7 Habits, Agile, Estimation, Experience, Improvement, Leadership, Learning Lessons, SAFe, SDLC, Technology, Vision

3 Tips For Your Next PI Planning

April kicked off our second Program Increment (PI) Planning event using the SAFe framework. My team and I reflected on the difference between PI 1 Planning and PI 2 Planning.

Three topics came up that we believe helped us improve our PI Planning.

Clear Socialization Purpose and Different Meeting Types

  • Understanding the purpose of socialization helped the team understand why socialization was so important and what needed to be accomplished during these meetings. This led the team to identify what they already knew and what gaps they needed learn, which led to better questions during each session.
  • Our Product Owner used a variety of socialization meeting types to produce new insights and different questions.
    1. High level, first pass – we just went over the features we intended to plan during PI Planning. This was to get our feet wet.
    2. In depth with shared services – This helped us think about our dependencies and ask questions we didn’t think of during our first session.
    3. Teach Back – Our Development Team taught our Product Owner the features we were going to work one. Any gaps in their teachings our Product Owner answered in order to finalize our preparations for PI Planning.
  • Side note: The teach back was inspired by a separate team that was planning on doing the same thing!

Begin With The End In Mind Strategy Towards Team PI Objectives

  • Identifying and clearly writing our PI objectives upfront helped the team envision our destination, so we spent the majority of time figuring out how to get there.
    1. The Development Team did an excellent job using the remaining time to come up with how to accomplish the objectives and they were able to take on unexpected work because it fit into our destination.
    2. A fourth feature was brought to us and because of our clear objectives, the Development Team knew they could commit to the feature.
  • Working closely with our business stakeholders and other train leaders to get feedback on our objectives helped speed up the process. This prevented us from getting stuck and verified we were headed in the right direction early in the process.
    1. We had great conversations about what should and shouldn’t be a stretch objective.
    2. These conversations helped us think about what we truly control and not trying to achieve outcomes out of our control.

Shorter Feedback Loops From Shared Services and Business Stakeholders

  • Leveraging our shared services with more urgency and without hesitation helped us get answers quickly and prevented major bottlenecks in the planning process
    1. Listening for key phrases like ‘I am not sure how that works’ or ‘I assume that is what was meant’ immediately triggered our Scrum Master to bring in stakeholders, shared services or other leaders to help get answers
  • Working hand-in-hand with business stakeholders helped improve ideas around the objectives to avoid unclear wording and reduced time to get business buy-in when finalizing our objectives.
    1. Also, because we were getting our business stakeholders involved earlier, they seemed more engaged and more part of the team.

What helped you in your PI Planning or what do you think of these tips? Let me know!

Photo Credit: https://www.agileoctane.com/2018/03/31/the-magic-of-safe-pi-planning/

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Communication, Discipline, Experience, Improvement, Leadership, Learning Lessons, Remote, Remote Leadership, Self-Awareness, success, Team Building, Technology

After One Year, I Stopped Working Remotely

I spent the past year working remotely. Working remotely sounded great! I envisioned that I’d be able to work from anywhere and be super productive. I talked to other remote team members to try and anticipate any issues and made preparations based on their suggestions. I thought I was prepared. It’s not exactly like the feature image for this post, but I think it can be close. Here are my learning lessons.

What Went Well

I was always caught up on email, rarely late to meetings and always got solo tasks completed on time.

Also, I found that leading remote teams, as a remote team leader, really helped me understand some of the challenges of being remote. I believe it enhanced leading remote team members, more than leading remote team members strictly from an office, as I have done in the past.

What Didn’t Go Well

I found myself struggling to collaborate with my leadership group and other team members at times, I spent a  lot of time making calls and leaving messages, sometimes I was physically uncomfortable and most unexpectedly, I was more lonely than I anticipated.

Bottom Line

Working remotely can definitely work, it just didn’t work for me. I prefer to work in the offices and around other people, rather than work remotely at home.

Why?

For me in my current role, my strengths are best suited for in-person interactions and I personally work better when I am in an office. I thought about working from a co-working space, but never took action on that, although I would encourage and suggest co-working spaces to others, if a viable option.

Suggestions For Others

I believe taking time to think about implementing these suggestions can improve and help anyone that is looking to transition into a remote environment. What is your experience? Let me know!

Try It Out Before Making The Jump

Remote work may or may not be for you. You should think about your strengths (more below), talk to other remote team members to understand their insights and try a short period of seriously working from home, before working remotely full time to see what works best for you. I suggest a three month trial period because it’s short enough to get a good understanding if it is right for you but not too long that you may suffer from it. Also, I suggest looking into a co-working space and trying that during your trial period.

Know Thy Self

What are your strengths? What allows you to bring your very best, as often as possible? If you don’t know these, you should spend some time reflecting and identify these items.

