I spend a lot of time thinking about purpose. Sometimes of course I’m too busy to raise my eyes above the whirlwind of tasks buffeting me through my day; on days like those (and there have been a number of them in the past few months) the only purpose I can focus on is simply getting through the mountain of responsibilities in front of me efficiently so that I can catch my breath and survey my work with more perspective.
But when I’m not completely swamped with urgent things to get done I regularly ask myself why I’m doing what I do. What are my goals or what am I trying to accomplish? What is the reason behind the tasks on my plate, and what should I do (or avoid doing) if I want to achieve my goals? I don’t like drifting through life any more than I enjoy frantically rushing through it; I want to know that my actions and choices are part of fulfilling a larger purpose and making a unique contribution. And if I discover that something I am doing is not contributing to that purpose or moving me toward those goals, I want to find a way to stop doing it. As much as I can I want to use my time and talents to further my goals, not simply to get things done or make to the weekend.
This quest for living purposefully is part of why I prefer to focus on strategic and big-picture issues rather than spending all of my time on tactical, short-term, or reactive activities. This can be a difficult struggle because so much of what I do as a Product Owner (similar to what some people think of as a Scrum Master but I’ll talk about that in a different post) is tactical and reactive as I respond to the questions of the development team, the support team, and the sales and marketing teams. I have to actively carve out time to step back and plan (with the Product Manager) for the future of our product and to groom the backlog so it stays focused in the direction we want to move.
The importance I place on living with purpose also impacts how I think about this blog. I’ve talked before here about why I started blogging in the first place, both why I enjoy it and what I’m hoping to accomplish through blogging. Again I expect to write more about this soon but on a regular basis I stop and ask myself whether or not this blog is accomplishing what I want it to do.
Lots of people have written about the tyranny of the urgent (check one brief article about this here if you want to) or the value of living with a clearly articulated sense of purpose (Stephen Covey is one of my favorite authors on that subject). From my perspective this fits well with the Agile Principles supporting the way my company seeks to develop software (check the link on the side panel for more on that). Sometimes life and work can keep me too busy or preoccupied to focus on pursuing my purpose, but I wrestle against this when I notice it happening. I wish it were easier to face every day and every task with this in mind, but in truth it’s not that simple.
Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while probably know that in 2015 I began an experiment. After a couple of years of writing mostly about Agile software development and my role as a product owner I wanted to broaden the set of topics i write about. There are plenty of other things that I enjoy thinking and talking about – including leadership and pop culture – and lots of interesting things I was reading that I wanted some forum to share. I set about writing multiple blog posts each week centered around these different topics.
Two problems emerged as I attempted to do this. First, in the midst of a very busy personal and professional life I struggled to find time to write even brief posts every day (I should have learned from my experience writing a daily blog about our sprint development cycle for two weeks some way back – check it out if you’re interested). Beyond this, I discovered that while I am interested in all kinds of things I’m only passionate about a few – and it is tougher to make time to write articulately about things that simply interest me as opposed to things that I feel more strongly about.
And so I plan to take this blog back to its roots and return to focusing primarily on writing about Agile software development. From time to time I will still write about other topics when I have something particularly meaningful to me that I want to share, but I want to spend my blogging time (whenever I can carve it out) writing about topics that are more than merely interesting to me. Hopefully that will make these posts more than just interesting to you loyal readers as well.
I have some ideas i want to explore in the coming weeks about purpose, decision making in complex environments, the role of a product owner or scrum master, and key attributes of effective Agile. Expect to see posts on these topics and more over the spring. Twitter remains a great place to read my random thoughts on other topics (follow me @asbiv). And as always I welcome your thoughts and feedback here. Thanks for reading.