Ever since I started working in Agile, I have been observing my wife’s way of working and how she manages my kids’ dynamic expectations with a sense of correlation of how it can be related to Agile. I thought of mapping my observation to some of the Agile principles as a metaphor.
Based on my observation, why not Scrum teams can be inspired by a mother? Here are my thoughts.
Mother never feels tired:
In order to prepare the kids for school by completing activities such as helping them to prepare for school, cooking food for them, making their clothes ready, polishing their shoes, etc. She does these activities almost every day and she has limited time. If any day she gets delayed in any of these activities, that day kids might be delayed to school.
So this proves the agile Principle #1: “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.”
So the scrum teams should be inspired by mother to deliver “working software” at the end of every sprint continuously by managing their work effectively and with the expected quality. For this, they need to work with close collaboration, better planning, having a proper Definition of Done in place. Their objective should be to achieve the sprint goal always by managing the unpredictability through collaboration and team work.
Mother handles changes very well and she is proactive:
Very often I observe my kids go to kitchen in the morning while my wife is busy in cooking, they ask for some changes in the menu. Most of the times she will not upset the kids but try to change the menu as per their interest by negotiating with them to fit the changes within the available time.
This proves the Agile Principle #2: “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.”
Similarly the Scrum teams also have to change their mindset and understand that the product owner has a flexibility of managing the scope as per the product vision and ROI of the product. This will increase the product success. Of course here they need to remember what Scrum framework recommends about the changes and accordingly they need to respond. So the changes have to be discussed with an intention of how they can be adapted without too much deviating from the sprint goal. This is possible through face to face conversation with the product owner.
Based on what needs to be prepared for next day’s lunch and snacks for kids, most of the times, I observed my wife preparing things like cutting the vegetables, checking what the kids want/like for lunch, snacks, purchasing the items that are not available etc on previous day. This will make her job easy on the next day and the work can be done smooth.
So this proves the Agile Principle #4: “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.”
Principle #6: ”The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”
So Scrum teams should care and give importance for the product backlog grooming so that their sprints will not have turbulences and also they need to work closely with their product owner and give importance to face to face conversation instead of emails.
Mother plans perfect and executes effectively:
If you observe the way Mother planning and execution of her work, it’s amazing. She knows the priorities well, she knows which task takes more time and which tasks take less time and accordingly she starts working on them. She also identifies the tools that help her work completing with expected quality and in the given time. Even though she does same kind of work every day, she does not take it easily and always tries to improve her work.
She cares about the work that is required to meet the timeboxed duration by pushing the “unwanted” work back. This can be done by proper prioritization and assessing the need of the work.
This proves the Agile #8: “Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely”
Principle #10: “simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done is essential”
So scrum teams also should know which story is the highest value story and which is lowest value and accordingly they need to deliver them to make sure working software is delivered at the end of the sprint. They also have to give equal importance to the engineering practices such as: “Continuous integration” and “Test driven development”, “Collective code ownership”, “Refactoring” etc. They always have to strive to deliver rapid value in terms of working software with technical excellence.
Scrum teams also have to understand what is required and what is not required and accordingly they need to push the things that are not required. They need to clearly know what are the requirements that deliver majority of the revenue from the product (80 – 20 Pareto rule). This needs constant communication and collaboration among Product Owner, Team and the stakeholders.
Mother is innovative:
Many a times, I observer that my wife tries to create new recipes by following the sources like You Tube, Google to surprise the kids with new recipes. This will make the kids happy almost all the times. Also mother is a continuous learner even after she gathers great experience and expertise in her area of working.
Principle #9: “Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.”
This proves Agile Principle #11: “The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams”
So the Scrum teams should spare some bandwidth to enhance their cross functional skills and sharpening their technical caliber continuously. It will be good to come up with a team level learning plan among the team by identifying the current primary skills and secondary skills they want to achieve and plan to mentor each other within the team. Key thing is to make it timeboxed and set a target to achieve this with a periodic tracking of the progress.
Team can take support from Scrum Master to get external trainings conducted in case team does not have required skill to train the others.
Mother takes regular feedback:
Even though she does similar kind of work every day, Mother is very keen about asking the kids about the taste of the food, whether they liked it or not. This will help her improving in wherever required. This proves the Agile Principle #12: “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.”
So it is essential for Scrum Teams to have regular retrospective meetings to check where they are good, what needs to be improved so that they can become high performance teams over a period of time. It should not be just like any other meeting, they have to gather the sprint data, generate insights from the data and then come up with action items and prioritize those actions for implementation in upcoming sprints.
One thing the Scrum master has to follow here is to see the trends of the retrospectives outcomes. Things that are working fine should continue work fine and things that are not working well should change and start working fine. This will make the scrum teams to become high performance teams. So maintaining the details of the retrospectives, deriving the trend analysis and come up with suitable solutions and mentoring the teams in those areas will be the responsibility of Scrum Master.
Mother does not get paid:
Whatever great work that mother does, she does not get paid for that. However she takes care of the family very well without expecting anything back.
I know this is hard to digest, but I feel the Scrum teams have to focus on their delivery without worrying much about the salary hikes or promotions etc, so that their work will show what they are capable of the teams. Remaining things will naturally fall in place and make them high performance teams with great success in their lives…