Monthly Archives: October 2012

SEO for this Blog

I’m looking at the posts I’ve made on this blog so far, and thinking about traffic–of which there is very, very little–and how to generate more traffic . . . which of course leads to thinking about SEO (search engine optimization).

I feel like I have very rarely mentioned “agile” or “scrum” in my posts. And that’s going to hurt my presence in search engine results if someone searches for those items. Sure, the name of the blog is “Agile Coach Jacque,” but as it stands, that’s just as likely to turn up in a search for yoga instructors as it is in a search for “software development methodology.”

*Sigh* Tempting though it may be, I’m not going to fill a post with all the names of agile methodologies and synonyms for “agile software development” that I can think of. (And besides, that kind of b.s. is detected and discarded by search engine algorithms anyway.) I’ll just keep writing things that I think are useful, and maybe work a bit on getting more people to link to me. Traffic and comments will come eventually. (And when it does, I’ll put sell ads on the site and make a million bucks a week! The new American Dream!) 🙂

Location, Location, Location and What’s Your Ecosystem

I just had lunch at a local sandwich shop [Soulwich, on Orrington Avenue in Evanston, IL–4 stars on Yelp, I recommend you visit!]. The owner was sharing his misery a little bit, that because of his location, on a block that has a lot of vacant storefronts, and paralleled by two busy, lively streets to the east and west, not many people came down his street, and his business wasn’t as good as it should be.

“I should have listened to that old adage” he said “‘Location, location, location.’ … Even if there were a competing sandwich shop like Panera or Potbelly next door, business would be better.”

That got me thinking just a bit about ecosystems. No matter how good your individual product or team, if there isn’t health nearby–or really, if there is poor health nearby–your work will be affected. If your healthy-team members have to interact with members of a team in poor health, your team will be affected. If your healthy-team is guided by a poor-sighted governance system, one that doesn’t do a good job of prioritizing for value, your team will be adversely affected.

Look around at the ecosystem that surrounds your teams. Is there some change, even something small, even a competing team, that can improve the health of the ecosystem?

Nothing’s Personal / It’s All Personal

One problem I have observed in Retrospectives, and one of the things that can keep a team (scrum/agile or otherwise) from really performing well, is the tendency to interrupt each other.

Sometimes, interruption is a sign of healthy enthusiasm. But sometimes it is not. It takes courage to let someone else finish their thoughts. You might be scared that they won’t let you finish yours. You might fear that your idea won’t be accepted if you don’t repeat it often enough. You might be afraid that someone else’s idea will be better than yours.

Stephen Covey’s fifth “habit” is “seek first to understand, then to be understood” and that definitely applies in Retrospective meetings.

But why did I title this post “Nothing’s Personal / It’s All Personal?”

Because it’s going to feel quite personal, to listen carefully to what someone says. Often things that are discussed in Retrospectives are coming from a place of feeling, of emotion, not simply burndown charts and story points.

But it’s also got to be treated like it’s NOT personal — just like the task cards we put on the table, once they’re out, they belong to the team to probe, question, build upon and even discard as the team sees fit. But still, the emotion-origin ideas at a Retrospective need to be treated as personal — one person said each of them, after all.

So it’s not personal, but it’s all personal. To put it another way, we need to balance thinking critically and objectively with being compassionate and appreciative. By listening carefully and personally, letting thoughts be finished–even if you’re jumping in to agree–you help make the transition from personal to not personal easier. And your team will grow stronger and more quickly.