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Episode 23:

Agile Virtual Summit Preview: Lyssa Adkins

Before the show: Join me for our LIVE Open Space event on January 27th, 2022!

There are few people in the agile world that have had a bigger impact on our work than Lyssa. In this episode, we’ll talk about her upcoming session at the Agile Virtual Summit entitled Running Around Like Crazy? Use Agile on Yourself! (it’s harder than it seems but really worth it). She’ll even share some brand new news about her book Coaching Agile Teams, which is approaching its 10 year anniversary.

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Adam Weisbart: Welcome to agile answers. I’m Adam Weisbart, your Certified Scrum Trainer and agile coach each week. I it hasn’t. It’s not every week. What am I talking about? It’s been years since I’ve been back. I’m so sorry for leaving you hanging. I know the podcast has been dormant for forever, but I am back for a limited time here.

I’m going to have a few episodes for you over the next couple of weeks. Cause I’m doing something super, super special that I hope you get involved in and join us for. There’s a free event called agile virtual summit, which you can find out about it at and today on the podcast I’m having one of my, I dare say idols.

My mentor is someone who’s turned out to be a good friend. They will be on the podcast telling you about their session and their work these days. If you’ve been in the agile world for any time at all, if you’re an agile. Coach and you don’t know this person’s work. I think you’re practicing malpractice. Frankly.

My guest today is Lyssa Adkins. She wrote the book coaching agile teams and has done a bunch of other amazing work in our agile space over the years. She’s one of my heroes. I’m fortunate enough to have her as one of my mentors, and now she’ll be joining us for the agile virtual summit happening June 1st through fifth and she’ll be talking about something a little bit different, not coaching agile teams directly, but I’ll let her tell you all about that. Hey, Lyssa, how’s it going?

Lyssa Adkins: It’s going really well, Adam, I’m so glad to be here with you.

Adam Weisbart: I’m so happy to have you here. Your session is called “Running Around Like Crazy. Using Agile on Yourself. It’s Harder Than it Seems, But Really Worth it.” I could probably use some more agile on myself.

Can you tell us a little bit about how this session came about?

Lyssa Adkins: So, you know, I’ve been an agile coach for years and years, right? And we have used agile in our household, mostly around holidays, around the times when I feel really resentful that I’m the one doing everything. And so are we getting ready to go on vacation or something like that.

And so all of a sudden, all these stickies show up on the kitchen cabinet. And then, you know, as my daughter comes down on Thanksgiving morning, she can say, Oh, I can back you. And that one magically gets done. I don’t have to do it. You know? So kitchen cabinets are the best. Not started in progress and done.

That’s great. So here I am thinking that I, yeah. In my personal life. And it wasn’t until I encountered Maria Matarelli and Peter Stevens in October of 2018 we were at a conference together in Portugal and they said, and she was telling me both of them were talking about personal agility system. And I’m like, Oh, that sounds interesting.

And I was just at the time in my life where I was shifting a lot of things up, and I started using it and, Oh my gosh, how many of the principals and tenants. That I teach in believe in and agile I was not using in my own life. And so it revealed all that to me, including like the fact that I actually do have a personal work in progress limit.

And that ignoring that is a pretty bad idea. Like the fact that I say yes to too many things and I get sort of run around and then at the end of the day, I don’t really feel like I’ve made progress on things that matter to me. So those were some of the things that it revealed for me. And so I’ve been using that, that deeper, more like as complete treatment of agile on a personal level now for the last 18 months, really, it’s really benefited me.

Adam Weisbart: Awesome. What’s the number one change or benefit you’ve seen from, from following it for these months?

Lyssa Adkins: There are a bunch of them, but the one that’s coming to mind right now is how hard I am on myself. And how much, being specific about what really matters to me and then planning my work related to that and then being able to recognize what I actually get accomplished. Like that piece is, has been so important because I can tend to like just like move on from one thing to the next and like not recognize, “but I actually have done a lot”.

Related to what mattered to me. You know, this whole idea of celebrating what happened in a week and then consciously choosing how you want the next week to go in your whole working life. Like the cause, my, my entire work and life life is okay. The subject from my personal agility practice. And so I thought it would be useful for other people to know more about this, especially now when you know the world’s a little wonky.

