Before anything other, I've given in and joined Substack. You can find me and a bunch of exclusive videos and writings at duena.substack.com and this article has its juicy bits continued on there if you care to have more backstage meat on the DevOps goss bone.
In a conversation with an exec last week I found myself saying “It’s pretty awesome to see organisations like yours who do all the right things”
Amused CTO “Do we?”
“Yeah I was impressed how little resistance you have towards all ceremonies and the principles of Agile”
“Oh I see, well if I’m honest, I don’t know if I would have taken them down that route”
“How do you mean? What other route is there nowadays in making software?”
“Oh, there are plenty. At the end of the day, this Agile thing just goes through phases of trendiness and in our particular enterprise it was already in place when I took over or I would have rather had us birth our own Fragile”
Said CTO knows I am going to anonymously quote him today. He answered my request for permission with “Totally, I can’t be the only one feeling this way”. At first, I was up in arms. Here’s a real-life tech leader who is telling me straight up that he’s not a fan of agility. Insanely risky stance in this day and age, right?
Maybe not. Now don’t get me wrong, if his point would have been that he wanted an organisation that was 100% waterfall with armies of Prince certification owners reinforcing command and control and sequential thinking and technology creation then yes, that would have indeed been crazy. Or if he had some form of a blanket statement to justify some deep-seated hatred of Agile. But he meant neither, he meant he wishes he would’ve forged his own road.
I only realised that’s the case when I asked why he hadn’t pushed for his own model.
“They weren’t there, too new to Agile. To help me forge the best hybrid to fit our particular road we all would have had to have been at the same level of understanding of the principles while also being savvy and cunning about both immediate and longer-term business needs.”
“Are you saying they’re “Too Agile?” I asked
“Ha! No, no such thing. Maybe we are “Indiscriminately Agile” and what do you call it? Not “from the heart”
In a sense, I can absolutely see it. Anyone who has not been able to reach a genuine mentality change towards non-sequential decoupled thinking, rapid iteration and a thirst for experimentation and speed of execution will simply be “doing Agile by numbers’ and going through the motions without the internal impetus and they are in no shape to be critical about either the philosophy or the process to understand how to apply it to their specific situation.
By contrast, if the tech organisation was composed of seasoned agilists then being creative within the confines of the theoretical tenants of the ideology would have been much easier.
I asked what he was doing about it. He said “first and foremost work on raising people’s confidence and self-esteem and their team’s psychological safety”. Why? “So that they learn to trust their instincts and judgement again and to offer considered and alternative points of view even if they go against the grain. Once they get there they’ll ask me about our own fragile/hybrid themselves one day soon and then we can build sustainably.”
Indeed. A simple but powerful reminder: we can’t ever build sustainably in the absence of the safety and passion foundations. It’s only when the team’s and the organisation’s minds and hearts all align and all passionately row in the same direction that any success can be expected.
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“Nothing other than sustained, habitual, EQed people work at the team level aka “the human work” done BY THE TEAM will improve any organisation’s level of Psychological Safety and therefore drop their levels of HumanDebt™.”
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