Jingle Bell’s Silly Season Ho Ho, tis the season to jolly! It’s that time of the year again when we tend to go crazy, spend too much money and forget the real meaning of the Christmas.
As we continue to chase our short tail, now is the time put in an extra effort. Our lives become so busy that we often forget the important things, the things that really matter. Forget the extravagant gifts and instead give the precious gift of time, your time! This is after all the season of giving and goodwill. Be nicer than before – buy the street kids something to eat, tip your favourite petrol attendant, be courteous on the road, say thank you to the shop assistants and cashiers when out shopping, be gracious to those family members who especially get on your nerves at this time of the year, spend time with your kids, parents and wife, and remember to be good to yourself.
I guess there are huge opportunities and tough challenges that are awaiting us in the coming year and it’s probably going to be hectic for all of us at Alacrity. How we confront this will reveal a bit about our characters, weaknesses and strengths, but at the end of the day, it’s the bigger picture we are striving towards.
For those who are travelling with friends and families please be careful and safe out there, we need all hands on deck in 2012. Also to those celebrating the religious days coming up, have a soulful Christmas and a fantabulous New Year.
And, let me leave you with this, while you’re out shopping remember, as you hear all those Boney M tunes drumming around, (pa ra pa pa tum!!), do not be lured by the marketing genius of the stores and malls, Cmon, guys don’t fall for it!!
This is me and the time has come to sign off to a fantastic 2010!!!
Yesterday i was asked by a friend of mine who does freelance reporting…
“Didn’t you tell me once that you went sky diving or parachuting or something like that….?
Send me a few paragraphs on how it came about, why you did it, and what it was like…..? The feeling, emotion, the fear the exhilaration…..????”
My response was as follows:
Hi, a few paragraphs? Hope you’re kidding. Here goes…
I have a list of “to do” stuff, some call it a bucket list. The issue I have with that name is “do you empty done stuff”? then start filling it again? I always ask why? Until I get an answer (guess my analytical brain kicking in).
My life motto is… I have a few…
- live life to it’s fullest but be wise about choice.
- Never regret what you’ve done but learn from it
- Never stop improving yourself, you learn everyday
- Love what you do and have fun doing it
- Remember the past but live for now
I can go on and on, the point is there is no time like NOW.
So skydiving came about on a go-kart track. After racing conversations took place in the bar, as usual. One of the guys who is an avid jumper was saying how exhilarating it is to jump from planes and I’m thinking wtf?
Being the person I am, I jumped (no pun intended) at the opportunity. He was planning on taking a group of people to Robertson and I thought what the hell this should be easy. As the days got closer, I actually realised the reality of the situation. Too late…
I remember driving to Robertson on the Friday night, the atmosphere and energy was immense when we arrived. I then knew this is something I really wanted to do. The camp fire stories, some horror ones included just got my blood pumping.
Saturday morning was a fantastic day, clear skies, no wind, everybody there was humming “there will be jumps today”.
The training session started at 9 am and would complete around 4pm and then whoever feels ready will get to jump. I stumbled towards the hanger where the training would take place and there I see my partner Lesley shouting “I want to jump”. She then signed up to do the tandem jump (11000 ft), no training required and off she went. Wow I thought, this is not like her, guess the adrenalin was overflowing. 30 minutes later I go called out of the training to see her land. It was an awesome sight.
Hours passed and then it was time. Final test was a sort of simulation exercise but about 1m off the ground.
Then I was ready…the first group contained 5 guys and there we went. The right stuff sprung into my brain. The plane was a Cesna, not sure of the model, but really small and noisy. We squeezed in, I mean really squeezed in. 5 jumpers, the jump master and the pilot.
Take off was scary, then climbing to 3500 ft. I was 2nd to jump…when the first guy left the plane, I honestly had no thoughts, my mind went blank. All I heard was “next!”. I slowly made my way to the door, it opened and the wind, omg the wind.
Stepped out onto the step, just enough space to put a foot, hands on the wing, feet off the step. And there I was hanging on the wing James Bond style and waited for the signal… Leaving the plane was a blur, there I was floating in the sky, checking my lines, then untangling the crossed lines, making sure the parachute opened correctly.
I cannot explain the feeling.
Not a sound, the view was amazing, everything was just so clear. Then it was time to land. Guiding the chute and watching the batmen on the ground. Carefully taking note of their signals. I overshot the landing spot by about 200m but nevertheless I was back on earth and back to earth.
It felt like I conquered the world..and yes I’ll do it again…
The guy in the centre is Tim-O-T (over 10000 jumps), you might have seen him on the Discovery channel, “How I survived”. His had problems with the chute opening and plummeted to the ground, and survived.
Just thought I’ll pop this in here – discussion points from our coaching circle.
”We accomplish what we understand. If we are to accomplish something together, we need to understand it together”. Ron Jeffries
Alacrity agile coaching circle – Monday, 1 August 2011(18:00 – 19:30)
Goal: Building better teams – how to recognize dysfunction
What is a dysfunctional team and what could cause this?
No trust – uncomfortable with each other, don’t admit weaknesses, never ask for help
Don’t want conflict – scared to challenge others opinions
Command and control leadership style – PO assigns work
Team members ‘fence sitting’ – individuals making team decisions
The blame game
Lack of commitment- teams members fail to achieve clear decisions and action steps
No accountability – team members do not confront each other around behaviour that do not conform to agreed decisions
No team ethics – individuals put their own needs ahead of the team
No empowerment – teams are not allowed to make decisions on the work they do
What are the early signs the scrum master should look out for?
