Agile: It's about Common Sense

Updated: Jan 20

Agile Team Success

One by one companies utilize efforts to become more Agile in their approach. In so doing, I am met time and time again with companies across various industries where people tell me that I just don't understand what is going on in their company. They are different. They are unique. There's no way that this whole "Agile thing" can even work for them. Now early on in my career I may have been inclined to listen to these naysayers and think how do I adapt to what they know and what they think is best. But as you have seen companies and organizations across countless industries, the more you see, the more you realize how similar problems really are for these people and their organizations.

I have found myself saying how Agile is about decisions making sense. And I oftentimes observe the decisions are based on Common Sense. If you find your team is lacking in Common Sense, fret not. You can find it for them at Wal-Mart on aisle 9 about half-way down on the top shelf... obviously it isn't that simple. But when someone is making something more difficult, you need to make it easier for them to see how simple things can really be for them.

There are big problems that I commonly find myself pushing teams, ScrumMasters, Product Owners, Managers and Executives to think more openly about the simplicity behind the solutions to their problems instead of the complexity they have built up to prevent change. It is small and simple solutions that lead to significant change in life, in business and in everything that we do. Let's look at a couple problems that seem complex.

In working with a team recently that comprised of almost 20 team members, I was surprised to see that their daily stand-ups would result in team members zoning out for periods of time during that crucial ceremony. I even noticed a couple team members actively participating in games on their electronic devices (phones) when their "turn" was finished in the daily standup. It had become a status meeting and everyone dutifully walked in and out of the room at the same time every day to participate in the vocalizing of their work duties.

After observation, I asked the leaders situated around the team for their success (ScrumMaster, Product Owner, Project Manager, Development Manager and Quality Assurance Manager) why the team was so large. I got mixed responses about people needing to hear the same message at the same time. As I pressed further with some "Why" questions, I found some concerns about changing priorities, overlap of responsibilities and at the core... not enough time to perform the core duties of prioritizing a Product Backlog to give the right direction