Moon and Clouds

Look up!


Every time I see a full or nearly full moon I look for the man in the moon.  To me, the moon – and more specifically seeing the man in the moon – is a proxy measure for a sense of wonder. Regardless of how old or in what walk of life you find yourself in, a sense of wonder makes the day pass more joyously.  A sense of wonder is important to me because wonder helps me to ask questions, to break through cognitive biases, and complacency. Earlier this week as I was doing my early morning run (4 AM) and then later on a walk with my dog and wife, I  marveled at the full moon causing me to reflect back to a 2013 blog entry that reflected a change in how I viewed the world when I realized that I could not see the man in the moon anymore. A slightly amended version of the essay follows. When you are done reading the essay consider whether, when you look up at night, you see the man in the moon or the constellations in the stars.  If you do, let me know why looking up and creating patterns in the sky is important to you.

I enjoy looking up at the night sky and have ever since I was a child.  I saw something special when I looked up this week. The full moon of August 21, 2013 was a blue moon, meaning that it was the third full moon in a season with four full moons. However, when I looked up to see the moon recently, I did not see the Man in the Moon. When did I stop seeing the Man in the Moon? I can remember looking up at the full moon when I was a child to see him. The man in the moon was both a flight of fancy and a goal to be pursued. Once I’d seen it, it was always there. My imagination was primed to see a face on the moon.

Somewhere along the line —after learning of craters and mares, or after buying a small telescope to look at the moon, the planets and the stars — I lost the Man in the Moon. I had become too structured by my newfound knowledge and perhaps too rational to see an imaginary face – no matter how hard I tried. Have I lost the sense of imagination? Have I lost my sense of wonder? Maybe not, but I am troubled that perhaps something innate has escaped, something that needs to be recaptured.

On the next full moon, I am going to study pictures of the Man in the Moon and then go out and see if I can see him. I might just prove to myself that I can see him, but perhaps I can train myself to look more between the lines where imagination lays in wait of discovery. Will my life change by capturing this little piece of my childhood? I don’t know, but I think that being able to imagine and dream – whether it is seeing constellations in the stars, shapes in the clouds or the Man in the Moon — is a talent worth having. I don’t know if I can recapture the Man in the Moon, but I can try to find out.

If you see the man on the moon or it you teach yourself to see the man in the moon, take a few moments to reflect on whether you see anything else in the world around you differently

Link to the original essay.


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SPaMCAST 508 features our interview with Vasco Duarte!  Vasco and I discuss vision and product owners. The product owner role is crucial. To be effective, the product owner must be able to articulate a vision for the product they champion.

Vasco Duarte’s Bio in his own words:

I want to transform product development organizations into product business organizations. I do that by focusing the work of the product development teams on the end-to-end life-cycle of their products. From Concept to Cash and Back!

Currently a Managing Partner at Oikosofy.

Product Manager, Scrum Master, Project Manager, Director, Agile Coach are only some of the roles that I’ve taken in software development organizations. Having worked in the software industry since 1997, and Agile practitioner since 2004. I’ve worked in small, medium and large software organizations as an Agile Coach or leader in agile adoption at those organizations.

I was one of the leaders and catalysts of Agile methods and Agile culture adoption at Avira, Nokia, and F-Secure.

I host a daily podcast where I interview Scrum Masters about their daily challenges and insights:

You can read more from me at my blog:

You can join me on twitter: @duarte_vasco

Re-Read Saturday News

In week 4 of re-read of The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along) we tackle Chapter 3, The End Of The Master Builder.  In Chapter 3 Gawande identifies the scenarios in which checklists have an impact.  Checklists provide value even in the most complicated scenarios.

Current Installment:

Week 4 – The End Of The Master Builder (more…)

The top five transformation killers are the type of issues that if you even suspect they might, even just maybe, exist you need to stop everything you what you are doing and develop a mitigation plan.    

Round Four: Transformation Killers 5 -1: (more…)

Dr Mark Bojeon

Dr Mark Bojeun

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One my favorite serial interviewees, Dr. Mark Bojeun, returns to the Software Process and Measurement Cast for a third time (we may need to get him a permanent seat at the table soon).  Mark and I discussed the role and impact of project and product visions on the ability to effectively deliver value.  The vision is an important directional statement that can’t be left to chance!   

Mark has last visited the Software Process and Measurement Cast on SPaMCAST 388 to discuss PMOs as a strategic tool and before then on the  SPaMCAST 280 to discuss  his book, Program Management Leadership: Creating Successful Team Dynamics (Kindle version). (more…)

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 417 discusses the six elements of business stories.  These six elements are required for effective business stories.  We also tackle whether each of those elements are equally important in telling the different types of stories spun in a business environment.

Steve Tendon joins the SPaMCAST this week to discuss Chapter 12 in Tame The Flow: Hyper-Productive Knowledge-Work Performance, The TameFlow Approach and Its Application to Scrum and Kanban, published by J Ross (buy a copy here).   We discussed the Herbie and Kanban. The story of Herbie provides a great metaphor for the flow of work through an organization and how it can be improved. Visit Steve at

We cap this edition of the Software Process and Measurement Cast with a visit to the QA Corner with Jeremy Berriault. Jeremy and I discussed the Samsung Note 7 and testing. While we may not have to test lithium ion batteries professionally, we can extract lessons from this scenario on risk and testing! Connect with Jeremy on Linkedin.

