We’ve all done it. Sacrificed quality for speed or process for “simplicity”. I’m not suggesting it’s possible to stay 100% compliant with any program, process or vision however I do think we can do things to increase the likelihood of compliance. One thing we can do as agile team members to keep ourselves on a sustainable path is to “go agile” every day. This may sound trite so I’d like to explain in a little more detail what I mean by “go agile” in the first place. Do you recall your first experiences with an agile team? If you are still practicing then it probably means you eventually found value in this way of working however it may not have been obvious to you initially. Alternatively you may have been a champion of agile and knew from the moment you heard about it that it was the way to go. You might even have been a die-hard agile skeptic, eventually won-over by the effectiveness of the approach. In any of these cases there was emotion at the start. Whether evangelist or naysayer you had strong opinions. If you were simply along for the ride, you still likely felt some form of trepidation when the Gantt charts were replaced with burn-downs.
If you are still as passionate about agile as you were when you started then you are a fortunate practitioner.
Over time agile becomes second nature. The upside to this is that you and your team start to follow the patterns naturally and no longer spend time arguing about how to implement the approach. All long-standing project teams have the potential to get a bit stale without something to fuel creativity and passion. Once agile has become fully accepted in your organization it can start to feel like “old news”. In cases like this I like to help re-kindle the excitement around agile by talking to the team about what works and what doesn’t in a way that takes them outside the typical bounds of the retro while still retaining enough formality to ensure we take action on items that require it. Call it a meta-retro if a name is needed. These are great times to discuss the reasons why we do what we do and having these discussions in the context of an actual project brings life to the conversation. Scrum Masters, Developers, Product Owners, Stake Holders – these are the people that need to stay engaged in the process.
Once any one of these groups starts to tune out in terms of the project at hand or the approach then it becomes that much more challenging to bring them back into the fold.
In order to avoid getting stale and/or tuning-out I suggest going agile every day. By this I mean being personally mindful of how at least one of your actions was agile during the day. I use the lowercase “a” throughout this article because I feel it’s more important to maintain an agile (as originally defined in the dictionary) approach to project work than it is to blindly adhere to the Agile principles. If you can point to something you did or said that maintained or increased team agility on a daily basis then you are doing the work. Taking time regularly to recognize others for their contributions to the project and process also helps to reinforce these good behaviors. Relating to others this way helps to keep the team vital and alive. Nobody wants a cheerleader yet it is uncanny how receptive teams are to genuine appreciation for both what they’ve accomplished and HOW they did it. Going agile each day can helps all involved stay engaged and motivated.