Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hummingbird or Helicopter

Now for a little bit of the "mom" part of Agile Mom. I just attended a college fair with my older son, the soon to be high school senior. One of the presenters talked about the types of parents that colleges are seeing these days. There is the "helicopter parent" - those who hover at close distances, then swoop in to rescue their child. There is the "Black Hawk parent" - a slightly more destructive and obvious form of the helicopter parent. And, more recently, the term "velcro® parent" has appeared, to describe the parent that won't let their child fail, or even try something new that may allow for the potential of failure.

The admissions representative talking tonight introduced another term, new to me. "Hummingbird parents" stay nearby, but don't dart in unless there is a life-threatening issue. She went on to describe how hummingbirds will push their children out of the nest, and not allow them back in. When the parent is done parenting, they have a child who can take care of itself.

The hummingbird allows their offspring room for failure. As we in the agile community know, failures provide us with chances to learn, and therefore grow. The small bird also encourages their children to be responsible. If only all team members and product owners could take responsibility for their actions.

What describes you as a parent, and as a scrum master? Do you encourage responsibility? Do you keep the team safe, yet allow for the small failures that provide for growth?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Elevator definition and value

I recently chatted with a scrum coach, and he gave me a challenge: Say you were introducing scrum to an organization, and you had just finished a great discussion on the basics of scrum. You're feeling pretty good, and heading out for the day, when the executive who's spearheading the move to scrum catches up with you. "Great meeting," she says. "But I'm still a little confused about story points. Can you clarify that for me as we get to the parking lot?" So, you've got about a minute to re-define and establish the value behind this scrum term. What do you do?

Yikes. I had no reasonable answer. I've realized with that discussion that it's important to have quick soundbites available. What are some catchy ways to describe these items and behaviours that we in the agile world live and breath?