Be disciplined!

If you are sensing a theme here, you probably are.

After writing about the importance of courage for project managers and team members last week, I thought I’d cover another important characteristic, especially for those working on projects which follow an agile delivery approach: discipline.

Merriam-Webster offers a number of definitions for discipline including a few which I’m not overly fond of such as “Control gained by enforcing obedience or order” and “Punishment“.  Neither of these sound well aligned with an agile mindset, do they?

However, the following two definitions hit closer to the value of discipline for agile teams: “Orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior” and “Self-control“.

So how do agile teams demonstrate these orderly patterns of behavior and self-control?

Some are obvious:

  • Showing up on time for ceremonies while also ensuring that they add value
  • Updating Kanban boards or other information radiators in a timely manner such that they can be trusted by stakeholders as an accurate source of delivery knowledge
  • Adhering to the team’s Definition of Ready and Definition of Done unless there’s a good reason not to do so for a given work item
  • Self-awareness of bias and being sufficiently mindful to not act on impulse
  • Making sure that product knowledge (e.g. training and support documentation) remains current

However others are more subtle:

  • Resisting the temptation to gold-plate
  • Demonstrating courage in coaching senior stakeholders when they want to add more work than the team can complete at a sustainable pace and in a quality fashion
  • Avoiding early commitments
  • Not completing another team member’s administrative work for them unless there is a valid reason for their not doing it themselves
  • Granting a team or a team member the freedom to fail

If there is one lesson I learned from my brief foray into the world of martial arts, it is that self-control is critical to success. Given the parallels which get drawn between learning a martial art and becoming agile (e.g. Shu-Ha-Ri), it is little wonder that self-control is important for successful agile delivery as well.





Categories: Agile, Project Management | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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