Losing (and Winning) with Scrum – Epic Three – Dealing With Change

Note: I, the author, am neither a physician, a dietician, nor a nutritionist. I’m a scrum coach. I’m not selling or endorsing any diet, food, or procedure. I’m applying an agile methodology and mindset to my personal life and sharing it here. 

A Recap of Epic Two

Epic Two has been completed and can be seen at the links below. The Epic’s target weight loss was 10 pounds, and the loss over three sprints was another 10.6 pounds.

After the second Epic, my weight loss is 21.2 pounds, or still about 3.53 pounds per week. This is a fast pace, and there have been no struggles so far. Since my weight loss this Epic was the exact same as the last Epic over the same number of weeks, my burndown shows me on the same track.

Burndown 20170528

One interesting data point from this graph has to do with the time from 5/17 through 5/21. Over that entire period I was above the burndown line, by as much as 4 pounds. This represents what I thought was a plateau. As the line got back into shape, I think that this was because I was not following my stories as I needed to. Adding the fitness tasks got that back into shape.

Dealing with Change

Change is the end result of all true learning.

Leo Buscaglia

If you’ve read all I’ve written on this, then you’ve seen me alter the stories over the sprints and epics. My stories started out with these three:

As someone trying to lose weight…

  1. I want to eat my last meal of the day before 8:00pm, because my body stores unspent calories overnight as fat.
  2. I want to walk 8,000 steps per day, to make sure that I am getting exercise and maintaining a minimum level of activity.
  3. I want to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night, because when I don’t my body tries to substitute calories for rest.

And as of my last sprint, they stand at:

As someone trying to lose weight as part of a healthy lifestyle transformation:

  1. I want to stop consuming calories at 8 PM, because my body stores unspent calories overnight as fat.
  2. I want to burn an extra 1000 calories each day, as measured by the Watch’s “Move” measure, to ensure that I am getting exercise and maintaining a minimum level of activity.
    1. TASK: Work out enough to burn at least 200 calories per work day.
    2. TASK: Work out enough to burn at least 400 calories per non-work day.
  3. I want to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night, because when I don’t my body tries to substitute calories for rest.
  4. I want to stop drinking diet sodas, to avoid any side-effects of such, and to not try to fool my body that it’s getting extra calories.
  5. I do not drink alcohol, because the calories add no nutritional value to my body.
  6. I will not have second helpings at meals, because this adds significant calories without exploring new tastes.
  7. I want to eat lunch every day, because when I don’t I tend to eat without thought to satisfy hunger before dinner.
  8. I want to consume a planned snack between meals WHEN HUNGRY, as a way of keeping myself from eating mindlessly and consuming more than I need.

So I’ve added five stories and two tasks in six weeks. If you haven’t followed all of the retrospectives, you might wonder why.

The answer lies in a few fundamental aspects of the agile mindset and of the scrum process.

Respond to Change

One of the statements of the Agile Manifesto is that its practitioners value responding to change over following a plan. This value statement is at the core of Agile work, and is one reason why Agility is routinely more likely to satisfy customers than a plan-driven mindset. Stuff happens.

To many, this sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s not. Let’s talk about why.

Plans Suck

If I have a plan, I know how to get from Point A to Point B easily, right? The problem is that a plan isn’t just about getting from Point A to Point B; it’s also about trying to anticipate risks and how to mitigate them.

When I’ve lost weight before, there was a plan (imagine trumpets playing a fanfare). I’d go on diet X, which would say that if I follow their plan and eat this and not that, I’d lose weight. I’d eat lots of this and none of that and would lose some weight. If they wanted me to exercise, I’d exercise. And then I’d get hurt, or plateau, or have a bad week, and then… “What does the plan say about a bad back?” Nothing. In that case, the plan is scrapped; I’d eat less of this and more of that and… Back up I went.

Later, I’d find a program that had another plan, which was more detailed. It had instructions like “eat so much of this for three weeks, and then increase the amount you eat.” Better plan, right? Better, that is, until something outside the plan occurred, and then back up I went.

Change (Stuff) Happens

When I attack the problem of adopting a healthy lifestyle with an Agile mindset, I not only expect change but I welcome change, and when change is needed, I respond to it.

For example, at the end of Sprint One, I decided that I didn’t like using the Fitbit to track my activity, and so I changed to the Apple Watch. Apple Watch gave me a different and, to me, preferable way of measuring my activity, and so I changed not only my gear but the story from…

I want to walk 8,000 steps per day, to make sure that I am getting exercise and maintaining a minimum level of activity

… to …

I want to burn an extra 1000 calories each day, as measured by the Watch’s “Move” measure, to ensure that I am getting exercise and maintaining a minimum level of activity.

