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Vernon Richards | Quality Coach

Vernon Richards | Quality Coach

January 15, 2022

4 Things I Learned About Agile By Doing It.

The most valuable things I learned about agile didn't come from a book.

Adopting agile isn't as smooth and sedate as "they" would have you believe!

Let me explain.

#1: The magic is in the mindset.

There is always a process, documented or not. And it's working for someone, somewhere in the org.

So? Well, if you make wholesale changes to a "working" process, expect untold resistance! Folks like the existing process because reasons. It was created because reasons. And it's lasted this long because reasons.

The question is, which reasons and why? For example, were decisions made because the org believes in command and control or that the best work is done by self-organising teams?

People on a v-model/waterfall project can be very collaborative. People on an agile project can protect their silos like a grizzly bear protecting its young.

#2: Testing is testing. Agile is context.

That's a Scott Barber quote. The purpose of testing doesn't change but the context does.

For example:

  • A doctor saving a life in an operating theatre or on an airliner at 40000ft.

  • A chef cooking you a meal in their restaurant or your kitchen.

  • A singer performing at Wembley Arena or in their bathroom shower.

Same purpose + Different tools + Different circumstances = Success that looks and feels different.

#3: Collaboration is more than ceremonies.

All the stand-ups, refinement workshops, planning sessions and retros in the world won't save you if:

  • The goal/purpose is unclear to the team.

  • The team doesn't believe in the goal.

  • Cliques form isolating people.

  • People feel unsafe revealing their feelings or opinions.

Much of that comes down to culture and culture eats process for breakfast (and lunch and dinner and dessert!). Change the culture and bingo!

#4: Ignore the technical practices at your peril.

All the people stuff is helped or hindered by how fast you can respond to new information.

When I was first introduced to agile (Scrum in that case), there wasn't much talk about TDD, pipelines, test automation, that kind of thing.

Definitely not wrong. However, the ability to respond to new information quickly is amplified by the clever use of tools and technical practices.

I know what you're thinking...

"Dude, you just told us that you didn't learn any of this stuff by reading it and here YOU are writing about it!!!".

I know.

So what are you still doing here? 🙂

Go see if any of this is true and let me know if I missed anything!