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Being on an Agile Team and Tumbling Headfirst off a Motorcycle

I am kicking back on an old black vinyl sofa, with my feet on the coffee table watching two agile football teams, the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football at the Fernwood Resort, at Big Sur, California.

Image of a woman on off-road motorbikeI have been living in a tent cabin at Fernwood for a few days now; no heat, no lights with the temperature hovering around 35 degrees at night. It feels good to be in a warm room with a hot meal. Around me are local guys that come together as a group to root for their teams. One of the guys has a Bear’s jersey, but there are also several other guy’s, strutting around with their Phillies jerseys on. Arms pumping when their team scores, the sound of coins jingling into the jute box on touchdowns which trigger the scoring team’s home town song; the Rocky theme song and Frank Sinatra singing about Chicago.

A local guy comes strolling in wrapped in a dark green snowmobile suit, and carrying his motorcycle helmet. He plops down on the sofa next to me, and orders the clam chowder from the waitress passing by. He looks dead tired, and when I ask him how it is going, he tells me that he had just finished 6 hours on his job doing gardening. I see that he is a biker, so I tell him that I just put my motorcycle away because it was getting dark, and the ride down the slipper rocky road to the campsite by the creek was not one I wanted to make in the dark. We talk and I find out that we both started riding, about the same month earlier in the year.

He extends his hand to me and tells me his name is Tony. He then points to the local guy sitting on the other side of me and says, his name is also Tony. “You know” says Tony, “It is really cold out. That is why I wear this snowmobile suit. It does not have armor, but it’s warm when you need it. It snowed last week at my house up the hill. You know, I live six miles up a dirt road. I have nubs on my tires for the dirt road, but I am going to get street tires soon, because my wife keeps nagging at me about the nubs”. Tony then goes on to say “You know, my wife got her motorcycle license before I did. She really pushed me to get my license”. I tell him that is great to have a wife that wants to ride. He says “Problem was that she did not ride before I got my license. Every time she called someone on Craig’s List to buy a bike, they did not show. She says it was just nature’s way of telling her that she was not ready to ride a motorcycle just yet.”

The waitress brings Tony his clam chowder, a large spoon, and a pile of paper napkins. “You know” says Tony. “My wife is great. One night I was out practicing motorcycle starts on a big slope, and I saw a car come down the hill with lights blazing in my eyes. You know who it was? It was my wife checking up on me to make sure I was Okay.”

Tony and I talk, for what seemed like hours while the Phillies battled the Bears. We talked about our bikes and the rides we had taken, and about how much we both love to ride just for the sake of riding. “I finally gave my wife my good bike, and bought another used older Junker bike for myself” says Tony. “She was all excited to finally get a bike to ride. On a Saturday, a couple of months ago she decided she would ride with me. I rode my motorcycle down our long driveway and waited for her at the bottom. I could not see her from where I was sitting. I waited, and waited, but she does not come down the driveway. So, I start riding back up the driveway to find out what the heck is going on. “

Suddenly Tony’s eyes get as big as saucers as he relives the event. “She then comes flying down the driveway on her motorcycle, totally out of control. She has her hands on the handlebars, but she is off the bike with her body flying straight out behind, with her feet in the air. She looks like a cartoon character, as the motorcycle bounces up and down and leaves the driveway”. Tony is totally animated as he tells the tale. “I throw my bike to the ground and start running after her and the bike. The bike is now gunning straight down the rocky slope at a tree, but somehow at the last minute the bike misses the tree”. Tony now stands up “She summersaults off the bike, hits the ground and spins around like fireworks on the 4th of July. Dust and dirt is flying everywhere when the motorcycle crashes into a rock and stops.“

Tony, then sits down, with his eyes facing the floor and slowly says “I was thinking, man this is it; the end. She has got to be hurt, and I am now going to have a crying, blubbering mess on my hands. She will never want to go near a motorcycle ever again.” Tony then looks up and says to me “Incredible, I could not believe my eyes. She jumps up out of the dirt, with her arms over her head and shouts in glee “Was that an Olympic 10, or what”? Tony and his wife went on to ride 35 miles that same day. They now ride every Saturday as the weather permits.

I do not know when it happened, but Tony and his wife were in the end a team. They endured, and ultimately they made their dream of riding together happen. I see many Microsoft Dynamics NAV implementation teams in my job. Sometimes the teams are not producing. Their velocity is essentially, nonexistent. Their first impulse is to blame it on a failure of a technique. They say that perhaps if they tweak a technique a little this way, or a little that way, then things will work out better in the next sprint. Most times I tell them that the reason things are not working is because you really, are not a team. You call yourself a team, but you really are not a team that will do whatever it takes to make things happen.

The Bears went on to beat the Phillies 30 to 24, because that is what successful agile teams do.

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Love this story, Alan. In the end, it's all about getting the right things done-done. Posted @ Friday, November 18, 2011 5:09 PM by Suzanne

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