Number of trips in time period from 2001 – 2005 to General Electric’s facilities in Florida state as part of SCADA system project while in JSC Latvenergo. These were mainly training with one FAT (Factory Acceptance Testing) and following SAT (Site Acceptance Testing) in Riga.
Of course, we were trying to see as much as possible besides work during weekends, however the most interesting story is one free week between training and testing when me and my college Ēriks drove almost around the whole Florida peninsula, visiting places like Orlando, Miami and Key West. This was really interesting ride, I must admit.
In one of those trips I was carless :). You know being carless in USA is an interesting situation. So, by help of Jay, I had a rented bicycle for a week or longer – do not recall precisely, so I can move myself back and forth. Although limited, but it gave me some freedom 🙂
With this post I would like to share my approach to a number of release retrospectives I once facilitated. It is definitely not original from the structure viewpoint, but it might be with the metaphor I used. If not, please let me know, especially those of you, who lead retrospectives. And now to the meat.
After setting the stage, I get to whiteboard and draw vertical timeline (starting point at around 2/3 from the top) with the scope of the retrospective in the middle. After describing that this is the release timeline, I move participants into data gathering part.
During this part, participants use 2 color stickies. Green – to write those events, facts, etc. that made them feel good, Red – the opposite. When done, they attach them to the whiteboard relative to the timeline. See picture below.
When data is gathered, we debrief a little by looking at the good ones and also the bad ones. Before we move on, here is what I do – I approach the whiteboard and develop the drawing – I make it look like a tree and try to switch people’s thinking from their release to the tree they were growing for X amount of time. For some reasons, our tree has got also bad/sick leaves/fruit and now we need to look into those and try to understand why do we have them. See picture below.
From now on people use yellow stickies to write down the reasons for bad/sick leaves/fruit. After a while, we stop doing that, attach them to the roots part of the tree, group them and of course let ourselves discuss them. See next picture.
DECIDING WHAT TO DO
After having discussed the potential reasons with other team members, we move into deciding what to do part and here we use another drawing which is prior attached to the wall and made not visible. At this point I reveal the drawing and we start looking for the fertilizer (what are we going to change) that we will use for our next tree (release) we grow in the same soil (organization, environment). See picture.
For this we use different stickies (in the picture those are Green since I did not have other color) to write down real actions. Then we do the dot voting to select ONE fertilizer for our next tree we will grow.
That’s it behind the TreeTime Retrospective. Like it? Try and let me know.
Email is amazing, isn’t it? I tried to make this happen in Outlook, but nothing is better than Gmail for this. So, let’s get started!
What you need is:
-Few Labels (in other email services those are tags, folders, etc). If you do not use them, then go to Gmail settings and take a look at Labels section to get the idea.
-Maybe some Filters (in other email services those are Rules) that will assign some of your Labels to some particular emails automatically.
-Multiple Inboxes. Go to Gmail settings, then to Labs and enable them. Once enabled, go back to Gmail settings and find there Multiple Inboxes. Go in there. Picture below is my variant of already set my Label names into the Multiple Inboxes Search queries and Panel titles:
So, what is going on here?
What Multiple Inboxes do is searching for emails with respective Labels and putting them into the respective Panels. Panel location is also configurable (see above picture). The end result of these actions can be seen below (again on my example):
Now, in my main Gmail window I see not only Inbox, but other Labels as well. I can move emails by help of ‘drag and drop’ between panels and Inbox.
So, what does it give?
First, I like that I can see more than just Inbox on my screen at the same time. It kind of turns my Gmail into something more and for me it is a central place for non-work related electronic information management (see the other post HomeBoard for physical information management). For example, when I purchase something on Ebay and it gets shipped, Ebay sends an email. I wrote a Filter that assigns Waiting Label to this email, so it appears in my Waiting… panel. The other value of this is that I do not need to remember this anymore, because I see that email in Waiting… every day. When package comes, I just remove the Label from that email and it disappears from the Waiting… panel. 🙂 Another example – most of my payments get paid automatically by bank, but sometimes things need manual attention, so I whether have a Filter that works similar to previous or I just manually move this email into Payments… panel. Again – I always see it there and I do not forget about it. One more example – some happen automatically by Filters, some manually – if I get email that needs more time to read/answer, I just put that into Todo: panel. Then, when I plan my day – I move that from Todo: into Today: if I strongly promise myself to get this done today! Again – I see all that stuff at the same window where all my emails are!
And, since I use Gmail this way, I even use empty emails as adhoc To Do notes. For instance, I am on the road and I want to write down something important. I open up my Gmail from my smart phone and write a new email with Label Today: and send it to myself. Period. Whenever I open up my desktop or again – smart phone, it’s in Today: which attracts my attention. I can even easily send it further if I need, cause this is my email account with all my contacts right there – I do not need another service/application.
Second, as already mentioned, all of the above can be done from many devices at the same time, even from internet cafe or friend’s computer. Why? Because Gmail as many others, runs on IMAP and IMAP means that we can access emails from many devices at the same time and interact with the same content. This means that if I change the Label of some email from my smart phone, it also changes if I look at my Gmail account via desktop computer and vice virsa. It’s like Dropbox or GDrive – it’s all in the cloud and in sync!
Some of this, but in a different way, was used as a basis for the team workshop I designed/held in my current company. Below presentation is intentionally made for the purpose of being watched/read by observer alone, without oral support by presenter: