Agile Beyond the Daily Stand-up Meetings (DSMs)

Wall with post-it on at the office

With so many opportunities to collaborate these days via Agile webinars, conferences, meetups, etc., I am sure you have heard this ‘Akashvaani’ (a celestial voice from the sky/heaven) stating “Don’t just do Agile, be Agile”. What does this really mean? Have you thought about it?

Here is my attempt to decipher that ‘Akashvaani’.

A little story to narrate; a few years ago, I was working with a banking client who like everyone else wanted to go the Agile/Scrum route. When I visited the location of work to see how things are done (Gemba) at that moment, I asked them these questions:

1. “What do you really want? In addition,
2. “Why do you think you should adapt Scrum/Agile?”

To be very honest, I was not surprised with their answers to my questions. They said we do not know. We have another competitor in banking, moving into Agile/Scrum and hence we want to as well.

This is just ‘doing’ Agile without knowing what you are getting into. This is like taking a plunge into the pool without knowing to swim. The result of this ‘forced activity’ would be a series of failed agile projects, less staff engagement, over killing a framework or a methodology, which may eventually lead to customer dissatisfaction in turn falling flat to taste the dust. What they did was just to embrace the word Agile and that’s about it!

Why is it like this? The misconception may be…

There can be many reasons to it. To name a few:

  • A group of people/organizations think or possibly even conclude that if they are holding the DSMs, then they are Agile.
  • Another group defaults it is thinking to Scrum, when they make the move from any traditional ways of working to the Agile ways of working.
  • Company’s culture not in-line with Agile values.
  • Lack of experience with Agile ways of working.
  • A namesake pressure from the client to follow Agile.

These may happen due to the lack of understanding of what Agile is all about, or someone within the organization who holds the baton to transform and fails to include all perspectives, areas and levels (People, Process and Technology).

Agile Adoption is a big thing. I am so glad I fell in love with it the day I understood how it can create miracles within me. If you want to ‘Be Agile’, then look beyond just doing the DSMs. Don’t just apply the Agile concepts and practices only at work, for the sake of it.

The very first thing I tell people is to get their understanding clear and descriptive. I would not want to tell you how you would accomplish that, as you know there are many ways to deepen your understanding in this subject and believe in that.

You can start being Agile by looking for all the opportunities you can possibly to be Agile. For instance, try and introduce a practice of visualizing the workflow at home. You may have your personal reminders in your diaries or possibly your spouse reminding you to carry out a few repetitive tasks daily, weekly and/or monthly. Try and bring those on to a Kanban board and have an informal agreement between your family members to diligently follow it. You do not have to impress anyone around you but for your own self.  Also, inspect and adapt. Use this board to slot your work items and see what works best for you and your family.

Here is my Kanban board that I have @ home on my refrigerator.

My family and I use this board to the best of our conscience & capabilities. This has done some miracles to me and my family to manage our tasks daily, weekly and monthly (change for better – Kaizen).

Alongside my day work, I volunteer into many other Agile activities that are happening globally. One such activity is for a group that I co-founded in 2015 called Agile practitioners’ Group of India (APGI). The motive of this group is to speak Agile awareness within India. We conduct up meetups, Webinars and conferences. I have a great volunteer team within the group every year that is filled with energy and they always want to execute all the activities to put up a great conference using Agile ways. We inspect and adapt every week, we have a board to track our tasks, we have task owners, and we do weekly Stand-up meetings to discuss our plan for the next seven days there on. There are specific roles within the volunteer team like PO, SM and team members that kind of helps us in running the calls, facilitating them and of course in the decision making (a real walk the talk moment).

To summarize, Agile is not ‘only’ about facilitating or running your DSMs every day. If you understand the way it works, Agile becomes your way of life. The more you practice, the merrier you will like it.

Do not just do Agile, BE Agile…!

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