Terrible Tuesday

Today was challenging. 

It was a long day, and I ran out of energy a couple hours before I was done with my work. I’m not sure what’s the cause, but my colleagues sound burned out. I think we need better skills in collaborating with a dispersed workforce. I can’t speak for them, but it seems as if information is already outdated by the time I get it. It can be hard to keep up.

Organizations, i.e., people, have to adapt – sometimes abruptly. And I also know that change is the only constant. But at what point does the amount of change feel dysfunctional? I guess at the point where one’s capacity for managing change has been exceeded. But, of course, we all have different levels of change capacity, and even that capacity is dependent on the context of the situation.

It does feel like we try to do too much at once. But, again, I’m not sure if I should be more agile or if my point is objectively viable. Doing the back-to-back to meetings on different topics gives my brain whiplash. By the end of the day, if I’m not careful, I would have spent a lot of time doing “stuff” but never making progress on what’s most important.

I’d define the Scrum framework as one where the goal is to create an environment where change can be effectively managed while making progress towards a specific goal. But one of the guideposts is that the entire team agrees to what they plan to accomplish. We control for known distractions and practice discipline with just the right touch of flexibility. We set ourselves up for success in the sprint planning session. There are three guiding questions: (1) Why is this sprint valuable? (2) What can be done in this sprint? (3) How will the chosen work get done?

Note: I got these questions from The Scrum Guide: The definitive guide to Scrum: The rules of the game, by Ken Schwaber & Jeff Sutherland.

At work, when there’s a sense of urgency with almost every task, it gets challenging to prioritize. The Scrum framework accounts for this in the Daily Scrum meeting. This is not your typical meeting – usually, it’s held with everyone standing up and limited to 15 minutes. The only goal is to get aligned on the most critical work that has to be done that day and resolve impediments to getting said work done. At the end of the sprint, there’s a sprint review to inspect the work that was done, and at the very end of the sprint, there’s a retrospective to evaluate how we did it.

I like this process because you determine what you’re going to do upfront. Then, every day, you talk about your progress towards that specific goal and nothing else. Then, you evaluate what you did and how well you did it at a predetermined time. And then you do it all over again. It breaks complicated projects down into more manageable pieces. What I miss in my current role is the connection back to what we agreed upon.

On the one hand, I get to make my own metrics and plan my own day. I really like the autonomy of my job. But on the other, it feels a bit every-man-for-himself.

Introducing: Flux

Oop – almost did it again! I had an idea to start a new blog. But, unfortunately, I spent more time looking at website templates than I spent writing. I keep wanting a fresh start, but it sort of feels like I’m running away from what’s in front of me to chase something else that looks newer. I can stop that pattern now and work from where I am. 

In life, you don’t get many chances to start over. But when you do, you make the change in your head first. Then you reframe the past to support your new vision for the future. One of my goals is not to run away from my past but to appreciate what it taught me and use those lessons to create the future with greater intention and wisdom. 

I’m reading a book titled “Flux: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change”. The author, April Rinne, opens by explaining what the book is about. It’s not another book on change management, “rather, it is about reorienting one’s attitude towards uncertainty and the unknown, and learning to see every change as an opportunity, not a threat…”. 

I have studied change management, and, broadly, I enjoy the discipline. I’m well-versed in change management theories; I’m even a certified change practitioner through Prosci. But I need a new way to look at change. The way I’ve been approaching it isn’t working. I need a new paradigm, and I think this book will offer it. 

I just completed “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. His text focuses on establishing tried-and-true principles that don’t change even though everything else around you might. It’s early, but I think April’s text shows you one path to developing said principles. I can’t remember how I learned about this book, but I’m glad I did.

In the book’s introduction, she recounts a life-changing experience: one year away from college graduation, she learns that her parents died in a car accident the day before. She writes, 

“In that moment, time stood still: the future was going to be wildly different than I’d imagined, or that my parents imagined, or than it had looked a year earlier, or even an hour earlier.”

– April Rinne

I was a few years younger when I had a similarly traumatic experience, and I had a similar reaction. I didn’t know what to do, and I felt I didn’t have anywhere to turn for support. I didn’t have the wisdom I do now that could help me reframe the experience into something meaningful. I’d just assumed my best years – at 18, of all ages – were behind me. 

This earth-shattering type of change, though, happens to people every day. It’s not always death or an illness; sometimes, it’s related to a job, friendship, or something else. But change is always happening. I get tired of hearing it, but it’s true – change is the only constant. And you’d think we’d be better with change since it happens so often, but I don’t think we are. Rinne asserts that: 

“The pace of change has never been as fast as it today, and yet, it is likely to never again be this slow. 

– April Rinne

That’s freaking terrifying. 

She goes on to say:

“The future is not more stable; the future is more uncertain.”

– April Rinne

Geez, lady. That’s depressing and unsettling. If that’s true, my current unsuccessful approach to managing change will be completely unsustainable. And I think it’s true. So, if this amount of change is happening, whether I want it to or not, I need to get better at managing it.