With great power, comes great responsibility

By 2nd November 2018Agile, Transparency

In 2015 a colleague and I gave a presentation at the Agile Africa Conference called “The Agile Guide to the Enterprise” which shared some of the learnings we had with implementing Agile at RMB.

Powerful tool

Of all the things I had acquired from my Agile journey, the use of an Agile board was and still is my favourite. I even joked that I use it to manage my family!

For me, it is the single most powerful tool for projects and teams – even for non-developer and operational teams. It brings transparency, accountability, self-governance and efficiency. It also allows you to “read” the state of a team without asking any questions.

Not for everyone

But it is not for everyone. The unexpected learning for me was around the psychology of how exposed and inadequate this tool can make one feel.

The board requires team members to be courageous and resilient. We know that Agile processes are designed to shape behavior in order to create successful, effective and productive teams. Agile teams are also encouraged to ‘fail fast and often’, so that team members can learn and develop their skills. But the board makes it very easy to see who isn’t coping or up to standard and that can be very distressing for the impacted person.

My experience was that this had a very negative impact on the team and project as the impacted members started to disengage and became obstructive. They did eventually self-eject from the team, but not before damage had been done to both them, from a self-confidence perspective, and the team, from a delivery perspective.

So, use the board with care, irrespective of your role in the team. Like Spider Man said: “With great power, comes great responsibility.”.

by Candice Nolan



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