Pain is temporary, failure lasts forever

Lean, agile living for the running mother of Peter


New sprint!

Yesterday, we started the new sprint: Parnassos! Hey! Jippie! We are focusing on building the mobile client and we are finally bringing the mobile application from POC to real application. It also feels like we're bringing the team from POC to the real thing. With the original team leaders off most of the sprint, we put our team to the test. One of the part time workers, a real natural leader, will be scrum master. Being a new kid on the block, he has come to question many of the short cuts we've taken in our scrum development process. But right now I just want to get through the last days before my vacation. Seven work days and counting. After that, the only counting I'll do is counting the wonderful moments with my son and pages left of my C#-book.



Quitting = failing?

You might be tricked into thinking that quitting is failing. If you ever thought that, check out Seth Godin's ( The Dip. It will take you about an hour and a half to listen to if you get the audio book but it could save you years of your life.

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Planning = business value

What have the most business value? Planning does not seem like the most important thing but what use has the business value you build if the coming sprint does not work? It's like when I leave home in the morning. Of course, there are lots of business value that you wish to accomplish in the morning but if you don't make it work for the afternoon activities, you'll get into serious trouble. Cleaning has never the highest business value but it always needs to be done. Planning the coming sprints work the same.

Didn't get the job

I didn't get the job in Borås. I just got an e-mail from a Borås (small Swedish town on the other side of Sweden) company saying that I didn't get the job. The fun thing is I never applied for the job (what ever it was) in the first place. So, I guess that either the applicant or the company wrote a faulty e-mail address. Either way, this could have become fun. What if they said, hey, you got the job. I'd gone over there and started working with what ever they are doing. What a blast!


Late time bloomers

Taking a small break from work to blog. The thing we decided after the first sprint was that we shouldn't do all the planning the last week before a new sprint. The new sprint starts on Friday. And we are planning. And time is pushing 22.00.

Why does this always happen? Being lean is focusing on the thing with the most business value. And then it is easy to focus on the immediate problems and not on the crucial in the long run. Like planning. But the end result is not very... lean. Decide as late is possible does not decide during the night. You don't make the best decisions then.

But at the same time, some of our best modeling work and some of our best discussions have occurred during these late shifts. There are few distractions. And the brain has shut down some of the functionality. You have to focus to listen. Or something. Well, this won't bring me any nearer bed. If I come to bed this night.


Love to be fooled

Being a skeptic, I can't help wondering if some people just love being fooled and they spend a lot of time and money getting fooled. As a member of a Swedish skeptic organization (Vetenskap och folkbildning), I frequently laugh at the many and often very detailed strange sites that my friends tip us members with. My latest find was For you not reading Swedish very well, if you watch the site it is crowded with information. A lot of strange information. It's not like they didn't try. There is all you need to know about energies, if you don't mind ignoring everything scinence and common sense have to say about the subject. What if they took the time to take a basic course in physics. Or maths, or just anything. Knitting might do it.


The spagetti priorities

In my excellent book on coding C#, the author refers to spagetti code as the result of using GOTO in great extent. Well, I have a new concept: spagetti requirements. The definition is a group of requirements who are all inter-dependant and looks like a real mess in front of you.

Today, we were supposed to do the last things on our summer planning. I just asked the PO to confirm his priorities. I was confused because I found it strange that he was prioritizing functionality which I thought were not useful without other functionality, not yet implemented. Worst fears realized, I found that the priority wasn't that thought through as I'd hoped. Let's say we had to start from scratch. And let's say that today and tomorrow was already crampted with tasks that just had to be accomplished these two days. You can say that this made things a little more complicated.

And I fear for tomorrow. In my nightmares the early-bird-coder of our team wakes us planners early Wednesday morning, sleeping over our stacks of postit notes. Only time will tell. Only time.


The coding non-coder

So, I started reading the C#-book this weekend. My greatest and formost problem is the terms used. Some of them I have very different associations to. So, I have difficulty accepting a meaning to these words. The first chapters took ages. I forced myself rereading the sentences until I had accepted the terms used.

The second problem is that I recognize other terms from database modeling and math. But the usage is sometimes slightly different. Here my problem is that I read too fast and miss the details.

