Everytime we learn something new, a practice, a tool or a technique related to our working activity, we naturally try to understand how that knowledge can be ported into our environment. It happens, indeed, that the most challenging things, even if fascinating and powerful, are often discarded with a superficial statement “it will never work with us”.
Everyone of us do not want to change their habits, do not want to leave their “lovely” comfort-zone, we are accustomed to it, it is familiar.
Even if we know that the old way of doing things doesn’t work anymore and we must change it, we want to approach to it smoothly, gradually, it would be better, indeed, if someone else will do it for us.
This happens every time to people that come from a traditional project management environment who are called to face the new agile discipline: most of the time they know very well the benefits of it, what kind of improvement it can bring and furthermore they know that agile is, above all, about changing their mindsets, their habits.
Initially, they make the error of thinking that agile is primarily a matter of using the right techniques and tools; they start to ask about which tool is better to manage the product backlog, which other tool can be used to write and decompose the user stories or, yet, what tool can be used to manage the task board in an electronic way.
Even in these cases, don’t give up!
Continue to explain the value of managing the user stories with index cards (face-to-face communication, direct negotiation, establishing a sense of trust with the customer), furthermore, that attaching and moving the tasks directly on the taskboard, during the daily meeting, is a ceremony, a moment where the team continue to learn about the project, the product, the other team members.
And, again, go on stressing the fact that the product backlog grooming activity is an important one, which must be done together with the product owner: directly, face-to-face.
What is paramount, in my opinion, is that the team and the other stakeholders, should really and honestly understand that agile is mainly a matter of collaboration and short-feedback and that is better to avoid the use of any remote and asynchronous communication tool, except for particular situations (distributed teams, maybe?).
When they realize that doing agile means, primarily, to change theirselves and how they did things so far, lot of doubts raise and even the better, the more detailed and the more honest explanation, is not able to convice them 100%,
That could be the time to use the Force Field Analysis tool, with some little adjustments to make it funnier.
First of all I ask a representative of the team, better if s/he is the most skeptical, to come at the whiteboard.
Then I ask the whole team to think at the agile transition as a journey, navigating the sea by boat (representing SCRUM) where the team is represented by the sail.
Actually what I ask to the member, is to draw the sea, the boat, the sail and to write on the hull of the boat the name of the agile discipline and on the sail the the name of the team.
Now it’s time for the team to elicit what advantages, benefits, strengths, agile embodies, which they can bring to their workplace, identifying them as the airstreams blowing into the sail, able to push the boat from the start to the finish-line.
These air flows shall be written and drawn on the top left area of the whiteboard (sky).
Then, I ask them to list the drawbacks and the weaknesses of implementing agile in their organization.
These are the contrary forces that work under the hull of the boat as marine drifts; those must be reported on the right bottom area of the whiteboard (sea).
Having this information written on the whiteboard, in front of them, help primarily to find any new advantage or drawback not already written but, more important, allow the team to compare the two groups and really understand how to cope with them.
The final part of the “game” is, to think how to exploit any single strength (opportunity) and for each drawback how to smooth, adjust, avoid or even accept it (risk), in order to let the boat reach the new land of agile where better results are awaiting for them.
Someone could ask: why cannot continue the old way of representing the force field analysis? The one that uses the tabular representation of it?
An explanation is that using metaphores (the journey, the sea, the boat, etc.) help people to better explain their feelings, abstracting from the reality and finally helps the brain in the process of memorization of concepts, emotions and ideas.
Be the the new year, an inspiring one! (AJRX49CFX279)