This week’s chapter of Monotasking by Staffan Nöteberg. is Progress Incrementally. I was first exposed to the idea of incrementalism and timeboxing by my mother while helping (or voluntold) with the housework. I would vacuum rugs for about 5 minutes, have the work inspected, and then, invariably do some rework before moving off to the next timebox. As a child, I just assumed you should get feedback early in the process. I later ran into timeboxes in Champy and Hammer’s book Reengineering The Corporation. The idea was a revelation in the work environment I was in at the time.  In both cases the duration timebox was different, but the message was similar. If you break work up into smaller pieces you can assess progress, get feedback, can change tact or do something more important (this is where I ask Lakein’s question – “What is the best use of my time right now?”) much sooner than if you wait until your think you are done. On top of all of those benefits, increments also help people and teams to achieve focus. This week I have succeeded in turning off all my interruptions (Slack, Text, Teams, Twitter, email, and others) as I am doing my monotasking sessions, a type of incrementalism . . . at least in the morning. I do pop many of those apps back on briefly at the end of each panorama session to make sure no emergencies have occurred. Afternoons are tough due to meetings and other hardscape activities, therefore I moved as many of my focus activities earlier in the day (as a morning person, this suits me) when I can quietly timebox.

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This week’s chapter of Monotasking by Staffan Nöteberg. is Never Procrastinate. I have been working on procrastination and overcommitting my whole life. Compared to my 7th-grade self I have made step changes.  Even compared to my 2020 self, I do a better job at avoiding procrastination and overcommitting.  My five short list begins with the admonition: 

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Finally, we have reached Chapter 2 of Monotasking by Staffan Nöteberg. It is ironic that a failure in my ability to control WIP in my personal life led to a two-week delay in delivering the re-read of this chapter titled, Cut Down on Tasks to Do. All the hand wringing aside, the delay has allowed me to reflect more on the chapter and to hone my use of the short-list and panorama cues and sessions. Long swaths of meetings still give me trouble, but getting the short list down to tasks that I missed in my first read of Chapter 2 has made a ton (imperial or metric) of difference. 

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This week we focus on Chapter One of Monotasking by Staffan Nöteberg, which is titled Monotasking In A Nutshell. This chapter lays the foundation for translating the Five Axioms of Monotasking into a simple and straightforward approach. 

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We start our re-read of Monotasking by Staffan Noteberg.  The book is 237 pages published by Racehorse Publishing (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) and was released in English on June 1, 2021. For most of the readers of the blog and listeners to the podcast, this will be an initial read. The book’s contents include a Preface, Introduction, seven numbered chapters, an Afterword, and then other stuff like index and more (we will not cover the other stuff but I am glad for the index and endnotes). This re-read will take between 10 and 11 eleven weeks barring disasters or absolutely perfect Saturdays. 

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We have read or re-read Fixing Your Scrum: Practical Solutions to Common Scrum Problems by Todd Miller and Ryan Ripley cover-to-cover, if you don’t count the index at the back of the book (and I certainly do not). As a wrap-up, I want to briefly consider three points.  

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Chapter 15 is the final chapter in Fixing Your Scrum by Todd Miller and Ryan Ripley. Next week I will sum up my thoughts on the book and the lessons I have derived during the re-read.  We will also announce the next book in the Re-read Saturday series. Right now Monotasking by Staffan Nöteberg is in first place in our poll. Make sure to make your voice heard; vote now below. 

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I have heard the sprint review called everything including a demo, demo day, show and tell and sprint review. If teams and organizations do the sprint review well, I don’t care if you call it jello. Scrum defines the sprint review as a mechanism for the team to inspect what has gone on during the sprint and what was delivered in the increment with all involved stakeholders. The event is collaborative with stakeholders to generate acceptance and feedback. It is also a critical path for change management and decision-making. Sprint reviews are a powerful tool for the team and organization to ensure that what is being built, assembled, and/or configured delivers value.

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Help choose the next book in the Re-read Saturday feature.  I have been chewing through a book a chapter or two at a time for several years.  All of these books are full of ideas and concepts so even if you have read them once, a second time around will be valuable.  In almost every circumstance I have asked the readers of the blog and listeners of the podcast to help pick the next book.  The last time I asked for thoughts the outpouring was so large that I took the top three.  It is time to ask again.  The books I am suggesting are:

Project to Product, Dr. Mik Kersten

Monotasking, Staffan Noteberg

Dynamic Reteaming, Second Edition, Heidi Helfand

Agile Conversations, Douglas Squirrel and Jeffrey Fredrick

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At the end of every sprint, a team should have a deployable product increment. There are a ton of ideas packed into that single phrase. In this chapter, Mr. Ripley and Miller focus on the concepts of deployable and done. Anyone that has more than an academic knowledge of Scrum knows all the reasons and rationalizations for why having a deployable product increment doesn’t always happen. What is worse, many practitioners believe having something deployable is beyond the realm of possibility in their environment. This is almost always a fallacy.

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