'Being' agile vs ‘doing' agile

I’ve been attending the AgileNZ conference since it was established in 2014, and the 2016 event got me thinking about this topic. The theme this year was ‘Delivering Digital’ in a world where every business is becoming a software business.

The AgileNZ conference gave me the opportunity to listen to leaders in the field and learn about how companies are using Agile to deliver value to their customers. I also talked to scrum masters, PMs, Agile coaches and discussed the benefits and issues of using one framework over another.

The conference is also a great place to let others know how Triquestra is rapidly moving towards an Agile environment.

Agile – adjective: able to move quickly and easily The Oxford Dictionary

Many software companies deliver projects using agile principles. Yet, as teams focus on agile rituals like sprint planning meetings, daily stand-ups and retrospectives, the true meaning of what ‘being agile’ really stands for has somewhat been lost.

The focus on having an agile mindset has taken a backseat, with the term ‘agile’ often used as a noun rather than the more active adjective.


What does it really mean to be involved in an agile project?

On one of the agile projects I was involved in there was an expectation from the developer and the tester that the BA would ‘interpret’ the discussions held during the sprint planning meeting.

However, the whole team attended the meeting, suggesting a more collaborative approach could have been taken. It was a classic example of following the agile rituals with a waterfall mindset.

As a result, the team had to be educated on being cross-functional and playing an active part in discussions with the product owners, both during the planning meeting and for the remainder of the sprint.

The agile mindset consists of:

  • Respect
  • Collaboration
  • Continuous improvement
  • A willingness to fail

In the agile environment, the whole team participates in discussions and comes up with solutions. All members are required to help each other to understand stories, and do not depend on traditional roles.

In instances where the understanding is incorrect, the team learns to adapt to achieve goals set in the planning meeting. The team is also empowered to talk about its failures so others may learn from them.

The result is a team which flourish and succeeds, creating an environment of collaboration and success!

To view the inspiration for this post, check out Rachel Niven’s presentation at AgileNZ 2016 

The 2017 AgileNZ Conference is on Improving Digital Delivery, and you can find more about it here