Agile for all
Good morning mates!
What is Agile?
I must confess, when I first started reading about Agile, it took me some time to get a clear idea. It was really hard to find good references and explanations.
Reality is that Agile is everywhere nowadays, with tons of specific and valuable, but unstructured, information; and a lot of irrelevant stuff that makes it even more confusing. Everyone is speaking and writing about agile, but how can you differentiate between the real good stuff and the bullshit?
That is why I have made my own summary to help you understand what it means to work as an agile team, pursue agility and so on. And I will try to do it from different perspectives but going straight to the subject.
In my opinion…
Agile means transparency, honesty, collaboration and respect. Agile is a culture, a mindset.
Agile means assuming you don´t really know the future, and, planning according to that fact. This means delivering value as soon as possible so you can start learning from your customer, and delivering value incrementally, applying those learnings to your product or service instantly.
Agile means to be customer centric. But do not forget your teams. They are the ones that take care of the customer; therefore, one of your biggest responsibilities should be looking after them, so that they can bring joy to your customers. Really often, having a happy team means having a happy customer, and these ultimately helps having happy stakeholders.
Agile means more servant leaders and less micro-management. It demands servant leadership, more system management and less people management.
But how do all these ideas come to reality, from a manager point of view? Check out these 8 key-practices:
Build stable teams, that cover a value chain as completely as possible, who can be responsible for creating and delivering that value. This means, give them responsibility and make them responsible as a team.
Teach those teams to improve continuously. Encourage them to inspect their ways of working constantly. Make sure they have the time and environment to stop and reflect, and make sure this process is also fun.
Inject change embracement into those teams’ cultures. This part is crucial, since in today’s complex environments it is deadly to stay in your comfort zone. Help those teams celebrate continuous change and start seeing changes as opportunities.
Create T-skilled team members. T-skilled people are those who can be considered specialists in one subject, but at the same time they are practitioners and learners in several others. This is key if you want to create a high-performance cross-functional team avoiding the creation of functional silos; a team that really behaves as one team.
As well as you are trying to improve continuously, you should be trying to measure continuously. But measure to get better, and to plan better, understanding that, as soon as a metric gets attention by being used to evaluate the performance of a team, that metric loses its value for the team, therefor for the customer, and therefor for the stakeholder.
Be a servant leader. You are there for your team, not the opposite way. Your duty is to manage the system in order to enable the team to create as much value as possible. Forget the traditional manager role, it is senseless to manage people. Your teams are formed by professionals (adults) that can take decisions by themselves, so stop micromanaging, and focus on providing a direction and serving them in whatever they need to follow it.
Again, encourage learning. But in this case, we are talking about experiments. If as a leader you have created a safe environment to experiment, and expanded an experiment-prone culture, your company will learn 10 times faster. Experiment as much as you can and celebrate learning.
Give freedom, create trust, and delegate. All this together, with a clear purpose, will generate stratospheric levels of engagement (in most cases), and the outcome will be wonderful.
And, finally, the most important idea: Just take all the information from above, cut it into pieces and start adapting it to your company, because transformation is always painful and can only succeed when you not only consider where you want to arrive, but also where you are coming from.
I hope you enjoyed this brief but dense article, i will be really happy to hear your opinions on the subject!