Thursday, May 30, 2013

Do you have a “Calling” or a “Job”?

I am almost done reading “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor. In it he talks a little bit about how people view their jobs. Regardless of the job, whether it is a janitor or a CEO, if you view your job as your “calling” then you have a tendency to be more successful at it (success is based on your own criteria).

So I started thinking about what I do and why I feel I am successful at it. First, what is success to me? Well, success to me is a combination of things. It is me looking forward to getting up and going to work everyday (well almost everyday), it is displayed to me as my customers (those folks inside Burt’s Bees at the moment) thankfulness for me solving a real problem, as my work having a positive financial impact to my company, as me being able to spend quality time with my family and enjoy a life outside of my work.  These are my primary criteria and indicators of success.

So lets match my criteria for success with the last year here at Burt’s.

As an Agile Software Development Coach and a Software Engineer my job is to guide others through a methodology that I am passionate about and to demonstrate to them its effectiveness by participating in it as an engineer. I love what I do! And I love the group of people I do it with! We really enjoy our work day. We laugh a lot and swear too much, but we get work done and our customers are generally pleased with our work.

The last year has seen two clear victories for the Agile methodology here at Burt’s. Two projects where the business came away happy and the application development group came away proud of what it produced. I credit the business for being open to Agile and the team for working hard at making it work.

We believe our work has a positive financial impact on the company (we have also been told this by those who would know). We can see the time saved in not having to discern certain data points, in being able to add data points to the ERP without much effort and using those points to make strategic decisions. Great indicators to the application development team that our efforts are paying off.

We also are able to work from home when we need to. When my daughter has a gymnastics meet out of town, I don’t have to beg and plead to get the time to go.  When my son has a soccer tryout at 5:30pm 45 minutes away through Raleigh traffic, I can leave early to get him there. When my wife and I want to spend time helping a refugee family during the day in Durham with our church group, I am given time to do that. So my life outside of Burt’s is a blessing and I am happy to be able to have one.

Do I feel my job is my “calling” as Achor talks about in his book? You bet! Do I think I am more successful as a result of my attitude or does my attitude stem from my success? Well, I believe my attitude contributes to my success more than my success contributes to my attitude but each case is true.

In my previous “job”, I felt I was successful to a certain extent but I did not see it as my “calling”.  It did not hit all of the criteria I outlined above. Some things were missing. Which is one reason why I left to find my “calling”.

What is your “calling” and are you doing it?

Till next time…

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Iteration 2012, a Retrospective

Will 2013 bring more of the same or will it be something completely unexpected? Well, it will probably be both. Every year we ask ourselves these types of questions. And every year we reflect on the past year. As humans, we have this need to substantiate our existence. The end of one year and the beginning of another offers us the opportunity to reflect and make changes. A retrospective. In the Agile software development world the past year could be equated to an iteration or a sprint. A very long one.

At the end of each iteration in Agile Software Development we have a retrospective.  Where we answer 3 basic questions: What did I do well? What do I need to improve on? and What will I do specifically to address the items I need to improve on? Well for Iteration 2012, my retrospective looks something like this.
What did I do well?
I have successfully introduced Agile to a willing group of talented software engineers and management
I have successfully run Agile projects at both Farm Bureau and Burt’s Bees
I have successfully increased my knowledge of manufacturing processes and systems
What do I need to improve on?
I need to be more aware of and keep more up with technology changes in my core competencies
I need to be better at making networking a priority
I need to be less dependent on the status quo
What will I do specifically to address the items I need to improve on?
I will write a functional program in at least 2 new languages and publish those programs
I will contact at least one person in my linked in contacts at least ever other week
I will discuss my opportunities within Burt’s with my boss and actively work on career objectives whether at Burt's or not.
Short and sweet. An Agile approach to the year.  Maybe next I will have a Sprint Planning Meeting for the next Iteration: Iteration 2013. 

So another year has come and gone. There have been many changes in the world and all around us locally. 2012 brought significant change in my personal and professional career.

In my professional life I have had setbacks and success, closure and new beginnings, disappointment and inspiration. I left Farm Bureau Insurance for Burt's Bees. And at Burt's I have had great success. I introduced Agile and have had a very successful Agile project complete and in the books. We shall see what Burt’s has to offer me in 2013.

Till next time…