Adam Weisbart: Yeah. Yeah. Any, any tools that can help get us through, I think will be super useful. So they’re going to come to your session and they’re going to be able to, sounds like takeaway, some actionable things that they could use during quarantine or lockdown or after that as well, I imagine. What, what sorts of, what sorts of things are they going to find.

Lyssa Adkins: Yeah. So I’ll give an overview about how this works and I’ll talk more about the specific things I’ve learned, and then we’re going to take the first step together, which is really considering what really matters. And it’s a harder question to answer than one might think. And, and sort of the pro tip and a bit of fieldwork people can do if they want, is to look at their calendar for what they’ve done over the last four weeks.

Maybe they want to extend it to the last day weeks because there’s been a little bit of a strange time period. But really look, look in the calendar and look at the things you’ve actually done. And from that, pick out the ones that really matter to you. Okay. And I would also say be really kind to yourself when you do this.

It’s not unusual to look back in your calendar and realize you’ve done a bunch of stuff and not a whole lot matters to you.

Adam Weisbart: Wow. And this is sort of the perpetual motion… perpetual momentum machine that you talk about in the session.

Lyssa Adkins: Yeah. I feel like, like even prior to the COVID19 pandemic, I feel like we were being run around like crazy people. I mean, just from like one thing to the next, and I know I can get into this habit myself.

of just like, move, move, move, move, move, move, move. You know? And I think that it would be an incredible opportunity lost if we don’t pay attention to what matters right now when life has gotten way more basic and stark, I think for a lot of people, and at least for me, for sure. Right. This is a good time.

It’s a really good time to answer that question cause we, it would be a shame for us to move back into some semblance of what the working world is when it’s up to full capacity and just go back to the way we were.

Adam Weisbart: Yeah. What in terms of people being stuck on, on the perpetual momentum machine here and not slowing down, what do you, what do you think it is that keeps people from doing that?

Like yourself or myself or really anyone I think probably gets stuck in this pattern? Do you have ideas of either what you think does that for most people or you found has done for yourself over the last 18 months of following this.

Lyssa Adkins: Yeah, I just think we’re afraid to be with ourselves. I don’t think, I think most of us don’t know who we are without pursuing that next thing without planning that next vacation without getting that next certification.

Like there’s this, there’s this strive drive we’ve been in for a really long time and I’ve been working really hard to calm that down in my own life, and as much as I thought I had done that, I really didn’t realize how much I had. Still left to go, and when the pandemic hit and my life changed from flying to Ireland than Australia, then New York city, then coming home, you know, which was supposed to happen in the last three and a half weeks when it changed from that to being incredibly smaller scope and far less choices. Far less options, much simpler. I realized that, that I wasn’t being with what I already had and I started looking around my house and I started noticing how beautiful my surroundings are and how much I have not really fully enjoyed them.

And, and so that’s what I, I actually just re reorganized my, what really matters to me in my own personal agility practice in this last week. And the first thing is to enjoy life in this, in the signature thing under that is to enjoy what I already have. So I’m noticing like all the things I already have and it’s really shifting my perspective.

And I don’t think I’ll be going back to that same sort of jet setter, busy life, even if it were going to be like instantaneously possible again. So I don’t know exactly what my post-COVID19 pandemic life looks like, but I know it’s going to be radically different. And I’m using this time and I’m using personal agility system to sort of allow myself to can immerse in this era that we’re in and figure it out.

Adam Weisbart: Yeah. It’s a good time to just take things day by day since we have no idea what’s coming up and the fact that a day seems to last, I don’t know, seven or eight years these days, so. Time is very slow.

Lyssa Adkins: Absolutley.  I’m all for people reorganizing their lives any way they want to, and doing whatever feels right for them, because for some people, their motion is going to be right. Right. And for some people, more stillness is going to be right. And that’s the idea of really asking the question, what really matters.

Adam Weisbart: Awesome. And your session will help people at least focus in a bit on this. I know we only have a hour and 15 minutes together, something, but it’ll help them start parsing this out, it sounds like.

Lyssa Adkins: Yeah. I really want people to see how this works and how it’s worked in my own life, and I want people to hear some of the things that organizational leaders have said about how it changes, how they, you know, understand agility, what people all over the world have said about it, and that’s going to be fun. I think it’s going to be a great session. It’s going to be a good time to hear what people’s questions about it and answer those.

Adam Weisbart: So between now and then, folks should sit down, if I am remembering correctly, and look at last month or maybe two, and take a look at what things they have done that have really mattered to them over this chunk of time.