My goal right now is to read through the book in three weeks. I won't write a single line of code. After this I'll go through the book again, this time coding as I go along. The reason for this is that the examples also include code, not yet covered in the theory part. So, the author says: ignore that, we'll discuss it later. But I get stuck and can't get past those lines. So, hopefully this will do the trick. But it's a long-term-trick. Let's say our developers won't be out of a job any time soon. Keep you updated!




For many months now, the coding part (that is, the rest) of the team has been nagging about me starting coding. Being who I am, I had to know if they were just teasing or if there was a real wish behind. So, I confronted one of the guys and asked him to clarify the situation. And he wasn't kidding. So, I've gotten myself a beginner's guide to programming and am starting to read today.

The fun thing was that when the book arrivied, neither I or the guy with whom I'd discussed the matter with was there so the other guys saw the book and thought about teasing with me. So they placed the book on my desk. You see, the other guys were kidding when prompting me to start coding. But they can rest assured, I won't infect their precious code with my futile attempts: I'll aim at reading unit tests and understanding some of their written code. I might be out of a title, but I'm not desperate enough to become a programmer.


Losing my identity

I must change my description. I'm not some kind of scrum master any more. We've agreed on trying to have the developers/coders of the team being scrum master for now. We've said that we shouldn't have tasks that was for just one person and that should also include the tasks I perform. Such as being the scrum master.

So, what am I? Non-coding developer? Customer proxy? Business analyst? Or perhaps a team member? I've never felt a need for having a title on my business card, but it's kind of strange not knowing what you're supposed to do. Well, stupid me: getting the software to our Operations team, that is what I'm supposed to do.


Visual options

Yesterday, we came to the conclusion concerning a bug in our software. Let's not go into details for you non-developers, but let's say that Win XP's max paths of 256 digits and the default placement of clickonce files does not work very well for us. So, different options were discussed and solutions were flying around the wall. Then we said, hey, let's put everything on the whiteboard. We had three major options and three developers. The developers became Mr Hermit, Mr Math and Mr Zip, all responsible for one of the options. Describing them, the pros and cons. Actually, when they finished printing everything on their whiteboard, all had agreed on one of the solutions. Love whiteboards, love visualizing options. Love committed developers. Love conclusions which all can agree on.


Breaking the spint

They all talk about it: when the sprint objectives are less important than other tasks, then the sprint should be broken. So, we broke the sprint. Then what? Who is responsible now? Do we have a mini-sprint? Do we have daily scrums? I dunno. Googled the thing but only got rugby hits. It's devestating for the morale. But it's only a week left and th important thing now is to get everything ready for the July sprint. What about the problem we were supposed to fix? Well, that we fixed the day after we broke the sprint. Ever since, we've also focused on fixing other, not as crucial but in the long term devestating, bugs.

And an update on my head: I actually went to see a doctor. He said the bumb in the back of the head was pretty large and that is probably why I'm stuck with headaches for now. Im running some tests next week but he wasn't too worried.



Sunday, bloody sunday (well no blood, but...)

Do you know the best way to spoil a Sunday? Well, an option is to faint in the bathroom, hit your head in a couple of places and be woken by your husband (well, the last part was the best, continouing nappying on the bathroom floor isn't the best way to spend the night). This is the third time this spring that I hit my head. First, my son slammed the door on my head. Then my husband slammed the boot on my poor skull (dunno why the guys in the family is trying to kill me...). And now this.

The fun part, if there can be a fun part of this story, is my reaction to my husband waking me up. I asked what he wanted. That I was sleeping on the floor wasn't the strange thing. It was he looking in to me (he was in the basement and thought the building was coming down). Then I saw my toothbrush on the floor. And then I thought: Well, that meant I didn't go to sleep on the bathroom floor. OK, better go up then.

The second strange this was my fixation on the issue: where did I bump my head. The largest bump is on the right back side. But I also had a smaller bump on the left front side. When I woke up, I was lying on my left side, facing the toilet. It was not until I realized that I sat down on the loo when I started feeling dizzy and tried that out that the mystery was solved. I must have sat down, fainted, felt sideways and hit my head in the wall next to the loo. Fell forward and hit my head in the floor (fortunatly covered with wood in front of the toilet). Mystery solved. All's well.

And also, another mystery is solved. We released this Friday and I was wondering why no one was injured or sick. Voilâ, it was only delayed due to the last-minute-decision to break the sprint.



