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Agile in the Ether

After hearing good things about it for years, and failing to get one of the limited spots at its lean coffee events for almost as long, I was excited to finally be at Agile in the Ether last week. Here's a few aggregated notes from the excellent conversation. 

How to encourage non-digital stakeholders to understand the value of discovery and outcomes over outputs?

  • The business has scaled quickly and is large and stakeholders just want features
  • They don't talk about problems and give people space to offer solutions
  • Help them to think about how they experience the world outside work
  • Lay out the risks/benefits of switching to incremental devlopment
  • Get an ally who is respected (by them) to support your case
  • Show business which haven't adapted, e.g. Blockbuster
  • Show business which have adapted, e.g. McDonalds
  • Let stakeholders observe interviews with users to understand their priorities
  • Don't use the word "agile" or "digital"
  • ... instead say "de-risk this proposition", "build it so we can rollback if needed"
  • ... talk about the benefits of agile development not the practices

 

How do I get an organisation to value (agile) communities of practice?

  • Some managers just don't get it
  • They'll say "you need to do this in personal learning and development time"
  • Do it in stealth mode; just call it a meeting!
  • Ask the Community what they find valuable, and get them to talk about it
  • Find stories of success and share them
  • Some people think CoP is just soft and fluffy and not delivering
  • Managers perhaps don't care about the personal side of work, just outputs
  • Can you make the managers look good so that they will support it
  • Talk about it in manager-friendly terms e.g. ROI, break down silos, spread good practices, ...
  • Talk about disadvantages of not having CoPs, e.g. slower onboarding
  • Use some specific example of good practice to convene a group, then keep it going

 

Mentoring, coaching and team-building in a team where members are constantly changing. Any tips on how to keep stability?

  • In this case the team is around 8 people (perm and contractors, mixed disciplines)
  • Particularly hard when people are leaving (personal and org change)
  • Usually tends to stabilise, but not this time so constantly restarting
  • Pairing/mobbing can introduce new people quickly
  • Be alert to workplace loneliness
  • People can tend to go quiet, so be hypervigilant
  • Use CoP to build a shared culture across teams so that in-company movement is easier
  • Focus on some small thing together and complete it to build team spirit
  • Don't wait for a time when things just stabilise before starting something
  • One of us had used a team stability metric
  • ... the number of sprints in a row with the same people on the team
  • ... found that it's correlated to happiness
  • ... but now worried that it's now become a marker of pride
  • ... and teams are not changing enough

 

How to revive a flagging test community of practice?

  • Lots of people have left, including the CoP lead
  • New people started and are not so enthusiastic
  • The CoP used to be brilliant, but it's now a shadow of its former self
  • Drew Pontikis talked about letting the CoP end when its energy has run out
  • Change things up e.g. 1, 2
  • Communities are so reliant on the people involved. What are their needs?
  • Treat it like a new team; have a new kick off
  • Fit timing to other participant commitments to make it easier to attend
  • CoP need not be the only community meetings, e.g. pairs, random coffees, etc
  • It will take a while to get restarted
  • It's natural for there to be cycles of energy
  • Favour quality over quantity 

Image: Wikipedia

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