Lyssa Adkins: Yeah. Yeah. Yep, yep. And again, the key question is what really matters

that’s exactly that phrasing.

Adam Weisbart: Okay.

And to be kind yourself where you’re doing this, because you might be a bit surprised, it sounds like

Lyssa Adkins: you might, and the way to look at it is if you find out that you haven’t been doing that many things that really matter to you, all it means that you now have space to discover what that is and to realign your life and your work toward it because it’s totally possible to do that.

Adam Weisbart: Great. All right. So people have have some stuff to do between now and then if they don’t get to it, cause Covid’s happening and life is crazy, they will still totally enjoy your session. I am sure

Lyssa Adkins: Oh yeah. Yeah. It’s not a hard prerequisite, that’s for sure.

Adam Weisbart: Yeah. Awesome. Well, Hey, I just want to thank you, one for your book that I read forever ago, two for finding my retrospective cookies on Twitter forever ago and letting me send you a box of them and liking them so much and just all your support and friendship over the years has meant a lot to me. And I know people are gonna definitely benefit from, from tuning in to the summit to hear what’s going on with you.

But before we go, actually, what else are you working on besides the summit that, uh, in your personal agility stuff and what else are you working on that folks would be interested in hearing about and where can they find out more about it?

Lyssa Adkins: Yeah. So there’s, there’s two things that I’m really excited about, so thanks for mentioning the coaching agile teams book a minute ago.

I have a little secret to tell you. This is a brand new thing. I literally signed the agreement for yesterday. I am going to get to record the audio book for coaching agile teams.

Adam Weisbart: Oh my gosh.


Lyssa Adkins: Yeah so that is super exciting to me. Yeah. I, I, people have been asking for it for years and now it’s finally happening and it’s happening on the 10th year anniversary of that book, which is kind of crazy that it’s been out that long.

And like selling more and having more impact in this last year than it has in previous years. So like there’s something still up with it that people are excited about. And so I’m excited to provide this other format and to have fun learning how to record an audio book. So that’s one little project I have going on, but the, the main thread of my work, which has slowed down a lot, and I’m not trying to make it faster necessarily, but the main thread of my work is to help, especially leadership teams, get up underneath the patterns that make their interaction with each other ineffective, because that leads to ineffective thinking, poor decisions, decisions that don’t stick, and just a bunch of pain, that flows down to the rest of the organization.

So. So I, I’m doing systems coaching work with leadership teams and boards of directors. So that is super challenging for me and also very exciting.

Adam Weisbart: That’s great. Where do people find out more about that, if they want to?

Lyssa and for those of you who don’t know, I have a funky spelling.  L Y S S A A D K I N

Cool. We will put a link in the show notes as well because with the last name Weisbart I can understand when people don’t type such things correctly. Hey and thank you from myself and the other dyslexic coaches and agilists out there. Having a recorded version of your book would be amazing. I’m looking forward to it.

Let me know what comes out. I’ll, I’ll buy the first audio copy. Thank you so much for joining me for this and for the summit. Super excited to see you there.

Lyssa Adkins: I’m ready to go.

Adam Weisbart: Well. Lyssa’s ready to go. Are you? I sure hope so. I hope you’ll join us for the agile virtual summit starting on June 1st and going through June 5th Lyssa will be one of the speakers. I’ll be speaking the other great folks like Diana Larsen, Jim Benson, Jimmy Fosdick, Tricia Broderick. Oh my gosh. Just so many folks.

There are three speakers a day for all five days, and you can sign up for your free ticket at just jump in there, grab your ticket. Thousands of people have already registered. It’s going to be a party! An agile party while we’re all locked in our houses on lockdown from COVID trying to make the world a bit of a better place here for all of us so we can have some more fun.

Get some learning done. Listen to our mentors, to some new folks you haven’t heard of before. I bet, and it’s going to be a great time, so I hope you will join us. I hope you’re staying safe out there. Thanks for putting me in your ears for today. I will be back with another episode with another one of our great speakers.

Until then, stay agile. Never change.

Past Episodes

Episode 24:

What should we do instead of painful “Annual Planning”?

Episode 22:

How do we make sure we have cross-functional teams and why does it matter?

Episode 21:

What agile practices can you recommend to our game development studio?

Episode 20:

How do we remove silos when doing government contract work using Scrum?