Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Twin Foundations

This post title refers to a basic philosophy I hold about the Universe. The twin foundations of the Universe are perversity and irony. Out of those, we get the weirdness of our reality.

When I can't see evidence of that, I know I'm just not looking hard enough.

The latest evidence I find is in my office. We've suffered horrific attrition this year. As a result, some of us have shuffled our duties a bit to help keep things going.

My role in my office is pretty much supporting. I work on multiple teams at the tail end of a process. I don't call the shots. I provide input in certain matters, but I'm largely a peripheral character.

If my office were a TV show, I'd be the comic relief.

On top of all that, I hate meetings. I hate them with an unholy passion. I tolerate meetings that are relevant and provide useful information, but anyone who works in any kind of office knows such things are impossibly rare.

I work in software, and my company attempts to practice the Scrum method of Agile development.

Look it up if you're confused. I really don't want to get into that in this post.

In a nutshell, Scrum pretty much means that every day, you can look forward to a meeting called a "standup", which is - in theory - no more than 15 minutes long and pretty much just gets a team in-sync with what's going on with one another and calls out any problems (called "blockers" in the parlance).

Standups can very easily go off the rails. They are supposed to be overseen by someone known as a "Scrum master".

No, that's not a supervillain name, though that idea has promise. It is, in theory, a role that rotates among team members. Run the standup. If someone's got something keeping the lucky soul from getting his or her job done, the "Scrum master" tries to escalate the issue to fix it.

Pretty simple, in theory, but it's not really an easy task. Meetings have a tendency to spin out of control and get quickly off-topic. As soon as that happens, your meeting is an utter waste of time, costing the company money and the staff sanity.

What the hell does that have to do with Perversity and Irony, you ask?

Good question. I got off the rails there, didn't I? Good thing this isn't a standup.

So I've been stepping into the role of "Scrum master" for my teams of late. Why? I don't know. Impatience, I guess. The funny bit is that people are telling me I'm doing a great job keeping things on-track. It's not due to any innate leadership skills on my part. No, most certainly that. It's pure, stubborn, impatience and a heartfelt loathing of meetings.

Figures one of the few things I'm apparently good at pertains to something I hate.

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