This year, with everything that was happening, major transformation at client’s, changing jobs and the french election (yes, I was worried for a while), I didn’t propose any topic. Not that I would be selected to speak but a proposal to speak at the conference is always a self-reflecting exercise to crystallise my thinking and a report card of sort of my learning since the last topic. It was also more appropriate to say, I couldn’t put into words what were brewing thoughts in my mind.
On a bus with a fellow coach from Japan to go shopping (of all things), we started talking. If you have conducted training to people who speak a different language than yours or tried to learn a different language, you would find out very quickly 2 things, 1) how to say what you want to say in shorted possible sentence and as clearly as possible 2) you have no understanding or baggage on the language (hence, sarcasm is lost on me, wouldn’t understand the double meaning).
While cutting through all my jibberish in the mind, trying to explain my frustration in coaching this year, I found myself getting from 1 aha moment to another. And that was how I came up with 3 topics I’m excited to share and wanted to propose at the open space. I managed 2 at the open space for which I will share in separate articles.
The 3rd one was about the top 8 things to focus on in the first 10 weeks of agile journey. While on the very long bus ride from west coast to orchard, I rattled on about 5 and couldn’t quite work out which other 3 would be more important. I wanted to ask the audience to help me during open space but decided there were far more interesting topics to attend than to occupy a slot. So I conceded.
Coming back to my aha moments and learning a different language. Learning all these languages wasn’t just for fun (it’s actually not that fun to be in a class, loss for words, especially for me) but it was for me to relate to people in different cultures better and become more efficient in communicating. I learnt about their food, language and culture so I can see their perspective. Agility was about doing things the way it should be, really. Getting to the market faster, learning to do things better and of higher value to the people who uses them. Isn’t that what we wanted when we first started?
Secondly, because I came from a long history of change and talent management & aquisition and not from technology, I didn’t learn agility with the “baggage” of someone who had worked with it and then taught it for years. I had to learn “why” and logic in structure unlike a kid who has learnt to speak a language from birth. And that’s how I learnt agility. I didn’t have to unlearn things, I learnt it in 2010s when the world has started digitisation.
That was how I came to talk about my frustrations and how I came to those topics. Being at war with what it was and reinventing what is becoming and always, coming back to good practices and habits that just work (at it’s purest form). I sincerely believe we just can’t be not agile but we have to keep reinventing our practices to achieve the why.
I love scrum, in it’s simple list of events and artefacts is an opportunity to invent practices to meet the objective. It never ends because the “why” is true. Agilists have to keep reinventing and improve. It is our cause and or being.
I like the story Peter Berhens told at the closing, in an environment to be the best, you have to fight to have a place in agility. It’s not a given or a mandate. And I think that fight is to be constantly better in our delivery, constantly clearer in our objectives, constantly sharper in our understanding.
When I returned to my team this week, a scrum master came up to ask my opinion on something. I asked him, what he thought. He said it smelled a little bad and I said, well, if it looks bad, it smells bad, it probably is bad. Abandon and rethink.
We have to hone our gut feel, sharpen our senses, learning about the newest and clarifying it for use. When you look at it, we’ve been living in distortion from what it should be. Yet in a conference like this, how do we absorb so many things to find crystallisation of thought. That’s why I think, I’ll be reflecting for a while, distilling and adapting till it is not gooey in my mind. I shall be seeking clarification for a while.
Quoting Pete: You’re (I’m) not done!