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It turns out during a global pandemic you have more time to sit and think about things. The time spent commuting, or breaking for coffee, or riding up elevators, or switching gears to talk to a coworker about their dogs is now freed up to spend on other things. (I originally wrote ‘freed up to *do* other things’ but if I’m honest I find myself not doing much of anything these days.)

In the first weeks I spent an inordinate amount of time checking covid-19 dashboards. I’ve sense turned to streaming decades-old baseball games.

All of this to say, I…

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Last February, I decided to try my hand at baking Ciabatta bread. I had seen it done a few times on the Netflix favorite, The Great British Baking Show. So I thought to myself: looks simple enough, why not give it a shot? The results were underwhelming, to say the least. The dough was too wet, too sticky, and I over dusted them before putting in the oven, which filled the house with an aroma of burnt popcorn.

After that disastrous first try, I’ve allowed myself to try again, to iterate, and try again. I use the same recipe, same…

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Know your project’s worth by adopting an Innovation Process

Not all projects are created equal. Some projects are absolutely required due to industry or government regulation (a la ‘CCPA’ or ‘GDPR’). Some are tied to a product roadmap, where paying customers patiently await a long-promised enhancement. Some are blue sky ideas, born out of blue ocean strategy, that are mere un-tested hypotheses with no data to support their success.

Sure, the regulatory and product-focused projects are an easy sell. They make sense to us. Heck, they might even be required to avoid some financial penalty, lawsuit, or loss of market share. …

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When we talk about Agile we often have in mind the idea of a small team moving as a unit to a common goal. A key component of this team is the Scrum Master who is uniquely tasked to be both a servant and a leader. For those who cut their teeth in classic project management roles, this may sound philosophical and a bit of a paradox. Almost like when someone tells you something like ‘slow is fast’ or ‘you’ve got to take a few steps back to move forward.’

But we don’t need to look far to understand the…

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I’ve noticed a growing tendency among business analysts and product owners to be cautious in documenting user stories. Whether it’s out of fear of writing something incorrectly, or committing to ‘requirements’ too early, this thing of writing user stories shouldn’t be scary. In fact, most teams succeed when the act of writing stories is informal, open, and iterative.

The user story is the start of a conversation, one that should continue several times over before any decisions are made. The whole idea is a conscientious departure from functional, long-form requirements.

A user story is a promise of a conversation —…

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

When I was in submarines there were enlisted sailors who claimed that the boats only went on mission to keep the Junior Officers interested. The thought being that submarines were pretty boring and all things being equal, JOs would be better off working in private industry, where they’d make more money.

This is a pretty bleak view of the submarine Navy. To be sure, we went on mission for good reason, often directed by the very highest levels of the US government. …

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As I woke up this morning, thankful for the federal holiday and a day off work, I felt called to reflect on what it is we observe on Memorial Day. A quick browser search reminded me:

Memorial Day is the day on which those who have died in active military service (and armed conflict) are remembered.

Memorial Day is more than ‘Thank a Vet’ day. It is more than a ‘Blowout Sale’ at Home Depot, or the day we sit by the pool and grill on the back deck.

This is a day where we should all take a moment…

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As a product owner and business analyst I used to measure my productivity by how many features, epics, and stories I brought to the table for a backlog grooming session. I used to pride myself on well written stories with acceptance criteria that met a ‘Definition of Ready’.

This was my role, my responsiblity, my contribution.

Over time though, I noticed that I was spending a ton of time writing backlog items and building artifacts to reflect my own vision of how things should work. I owned and lorded over the backlog. It was mine. Real pride of product ownership.

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You don’t need to be a writer to write user stories. You don’t even need a special title. All you need is a passion for the process.

Drafting a user story is more like journaling, or creating a To-Do list. Kanban boards are proof of this. Ever planned your day in Trello?

My team has a dream of being more DevOps. My team also has a dream of being more SCRUM-like. The only issue is that we don’t think or act like either.

If you were to walk into a daily meeting and ask: Who here is the Product Owner…

The city is buzzing about the impact of Apple “coming” to Austin. Only, Apple’s already here and have been for some time now. So, what gives?

Apple has promised to double its Austin workforce over the next two to three years, making it the single largest employer in the city. That’s a big bet considering Dell and St. David’s, a major healthcare provider in the area, are current mainstays at 13,000 and 10,000 employees respectively. Apple’s Americas Operations Center in North Austin now stands at about 6,000 workers. By 2021 we hear that number will be upwards of 15,000. …

Jeffrey Rosser

Writer, technologist, user advocate. I like to think about how teams work.

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