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Taking an Agile Approach

January 25, 2022

Taking an Agile Approach to the New Year

Interview with Matt Risch (Part III)

By Suzette Spears

Interested in how an Agilist prepares for the New Year? Revisit our earlier blog post, here: Part I and Part II.

In Part III of our New Year’s blog, we will hear more thoughts from ALTA’s resident Agile Lead, Matt Risch.

Can you list the biggest obstacle you face to achieving your goals and how do you overcome it to stay on track?

My New Year’s goals (my roadmap) appear similar to the previous year. I have financial goals (save money), health goals (exercise regularly), experience goals (travel), growth goals (knowledge, happiness, balance). All achievable with the right level of focus.

However, there are always challenges, obstacles that pop up that slow us down or worse, redirect us away from our goals. We see this on Agile Teams as their Scrum Master tries to protect the Team from outside forces trying to pull them away from the framework and their Sprint Goals. And we see this in our personal lives with, well, pretty much everything.

My biggest obstacle to achieving my New Year’s goals, aside from time in the day, which I think everyone would agree is an obstacle in life, would be continuous motivation. Yes, I said it. I sometimes struggle to move myself in making progress toward my goals.

Then I remind myself of the old saying, “I won’t always be motivated, so I better be driven.”, and I push myself to get moving on whatever task I need to do toward my goals. Am I always successful? No. But I never give up. And I often find myself reaching back into my Agile toolbox for inspiration to apply in my personal life.

One of my tools is a video on YouTube of US Navy Admiral William H. McRaven giving a motivational speech at The University of Texas. I show this clip in certain trainings and workshops and draw parallels to Admiral McRaven’s presented perspective and Agile values and principles.

In one part of his speech, he explains why the US military requires people to make their bed each morning. He goes on to say, “If you make your bed in the morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and by the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.” He then reminds us that this small task will reinforce the perspective that the little things in life matter, and if you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.

So, I take my goals and break them down into smaller pieces, much like an Agile Team takes a Feature and breaks it down into user stories, and I work each day on accomplishing a small task toward my end goals. And regardless of what goal I am incrementally working toward, staying on track always starts with a bed that’s made.

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