2017 Scrum Review Using the Daily Scrum Questions

When I look back on 2017, other than political strife and anxiety, my year was really about three professional priorities – piloting the Design Thinking Studio in Social Innovation immersive semester that I co-designed as well as Agile Faculty and reconnecting to my larger goals related to that part of my career. In this post, I explain how I modified the daily Scrum questions for a year-end review. In a post later this week, I’ll share how I evaluated my process using a retrospective activity.

This year, I experimented with using the daily Scrum questions to understand how 2017 went because I wanted to explore if I met my 2017 commitments and could demonstrate that to others. It also made sense because this format helped me complete my required year-end review for my department chair and dean. During a daily Scrum in a software environment, the team meets in a designated location and each answer three questions:

  1. What have I done since we last met to work toward our team’s goals?
  2. What will I do today to work toward our team’s goals?
  3. Do I see any impediments that might keep me or the team from meeting out goals?

For this year, I modified the questions for a year-end personal assessment and focused only on the first and third question, since I’ll cover the second question in my 2018 planning session:

  1. What have I accomplished in 2017 that helped me achieve my priorities for the year?
  2. What might I do in 2018 to achieve my priorities?
  3. What might have hindered me from meeting my 2017 priorities that I need to be aware of in 2018?

Here’s what I found by using these questions to guide my assessment.

What have I accomplished in 2017 that helped me achieve my priorities for the year?
My goals related to launching the Design Thinking Studio in Social Innovation were mostly met, though it was much more stressful than anticipated. We successfully led the pilot semester with 14 students, and our team-teaching partnership was very successful, providing a much needed support system when things got bumpy. The students learned a great deal about design thinking, Scrum, and community action, while also learning hard-won lessons about goal setting, perseverance, challenge, ambiguity, collaboration, and constructive criticism. Those lessons were personally challenging for all of us, but the outcomes were well worth it. The faculty, with help from the students, also came up with a variety of ways to improve the program in its second pilot in Spring 2018, which we are now working into the curriculum.

Over the summer, the faculty team outlined five possible journal articles and submitted two, which earned revise and resubmits; crafted a report for the provost based on the results of the semester; and submitted a proposal to a major academic press for an edited collection on redesigning the liberal arts in undergraduate education which was inspired by our Studio work. I also wrote and earned a $10,000 from a disciplinary organization to study rhetoric genre transfer in the Studio and wrote a $35,000 planning grant to the new National Endowment for the Humanities’ Connecting Humanities program to explore creating a pipeline of classes and experiences to feed the Studio.

My Agile Faculty goals were very vague at the start of 2018 because I wasn’t sure when the book would be released (it was pushed back a couple of times based on the publisher’s production schedule). So Agile Faculty took a major backseat to the Design Thinking Studio until about October, when the November release date was firm. Thanks to conversations with the wonderful marketing team at University of Chicago Press and finding Katie Linder’s work on promoting academic books (she also has a full online course on the subject!), I updated all of my university and LinkedIn profiles to include the book, designed a website that I am really proud of, started blogging about Scrum in higher education, significantly ramped up my Twitter presence and targeting, joined relevant professional groups for networking and support, and started imagining plans for ways to extend Agile Faculty into related ventures.

My teaching is noticeably missing from these goals, which is something I really need to consider in 2018.

What might have hindered me from meeting my 2017 priorities that I need to be aware of in 2018?
I spent much of 2017 letting my inner control freak lead my efforts and attention, especially with anything that involved writing. While that enabled me to accomplish quite a bit, it was unnecessarily stressful, and I was sometimes overbearing with colleagues who were not on my self-imposed (and ridiculous) schedule. I could have trusted my very capable colleagues (and my students) more, used my Scrum board more effectively to maximize found time, and been more open to ambiguity and play.

2017 was also a year of many important commitments tugging on me regularly and distracting my ability to focus. Other areas of my work life probably suffered because of this, and I may have burdened colleagues with my attitude at times. For example, my colleagues and I finally got a new major approved for professional writing after 10 years of trying, and I should have made that more of a priority, even though we were very successful. I need to think about how much work is enough to meet my goals adequately and how much is superfluous stress I am putting on myself so that I can recognize small wins and celebrate big wins more readily.

Additionally, my professional and personal goals were competing for my time, and work almost always won over personal. I’m not OK with that, especially when that mindset made my dressage riding hobby and lessons seem like a chore that was taking me away from work rather than the fun, healthy break from reality is should be. In 2018, I need to rethink the way I distribute my time and attention as well as commit to self care and riding while making my priorities visible to myself and others. (Curious about dressage? Here is an awesome animated video explaining the sport!)

So, while I was productive in 2017, I could have acted in ways that also improved my professional and personal vitality. In my next post, I’ll explain how I completed a 2017 retrospective to think about how my process for meeting my ambitious goals impacted both my productivity and my vitality and what I can improve in 2018.

Do you do a year-end review? What strategies work for you, and why?

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