Agile Lip Service

If you’re reading this because “you want to be agile” then you may want to reassess your options.

“Doing Scrum or even being Agile is not the goal but can be a useful proxy measure for effectiveness”

– Geoff Watts

The fundamental issue with with wanting to “BE or DO” Agile is often what leads to what I like to call ‘Agile Lip Service’. On the face of it you may think you look great, but deep down you’re covering a waterfall approach by dividing GANTTS into sprints and using daily’s to micromanage. And that’s naughty, and completely missing the point.

Agile Lip Service is often accompanied with people pleasers, none believers, and sh!t loads of work’ers. Ironically, if this was turned around and an agile mindset nurtured then many of these behaviours would naturally start fall by the wayside.

This is where a ScrumMaster will need to strike a fine balance. Forcing change only nests rebellion, by not, the nest paints a deceptive picture with underlying wood rot.

So as organisations how we can make a positive move to stop saying we are Agile and start showing it?

Well let’s start with the ScrumMaster, the role that requires a great deal of patience.

“Great ScrumMasters, while impatient for success and change, are sensitive to each situation they face, considerate of the people involved and the consequences of every action”

– Geoff Watts

So what does that look like?

Basically a perfect character.

Well nobody’s perfect, and that’s why as ScrumMasters we need to keep learning, nurturing and enabling our teams to keep us all; accountable, responsible, and focusing not on the end product but on the processes and tools that enable us to release value in every iteration.

So what else surrounds the mindset of a Agile driven organisation? Coaching.

Coaching is controversial and hard to refine. Infact 12 years ago, before Maykit was born, I went on a coaching course, and hated it. Why? Because I was used to being given the answers and not to find them from within. I still very much struggle with being coached and coaching, but the difference now is that I see the immense value that it adds to communities and organisations.

Coaching gives teams, employees and colleagues the ability to think for themselves. Mind blowing statement right there. As soon as people see that they can think for themselves, they start to work as a team, they start to accomplish things quicker, they start to feel empowered, they start to empower others. And that’s where your mindset resets.

It’s not an easy fix. Especially because it involves YOU looking inside YOURSELF first.

In your next meeting, regardless of your role as quite franckly that doesn’t matter, reflect on how your actions, words and decisions impact on others in the room.

  • Have you managed to position yourself as the ‘go to’ person? Then this is going to be tough.
  • Are you the person that waits to be told what to do? Then this is going to be tough.
  • Or do you see yourself as pretty well rounded? Take another look, as guess what, this is going to be tough.

…A day or two later… So how did you react? Hmm, interesting…Did you;

Responded to every question with an answer, without it being directed at you.

  • Try: counting to 10 like this (in your head I’d suggest)… 1 peanut, 2 peanut, 3 peanut … don’t be fast and phallic.
  • Why? In 10 seconds the power of silence empowers the team to start thinking for themselves.

Responded to every question with an answer, with it being directed at you.

  • Try: Guiding questions and counting as above.
  • Why? Guiding questions are proven to increase higher levels of thinking, start enabling your team to think for itself.

You quietly observed

  • Try: If this is normal then perhaps start with a guiding question, or go wild and just put yourself out there if you have an idea.
  • Why? Guiding questions take the pressure off you but gives you the ability to speak up. And ideas are healthy; they bring life to conversations, they bring new perspectives, and your ideas aren’t wrong they are simple opening up opportunities to innovate.

You actually thought that you were pretty great, you asked guiding questions, your counted to 10 peanuts, you listened to others.

  • Try: Asking somebody you trust and respect to observe you.
  • Why? Because we often don’t observe what’s really being seen.

At Maykit we were motivated to write this article from reading Scrum Mastery by Geoff Watts, from working with all the great teams and inspirers of change.

Check out our next article in a fortnight on Transparent Working.

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