Apr 5, 2007

The Value of an Agile Refresher

As is the case in any organisation over time people come and people go. If you're in a growth situation then hopefully more people come than go. So what happens when the people coming and going are developers, testers and BA's? What happens when those people are entering an agile environment for the first time? How do they adjust when they come from either a cowboy world or a waterfall world?

If you're organised then you probably have an induction process where you give people a run through of the processes - what is Scrum, what are the principles you live by, what are the things you value, and so forth. Unfortunately, even if you have a good induction process, you probably find that most people don't really find their feet for a month or so and much of what they took in during the induction is completely lost on them. For people without an agile background the transition to agile is quite jarring and represents a large mind shift; combined with joining a new organisation, learning a new product, and meeting new people it's no wonder they struggle at times. As a result many people start out with the right intentions and think they get all this agile stuff, but soon the comfortable ingrained behaviours of years gone by eventually resurfaces and they start exhibiting behaviours that are a well intentioned mix of the agile and non-agile practices.

Having a large influx of new people can also cause problems. It can easily trigger existing people to fall back into their old ways for a time and a team can lose it's identity, direction, effectiveness and ability to deliver on it's commitments. Much of the good work a team has done in establishing itself can be quickly unravelled.

So what do you do? I don't know about you but since I've just seen this happen with one of my teams I'm going to do an agile refresher with all my staff.

It's not going to be just a repeat of things they've seen before or reiterating the processes they are expected to follow but rather a reminder of why we do the things we do. The guiding principles, the fundamentals is it were that underpin the day to day. For the newbies it's a chance to go over the things they were introduced to in week 1 and match up what they do with what happens (or at least; is meant to happen).

For the experienced staff it's an opportunity to review the principles, marry them up to what actually happens and to hopefully come up with gaps where theory doesn't match practice and do something about it.

I'm running the refresher in a bit over a week and we'll see how it goes and how much value there is in it. If it's effective I'll make sure I run one of these for every new staff member about 3-4 weeks after starting.

Stay posted and I'll let you know how it goes.

P.S. If you've done this sort of thing yourself I'd love to hear from you.

2 comments:

  1. Very interested to read how this went

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Michael, the follow up post on how things went is now available - just follow the link.

    ReplyDelete