Agile without spin
Agile in the IT area means short iterations, excellent communication and collaboration between members of the development team, and internal management without unnecessary hierarchy. How do these rules translate into everyday work? Małgorzata Kojro-Piotrowska, Agile transformation leader at EDC (engineering design center), talks about the impact of agile on the working environment.
What is agile to you?
Many people understand agile as using a framework (usually scruma) or its components and following its principles. This means working in iterations, regularly reviewing the product produced and the value delivered, collecting feedback, reflecting on how to work, removing obstacles and looking for improvements.
However, in my opinion, agile is more than just following guidelines without reflection. It is extremely important to understand where these principles come from and what Agile values are associated with them.
And where do they come from and what are the values?
The scrum highlights five values: commitment, focus, openness, respect and courage. If they are acknowledged by managers not only in theory, but also in practice, then employees pay more and more attention to them and begin to appreciate them. In this way, a culture is formed that makes people drive themselves to act without external pressure. The creation of a friendly working environment-inspiring and motivating, translates into better results at the team level, and this consequently positively affects the results of the entire company. This cultural expression is our goal, to which we aspire.
Could you give an example of how agile values affect the day-to-day operations of a team?
Let’s say we’re working on developing a product. If there is an atmosphere of openness and mutual respect, then people will be more willing to share their observations, doubts and will be easier to receive feedback from others. This allows you to identify areas for improvement and change. Without a sense of security and mutual respect, people will avoid speaking in a common forum. This will lead to a dead end, instead of admitting that it is time to draw conclusions and change direction.
Starting from the premise that everyone has the best intentions, and the necessary business evolve during the work on the project, we know that investigation to the target will be carried out by trial and error, and that you can not immediately count on the perfect product. The task of the organization is to create conditions that are friendly to the exchange of views and creativity.
How do we get there?
Scrum Masters, as well as managers and HR department help with this. m.in. focusing on building and strengthening permanent, long-term collaborating teams. In our opinion, a team is more than a group of people, and the transformation of several individuals into a team is a long-term process. Bringing together competent employees, putting them side by side and giving them a common purpose is just the beginning. With the support of a Scrum master, acting as a coach, people learn how to work together, effectively and in a good atmosphere. We don’t have any project managers. We strive to ensure that teams are independent, self-organizing and self-sufficient, i.e. with all the necessary competencies.
What other working conditions should be met so that the organization can say that it is acting in accordance with agile?
Rather, agile is a direction of action, a goal that can be approached. It is important to build a sense of security and understanding the purpose of your work, sharing the vision of the product you are creating. A steady pace of work is also important. The overtime and heroic efforts often found in traditional cascading projects are short-term and short-sighted, leading to burnout and fatigue. With the agile approach, stress can also occur, but we try not to let it be our main driving force. Work on the product is divided into short, equal-length iterations (sprints), which supports the maintenance of a constant rhythm, systematicity and thus… reduces stress.
By adding flexible working hours, with a strong commitment and sense of responsibility from all members of the team, we increase the chances of creating a valuable product that our customers expect. We operate more efficiently and in a better atmosphere.
Sounds like an idyll.
We’re trying [śmiech]. Many employees stay with us for years, and when asked why they answer that it is thanks to the culture of the organization.
Thank you for talking to me.