Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Being Agile: Applying Common Sense With An Uncommon Level Of Discipline

#SridharPeddisetty #Agile #Scrum #Motivational #ProjectManagement #Management #AgileBestPractices #Inspirational  

It takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field 
- Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers

Agile is applying common sense with an uncommon level of discipline. Its a journey of continuous improvements with the openness in providing an environment in which one can learn, unlearn and relearn.  

Below are some of my common sense tips in applying Agile philosophy with an uncommon level of discipline 

#1. Prepare for a marathon: 

While applying Agile philosophy in delivering services, prepare for a marathon and not just a sprint. Its important to ensure clarity about the end objectives and lead the Agile team to show great commitment for the same. Both Pigs (those committed) & Chickens (those involved) should base their decisions on a long term strategic objectives instead of always just tunnel focussed on sprint goals.  Agile philosophy comes good when it is motivated by authority while fostering an environment of collaboration, which is constructive, open & respectful.  

#2. Ensure authentic communication: 

Authentic communication is key for creating an environment, which allows to bring impediments to the surface by having more engaged employees. It allows to create a culture in which team can afford to stop to fix the problems and get the quality right, the first time itself. In my earlier post Looking At An Impediment From A Value Perspective, I had shared how when faced with an impediment, one can enlarge the vision of looking at the impediment from the perspective of delivering value. 

#3. Build a culture of learning from doing:

In an Agile environment, which is driven by cross functional teams & innovations, learning from doing is key. Just the lip service of doing retrospection at the end of sprint is not enough. Build truly a learning culture through relentless reflection (hansei) and continuous improvement (kaizen). In my earlier post Value Stream Mapping As A Process Improvement Tool, I had shared how Value Stream Mapping can be used as a tool for identifying inefficiencies in the processes within your organization.  

#4. Do not have the “Ants in the pants” attitude:

The “Ants in the pants” attitude can be a problem with the beginner practitioners of Agile where the expectations are wrongly set to start seeing immediate results. Practice the ‘Rolling Wave’ adaptive planning to achieve the results and keep your expectations realistic. Keep in mind that an empirical approach generally yields better results than a perspective one. Its important to define some milestones and measure the success based on those milestones. 

#5. Practice Agile with a purpose more than need:

Purpose is more important than need. In the chase between lion and deer, many times deer wins. One reason could be because lion runs for food, while deer runs for life. While practicing Agile, its important to practice with an understanding of the purpose of outcome or output in context of solving business problem. Most of the Agile practitioners do not use governance well enough for monitoring and controlling the project. 


Discipline is the deciding factor to ensure transparency and accountability is promoted through Agile philosophy. In my earlier post An Agilist Needs More Than Training To Succeed, I had shared that getting trained in Agile does not necessarily mean that we have started thinking ‘Agile’. After training, work in your Org towards bringing in changes including predictable delivery by taking small steps in developing an environment, which fosters a collaboration culture with a shared vision across the Org. This change would require an uncommon level of discipline. 

Please share your experiences on the uncommon level of discipline you follow while practicing Agile.