Nothing new under the sun

Today was yet a sunny day here in Sweden. As my son took his daily nap, I took the time to reread the story of the Absolut Vodka. And as I commented to some friends, absolute worth reading again. I recognize the company internal debates on our marketing. I read about the classical viewpoint that was up for debate during the 1940's, which were strongly rejected during the 1960's and laughed about in th 1980's. So, why does it seem that I find these principles in the marketing department of a modern company?



Re-booting the system

If all goes well, I'm running to work on Monday. I just decided that. I miss running. A lot. I think I've done well with myself. Really slow these days. Just a longer walk on Thursday. Then rest. Complete and utter rest (well as much you can get with a wild 2,5 year old). But now I've started buying some new runner's outfits. I'm looking at other joggers. I'm, to put it plain, rebooting and recalibrating for a running lifestyle again. Alas, the running mommy of peter is slowly rising again.


We had a strike today. One of the developers were protesting. First he didn't say why but then he said he was striking because 1. the clickonce application has too poor code quality and 2. the other departments does not clean the milk skimmer enough. It's not like I'm for bad code or sour milk. And it's not like it's my private responsibility. But it was kind of cute. And fun. And tireing. So we bribed his humour by taking the car to one of his favorite lunch hang-outs. This is slacking. This is our team. Say no more.



And the sprint is a gonner

Sometimes you break one thing. Sometimes yo break two. Today, we broke the sprint. A bug which made it impossible to set up a system installation at operations made the PO to take the decision. The fun thing was, that what happens when the sprint is broken? I resume my scrum master role without a doubt. From anyone. Some habits die hard.



9 years and 4 hours

have I've been married. Amazing how fast time travel. In nine years my little Peter will be a big boy and the project I'm working on will be far away. Things thought crucial forgotten. Some people I love probably dead. I wonder what they will say about Scrum in nine years? And agile. Lean? I wonder which buzz words sales people will use to dupe customers.


New goals

I've never quitted a race before Saturday. I actually thought I couldn't quit a race. I finished a race after getting sick half through. Since I didn't get sick I stopped drinking. It was half a marathon and I had 10 km left. It was warm. It was very bad. I almost collapsed on the tube home. So, I thought my goal was the races. So, I thought I couldn't quit a race.

But today I'm proud of leaving the race. I felt that my knee was bad and that I didn't drink as I should. I understood I was in a dangerous situation. And I removed myself from that situation.

Today, I can't wait for my next run. I don't feel an imidiate need for a new race. But I need to run. So, I've come to understand that the race I'm aiming for is having a continous running habit and quitting for me is giving up running. If the reason is me loosing focus and just stopping or making stupid mistakes during races has no difference. They are both stupid choices that removes one of the golden parts of my life.


OK, Im not leaving

I got some verbal response on my previous post. Are you leaving the project? No, I was just wondering if I would freak out and escape. So, I'm not leaving. I'm just wondering if the sprint should go out the window.


Back on the job - is this a sprint?

We have a sprint backlog. But it is not estimated. We have a sprint objective. But there isnew stuff coming in all the time. I wonder if the scrum master think this is normal? I don't, I would have called the sprint off by now but it's not my call. And I'm glad, wouldn't want to make that decision.

The fun thing is that I don't know what the rest of the team thinks. Is the non existing sprint backlog hindering them? Have they committed to something and if so, what? For me, it's kind of nice just to hang around, do some stuff every day. But how committed is that? Well, in a couple of days when the post-running-feelings have subsided I might freak out and make it for the door. Or something.



D-day Focusing Running Crashing surviving

My first aim today was to make it through the race. Second aim was if I would break, I would do it in time. Well, I made the second goal. A sunny hot day. I took the morning and lucnh just focusing on the task. My husband supplied me with wonderful lunch. Then off to the Stadium of Stockholm. Focusing. Starting. I drank so much fluid I possibly could. WHich was a good thing. The first two drink stations were a mess and I hardly got anything to drink. The heat was terrible so I kept with the 4.45 crew (not exactly my original goal but it was a really hot day). After the first 10 k everything started lightning up and I felt this is going to be a nice run. What if I get a lousy time? It's just fun watching everyone. Listening to all the cheers. Enjoying the party. I took my time at all the drink stands but made it to the 4.30-pacers.

