One of the key aspects to being a successful Agile Samurai is the Retrospective Meeting. The Retrospective Meeting is a specific and deliberate time during the development process for the team learn what is going well and what is not going well. An Agile team is constantly learning throughout the development process. But a Retrospective Meeting is specifically intended to collect the learning from the previous sprint so it can be applied to the next sprint.
For a better understanding about retrospectives I would highly recommend Agile Retrospectives Making Good Teams Great.
This article is about including appreciations as part of the retrospective. The first thing to do is define appreciation. From the Merriam Webster dictionary:
: a feeling of being grateful for something
: an ability to understand the worth, quality, or importance of something : an ability to appreciate something
At some point every project is going to have a hard or series of hard sprints. For whatever reason things are going to go wrong and the team's morale is going to drop. By documenting appreciations we acknowledge specific actions people are taking to help us (me) overcome an obstacle. Also when an individual isn't sure they are valued on the team, if they have received appreciations in the past they can go back and look at those appreciations as a reminder that in fact they are valued.
Doing appreciations helps to build team connectedness and cohesion. People who are appreciated by the people they work with day to day are more likely to give their best, even when things are not going well.
At the end of a release give every member of the team a 4x6 card, colored are nice, and have them write their name at the top of the card. Then have each person pass their card to the person to their right. Each person can write a specific or set of specific appreciations for the person whose card they just got. When a person finishes writing on the card, they pass it to the right and keep doing this until their card comes back.
Later this card can be a reminder about what the team appreciated about each member on the next release or even years down the road.
Note: Jay Johnston, the author of A Leap of Faith Takes Courage, and I are friends.
Over the years I have read a number of motivational books. Many of them were by famous authors and almost all of them were very helpful at various points in my life. A Leap of Faith Takes Courage is a motivational book by Jay Johnston. What Mr. Johnston has done in his book is boiled down his own experiences and how he has become motivated into a very slim book. Mr. Johnston's writing style is very crisp and to the point.
A Leap of Faith Takes Courage has eleven chapters which follow a simple and effective pattern. Each chapter starts and ends with a famous quote about the topic the chapter will cover. Mr. Johnston then provides both personal and general context about the topic. At the end of each chapter Mr. Johnston includes a number of questions to help the reader evaluate what they have read and put into action what they have learned. The book even includes some white pages for journaling about what the reader has just finished reading.
The one weakness in the book is the inclusion of a few too many clichés. But I consider that a minor weakness.
The one thing I am sure I will do with A Leap of Faith Takes Courage is to re-read it again. I can't say that about most of the motivational books I have bought. The reason is that I can sit down and re-read A Leap of Faith Takes Courage over the course of one week and journal my thoughts based on those chapters.
If you wish to purchase a copy you can buy them from A Leap of Faith Takes Courage website.
When I started thinking about creating a new website I decided that I would like a logo and motto that reflected more about who I am and how I see myself.
Using a shield as the basic shape for my logo is a natural outgrowth of my desire to be noble, honorable, heroic, and adventurous. I haven't always lived up to those ideals but they are a part of who I am (and just as true as I am a cynic). I selected Azure as the color for the shield because it often represents loyalty. This is a quality that I have not always lived up to but one which I aspire to live up to.
There are five symbols on the shield that represent important parts of my life. First there is the headstock of a Fender guitar. I have played the guitar since 1994. My guitar playing is a work in progress
The second is the Crossroads of US Highway 61 and 49 a well known symbol for the blues. I fell in love with blues music when I started listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan and started learning who Stevie Ray Vaughan covered.
The third symbol is a classic 20 sided dice, which is known to anyone who has played any tabletop role playing game, especially Dungeons and Dragons. When I was in college I started playing tabletop role playing games. I recently started game mastering again (see Valdorian Age - Rising Power on the Frontier).
The forth symbol is camera. A friend of mine once commented that "All Tannen's are born with a camera in their hands." That isn't exactly true but it is close. My grandfather was an excellent photographer (film/slides and a darkroom in his basement). He passed on his great 'eye' to my dad and dad passed that on to me. I have combined my love of photography with blues to document many great blues artists while they were performing. Some of these great artists are no longer with us but their music and the images I captured are still around to enjoy. You can find my work at Photographs.
The fifth symbol is the cross that divides the shield. It is a subtle symbol.
Tibi Semper Ero Paravit, which means I will always be prepared, grew out of both my Boy Scout experience and my being a worse case scenario planner.