Don’t hate the game, hate the player

(Before you correct me for misstating the iconic quote in this article’s title, read ahead)

Over the past week, I’ve seen a number of posts from different practitioners on the Mastodon.world instance complaining about agile.

Here are a few of the examples I’ve read:

  • Agile events or meetings taking up most of the productive time each day
  • User stories not providing an understanding of a user’s needs and wants
  • Continuous delivery of changes resulting in significant unplanned outages
  • Sprint burndown charts showing zero completed work till the very end of a sprint

Now if someone’s experiences with adaptive delivery are limited to such examples it is no wonder that the reaction would be “Agile sucks!”

To which I respond #NotMyAgile.

Until someone invents a bracelet which delivers mild shocks to leaders and team members who ignore the basics of adaptive delivery, adoption challenges will persist.

And the more concurrent teams an organization has, the greater the likelihood of this unless each team has sufficient support and guidance to help them through these growing pains. An in the early days when there are very few people who know what to avoid, their capacity should be the constraint on how much work is done using agile approaches.

But barring that, team members can ask themselves the following question when they, the team as a whole or their leaders are deciding on what to do: “Does this result in greater value delivered to our customers, improvements to the quality of what we are doing or will it help improve our engagement or motivation?”.

If the answer is “no”, speak up.

(If you liked this article, why not read my book Easy in Theory, Difficult in Practice which contains 100 other lessons on project leadership? It’s available on Amazon.com and on Amazon.ca as well as a number of other online book stores).

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Categories: Agile, Facilitating Organization Change | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

I’m too agile! (with apologies to Right Said Fred)

A Mastodon post inspired me to ask ChatGPT to compose a song about agility in a Weird Al Yankovic take on Right Said Fred’s “I’m too sexy”.

Hope you like it!

Verse 1: I’m an agile developer, hear me code I’m always delivering, never on the road I’m working in sprints, and I’m doing just fine I’m always on time, and my code is divine

Chorus: I’m too Agile, for your waterfall ways I’m too Agile, for your slow and delayed days I’m too Agile, for your old fashioned ways I’m too Agile, and my code always amazes

Verse 2: I’m using Scrum, and Kanban too I’m always improving, and my team is true blue I’m embracing change, and it’s all for the best I’m always ahead, and I’m passing the rest

Chorus: I’m too Agile, for your waterfall ways I’m too Agile, for your slow and delayed days I’m too Agile, for your old fashioned ways I’m too Agile, and my code always amazes

Bridge: I’m sprinting to the finish, and I’m never done I’m always moving forward, and I’m having fun I’m Agile, and it’s the way to be I’m Agile, and my code is the key

Chorus: I’m too Agile, for your waterfall ways I’m too Agile, for your slow and delayed days I’m too Agile, for your old fashioned ways I’m too Agile, and my code always amazes

Outro: I’m Agile, and it’s the way to go I’m Agile, and my code is always flow I’m Agile, and I’m never slow I’m Agile, and I’m always in the know.

(If you liked this article, why not read my book Easy in Theory, Difficult in Practice which contains 100 other lessons on project leadership? It’s available on Amazon.com and on Amazon.ca as well as a number of other online book stores).

Categories: Agile | 1 Comment

Let’s be grateful

I’m in the middle of Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton’s book Leading with Gratitude. I really enjoyed one of their previous books, The Carrot Principle, which provided great case studies on the importance of recognition in the work place as well as multiple suggestions on ways to recognize colleagues without spending a cent. Leading with Gratitude is a very readable sequel to the previous one, and focuses on the importance of gratitude in improving individual, team and company performance.

I’ve written previously about the importance of creating a culture of appreciation within teams and provided one way to do this regularly via retrospectives, but this book provides some additional insights and ideas.

The authors mention the research conducted by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer which indicated that a significant boost to our emotions and motivation comes from making progress in work which is meaningful. The research also shows that the more often we feel that we are making progress, the more creative and productive we are likely to be.

As project managers, we tend to be goal oriented, and recognizing our team’s efforts in achieving a major milestone is important. But it is equally important that we express sincere, regular gratitude for the small wins which our team members are achieving.

If you happen to work in person with your team members, it is easier to identify incremental progress and recognize it in real time. But this can also be done virtually if you are watching your team’s progress via work boards or following their discussions in collaborative chat tools.

Keeping a gratitude journal (or OneNote Notebook if you prefer) is also a good way to remind yourself about what’s going well and what might be acknowledged.

While it is important that leaders express gratitude, if by doing so team members start to do the same to each other, that creates a compounding effect.

One way to do this is during daily coordination events (e.g. Scrums, standups or huddles). While the focus of the events is to help the team coordinate their efforts towards the day’s goals, it can also be a good opportunity for an individual on the team to do a shout out for one of their colleagues.

Gratitude can also be baked into the working agreements of the team and how team members will act on it might vary. One example of doing this which comes from sales teams is to have a bell, squeaky toy or other type of noise maker which is triggered whenever someone has done something to be grateful for.

And if you are worried about diluting the value of gratitude by expressing it more frequently or thinking that team members will get tired or numb of it, don’t worry. Based on the extensive research done by the authors, they have not run into one instance where someone complained about being praised too much.

A new year has just got underway and if there is one resolution which is worth making and sticking to, it is to be more grateful.

(If you liked this article, why not read my book Easy in Theory, Difficult in Practice which contains 100 other lessons on project leadership? It’s available on Amazon.com and on Amazon.ca as well as a number of other online book stores).

Categories: Facilitating Organization Change, Project Management | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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