My first iteration using Agile Work for my business development has come to a close. Here is what I did for a “demo” and retrospective.
This was simple. I looked at my selected Work Queue items and my tasks and check to see what I had accomplished (finished or partially finished). Here are the statistics (grim and discouraging as they are):
For Iteration 001 – “Beginnings”:
# Work Queue Items At Start: 11
# Work Queue Items Completed: 2
# Tasks at Start: 43
# Tasks Remaining: 28
From these numbers, for my next iteration I should probably be hesitant about committing to any more than 2 items from the Work Queue and any more than 15 tasks.
Considering how many work hours I have in a week, 43 tasks is absolutely ridiculous… unless they are really small, which many of them weren’t. For example, I had one task as “Integrate part one of Alexei’s feedback into my eBook” which when I did it actually took about three hours. Its just one sample, but 3 x 43 is 129 hours and is just not possible for a single human being in 7 days.
Aside from the value-oriented items from the Work Queue, I also did the work to finish a more complete Work Queue. It now has 37 items including those which remain un-finished from this first iteration. It is poorly prioritized, but that will improve over time. As well, I suspect there are quite a few things missing that I forgetting. I should probably get my wife, Melanie, to look over it and make some suggestions. I also have some old “to do” lists for my business which might remind me of some things to add onto it near the bottom.
I did a little mini-retrospective to find the three things that went well this iteration, and the three things that need improvement. I also decided on a clear action item to take to try to improve my next iteration. (Another clear reason to use Card Meeting – worked great for my retrospective 🙂 .)
Three Things that Went Well:
– Referred to my iteration tasks frequently. I kept my TiddlyWiki up in my browser and checked it several times a day.
– Spent time with my family and friends despite huge workload. We had guests and family visiting and I got some good time in with them. I also spent a good amount of time with Melanie and my kids. I had to make a conscious effort to do this, but since this is the goal of my using Agile Work (to have a good life/work balance), I figured I might as well start making some progress on it right away!
– Had courage to do some development work which required changes to other developers’ work. I ran into a problem with some of the work I am doing as a contract. I dug around and realized that any fix I made would be felt by other parts of the codebase as API’s changed. I made the fix and then tracked down the dependencies and fixed everything up. Fun!
Three Things that Need Improvement:
– Pay more attention to my schedule / calendar so as to reduce problems with work/family boundaries. Still a loooooong way to go on this one!
– Spend more work time “on-task”, rather than on things not on my list. I ended up doing a bunch of work stuff that wasn’t in my iteration plan. Partly I did it because I got bored of what I had planned, and partly becuase I forgot to focus on my plans. It would probably help if I had a Process Facilitator breathing down my neck 🙂
– Make realistic plans given my capacity for work. This is the biggie! It is going to be very hard for me to keep to a small commitment. But considering the my brother is visiting from Beijing with his wife this week and next, I really have to try to get this right.
It is that last point that I will use as the basis for my next improvement. For my next iteration planning meeting (to be held in the morning after a far-to-brief sleep), I will commit to a maximum of 3 items from the Work Queue. This may mean breaking the items down into smaller bits. I’ll talk with the Queue Master (myself) tomorrow morning about it 🙂