My Agile and Scrum journey so far and its impacts on me

So here are some thoughts about my Agile journey and its impact on me (as part of my CSP application)

Some high-level thoughts.

  • Hello, Agile and Scrum
  • My insight into learning and overall understanding and appreciation of Agile/Scrum ideas?
  • What have I really taken to my heart and mind as I embrace Agile/Scrum concepts?
  • How using Agile/Scrum has changed the way I view work?

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” —African Proverb.

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Back in 2003, I started working with software development industry in different companies in various roles. I would say it was a mixed feeling of both agile and traditional ways of working.

For almost seven years, I worked in developing open source VoIP solutions, based on Linux platform. Combining different software products to provide a solution was a pretty fun thing to do. Later, software quality became an interesting topic for me to get some hands-on experience. I liked the overall system thinking from it that helped me to understand the interaction and integration of the different products from the software development lifecycle.

Hello, Agile and Scrum

I was practically introduced to Agile and Scrum in 201. The personal impact that I saw on myself after working few months with Agile was that I felt more engaged and motivated as I was involved during various Scrum events. There was more sense of belonging.

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn” –  Benjamin Franklin

I became more organized, open to trying new things and spent time on those that add value to my life and work. I started using Scrum in setting up my personal development goals too. I visualized the flow in the form of a small Kanban board in excel spreadsheet.

Public speaking skill was next to improve and I joined toastmaster international group at Ericsson AB. I completed competent communicator manual and also got the chance to travel to Denmark to participate in evaluation contest in the public speaking competition. This was a good experience to use while facilitating different Scrum events and to inspire and influence.

In my opinion, the general benefits of Scrum to the team is the change from “I” to “We” perspective. Everyone is here to contribute and give their best. There is no blame game and everyone is responsible. This gelled together and it was and still is a great feeling that I have always enjoyed the most.

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In particular, the Sprint retrospective gives me the opportunity to reflect every 2-4 weeks and what can be improved, as a constant learning exercise. I can voice my opinions and listen to what others have to say. The backlog refinement meeting is a good platform to talk with the product stakeholders who bring the requirements and then inspect-and-adapt it during Sprint review meeting. Scrum also provided benefit through several instances to inspect and adapt both process and product and saving time as well.

Now, as a servant leader aka ScrumMaster (and gravitational pull toward Agile Coaching) since 2016, I focused more on developing the team, my success is totally connected with the success of my team. Scrum and Agile inspired me to educate myself about leadership, exercise it, understand personal and team growth and maturity — and develop self-awareness. Now I am building teams who then build an innovative product and adds value to customer’s business. When I am not developing teams then I develop my self.

By facilitating different workshops and events, I intend to create a fun and a learning environment. People have come back and said thank you, a huge energy boost for me.

My philosophy, to build innovative software products, there is a need to focus and allocate time for building Team(s) as well.

It is the Psychological, not the Physical distance – that makes a team effective.

My insight into learning and overall understanding and appreciation of Agile/Scrum ideas?

I have worked with the phase-based model and then started working with Scrum framework and Agile ideas. It made a sense to me and it is a common sense as well. Sometimes people don’t resist change but being changed. The agile has a shorter feedback loop as compared to phase-based models and everyone is responsible and there is more team ownership than the gated approach of phase models.

To continue learning about Scrum and Agile, I started participating in learning labs, local conferences, online Agile summits, user groups gatherings, Scrum Alliance and other courses and listened to a number of good quality webinars Scrum Alliance. I have also been speaking at few events and promoting the ideas about Agile and Scrum in Sweden and Pakistan, and part of different online coaching networks too.

The key learning was and is through experimentation, adapting the same Scrum events according to the company and team culture while keeping the rules of the game intact.

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Agile promotes experimentation to find a new better way and delivers value in short duration with an iterative and incremental approach. The focus is definitely on creating products, however, it is done by enabling people, more direct interactions than heavy processes which waste a lot of time. On the other hand, Scrum provides a framework that hosts as per required processes by the development team.

In a current rapidly changing market, delivering a feature after 1 year won’t add much value if time to market is lost. Agile promotes that we welcome change as an opportunity and collaborate with the customer what new requirement can add more value and thus this leads to a trusted environment. Value is delivered in an iterative and incremental way that reduces risks as well.

Above all, we learn and try out new ways of doing work, constant reflection and learning!

The Scrum framework provides the possibility to achieve Agile values. A prioritized product backlog has refined user stories on the top that will add maximum value to both customer and product. It also acts as a roadmap as the highest priority refined items are on the top and less priority with less information are on the bottom.

bryan-minear-325881The Sprint length is 2-4 weeks, small steps. During Sprint planning, development team picks up a portion of product backlog and create a Sprint backlog to deliver a potentially shippable product.

Scrum promotes transparency and inspects and adapt opportunities for daily standup, Sprint review, and Sprint retrospective events. Product interment is delivered at the end of the sprint and then sprint retrospective provides an excellent opportunity to inspect and adapt to improving product and process for next coming sprint.

All this is happening in 2-4 weeks Scrum Sprint, not in one or two years/s. Even if something happens totally unexpected then it is highlighted after 2-4 weeks not years. This saves time, effort, money and reduces major risks.

All thanks to Scrum framework and Agile ideas. Simple for solving complex problems.

What have I really taken to my heart and mind as I embrace Agile/Scrum concepts?

To my heart, it is more people focused and there are less command and control. These concepts provide a fertile land for a person to grow and it helped to explore myself.

To my heart and mind, the five Scrum values, really provide a direction with focus and help to create an environment where those behaviors can be exercised.

To my heart and mind, it promotes transparency and creates less work stress and avoids micromanagement.

To my heart, enable and appreciate people and take failures as learning.

To my mind, it gives me opportunity to reflect, learn and adapt

To my heart, It creates a fun environment where the mind can focus and work in openness.

How using Agile/Scrum has changed the way I view work?

Now, I see work more fun and engaging with a purpose, why? Because at the end of the day I don’t think if I was the best but how many people did I manage to help today. What new I learned today that made me better than yesterday and how I can use it for others.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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Scrum and Agile made sense to me and opened my thoughts — and I hope they change my destiny as well. It shifted my focus from product to people and aligned in a way that it now contributes more towards creating innovative products. Now, I have more control over the work and that is with less stress.

“Happiness… consists in giving, and in serving others” –  Henry Drummond

The five Scrum values support me to have a growth mindset and to try new things. It makes me more relaxed, as enabling and serving my team and organization gives me happiness.

So that was my story. How does your Agile/Scrum journey look like and what did you learn from it?

Looking forward to listening to your experiences!

Photo Credits: unsplash.com

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