Found my son and husband at the 1,7 k. I felt wonderful. Then, it must have been just some hundred meters after I talked to my husband. The guy in front of me slowed down and I wasn't paying attention. I had to fast move sideways. I didn't fall but my knee got twisted. Perhaps I made a bad step. Don't remember, because I wasn't paying much attention to the small incident. After some meters though, my knee started hurting. At first, not so much, then a lot. I saw the stadium, was happy that the best guys hadn't passed me on their second lap. I was hoping to do a good secound lap. But my knee was really hurting.

When I passed the 2.1 marker I started thinking. What the f**k am I doing? This isn't the regular knee ache you can get when you put in some miles. This feels much different. If I run 20 k on this I might never run again. I stopped. But, what about walking. I should be able to make it walking. But what will that prove and if my knee is bad it might get worse. So, I turned back. On the first step I could hardly believe the pain. I actually shed some tears. I had to walk back 3 km and those were more painful than the previous 21... The wonderful medical staff took good care of me and stabilized my knee. A ligament was probably injured but not off. I made a good call. So home I went and the pain persisted. I never once regretted my decision. What did I want to prove today? That I can run marathon? Why, I've already done that!? To prove I'm in good shape? I'm in good shape. I run 21 km and felt good. That I am stupid? No, not being stupid is what I proved today. Now, it will be some exercise free days/weeks and no more marathons this year.



D-1 Scary thoughts, no thoughts and heat

Well, it's hot in Stockholm. It hasn't been this hot since the 1970's. And of course, I'm running a Marathon. Stupid. Well, my aims have changed from best time ever to surviving. This is going to be bad. Better be prepared.

In any case, my brain is tuning into long distance running. I found today that I had difficulty concentrating on work, I wasn't even sure when we came back from lunch which ones were lunching together. Not strange if your a team of 40 but we were four.

Tomorrow, I'm going to take it slow in the morning, have some nice breakfast, some lunch and then start travelling to the central parts of Stockholm. They were warning for rain. I'm praying for it, and I'm not even religious. (Hey, I'm Swedish, what did you expect!?)



D-2 Happy inside, hell at work

It was like an episode of the series E.R. The guy comes in, little sick but OK. Then everything crashes. So, everyone to the rescue. His chest is cracked open. Blood everyone. Hysteric wife banging on the window and no one knows what's wrong. Well, it wasn't an E.R room, it was more like a server room, but the feeling was pretty much the same. The chaos was worse. It started lightly, some mails didn't make it. Then none of the e-mails. THen you couldn't surf the net. Then all servers went down. Then everything went down. Everything. Suddenly the whole company was crampted in the server room, waiting for answers, when there was no answers. It took four hours before everything was up and running.

Normally, I would panic. Two reasons wht I didn't: I'm not the scrum master and he was hysterical for boths. Two: I was high on carbos. Everything was just super. This is much better. This is wonderful



D-3 Neanderthal style

June 6th is a national holiday in Sweden. Thanks God for that. And my collegues are probably as happy for not having to meet me today. Low carb diet is not my kind of tango. I've felt terrible all day and during the evening my tommy started to protest even more. Please - give me the goodies. And my brain, it felt like it was truely shutting down. The most trivial things like which day it was and what that resulted in as to which day it is tomorrow. The only thing that felt comfy was sleeping. So, I slept like 3 hours during the day. So, during dinner I said enough is enough. Bring on some potatoes. And voilá! I came back to life.

They are those who are pro stone age diet. Well, that is an option for all aiming for the interests and intellect of a Neanderthal. Over to re-fueling. This is the best part of the show. Pasta by the loads.



D-4 Preparing

Today, I started preparing for Saturday's long run. That meant a low carb diet for today and tomorrow. Carbs never looked so tasty. MM. Candy, potatoes, pasta. Instead I'm eating and drinking high protein foods and drinks. Can't understand those who eat/drink that regulary. Terrible. I'm going to do this today and tomorrow. Then it's pasta frenzy until 2 hours before start. Can't wait.

Preparing also include stop focusing on Work and start focusing on running. I've taken the opertunity to cut down the work hours this week and tomorrow is a national holiday in Sweden. Getting mentally ready is at least as important! So I took the afternoon off. Sent a few semi-serious work mails and read a good book in the sun. Lunch with good friends. Nice stuff, in other words.

Tomorrow, I'll dream of food and hang out with friends. Prepare for the run can be both a pain and a pleasure.



And we do have a release...

Of course, we have a release. Of course there are bugs. Of course it's Friday. This with Dry Martini makes the perfect day (minus the bugs).