Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stop bugging me with those Agile values and principles

As part of a workshop preparation a few months back, I have been warned – better said the host had urged me to avoid to talk about Agile manifesto and principles. Confusing to me – why would anyone NOT like to talk about Agile manifesto and principles. To me, those are the closest kind of a description of management support & guideline, Agile offers you. In Lean Product Development, management support is more in-build and e.g. documented as the foundation of the Lean House.

It seems that besides the struggle of this organization (in which I currently work as a Scrum Master), I find evidence from within this company as well as other companies, that there is a struggle with realization (or better saying implementation or mental models) of the Agile values and principles. People seem to be hasty, and not taking the time to discuss those values and principles, trying to understand them, reflecting what this means to them in their environment. So, what is the solution: make people come together and let them discuss.

Working for us ??? NO!!!

What happened? We tried so hard! What is missing?

I realized that a group of people, who have about the same (I say light; or superficial) understanding of Agile values and principles discuss e.g. one principle in ten minutes. They reach a conclusion and go to the next principle. Give them credit for trying, and remember: those people simple might not know any better. The content of two-day training which they received months or even years back with the 200+ slides, is long forgotten (if the Agile values and principles were even discussed deeply in the first place).

Once more (see previous post “Why an organization needs an (external) agile coach”), I see a clear benefit to have somebody from outside of this organization (might be from within or outside the company) with deeper understanding of the meaning of those Agile values and principles. Then by e.g. asking questions, this coach can guide the discussion into a direction so that the participants get this deeper understanding.

In the current group of (only) six people, a single principle requires a 30min – 1h discussion to get a deeper understanding of what is means to behave, act, “live” the Agile values and principles. How could anybody think that participating e.g. a two-day CSM course gives sufficient time to gain such understanding?

This is only a first step. The next steps would include to understand the current state of thinking, followed by ideas which potentially get the organization to the desired state.

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