When I came back, I observed that my friend was little upset. “Ebin, this discussion is getting longer! You are behaving like a TV serial director.”
I could relate to his feeling. “I am sorry. It is not intentional. I was trying to set the context. I think what we have now is pretty good. Let’s pick a cup of coffee and settle somewhere.”
We found a comfortable place.
I continued, “Before telling you about the “Fun” part, let me tell you what “Agile” is. Little background about Agile will help you to understand better.”
He was in complete agreement. “Yes, Yes. You read my mind.”
“Fantastic”. I continued, “Agile is a philosophy. I would say a way of life. The philosophy talks about some very basic values and principles, such as, Trust, Respect, Relationships, Open communication, Transparency, Collaboration, Focus, Courage, Openness, Commitment, Continuous Improvement, Early Feedbacks, etc. Now you tell me, any of the above mentioned values has any connection with software industry?”
He looks surprised. He said, “Not at all. These are some foundational human values. I suppose everyone live by those. Are you trying to say that, you develop software with these values? I am confused! How is it connected with software? Are you calling these values as “Agile”?”
I was waiting for that. “Good question. That is why I said it is a way of life. Agile is more about a reminder for us to get back to basics and stick to the fundamentals values when we do software development. I will tell you how it applies in the software context. Before that I have a question for you. Where do you see these values in action?”
He said, “Everywhere. At home, with friends, relatives, I think these are so fundamental that we live by those in all walks of life.”
I leaned towards him and said, “Now I will share a secret with you. My job as an “Agile Coach” is more about reminding my fellow colleagues about how we can apply these fundamental values in software development! Let us consider the challenges mentioned by your friends as an example.”
He nodded in agreement. I continued, “The first challenge mentioned was “Unrealistic deadlines and targets”; in my perspective, it is just a symptom of lack of couple of fundamental values, such as, Trust, Transparency, Open communication, Relationship with stakeholders, Courage to speak. When people don’t trust each other, they fall into and illusion that they get more by asking more. It is a lose-lose proposition.
The second challenge was “Communication issues”; in my perspective, this is a symptom of lack of collaboration with customer. If you are not considering the customer as your partner (constructive partnership) customer will not have any opportunity to discuss their problem with you. Only the customer can tell us what business problem they face. Identifying a solution should be a collaborative effort with an intention to win-win.
The last one you mentioned was “Corporate politics”; in my perspective, it is a signal for lack of mutual respect and organizational culture. If the organization promotes individual heroism over team work or competition over collaboration, this can happen. It is essential to build a culture of mutual respect. Leaders should focus on building trust, transparency and good relationship with and within employees. Hope you have heard the saying “If you take care of your employees, the employees will take care of you!”
He interrupted me saying, “Ebin, it seems like you have some different point of view on these matters. Whatever you just said make total sense to me, it is more like commonsense. I wish, my other two friends, to whom I spoke yesterday to be here to discuss further. I strongly feel that it can benefit them. Do you mind me inviting them as well to our discussion?”
I felt happy about that suggestion. I get to meet two more people. I agreed with him.
He said he will talk to them and let me know the time and venue.