenile Coopers Hawk

This experience got me to thinking about how we engage as agile coaches. Some folks love to rush in, waving their hands around telling the team to make changes. They correct mechanics of a Daily Scrum. They try to fix all the “non-agile” behaviors. A “coach” who does not create safety will alienate the team. A coach who does not wait will scare people from truly sharing their concerns. And, most importantly, the coach will miss the complexity of the local context.

If I had been moving around in the yard, trying to get the optimal angle for all the shots, I would have missed what was really going on. I never would have seen the hawk. This parallels experiences in coaching. Remember to be still, watch, listen. Try to notice everything that is happening. Take action when the time is right.

Please share your comments. And, if you’re interested in more photos, check out the Dan R Neumann Flickr profile.