Quality of delivered work starts dropping
Teams are given ‘deadlines’
No participation in activities
Everyone pulling in opposite directions
PO’s are line managers
PO doesn’t allow the SM to guide the team
No vision from the PO
There is no sprint goal
Team communication patterns are tense
Team is not part of the decision-making process
There is no free flow of information
How do we fix this? Can we?
Create that safe space where all can be treated as equals
Encourage all to work together
In the retro – role play other teams members showing what it looks like from the outside (this might need a high level of team maturity)
Highlight the positives and celebrate achievements
Display model behaviour – SM must practice what they preach
Get back to basics
Start respecting yourself & others
Always follow-up on retro action items
Make things visible
Trust building exercises
ASK THE TEAM
When the going gets tough?
Obtain assistance – outside intervention
Attempt to establish the root cause
When all else fails, get rid of the bad elements
Reading material – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Peter Lencioni
15 August 2011 (18:00) – no apology then we expect to see you
Topic as agreed by the group:
BRAINSTORMING & ESTIMATING STORIES
Facilitator: Pieter (will advise if prep work is required)
here are some pics taken (apologies for the handwriting)
Business analysts – are we really?
Since the start of our BA forum I’ve been grappling with the idea of what value I can add to assist others and also to understand how they are thinking. We often we get caught up in old thinking patterns of “this is how we always did it before”. Yes, I agree that the wheel should not be reinvented but surely we should be ADDING VALUE when recommending solutions.
This is first my stab:
BA competencies, now I’m racking my brains a bit. Google it and you’ll get thousands of hits (just a guess).…just had to for my own peace of mind, Google says about 3,200,000 results.
When chatting to other BA’s they battle to keep the stakeholders focussed on the actual business requirements, possibly because it’s easier for anyone to start thinking in solution mode. All BA’s should know that it’s imperative that we get the business requirements accurate for any project. The BABOK guide describes business requirements as “high-level statements of goals and objectives” but at times we fail to keep the stakeholders involved throughout the development of their solution. Surely it’s in our best interest to involve them as often as we can since they are closest to the requirement. Why not involve them in design decisions? Why not? My response to this – “it depends”. BA’s need to assist the stakeholders by keeping them concentrated on the problem space and at the same time ensuring that we are building the correct solution. Good BA’s are able to realise when these boundaries are about to be crossed.
My advice to BA’s is:
1. Define the business problem correctly, if not, you going to deal with scope issues.
2. Keep stakeholders involved but be aware when they are giving you the solution.
3. Ensure that you are able to validate any information elicited.
4. If possible, recommend more than one solution.
5. NEVER stop talking to the stakeholders – value “customer collaboration over contract negotiation” (a principle from the agile manifesto – http://www.agilemanifesto.org).
6. Ask why? You’ll be amazed how many times you can.
7. Remember, you play an important role in translating stakeholders’ needs into good requirements for the software development team.
I look forward to any comments.
Being in this world or even being part of it has dealt me a hand of cards which I’m busy playing with the utmost respect….a real poker face player I am. Thinking that golf was easy, which is not, life has this deck with infinite cards and each day maybe each hour or second you’re faced with a hand to play what do you do? What do you do? Isn’t that a line from a Bruce Willis movie? I’m difficult in this respect since I play most of the cards with my mind and not my heart, which in my opinion leads to intelligent and informed decisions, the rest…instinct and deal with the consequences later. Life’s too short to waste time by analyzing every decision that has to be made…….
A career in IT is about meetings & meetings, deadlines, a positive attitude, thinking laterally, working smart and lots of “condashimies”. (some will know what I’m saying).
Working at Alacrityhas given me the opportunity to prove my capabilities, interact with great people, learn new things, show empathy to fellow colleagues, develop a thicker skin, participate in extramural activities and deal with office politics.
The perfect day at work is a smooth traffic flow, more sensible listeners calling in on 567, the opportunity to read the Cape Times (sports page) a nice cuppa java, no unexpected meetings or reports to be attended to and being able to eat lunch.
My biggest strength is the ability to remain calm in otherwise tense situations, and not being indecisive.
I love playing sport especially, soccer, cricket, rugby, golf, squash and klawerjas because of its competitiveness.
Soccer is still a large part of my life, playing and coaching gives me enormous pleasure and satisfaction. When I play soccer, I lose myself completely in the game, try to be as focused as possible and always give 100%.
My greatest passions are my dogs, Bella, Milo, Coco (R.I.P Cad, Nui, Kia and Pui-chi).. Golf allows me to push myself to the limit, makes me mentally tough and is a great de-stressor.
Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. Well, now you know I’m a bad loser.
My father taught me to never forget my roots, ‘where I come from’ and to always show humility.
The hardest lesson I have learnt is to love. And not giving up no matter how bad things seem.
I am deeply saddened by children who suffer unnecessarily, terrorist bombings and racial discrimination.
I am grateful for a another day, those who love me, family, and waking up each morning.
What makes me happy is enjoying a good glass of red wine, eating Lesley’s grilled lamb, playing a game of golf and walking the dogs.
I would really like to work with disabled children because they have so many hidden talents yet to be discovered.