We come across many ways to become agile in our organisations, to name a few ways – Scrum, Kanban, XP, XDE and more. We want to become agile by being reactive rather than proactive, so that we can embrace change. We want to provide value, that is the goal. Being agile is one of the means to achieve that goal, not a goal in itself. Same goes for lean approaches which tries to reduce waste, a mean to provide value, the goal. Therefore, “elders” in this context are “scared and healed” thought leaders rather than traditional mindset driven older generation.
So why suddenly elders need respect? Aren’t we respecting them already? Hard to say really, as many of us say we do but may not really mean it, unconsciously. Even educated professionals may think they do but they don’t as they are too busy reinventing the wheel either because their training was not up to the mark or they are returning a favour to an old pal. I heard someone saying the other day – “My friend told me that Scrum slows them down, so we tried Kanban instead which turned out to be a disaster.. agile sucks in general anyway”. You know instantly, they have never understood the values and principles, so forget about the events and activities which binds it together.
Reason why, among traditionally trained professionals we hear so many discussions like – “Scrum is terrible“, “Kanban is the new Scrum” and “XP sounds like exactly the wrong way to go” and many more. Community members who say these, may have never seen it working in the first place OR don’t want to improve OR have seen a bad implementation which focused on goals like “Agile” or “Lean” – they may not realise that the goal is to “Deliver Value” and agile/lean helps you provide the value but not THE goal to show off.
So what any of these have to do with “Respecting Elders”? Well, the above is exactly what you get when you don’t respect the work the founders/creators aka the elders have carried out, number of times they have failed (learned) and amount of sweat they wiped in their lifetime. Most of us don’t spend time actually implementing a method “by book” in the first place. Learning curve is a waste for them and don’t even get me started on how some likes to bend the rules while calling it a “Flavour” of XYZ. This reminds me of a very interesting quote –
Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing ~Salvador Dalì
We need to get into the mindset of learning, mastering and transcending. Yes, I am talking about ShuHaRi. I bet a lot of us may have heard about it, if not you have a link now. Shu is where you imitate without worrying about why you are doing it. Trust the research which has been done for years (some more than your age) and atleast give it a chance.
20 years experience in traditional techniques, does not make you an elder in mordern approaches – unless you have invented/created a better approach !
True elders have spent almost all of their professional life creating the agile/lean principles and practices, if you will. Then “By Book” should be your baseline, unless how can you criticise something you know nothing about? Once you know what by book means, then you can ask yourself if this is the right approach for your organisation or not. Nothing is a silver bullet but these are atleast “a” bullet to hit your targets, from which you gain experience and modify accordingly.
Some Examples of unintended disrespect:
“We have introduced Scrum before and hired a Scrum Master. He ended us hiring a Product Owner who replcaed our BA who was sufficient enough and much more cost effective. The team’s output slowed down since and 1 month later we realised we don’t want Scrum.”
“We have an electronic Kanban board where most of the items are blocked so we started to work on new items. The testers are uselessly slow and we ended up with nearly 20 items in testing swimlane. The developers were awesome though, they worked on all items in time but were kept getting blocked by the testers.”
“We tried TDD and wasted much of our time testing before writing the code while pair programming. We ended up with 90% test coverage but a plethora of defects which should have been caught by Unit tests during CI. So, we are now concentrating more on automated selenium tests after development.”
“We don’t need retrospectives as we never get where it adds value. What’s the point of revisiting past when we can use the time to concentrate on future?”
“In our Kanban board, we have a WIP limit 4 but we change it every week according to our need. Kanban says we can change the WIP limit anytime, as long as we visualise the workflow.”
“Our product owner needs to write user stories in Given/When/Then unless I have no idea what he asks me to build. He needs coaching so we developers can do our job faster. I think working as a Scrum Master alongside is taking a lot of his time.”
“BDD is just a language defining the behaviour and nothing else. Stories should be in BDD unless it is not Scrum, correct me if I am wrong.” (P.S: He did get corrected with a mandatory day long BDD workshop, he asked for it.)
“We need all the daily scrums happening between 9 till 10am, for all our teams. The project manager is only free during that window.”
You get the picture. These are very few examples among a million out there (Feel free to add more examples on comments). The elders are never mentioned but their experiences are challenged and disrespected everytime someone use these phrases in any format. Lack of knowledge is to blame or is it?
Respect these elders, we don’t need to fail the same way they did and learned. We have the wheel, we just have to use it and keep applying the WD40 (common sense) when required.