The Gift of Time

TEMPUS FUGIT.   It is a Latin phrase I’ve seen on a headstone in England.  Time Flies, or even flees.  It runs and escapes from us.  Our word ‘fugitive’ is derived from fugit.  In wanting to be the consummate agilist we can often find ourselves flexible enough to ask whether a meeting is worth it or not.  Granted there are certain times when it may not be.  We can cut short the meeting perhaps even cancel the meeting.  In essence, give some time back to whom it would have otherwise tied up. Perhaps we can refocus or re-purpose a meeting since we have some other high priority thing that needs our attention. Let’s do that instead. Maybe this meeting is really overhead and duplicates the purpose of some other meeting… can we simply stop the overlap and reduce these into a single meeting.  How often do we meet? is this daily, weekly, bi-weekly…  For many companies a meeting is 60 minutes.  Some did not consider a 50 minute meeting to provide for group transitions to the room and bio breaks.  What about a 30 minute group meeting?   The daily stand up is only about 15 remember? We did this as a standing meeting so that no one would get too comfortable and sedentary in thought.

Caveat, or in other words, ‘beware’.   Tempest is derived from tempus.  Watch to ensure that short term gains do not accumulate at the cost of longer term objectives.  Though it can be appropriate to cancel a planning meeting are we should be watchful the team is not storming around some not-so-well-formed stories in a future planning session. Will we ever think of doubling down on planning meetings in order to get beyond 1 sprint ahead?  Will we know something of what is coming so that emergent design doesn’t devolve into emergency design.  Another problem may be too many cancellations actually cause nobody to take this meeting seriously and skip attendance when it eventually is held.  Sometimes that repetition is a practiced cadence so that we can spend some box of time to work at a process need.

Other ways to give the gift of time…

Can we improve a process so it is easier, automated, or more robust? Did I leverage what others may have done?

Can we be mindful of our own communication and impact on others? Are we distracting or enabling others from focusing on the right things? Perhaps there was even a lesson learned that I might share to make a task easier for them.

Can I help someone or swarm with others on a task that will get this work to done?

Did I make myself available to someone who needs my help? In the same way, did we make our work visible enough or leave behind just enough artifacts to make this easier for the next team?

Is this a sustainable effort?  Can we maintain our pace with priority commitment through time?

And lastly – Did I give something back to the community?  What contribution, lesson, or insight can I share that might help others?  It could, just maybe, save them some time.


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