Day 15 – They Did Call It “Boot Camp”

…and after three weeks I’d say that’s a fair statement.

Auxano Sprint 1 Review & Retrospective –

Given my state of mind by 6pm on Friday, I decided to take some time over the weekend to reflect on our team’s first sprint and my personal performance during the week before proofing and publishing this blog. I have some notes about exactly what we did every hour of the day, but if you’ve read my previous blogs then you’ve suffered enough through that sort of writing (sorry!).

Daily Scrum: Yesterday we broke all the tests for Week Streaker badge, and spent the day trying to fix those tests. Today we’ll be trying to fix those tests before our review. Major blocks are people pushing broken things to GitHub, dealing with merge conflicts, and following proper Scrum, TDD, and Pair Programming practices. Need to discuss this further with the group.

By nature, I lean towards introversion and pessimism. Either or both can be a curse or a blessing depending on the situation, but during the second half of this week I found myself struggling quite a bit to remain positive while problems and setbacks kept piling up on top of me (at work and outside of work). As an introvert, I usually turn inward when I’m struggling instead of asking for help, and as a pessimist I can see a thousand things going wrong but struggle to see what positive things may come of it. I can get lost in the details, and lose sight of the big picture. I’d say that’s what happened towards the end of this week.

This weekend, I was determined to think on what positive things came from last week, and I think I can finally name a few. Firstly I discovered about a hundred ways I shouldn’t do all sorts of things as a developer, team member, and a consultant. I’ve been afraid of failure my entire life, so stumbling and failing isn’t something I always do gracefully… making it through the end of the week alive was an accomplishment for me. I learned a lot. It was slightly painful, but I learned and I will improve because of it.

Improving, it’s what we do™… right?

I was reminded that communicating with your team, your closest work partners, your boss(es)/manager(s), your coaches, your colleagues at large in your workplace is a huge struggle for me, but it’s something I simply must get better at on a daily basis in order to be successful. This is where we get back to the Introvert stuff, not to mention my stutter.

I was reminded that small problems not dealt with early and effectively can and probably will turn into big problems down the road, and when combined with new (potentially bigger) issues, they can crush you. Getting crushed needs to not happen… I can’t sit by and drag the issues I’m facing or our team is facing throughout the week without trying harder to deal with them. Either fixing the issue myself or bringing it to the attention of the group so it can get knocked out is critical, and I will try to get better at that.


I was reminded that if I’m not prepared for a presentation, if the material being reviewed is unfinished or broken, if I don’t make time to practice and do a bit of scripting, and I don’t coordinate with my group and coding partner then I will flop on my face in front of product owners and stakeholders during a presentation, and that’s not just embarrassing but completely unacceptable. I stood up at the end of the week, completely unprepared to present work that was unfinished, and proceeded to serve as the example of what not to do as a consultant in a sprint review. That was not enjoyable. I would prefer not to experience that again, so… preparation must be done.

I have not had to do this much learning and “failing” in public in a long long time. It took me all week to recognize “failure” as just another term for “learning” and “growing.” When I looked at this week from that perspective, then I recognized we were actually very successful and productive in spite of my/our shortcomings. Our code was not finished. All tests were not passing. My part of the presentation was pitifully weak by my own admission, but it was a learning experience and we should all be better able to recognize what we need to do to avoid that in future sprints. I received some very valuable feedback from Cherie on how to improve (thank you, Cherie – please keep it coming!), and will be better prepared next Friday or whenever our next review will be.

I learned that If daily scrums are going to be more productive and meaningful, I think I need to be a bit more open and honest about blocks within the group. Even if it makes things a bit uncomfortable. I promised to help the group by identifying and solving problems, and I’m not doing that like I should. This won’t always be enjoyable, but if I’m going to draw upon my strengths (even my pessimism) to help the group then that means bringing my concerns and observations to the discussion table for the benefit of our group. One might not want to hear about everything that could go wrong, but it’s important to consider and plan to avoid problems if possible. That’s one thing I intend to help our group do.

Okay, that’s enough retrospection. I learned a lot more, but there are only so many words I can type and words you’re willing to read! If you’d like to read a more positive account of our week and review/retrospective, please go read David’s blog (Click Here). Dave’s a great guy, and I’m glad Jeff picked an optimist to balance out our team.

After taking a few days to think about my struggles last week and taking many deep deep breaths, my intention is to start fresh on Tuesday with a positive attitude and be prepared to improve on my performance last week.

If you’ve actually read through all of this, then I want to sincerely thank you for your time. I would appreciate your feedback in the comments below if you feel inspired to give me your thoughts. After reading this, you might agree that I could use some words of wisdom! I hope you have (or had) a pleasant Memorial Day weekend.

See you next week!