Re-Read Saturday News

We continue the read/re-read of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (published by Jossey-Bass).   As we move through the first part of the book we are being exposed to Lencioni’s model of team dysfunctions (we get through most of it this week) and a set of crises to illustrate the common problems that make teams into dysfunctional collections of individuals. Today we re-read the three sections titled Deep Tissue, Attack and Exhibition.  

Visit the Software Process and Measurement Cast blog to participate in this and previous re-reads.

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Stories help you visualize your goals

Stories help you visualize your goals

In the Harvard Business Review article, The Irresistible Power of Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool by Harrison Monarth (March 11, 2014), Keith Quesenberry notes:

People are attracted to stories because we’re social creatures and we relate to other people.

The power of storytelling is that it helps us understand each other and develop empathy. Storytelling is a tool that is useful for presentations, but also to help people frame their thoughts and for gathering information. A story provides both a deeper and more nuanced connection with information than most lists of PowerPoint bullets or even structured requirements documents. Here are just a few scenarios (other than presentations) where stories can be useful: (more…)

283037976_fa4d85f7ab_bAs the year winds down it nearly impossible not to begin contemplating the quickly approaching New Year.  Goals and objectives will be created, New Year’s resolutions made.  However, many times we set goals that do not support our vision.  Goals are steps along a path, while the vision is the destination.  If we were to write our goals in a user story format, the goal would the action and the vision or strategy the benefit. When goals and vision are not linked, it will be hard to achieve either.

First there is the abandoned resolution.  According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions and another 17% infrequently make resolutions.  Of all of those that make resolutions 8% achieve them.  While that there are many reason for the low success rate, goals and resolutions not linked to a vision or a strategy is one contributor. Without a strong link it is easy to lose focus and focus and progress are connected.  In my personal case linking goals and vision is highly linked to success.  Without a vision,  a destination, I am easily distracted. In Agile teams, we have seen the impact on motivation and velocity when teams that do not understand the big picture.  This is why it teams take the time and effort need to create and understand Agile Release Plans.

The second problem is when goals are attained only to find out that they don’t really move the ball forward.  I liken this problem to jumping in the car multiple times on the weekend to shop for food, go the dry cleaners, and the pet food store.  Each trip satisfies a specific goal, but does not support my vision of reducing my carbon footprint and leading a greener life.  Each goal is met but we end up in the wrong place. There is an old adage that say “without a destination any direction will do.”  Simply put know where you are going at all times, even if you have to pivot have a destination.

Last year I committed to losing 30 pounds so that my knees would stop hurting when I was running.  Without a vision pursuing that goal would have been even harder. I have learned that goals are great.  They are an integral part planning and progress but they are not enough. A strategy or vision is even more critical.  Do not confuse goals and vision.  A big goal is no different than an epic user story. Having big goals can be a great motivational tool, but they work better if you have a vision of where you are going.  As you begin considering the New Year begin by thinking about where you want to end up.  I believe Stephen Covey put it succinctly . . . begin with the end in mind.


Recently my wife and I hiked the Jinshangling portion of the Great Wall of China, which was originally built during early in the Ming Dynasty. It was then later restored into what we now recognize as one of the most iconic portion of the Wall under Ming General Qi Jiquang. While the project to build the great wall was not exactly Agile and probably did not foster participatory management, this section of Wall is said to reflect the vision of Qi Jiquang, its product owner, which was different than other sections of the Great Wall. According to guides in the area, Qi Jiquang was based in the area and used his well-fed troops to build the wall (rather than other forms of staffing/servitude elsewhere). Qi Jiquang lived and interacted with his men on a daily basis in other sections of the Wall absentee product owners prevalent. Absentee product owners can’t provide their vision or motivate the team something that the great general knew.

Looking out at the some of the most iconic views of the Great Wall drives home the point that when IT and business work together to achieve a well-crafted vision, great things can happen.

4-5 2013 Society National Bank

Once upon a time I worked for Society National Bank. Following a merger in 1993, it became Key Bank. Other than a historical marker, Society is no more and while Key Bank might be a bigger, better bank another take over might not quite as good for both parities.  In this case, longevity did not provide immunization against a wave of bank mergers.  Many things might have provided that immunization:


Whether a company or programmer you can’t assume that longevity is your ticket to a career.  The same attributes that could have lead Society into the 21st century are the same attributes that will lead you to the future.

2-28 2013 Pine Cone

Seeds are the vehicle for the tree to procreate; a vehicle to share it’s DNA which contains the vision for what it can be in the future. The only way a small thing can become a big thing if there is a vision that drives growth. The environment is a factor in what the end product will be but without the vision of the future programmed into the seed nothing would happen. There is a saying that, “big things come from small beginnings” but sometimes in the real world, small things come from small things and we need to ask, was that the vision or was that the lack of a vision? Seth Godin, the marketing guru, admonishes us to ship (a metaphor for getting your idea to market) but I would suggest that you must have a vision of the future before you ship. Your idea is your pine cone, think big and then deal with the environment.