After Epic One was completed, I took an honest and transparent look at my goal and the assumptions made as part of that goal. I realized that I had to change the goal, because if I continued with the goal of losing weight I was missing the point. With agility, I could change my goal without having to reframe my project.

This adaptability is one factor that gives Agility its strength, because I went into this project knowing that I would be changing the parameters under which I would be working as part of the project itself.

Inspect and Adapt

If Agility is about responding to change, I know that change will be needed, and that changes will happen. Inspecting and Adapting is an Agile tool that we use to evaluate the need for, and to integrate, this change. The goal is Continual Process Improvement. If you’ve read the rest of the blogs, you’ve seen me perform these Inspect and Adapt sessions several times.

Each Sprint Review contains a section called Retrospective, where I discuss what worked and what didn’t, what’s in the way, and what I’m going to do to address needed changes, if anything.

Experiment and Evaluate

After Sprint Five, I discussed that I was constantly coming under my target calorie burn of 1000 calories per day. As an experimental solution, I added two tasks with the intent of increasing my movement, one adding 30 minutes of exercise on work days, and one adding 60 minutes of exercise on non-work days. This change to the story must have had some effect, as my weight loss during Sprint Five was six pounds.

After Sprint Six, I realized that adding minutes of activity was silly, as I wasn’t measuring activity in minutes, but in calories. Having made that evaluation, I decided to change how I measured the extra movement activity I needed from minutes to calories. What effect do I expect to see? None, actually, except that I can more accurately gauge how many calories I’ll burn.

Speaking of calories…

What About Calories?

One question I get asked a lot is about calories. I get asked about it when people ask what I’m doing to lose weight, or when people who know I’m undergoing this transformation see me eating something, like a piece of pizza. I’ve actually gotten comments like “shame on you for eating pizza on a diet,” and had to correct that this isn’t a diet.

The answer, though, is that, at this time I’m not worried about calories. People who live healthy lifestyles tend not to, and my goal is to live a healthy lifestyle. What I find is that, if I adopt that mindset (healthy lifestyle) I tend to make some healthier choices naturally.

I may, at some time in the future, get to the point where my weight is deadlocked with the stories I’ve got now and with my eating the way it is at the time. At that last responsible moment, and only at that time, will I look into consciously counting calories.

I am very well aware that such a change might be necessary. My rate of weight loss has been fairly linear but that might not remain the case. At this time, the stories I’m living and the choices I’m making now have me losing at a rate of 3.62 pounds per week, and I’m not even trying. This is honestly the easiest way it’s ever been, because nothing I’m doing is about calories; it’s about living healthy.

Anticipate that change will be necessary and be ready for it, but don’t address it any sooner than you need to, and don’t plan for it. Agile is built to manage risks and changes.

And so Epic Three is set to begin. Off we go on the next sprints!

  • Date: 5/28/2017
  • Weight: 340.8 lbs. (-21.2 lbs. total)
  • Epic Definition of Done: 330.0 lbs.

Stories

As someone trying to lose weight as part of a healthy lifestyle transformation:

  1. I want to stop consuming calories at 8 PM, because my body stores unspent calories overnight as fat.
  2. I want to burn an extra 1000 calories each day, as measured by the Watch’s “Move” measure, to ensure that I am getting exercise and maintaining a minimum level of activity.
    1. TASK: Work out enough to burn at least 200 calories per work day.
    2. TASK: Work out enough to burn at least 400 calories per non-work day.
  3. I want to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night, because when I don’t my body tries to substitute calories for rest.
  4. I want to stop drinking diet sodas, to avoid any side-effects of such, and to not try to fool my body that it’s getting extra calories.
  5. I do not drink alcohol, because the calories add no nutritional value to my body.
  6. I will not have second helpings at meals, because this adds significant calories without exploring new tastes.
  7. I want to eat lunch every day, because when I don’t I tend to eat without thought to satisfy hunger before dinner.
  8. I want to consume a snack between meals WHEN HUNGRY, as a way of keeping myself from eating mindlessly and consuming more than I need.

Sprint Results

Epic Three: In Progress

View Epic One

View Epic Two



Categories: Epic Three, Scrum for Weight Loss

4 replies

Trackbacks

  1. Losing with Scrum – Epic Four – Coronary Bypass Edition – Agile Forth
  2. Losing with Scrum – Epic Five – Three Months Later – Agile Forth
  3. Losing (and Winning) with Scrum – Epic Two – The Scope of the Problem – 351.4 lbs. – Agile Forth
  4. Losing (and Winning) with Scrum – Epic One, 362 Pounds – Agile Forth

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