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My advice to women in agile

January 31, 2017

I was honored to participate in the Women in Agile panel discussion last week.  If you missed it, you can watch the recording.  I learned three things from this experience: 1) an hour goes by very fast, 2) I have a lot more to say on the topic, and 3) I want more opportunities to help women.

We ran out of time on the last question about what advice we have for our women colleagues.  And I wanted to share my thoughts in the hopes that some women out there will find it helpful.  My advice is the same for men too, so feel free to keep reading.

women agile

Get really clear on your values and what fulfills you.

Many of us share similar values, but what values are strongest for you?

We all are driven by a purpose.  What is your purpose?  What lights you up?

Visualize that purpose.  Bring it to life.  That is what will motivate you to do the hard work to achieve it.


Set meaningful goals that align with your values and what fulfills you.

If our goals are in alignment with our values and what fulfills us, we are much more likely to achieve them.  Be cautious of "should" goals.  Be cautious of goals that other people set for you.



Break down those goals.

What can you do today to get you closer to that goal?  What can you learn today that will be helpful?

What can you do this week?  What can you do this quarter?  Get creative.  Run some experiments.

How are you going to measure progress?  How will you know you're on the right path?  How will you ensure there is an opportunity to adapt your plan (or even your goal)  as you learn more?



Say no to the things that do not align with what's important.

I used to say yes to everything.  And because I was successful and seen as a go-to person, I was asked to do even more.

It was only once I got really clear on what was important to me that I was able to say no to the opportunities that did not align.  Even the good opportunities.

Saying no creates the space for the important work.  Saying no creates the space for reflection, thought, and creativity.  Saying creates the space for growth.



Work with a coach.

It can be really hard to execute and stay focused on the above items.  It can be difficult to get past our own limiting beliefs.  It can be challenging to see different perspectives.

A coach can help you get clear on what's important to you.  A coach can empower, support, champion, and challenge you.  A coach can help you tap into your creativity, deepen your learning, and take concrete action.

Take care of yourself - mind, body, and soul.

Not taking care of yourself is like creating technical debt.  As the debt builds, it will be more difficult to learn and grow and to accomplish things effectively and efficiently.  It will zap your energy, focus, and creativity.

When you take care of yourself, you will do your highest work and can be a better leader.

This advice is based on what I call an Integrated Life.  This is a life of more joy, fulfillment, and balance.  Essentially, this is aboutthinking like a Product Owner and treating your life as the product.



Make it clear what you want.  Ask for help and support.

When I joined a consulting company, I made it clear that my goal was to become a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST).  I asked my company and other PSTs for help and support.  And I got it.

I realize that you will not always find help and support, but it doesn't hurt to ask.  If someone says no, ask someone else.  Keep going.

Join local meetup groups.  Go to conferences and make connections.  Take a class.  Follow up with the people you meet.  If there is someone doing what you want to do, invite them to coffee or ask them for an informational interview.  Volunteer your time and/ or skills.

Please reach out if you have any questions.  I'm happy to share my experiences and provide support.


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