For me, my strengths are my physical energy, my curiosity to learn from others and build relationships, and my general energy/enthusiasm on a day-to-day basis. When I moved, I didn’t realize I’d be positioning myself in a way that impacted these. I realize you can still accomplish some of these things over the phone or via Skype/Zoom, but I determined remote work limited these strengths at times.

I Really Missed Office Furniture

Good desk chairs ARE SO WORTH IT! I missed our desk chairs more than any other material object. No free coffee, slushies, snacks, standing desks, fun events etc., will compare to how much a comfortable desk chair will literally make or break your work week. I bought a cheap IKEA desk chair on craigslist and it was fine, for a few weeks. Then it wasn’t. If you are seriously going to work remotely, invest in your office set up or work from a co-working space that has good furniture. A great desk chair, good desk and second monitor are essential, in my opinion, for a baseline level of success as a remote team member.

Working By Yourself Can Be Lonely

I enjoy working around other people that want to do great things. It inspires me and it provides a layer of support that I didn’t realize I needed until I moved.

Working at home, alone, became pretty lonely. I still got my work done, but it was harder to bounce ideas off people and build relationships with people you don’t know as well. I really enjoy bouncing ideas off others, but to be successful (in my opinion) you need to bounce ideas off lots of different people all the time. Building newer relationships to do this, remotely, was a lot more difficult for me than I anticipated.

Working With Non-Remote Team Members Requires Good Technology

This is a really big thing. If you’ve never worked remotely (different than working from home one day a week), it can be really hard to understand how to interact or connect with a remote TM. The amount of meetings where Zoom (remote conference room tech) didn’t work properly, happened multiple times per week.

In addition, make sure you set up expectations with yourself and your team on how you will be communicating on a regular basis. Using Zoom/Skype + a web cam is the best in my opinion because it’s the closest thing to face-to-face communication. It is great to see people, rather than just using a phone.

I did find that calling people from your cell phone in a day where robo-calls makes you feel really popular requires more time leaving messages, sending follow up emails/IMs and then waiting for replies. This became less efficient than I expected at first.

Keep A Routine & Get Some Fresh Air

I would wake up, bike to work, workout, shower, go to the office and eat breakfast in the office. This was my morning routine for most of the time I worked in Detroit. When I moved, I tried a few different things and ultimately found that minus a commute, working out before work, showering and eating breakfast set me up for success before I logged on  for the day.

Just because you work remotely, doesn’t mean you should sacrifice what makes you successful at getting prepared  to bring your best to work. You should prepare yourself just like you were going to the office, minus the commute.

Lastly, now that you aren’t commuting anymore take some time to leave your space and get some fresh air. While I was advised to separate your work space from your living space, I couldn’t do that. If you can’t afford to separate spaces, I believe it’s important to regularly separate yourself from your space so you avoid cabin fever.

 

Picture credit: https://www.myob.com/au/blog/the-future-of-working-remotely/

entrepreneurship, Flipping, Goals, Hard Money, hustle, Hustle Estate, Improvement, Leadership, Learning Lessons, Purchase, Real Estate, Rehab, success, Technology

Hustle Estate – Flipping Homes 101 – Ep 5

Flipping Homes 101 – Ed and Isaac walk through the overall process it takes to flip a home. Ed talks about where he buys homes from, what to think about when looking to flip a home and how to get a hard money loan.

Feel free to reach out with questions or comments on Twitter/Instagram (@HustleEstate) or send us an email HustleEstate1@gmail.com

Happy hustling!

 

Music – Showtime by Artlss – https://www.melodyloops.com/tracks/showtime/

entrepreneurship, Experience, hustle, Hustle Estate, Leadership, Learning Lessons, Real Estate, Technology, Tools, Uncategorized, Vision

Hustle Estate – Buying Your First Home – Ep 4

Questions or comments – reach out to us!
Twitter/Instagram – @HustleEstate
HustleEstate1@gmail.com

Looking to buy your first home? We have some practical tips to help you find the home of your dreams. Both of us share our experiences buying our first homes (multifamily and condo). When we started looking, we had some ideas of what we wanted, but after we made our purchases we learned a lot more. Learn from us so you don’t repeat some of our mistakes.

Happy hustling!

Hustle Estate, Leadership, Learning Lessons, Real Estate, Technology, Tools

Hustle Estate – Career Pivoting to Real Estate – Ep3

 

iTunes & Google Play

Learn how Ed made his way into real estate. Ed’s career didn’t begin in real estate. He was curious about owning property at a young age, but started working in non real estate financial institutions after college. Once he bought his first property, he quickly realized he’d rather spend time understanding the real estate industry than other financial businesses.

Feel free to leave us a comment or send us an email at HustleEstate1@gmail.com

Agile, Estimation, Improvement, Leadership, Remote, SDLC, Technology, Tools

Daily Sprints – Day 9 (the last day!)

