The Forgotten ‘Salt & Pepper’ of Agile!

How do you like your favorite dish without Salt or/and Pepper? The answer to this question is an obvious one isn’t it? Do you think you can consume your food without these two ingredients? Yes, you can. But will it be to the best of its taste and your liking? Maybe not.

Are these two ingredients used just as a seasoning on the food or do they really have some value too?

Salt is a very essential part of our diet and health. It serves as the main source of sodium and chloride in the human diet. Sodium is essential for nerve and muscle function and is involved in the regulation of fluids in the body, while Chloride ions serve as important electrolytes by regulating blood pH values and pressure.

Pepper on the other hand is the source of minerals that help improve your stomach’s ability to digest food and promotes intestinal health.

Ok, is this some kind of a food recipe or a dietician blog? I see there is ‘Agile’ in the title. What is this salt and pepper doing in Agile?

Let’s go on a binge!

My guess is almost all who are reading this article are familiar and have had these below statements or questions fallen on to their ears.

“Looks like we are doing waterfall within two weeks and calling it Scrum.”

“We should have an MVP at the end of every sprint, else we are not doing Sprint”

“Do we have a defined DOD/DOR all the time to comply with?”

“We are ready to do Agile, but our managers won’t let us do”

“There is no motivation to work here anymore, regardless of us doing Agile or not”

“I’d like to make a lot of changes, but my manager will shoot them down straight away”

Have you come across these statements in your daily chores of work life? If yes, then hopefully this is a good read for you.

Being caught up in the need of the hour, being a participant in the race, being at a competitive edge all the time, have we forgotten the basics of what those 17 software professionals laid out in early 2000s?

Yes, I am talking about the Agile Manifestos and Principles. Most of the organizations today are some way or the other transforming themselves from traditional way of developing software to Agile ways of working. How different is it? How difficult or easy is it?

A little stat from Agile Alliance:  42% of the organizations fail to run projects in an Agile way, just because of their company policies and philosophies wouldn’t match the Agile core values.

If I may give you a list of pointers that you can think through.

The organization Structure/ Company policies and processes: How does the organization structure help you in being Agile or Scrum? How accommodative are we as an organization to change or tweak a few policies to accommodate the change?

How do you want to break the silos and help team members collaborate well? Be it within teams, within the organization, or even with the customers and stakeholders. Agile always breaks the silos and promotes flattening the hierarchy within an organization. And that’s for a reason, all these tie up to encourage and empower people, to decouple the command and control from the managers and move it straight down to the shoulders of the team members.

How good is your infrastructure to support you to collaborate? Do you have machines with the right configuration status to assist our customers on time? Considering the world is moving into distributed way of working, do we have good live collaboration tools to stay in touch with your extended team on the other side of the shore? Do we have good meeting rooms to carry out some essential discussions in the vision of enhancing your customer experience?

What are the ways to motivate your teams within the organization?  Do you have any Rewards and Recognition mechanism to motivate your employees within the organization?

How equipped is our Learning and Development team to embrace the change? Considering this change is becoming inevitable these days, be it client driven or organization doing it voluntarily, educating the employees within the organization becomes extreme critical and important. And educating can happen through many ways, one of them is internal training programs. How adaptable is our Learning and Development to embrace the change?

The mindset of people has always been, it’s not mentioned in my roles and responsibilities, why am I doing this task? So, to break this wall is our Human Resources Department ready to modify the job and role descriptions to embrace the change and go Agile on an Enterprise/org level?

Change in Customer engagement process? What is your current customer engagement strategy? How frequent do you collaborate with your customers? Remember, customer collaboration over contract negotiations? Do you have a feedback mechanism within the organization? If yes, how can you tailor it to suit different client engagements within?

How adaptive is your organization’s leadership team to change? Are they OK to fail fast? Are they OK to inspect and adapt?

How capable is your organization to adapt all the technical practices within that enhances agility?

All these are combined to be termed as ‘Culture‘ and acts as an ‘ingredient’ or ‘Salt and Pepper’ to our main course called ‘Agile’.

Remember, Agile is not a destination, it’s a journey!

As long as the culture aka the above mentioned ‘Salt and Pepper’ aren’t forgotten while starting the journey or while on the journey, you will always give your customers a great delightful experience. These are just the pointers one can think of before they make that big decision. Because once ‘THE’ decision is made that we want to jump on that boat, there is no looking back!

Happy Agiling!

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