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Agile Principle Part 12: Become More Effective

by Ken Rickard

Dec 11, 2017

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly

What a way to wrap up the Agile Principles. Becoming more effective is the epitome of being Agile. Wait... I could have been wrong, maybe this is my favorite principle.

Let's break this principle down...

Regular Intervals - Doesn't say short, but if we've learned anything so far we know that shorter intervals are better.

Reflects on becoming more effective - Although Agile does not prescribe how to accomplish this reflection, Scrum picks up the slack here as there are multiple Scrum events where a team can reflect and improve. Those events would be the Daily Scrum, and the obvious one, the Sprint Retrospective.

During the Daily Scrum the team has the opportunity to inspect their progress so far in the sprint. They can discuss where they might be off track, how they might get back on track, ask for help from others on the team, and determine if they will complete the forecasted sprint work within the sprint time box.

The Sprint Retrospective is one of the things that sets Scrum apart from other similar frameworks. It's the team’s built-in opportunity to inspect and adapt their standards, interactions, and process. The retrospective can also be the most difficult meeting to conduct. New Scrum teams often have a difficult time finding fault, or identifying things that need improvement. There is also the team culture that comes into play, as they might not be comfortable yet with openly discussing their short comings, individually or as a team.

However, transparency is key to improvement. For myself, I try to make sure that I set an example of openness and vulnerability early on with each team I work with. If they see me behaving in this manner, odds are they will quickly become open to the idea as well. Point here is not to pick on people, but instead we should be creating a safe zone for everyone to share openly without judgement. They should reflect on how they individually handled the sprint, how the team handled the sprint, how the organization handled the sprint, and then openly discuss how these things can be improved. Keep a transparent and visible list of improvements, and pick out one or two things to work on during the coming sprint.

Let us not ignore the fact that the team should also identify the good things they did as well. That way they know what to continue doing. Hopefully you have a team of well-rounded people that can handle the good and the not so good conversation in stride.

My Own Personal Agile Reflection - I'll confess, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. It runs in my genes. I didn't realize 8 years ago when I found Agile and Scrum, that it would help me find a greater purpose. I didn't immediately realize the impact it would have on me. I'd say it took 3 years for me to really find my way, reading and learning on the job, honing my Agile muscles with each passing year. Learning from my mistakes, and realizing where I could continue to improve. My focus over those first years was for me as an individual to improve. I focused mostly on myself and how I worked, but also on how I interacted with people, how I perceived them and they perceived me, and the words I used to make sure I was forcing myself to think differently.

But after a few years I started to realize that I should be doing more than just helping myself. I started to realize that others needed to know the same things I had been learning. I realized that I needed to stop hording knowledge, and I needed to become an information radiator. I had a thirst and desire to influence those around me, to teach that there were better ways to work and collaborate.

It didn't take much longer after that for Agile to begin to creep into my personal life. I started to take the efficiency skills I had learned at work, and incorporate them into my personal life. I started keeping personal Kanban boards. I started talking about visualizing list of things at home to organize better. As a family, we started to use Kanban boards for our grocery list. We also started another list for work we wanted to do around the house. Anything where we had more work to do than we could handle all at once, we started a list. Now the whole family, teenagers included were starting to use Agile techniques in their daily lives. And yes, I realize you might be thinking I'm crazy at this point. But it just works for us.

The idea that no one is perfect, yet we never stop striving for that perfection is what gets me up in the morning. I think the thing that keeps me sane when the carrot of perfection dangles out in front of me, is knowing that I always have an Agile snack in my back pocket.

Hope you enjoyed the series!

This 12 part series was published by Ken Rickard on LinkedIn Pulse, to read the original version of this blog click here. To read the entire 12 part series, click here for a table of contents. 

Interested in learning more about the Agile Methodology or incorporating it into your business? Contact a representative at CCG by emailing or call (813) 265-3239.