The LAST post! I posted for the last two weeks about the previous day to provide interesting insights on how the team is trying to improve their estimation! See Day 0, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7 and Day 8!

What have you tried that works or doesn’t work?!

Day 9 – The Last Day

The last two weeks have been amazing. I will spend some time later this week reflecting and writing about the overall process. Last Friday was really our last full development day and we were finally in our Beta environment.

All we needed to do on Beta day was some small testing. So we needed to figure out what we wanted to accomplish.

Our goal for the day:

  • Take some time to learn a new version control that we are moving towards soon
  • Add some more integration tests
  • Get a quick POC for an API call to an outside vendor we haven’t used before but plan on using soon

What did we accomplish:

  • Added integration tests
  • Created a plan for our engineers to get ramped up on the new version control
    • Our Sr. Engineer has some experience in this so they are going to spend some time getting back up to speed
    • The other two engineers have limited experience and will work with our Sr. to help gain knowledge in the tool
  • API call POC – Done!
    • After we set our goals, the team came together and pair-programmed a solution to get a call to this API
    • This was accomplished within two hours of setting this goal, which was amazing to see!

Retro:

What did we do well?

  • Quick POC and pair programming
    • Got exposure to the XML
    • Also started to brainstorm questions for more work on the API integration
  • Beta testing went well

What can we do better

  • Look back at and bring back our production push checklist so we can think less about what we need to do when we push our solution to production.

Overall, it’s been a great nine days of trying something new on the team. I hope anything you’ve read helps you think about ways to improve your team!

(Featured Image Credit: http://changingthegameproject.com/winning-race-right-finish-line/)

 

Agile, Estimation, Improvement, Leadership, Remote, SDLC, Technology, Uncategorized

Daily Sprints – Day 8

One more post for Day 9! I will post about the previous day and hope to provide some interesting insights on how the team is trying to improve their estimation! See Day 0, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, and Day 7!

What have you tried that works or doesn’t work?!

Day 8

Better late than never – I prioritized other work that directly impacts this team over getting this post out this AM. 😦

Goals for the day

  • Show N Tell of all the features we are pushing to prod to the business this build
  • Begin to think about technical design behind our next big project
  • Finish UI Integration issue
  • Identify if we can add a small UI enhancement to one of our solutions

So what did we accomplish?

  • Everything we set out to do the for the entire 2 week build, including in Day 8!

Day 8 was special! This was our code freeze day and a few amazing things happen – to be honest, a lot of amazing things happened over the last seven days.

What was so amazing?

  • UI Integration
    • This was a broken file due to an encryption and environment issue. The process we went to solve this problem was amazing to watch!
    • Our Sr. Engineer sent an email the night of Day 7 to one of our other Sr. Engineers to help us think through the issue. The next morning we had no response. During our goal setting meeting, I challenged the Sr. engineer to call someone to get an answer. This didn’t happen…
      • A BETTER IDEA HAPPENED! Our BA suggested we bring in people to our Zoom call and then our entire team can hear about the problem and ways we are trying to solve it so we can learn together. This was a great idea!
      • The other Sr. Engineer on the infrastructure team called into our Zoom and helped us brainstorm, but no luck.
      • We brought another Sr. Engineer in who had knowledge of this solution – no luck.
      • Finally, we brought an Architect in and they helped us identify the issue solely because they understand the differences in environments! Once the Architect helped us make that connection we solved the issue. Amazing!
  • Business Show N Tell
    • This Show N Tell was different. I think because the team was so happy at all their accomplishments over the last two weeks (as they should be).
    • What was really interesting was the reaction to the business users when we said we solved some tough technical challenges while trying a much different way of operating.
    • I didn’t anticipate this. After our BA brought up the different way the team was doing things this build, I mentioned I was blogging about the journey and sent the blog link to the leaders that were in the meeting
      • This is interesting because I often think the business users and leaders see technology as a black box. Here is a problem (input) and technology provides a solution (output). How tech teams go about doing their work is not something our business users and leaders see very often or at all. My blog posts provided a nice insight into our process, without even thinking this could be a tool for them. I hope anything they’ve read has helped them understand how we operate a little bit better.

Retro

What went well

  • UI Integration Solution and bring people into our Zoom call
    • Helped us focus on solving the issue
    • Resolved it quickly
  • Show N Tell
    • Went well and business leaders were happy without solution
  • Overall the last two weeks have gone really well
  • Team picked up some small stories at the end of the build with UI tweaks – great we could bring in some more work!

What can we improve?

  • Time box ourselves more often to reach out to help sooner
  • Bring in people to Zoom more often rather than calling – this may be a big game change for us as a remote team with 99% of team members in Detroit.

Have a great weekend!

(Featured Image Credit: http://uncomonresilience.com/winning-in-life/)