I just finished rereading Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, by Jeff Sutherland. When I finished, I suggested the book to both my son James and my apprentice at Sustainable Evolution, Andrew Wilt. They both LOVED it. Andrew was enthused enough to suggest we start running weekly sprints and daily standups. In the coming weeks, I will write a book review and he will add his thought in a Scrum blog piece. I’m sure we will have follow-up posts as we move forward with this pilot and adopt this approach to working together. Since Andrew lives in one state and me in another, we will have to use technology to close the gaps.
Writing a weekly blog is a worthwhile process--one that is both challenging and rewarding. Despite our best efforts, Andy Ruth and I don't always get around to it every week. The hardest part is finding time. Through the successes and failures, I have come to realize the key is discovering the gaps of downtime between daily tasks and then learning how to utilize those breaks. For example, look for time between meetings and during breaks for coffee or lunch. You can also mentally prepare in the car (or public transit) and when you are getting ready in the morning (in the shower). About 10-15 minutes a day is all you really need, but remember: don’t limit yourself to 15 minutes if you are on a roll.
I’ve suggested before that you need to identify a role model to help you further your skills and career. You identify an area inside of yourself you want to change and find someone that you think represents the embodiment of that change. You consider why you think they are ideal, what they do differently, and how they do it. Then, you start practicing doing things the way they do. As you practice, you learn and grow your abilities in that area and before you know it, you have adapted their approach and tweaked it to make it your own. Find another area to grow and repeat. There are quite a few good things about this approach, however, there is a risk. You may get into the routine of only doing what others do and let your ability to experiment, innovate, and have original thoughts atrophy. Here’s how I have tried to balance the two approaches.
Apprenticeship has been in practice since the time of the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Babylonians as a way to transfer expertise through generations. That said, modern business and especially technology-focused groups have little experience setting up and running apprentice programs. This will have to change or businesses will find themselves short of skilled employees.
For me, life is somewhat of a relay race. Growing through the stages of childhood, through adulthood, and finally to leading others I have always thought about succession plans and making sure there was someone in place to replace me. I’ve also always tried to have one or many mentors and one or many mentees and the rewards for both are tremendous. While living in a small town I was the computer guy, so as I became more known and busier I found a mentee to grow as a replacement for me. Like a relay race, I passed the baton to my mentee and tried to make that person better than I had been, or at least make it easier for them to travel a path I had been down.
Time is not money, time is life. Unlike money, we can’t get more of it by working harder, we can only learn how to better manage the time we have.
My grandfather, like most grandfathers, has about three favorite stories he manages to work into every conversation we have. In his story about working in the corporate world in the 1960s he ends it by saying this: if you don’t plan your day, someone will do it for you.
The main goal of Blue Collar IT is to grow practical business skills through apprenticeship. While there is a lot of value in a four-year degree, the value does not translate well into getting a job at a business that is looking for a specific skill set. With Blue Collar IT, we are mapping business processes and the people skills needed to accomplish those processes.