I just led a course in Charleston mostly for people working in/on government or military projects.

I was asked many good questions, and I was not able, in the time allotted (two days) to answer them all as well as the questions deserved.

I have other clients who also have very difficult situations to deal with, but I was and remain very sympathetic with the difficulties they (this government-military group) face. In implementing Agile, for example, it is still very possible although difficult — especially given the surrounding ‘culture.’

First, if my answers ever appear to be disrespectful of the difficulties and challenges faced, my apologies. This was never my intent.

I, like you, have struggled and sweated or worried about how to implement Lean-Agile-Scrum in specific situations. It is indeed hard. In fact, it feels hard, in part because one wants to do it perfectly. Again, if my comments seemed to be flip, they were not said with that intent.

What was I mainly trying to say?

  1. Sometimes, we worry too much. Yes, sometimes we get all in a sweat about an issue and in fact that issue will resolve itself easily in good time ( quickly, even).
  2. Mindset. The first and often hardest thing to change is our own mindset about the problem.
    1. In part, this means we must start by seeing we are ‘right’ and they are wrong. Not in an arrogant way, but more in the core of our being. We hold the truth and therefore the real power, and we are patiently waiting for them (maybe a manager) to get a clue and get out of his fantasy world.This attitude, if not done arrogantly, they still will feel. And it makes them realize, sub-consciously, that they are in the wrong place, and must change. Now, I sympathize with them as people, but not with their wrong ideas.
    2. Understand that we approach certain ideas and issues with very different premises than they. And so, understanding the mindset, look for statements from them that reveal the old mindset so that we can address it. For example, we know we want to optimize delivery to the customer. When they say they want to keep the workers busy, that opens up a conversation about the goals of management. Often I did or will answer a question with something, maybe a sports metaphor, from left field. The reason is to focus on the mindset shift. Not to diminish your issue or question.
  3. Time. Often attendees ask very good and very difficult questions. A good answer would really require two hours of Q&A to be sure I really understood the specifics of their situation. Then another hour to formulate and explain 10 approaches to dealing with a hard issue. In the CSM course, understandably, I do not have time for three hours devoted to one good question. So, I answer briefly. Often I worry later that it can be taken the wrong way by the questioner. I do usually ask, “Did I address your question at all or well enough?” But maybe in specific situations I need to say more to be better understood.
  4. Self-sufficiency. One of the properties of complex adaptive systems is that they ‘solve’ their own problems. Not always in isolation, fully or completely. They learn and adapt. So, in part I am relying on you to use the values and principles discussed (and maybe even some of the practices) to devise your own answers to the problems posed. I have confidence that you can and you will.
  5. There are always impediments. Meaning: We can still be successful even with lots and lots of impediments. Success with waterfall is one example of that. Generally, even though none of us ever reaches perfection, we may say we are having much  success with lean-agile-scrum.

So, I know from experience, even though your question may be about a large impediment for you, even if I do not address it, your team can have better success with Scrum than what you used before. Even if that impediment is not addressed at all.

Imagine that a team has an impediment that stops them in their tracks. I think this is possible. Although, honestly, I have been doing and talking about this for a good while with many people, and I have never seen such a case. With the exception of ‘people’, which are very difficult. (“Our manager won’t let us use Agile.”)

Anyway, if I have seemed less concerned about your issue, it was not that I did not have sympathy, but I did think you could work through it to be successful.

I respect your questions.




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One thought on “Respect

  1. Rich

    It was a very diverse group and lots of questions. Everyone will have their own special set of circumstances, many that you mention above. In the DoD case, Acquisition 5000 and the updates still struggle with the update cycles for today's technology and that especially includes software, so yes, we will always have our own special impediments. Agile is perhaps another tool in the toolkit to help get out what is needed, when it’s needed and while it’s needed. Time is always a precious commodity, and I look forward to the innovative ways that my colleagues use to solve the many impediments/issues/needs/etc. Innovation is our business and we all need to be innovative in our approach to utilizing this new tool – Agile. Regards, Rich


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