Scrum for Personal Productivity

Are you an agile veteran that now works at a company that doesn’t practice agile? Or maybe you work in an agile environment and have observed how effective it is. Embrace agile as a personal task and performance management system! Integrate core agile principles into managing your work load. Begin by adding existing tasks to a backlog. Going forward add any task that comes up to this backlog. Once a week, plan the next sprint by reviewing and prioritizing  items in the backlog. Make sure you align the backlog priorities with company, team or family priorities. Now determine how many items can you can make progress on in the next 1 week sprint. If an items is not completed in a single sprint and the item is still has priority, push it forward to the next sprint. During the sprint, start each day reviewing the items in the sprint. Check off the completed items completed and decide the focus for the day. When a sprint is completed, conduct a retrospective to review your performance and consider what you can improve on. Track these items and take action in the upcoming sprints to put the improvement in place. You can track all this in a simple spreadsheet with the following individual sheets:

  1. Current sprint – Your daily scrum is to review this first thing every morning.
  2. Backlog – Add any task that comes your way to the backlog.
  3. Retrospectives – Conduct effective retrospectives weekly to improve you personal performance.
  4. Sprint archive – At the end of a sprint, copy the current sprint to the sprint archive to a maintain a complete history of work accomplishments.

I have another sheet to capture mission statements, goals, strategies and tactics. If you’ve had positive experiences using agile at work, you understand how effective it can be. Consider organizing yourself using agile principles. Give it a try! I have found it to be the most effective personal management technique I have ever used, and I have tried quite a few.


Effective Retrospectives

A key, often overlooked component of agile is effective retrospectives. I recently read Agile (micro)Management, and I realized how retrospectives are not only the key to continual improvement, but when conducted thoughtfully and transparently, they lead to improved engagement in the agile process.

Although I personally prefer the Stop, Start, Continue, More of Less of wheel method, there are many effective retrospectives techniques. To improve the effectiveness of agile, know the available techniques and test them out in your organization. And remember, retrospectives are the key to continual improvement.

Keys to Retrospective Success:

For effective team engagement, as well as for continual improvement, retrospectives should be conducted regularly.

Retrospectives should include all agile team members.

Items raised during retrospectives should be discussed in a positive, constructive manner. All team members should be aware of the ultimate conclusion. Items should not be swept under a rug.

Items that the team agrees should be addressed should have clear action items, that are followed through on. If the same item is raised at every retrospective, confidence in agile will slowly erode.

Retrospectives are one of the most critical aspects of effective agile implementations. Make sure you not only conduct regular retrospectives, also insure they are effectively conducted. It will give everyone greater confidence in agile, and it will insure that continual improvement is occurring.

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly. – Principles behind the Agile Manifesto