Promise for a Conversation

“A Story is a promise for a conversation.” -Alistair Cockburn 

I think this is really important to Agile and building a story.  You have to be able to adapt to be agile and the only way is by having a conversation.



Farm to Table 2014

I saw the tweet below and went over to Emily’s site to read the post. I wanted to attend this event last year, but wasn’t able to. As part of my adventure with #LouLoss, this would be a great way to learn more about healthy foods and educate myself on local sourcing.

As we near sprint, I am already thinking about our garden, we discussed it and will be building a new square foot garden as a raised garden bed. I for one am looking forward to some fresh vegetables.

Hopefully, we can win the tickets for Friday night and make it into a date night for my wife and I. If we do, I just have to find a sitter for a few hours. :)


Backing the Go-Flex Arm






I purchased a GoClamp from nearly a month ago and have found so many uses for it. This is my GOTO mount for my GoPro. Below are some of the places that I “clamp” my GoPro for some awesome videos.

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The team at Go-Mount is now working on a Go-Flex Arm, this flexible arm can mount on any GoPro mount and extend the reach as well as provide flexibility to position the GoPro at just the right spot. I am backing it at the level to receive both the 6 and 13 inche arms. Will you join me in helping make this product come to life. There are 12 days left, we need to spread the word so this product can be added to our GoPro essential kits.

BIG BROTHER / LITTLE BROTHER PACK – Receive one 6-inch GoFlex-Arm and one 13-inch GoFlex-Arm, a GoMount vinyl sticker, and a HUGE thank you!.






Saying Goodbye to Blaze

We knew this day was coming, but it still hurts so much.

The call came back from the Vet that Blaze our 14 year old lab is having severe kidney failure, with few options and also the reality of his age, we knew what had to happen. He was slowing on his eating and drinking, getting outside was more of a choir for him and not as much fun. He still wagged his tail when we pet him and talked with him. He also still liked to get treats so we will spoil him. He could now easily be lifted and carried which would be a task normally. After another few calls with the Vet, the decision was made, hard as it was we knew in our heart it was the right thing.

Our girls both knew that with his age our time with him may be limited now, but still when you find out that you now have a few days it hurts. My wife and I sat and talked with our daughters and explained that Blaze is beginning to suffer and that we could not let him suffer. We talked a lot and sat with Blaze, tried to get him to walk a little more outside to have some of the sun that was there hit his body. We took a lot of pictures, so many pictures. So much love and so many tears.

It is time to say goodbye and let him reset so he is not suffering, right now he enjoys seeing everyone and looking as his but the he is struggling and he have to protect him.


I scheduled everything so that we could be there with Blaze, we talked to our children about what was going to happen and made arrangements for them to stay with someone or come with us if they wished. Many more talks and prayers as our girls asked to come with us that day. My wife and I talked, we talked with our Pastor and more with our daughters. We also talked with others’ who took their children with them.

This decision is personal.

We made paw prints of Blaze Thursday as a remembrance of him (Mix 2 cups flower, 1 cup salt and 1 cup cold water – bake for 2 hours at 250 degrees). Our pastor also stopped over and talked and prayed with us and with Blaze, we all appreciated that so much, thank you Pastor Pat.

And today we said goodbye to our best friend, our family member with love in our hearts and sadness in our face. We know that he is going to be with others that have went before him to a beautiful park and watched over by our Lord.

Self-Organizing with a Beach Ball

I had one last activity planned for the children in my daughter’s 4th grade class. One big part of agility and Scrum is the ability to self-organize. Many people have a lot of trouble with this concept, myself included. So, how in the world am I going to try to explain this and show it to a 4th grade class? One thing on my side is that this class is picking things up very quickly, but I only have a total of 40 minutes to do everything I discussed so far.

