Agile 2018

Agile 2018
Speaking at Agile 2018

Monday, November 16, 2015

When the Mad Hatter gets Sick and Tired.

This mad hatter needs the party to end.
The work of a scrum master is full of details, stress, and strain.  This week it caught up with me and I wound up in the hospital suffering from food poisoning and inflamed bowls.  Being sick is a humbling experience and it puts things in perspective.  I wanted to share some of that perspective.

Lewis Carroll the fellow who wrote the Alice in Wonderland books, said “Between the idea and the reality lies the shadow.”  As a scrum master in a large bureaucratic organization, I have been living in those shadows for two years.  I have witnessed incompetence tolerated and rewarded for longevity with the organization.  I have also witnessed one of my business users speak to a developer as if they were cocker-spaniel.  I have spoken about sustainable development and had an executive look me cold in the eye and say, “You are agile figure it out.”  I have also said and done a few things I am not very proud of.

The stress of the deadlines imposed by others not related to the teams, the lack of qualified product owners, and the open hostility of some of my business partners to scrum and agile have taken a toll on me and my health.  Sometimes what keeps me going is the hard work of the developers who work with me and that desire to be successful.

It has occurred to me that I have been pushing myself too hard.  A night in the hospital under observation will do that to a person.  So I am going to try and take a step back and try to pace myself a little better.  No late nights and answering e-mail at weird hours.  Saying no more often when asked to do things.  Finally, just acknowledging that I cannot change my organization.  It is going to take more than this Mad Hatter to change an organization like mine.

This sounds like defeat.  It is not; it is me taking care of my own health and well-being.  I blame stress on what happened to me and I need to remove some of that in my life.  Until I leave the shadows, I will just have to accept my current role.

Until next time.