Agile isn’t about people

Door Patrick Verheij

Before you respond to my obviously heretic statement, consider the following scenario’s:\r\n\r\nOn a chilly Monday, a Scrum Master claps his hands to rally his team to the daily Scrum. When everybody stands in a circle around the planboard, the first team member speaks up and explains what he did before the weekend and what he will be doing today. Meanwhile, the rest of the group is silently enjoying the soft sentences of the speaker or not listening at all but instead is thinking of what he or she wants to say next. When all team members have had their turn, a discussion starts about some details that were mentioned. Alas, fifteen minutes have passed so the Scrum Master quickly dismisses the event and everyone returns to his seats, plugs in some headphones and enjoys yet another day of work.\r\n\r\nFor this scenario, consider the following. Is the team now aligned on what they plan to finish as a team today? How will they make sure things get done properly and impediments will be addressed? Do they agree on whether the sprint goals will be met? Does any action need to be taken in order to stay on track? Is the team working on priority stories or do we have hidden blockers?\r\n\r\nNow look at a second scenario in which a Product Owner finds ot that the data analyst in her team is idle. There is nothing to data analyse right now. What a waste of this precious ‘resource’. She quickly refines another user story and tells the data aalyst to do some data modeling on it for the next sprint. In the mean time all the development work is being done by two senior devs because it is complex and the pressure is high. So two junior devs are just siting by. Fortunately they are pro active and ask the PO for more work. She glady gives it to them by adding another pair of stories to the sprint.\r\n\r\nFor this scenario, consider the following. What are the consequences of adding work to the sprint for the predictability of the team? And for the collaboration among the team members? What kind of waste is being generated? What risks are being injected? How about focus? How much learning is going on? Will the juniors become seniors anytime soon? Does this scenario challenge the team members to be multidisciplinairy?\r\n\r\nOf course agile is about people: People who collaborate and interact. People who build great stuff. People who look at what kind of results they want and then experiment with their way of working. People who are eager to learn about what has already been tried by others and wish to see if that works on their own teams too. People who observe, think and then consciously take actions. People who inspect and adapt.\r\n\r\nIt’s just that people should not Always be in the center. Keep thinking! Do you want to plan your day properly? Then make it so during your daily Scrum. Do you want to build a great, multidisciplinairy team, have razor sharp focus, and obtain awesome results? Then make it so during your sprint.\r\n\r\nPeople who think consciously are key to agile. Not just people.

Patrick Verheij

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