I attended the Agile Boot Camp in January. Our developers use Scrum, and as a product owner I have been able to tell a difference in the quality and speed of what they produce since they adopted it. PMI® Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) is the fastest growing PMI certification. I hear “Agile” all of the time from our customers and sales people. It is very clear: Agile is a hot topic.
Since cloud has been such a game changer, more and more companies are adopting Agile. Since Agile training is in my product line, I decided to take the class myself.
Wow. Really. Wow.
I learned that:
- We must innovate.
- We must make change.
- We must focus on one thing at a time so as not to context switch all of the time.
- Every voice should be heard, because everyone has something to bring to the table.
The concepts are wonderful! They make sense.
The first tool I learned is the Fist of Five. I like how TechTarget defines it as “a technique used by agile software development teams to poll team members and help achieve consensus… similar to thumbs up, thumbs down, or thumbs sideways.”
What I like best about this is you hear the issue and pick your card, and group members show their cards at the same time. This helps eliminate being scared to express your opinion since it may not match what others think.
How many times have we come up with a project and started working in it with the goal to get it finished just because we were tasked with it? Things change, things may start to go wrong, the value is not there any longer, but because it is a project on our plate, we keep going. With Scrum, you do Sprints. If a project is not working, you know early on, and you can change direction. Brilliant!
I now understand what the developers mean when they talk the Scrum lingo, and that will be very useful to me. When they tell me that whatever I am asking for is not in this Sprint or the next, I know that means there’s no chance of me seeing it done right now as they are focusing on other things, and I appreciate that. My products benefit, because people with different skills and ideas are working on them and collaborating on solutions. As a chicken, I am going to attend some of the daily standup meetings with the pigs (and I will keep my mouth shut and just observe—I promise!) to give me insight into what they are doing.
So I am sold on the ideas and tools from Agile. But, I am not a developer.
While I was in class with developers, a project manager, and someone from an HR department, I started picturing myself using what I was learning in my job. Can Agile be used outside of software development? It sure can.
We all have customers and they change their minds about what they want and need. With Agile and Scrum, this is understood and accepted. Changes and challenges can’t be addressed in a planned manner, so the system is in place to work with the changes and challenges. You are given the ability to respond quickly and work with changing requirements. The benefits of this approach can certainly be seen in situations other than software development!
When people in class would give an example of what they were doing at work with Agile and it was not exactly what the book described, the instructor would ask “How is that working for you?” Every time. By the end of class, we got what he was saying: If something is working well, leave it alone. If something is not working, then change it. Simple.
I was even starting to wonder if I could take what I learned in class and apply it to my marriage but thought better of it. I am going to see how I can implement some of what I leaned into my own department. I am sure it would be easier for the Scrum team if we all get on the same page, anyway!