So, I thought about an activity that I participated in with the Scaled Agility Framework and adapted it for the class. I brought with me 3 small beach balls; but at this point decided I could only use one in the class room. I asked the students to stand up and try to make a circle of sorts around the class. I stepped in the middle, my daughter walking next to me. I asked her to give one ball to someone and then I began to explain.

What I want you to do is pass this ball around the room, but easily; the object is to make sure each person touches the ball without dropping it. You cannot pass the ball to the person next to you and the ball must return to the person who started. This is not a game of dodge ball, I emphasized.

  1. Everyone must touch the ball
  2. Do not pass to the either of the people right next to you
  3. The person who first touches the ball must get the ball to complete

That is it. These three simple rules and let’s see how fast without throwing it around the room you can do this. I will give you a few minutes to figure out how to do it. This is the first part of self-organizing, I am giving the students the rules, this is what I will accept as complete or done; but I am not tell the how to do it that is up to them.

I stepped aside as the kids just looked at me wondering what to do. One girl had the ball that my daughter gave her, so she passed it over to another student, who then threw it across the circle to someone else, they did this a few times and finally returned to ball to the girl who started.

I step in the center of the circle and asked if everyone touched the ball. No, only half of them did. Well, then we didn’t complete the task correctly. How do you think you can do this again but making sure that you achieve each of the three rules?

The students talked about different ideas and their teacher added some ideas but let the students come up with an idea. They decided to skip one person as they passed the ball and then they started. The first girl passed it to a person next to the person to her right, and that student did the same thing. They repeated this process and the ball then skipped the girl who started and the kids got a little nervous but continued. Then the ball returned and was passed to the girl who started.

I stepped in the center and again asked if everyone touched the ball. This time they all answered YES!

The students tried first to achieve the tasks, then learned from what they did and discussed it among themselves and figured a way to achieve the tasks. They had the power to accomplish the task the way in which they felt was best just so the acceptance guidelines I provided where met. This is how a self-organizing team operates and achieves greatness.


Planning Poker with 4th Graders

The children got the pattern from the 1st post and loved making some of their own planning poker cards. But, why would they ever need this and what are they used for? What do I mean by pieces of work?

If you are familiar with planning poker and agile already, then I am sure this next activity you probably participated or facilitated yourself.

The cards do NOT represent a specific amount of time, they represent how big something or complex or difficult. So, I tried to explain this to the children and they looked at me like they had no clue what I was talking about. Which I made me wonder, did I?

So, I asked them to think of a cat. Just a basic cat that they may have as a pet. Let’s try to give a cat a number from the planning poker cards for the size of the cat. The numbers went crazy from the children, 1, 2, 5, 10,?, infinity (from a jokster in the room). We discussed the various numbers, starting with the question mark, the student stated that there are many types of cats and asked what kind of cat we are talking about. Great question, I added on that earlier in the day I had to use a question mark because I didn’t understand the work requested. We talked a little longer about the size of a basic cat and settled on the card with the number 2.

Cat picture from Flickr User zaimoku_woodpile Cat picture from Flickr User zaimoku_woodpile

So, we now know that a cat is a two. I ask the children to now pick a card for a horse. These children are very bright, they picked up the concept fast. I see cards with 5 and 8 and a 13.

So, now what we do kids is talk it out and try to agree on one number. Let’s remember that a cat is a 2 and think of some other animals and try to pick one number out of these three. The kids talk with some guidance and agree on an 8.


This is exactly what I do at work, but I don’t pick cards for animals, we use cards for work that needs to be done. This activity is called Planning Poker and we do this when we groom work before we do it. To groom work is to estimate the “size” of the work so we can later plan on when it will be worked on (planning work was not discussed, but may I may write about if this small series is useful).

Now, maybe you could use these cards with your teacher to rate a math problem, or a story that you have to read. Or a project that you will be working on. How about leaving some other ideas for using planning poker cards in school in the comments below. I would love to hear everyone’s ideas.

Their teacher loved the idea and so did the kids. But, they still wanted to know what this beach ball here was for.



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