I can’t believe how quickly time flies; feels like it was only yesterday, but it’s already been a whole year since I joined Arm as a full-time Scrum master! And since it’s been a hell of a (mostly positive) rollercoaster, in the spirit of inspecting and adapting it is time for me to write a retrospective and a reflection of what my year has been.
A bit of a summary
Arm was looking for their first permanent Scrum master to join them for their Agile transformation within the IT division. I’m so happy I’m not the only one anymore! I don’t know what I’d do without my peer Scrum masters anymore.
I felt very excited from minute one about everything related to the many challenges that were attached to the role. It looked like it had endless possibilities and I was dazzled about the possibility of making a true difference. I only made a promise during my interview: that I would fail. And that hopefully, every day, I would fail a little bit less. I got the job even with such a cheeky sentence in between… so I guess something was right.
What I found when I joined was a lot of support from the whole company, good intentions, a great team of Agile specialists leading a great transformation, and a process that worked but needed to go to the next level. And of course, a year later, we’re still under a similar state of affairs; however, I can really tell the measures we (yes, we, I’m just a drop in an ocean) have put in place during this year have made us mature massively at many levels. The feedback and communities of practice are tremendously helpful. The interactions are clearly better. Everything is just going in the right direction. And still, the improvements only highlight where we’re still failing (more precisely, where we can still thrive). Which is far from a bad thing: the awesomeness of awareness is priceless.
Scaled Agile was also a first for me; using SAFe has been quite challenging but also very rewarding, especially now that we are on the verge of starting the fourth PI with lots of lessons learnt.
If there’s something I’m truly proud of is my team and its culture. Really great individuals and professionals. Considering the many challenges that we do face on a daily basis, I could not be prouder of the camaraderie and the friendship and interactions between them, inside and outside the office. And their relentless willpower to learn. This is what makes a team great, therefore the output of our work. I am humbled in their presence.
But it doesn’t stop just in the team: all BA’s, Project managers, Architects, Analysts, rest of the teams, my peer Scrum masters, the Agile coaches… I’m overwhelmingly surrounded by ridiculously talented people. And sometimes I have this epiphany where I realize how lucky I am to be in the middle of this positively creative atmosphere filled by equally bright minds.
No, I don’t want to over-sugar-coat it: there are many, many challenges and sometimes it is tough. Culture transformation always is. And takes time. But that is just the spirit: we overcome problems and struggles with communication, agreements, enhancements, professionalism. The real kind.
And now, in the Agile way, I will simply enumerate a series of highlights during my first year at Arm:
What went well
- The team interactions and dependencies work far more efficiently now than when I joined a year ago.
- The team rationale and sub-team division makes work more efficient, yet not making these sub-teams isolated in silos.
- While still not perfect, requirements and definition of working bits come to the teams in timely manner.
- The involvement of Product owners is definitely better. I’m actually very proud of them.
- Communications of completed features and feedback mechanisms have also improved greatly.
- The team is more conscious of the quality standards, providing processes for bug triaging, enhancements, release process, QA and automation as a standard, etc.
- I have personally grown to become much more efficient organising my time and liabilities due to the high demand needed in that aspect.
- I am more assertive.
- I have become truly proud of being part of Arm. This is a great place to work.
What could have been better
- The logistics in numbers (we are a big company) sometimes make dependencies with other teams really challenging. I need to put more effort improving this in order to help my team in their backlog refinements.
- I still perceive big distances between the different business areas (I remark perceive, as Arm is by far the most transparent company I’ve ever worked for). Let’s destroy silos! Which are relatively understandable when a company is so big and located in so many geographical places.
- Focusing in features matter, and also in quality, but we must put more focus in improvements and technical debt into account. We do, but we can do more.
- The DevOps culture, which exists and is important, needs more focus as well. This point could actually go in the section above, as we do put focus on it, but considering the great added value it has given us during this time, to my eyes it needs even more attention.
- While we are constantly asked to be our best version of ourselves, we need to keep nurturing our relatively new Agile culture and keep on innovating and breathing at the same time. Make the new normal really normal. Let’s provide value to our customers and also have fun along the way!
None of the statements above are strong at all, just like real life situations are not just black and white. People who work for Arm always look to build bridges. No company is perfect in their processes neither and I love the honesty in this aspect: it’s acknowledging the gaps in the processes and the attitude towards finding constructive solutions that make a difference. And on that note, Arm’s core values define perfectly who we are.
I will act on those observations above: a good Scrum master takes action on the things that affect the team, but also everything around it that doesn’t work as efficiently as it should. I feel empowered to be an agent of change, I feel proud of having a job that focuses on people and making their lives better. I am proud of being an Arm employee.
But most importantly, I am extremely proud of the people I work with.
I honestly think I’ve made a difference for Arm and I fit perfectly in its culture.
I honestly think Arm has made me a better professional.
Let’s continue this exciting journey. See you in a year with another retrospective.