5 Things you say that make me question your agility
As an agile coach I hear people say weird things. That’s good, because it offers me job security. Usually I happily get to work with people who still have a lot to learn about basic agile thinking. Quite often however, I encounter trained and certified agilists who still manage to say stuff that makes me go “WHAAAT??”\r\n\r\nLet’s get it over with:\r\n\r\n1. “The user stories aren’t detailed enough”\r\n\r\nThis quote mostly comes from developers. Analysts don’t say such things. They just spend their time…detailing the stories. I even witness smart testers spending days on a single story, “enriching” it with BDD syntax.\r\n\r\nStories are meant to be…stories. Short conversation starters so to say. One of the agile manifesto principles is “business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project”. So haul these users in and start talking with them instead of creating wasteful hand-overs within the team.\r\n\r\nStories were never meant to be detailed. They are meant to get things going and create a common understanding about what to develop and how to know when something you build is acceptable. Stop detailing them. Please! It’s not your job.\r\n\r\n2. “That’s not my job”\r\n\r\nDetailing stories isn’t your job nor anyone’s. Everything else is. As long as it belongs to the responsibility of your team, that is.\r\n\r\nBeing an agile team means that every single individual in the team is accountable for the results of that team. Whether you like it or not. So stop pointing to the other guys when something is wrong and go fix it. Period.\r\n\r\n3. “I don’t have any impediments”\r\n\r\nYes you do. Even high performing agile teams have plenty of them. You should raise them. That’s your job too. Solving them might not always be within your or even the team’s power. Raising and addressing them is.\r\n\r\nThe whole trick is to actually start recognizing and acknowledging problems. Even the tiny ones. Agile team members should develop an eye for problems and a taste for getting rid of them.\r\n\r\n4. “I don’t know about…something in the team”\r\n\r\nHow come you don’t know what your colleagues are working on? Why don’t you have a clue if your team’s real progress still matches its planned velocity? Why does it surprise you when something isn’t done by the end of the sprint (dear Product Owner)?\r\n\r\nNot knowing about something relevant happening within the team is called…an impediment. Agile needs transparency! How can you ever improve anything if you don’t know stuff? Or worse…don’t care to know? Start knowing stuff! Be curious!\r\n\r\n5. “Let’s not try something new, we are busy enough”\r\n\r\nWhen you know stuff, you can try new stuff. The Agile Manifesto starts off with the line “We are uncovering better ways…” which means that whatever you do is a journey. A discovery. Trying new stuff out and (at least trying to) improve is an obligation!\r\n\r\nNevertheless, I still witness teams that hardly try anything new. Their sprint 38 plan board is still the same as the one in sprint 1, only sloppier. The retrospective has become a rut because it’s nothing but “the good, the bad and…no action”. At iteration 65 all team members are sitting behind their own desks all day, wearing big ear phones, caring for nothing more than their own chunk of the work.\r\n\r\nI can only hope that you don’t recognize yourself in any of the above if you are serious about being a professional. If however you recognize some team members or other stakeholders of your cherished product development effort…help them get back on track!