As a project manager the vast majority of my experience was that of working in a large corporation with teams of developers and testers to work through issues and develop platforms. Although, Agile wasn’t a new methodology for me, when I hit the team at The Code Company, the definition of ‘fast paced’ really changed. For me, the biggest challenge I faced was learning to adjust my processes to operate in a small, dynamic team that turned issues around in a matter of hours or even minutes and operated at warp speed compared to my previous places of work.
The key learning curve for me at this year’s conference was working to understand ‘Agile’ and implementing it in a way, where it was infused in the culture and became a habit of excellence rather than a means to an end. At the conference this year I took off the hat I had worn for years in a large corporation and got ready to admit that, although I had the right experience, the knowledge I had for the web development space was infinitesimally small compared to that of the development team that surrounded me at The Code Company. Therefore, I had to pack my Agile Culture Toolkit dive head on into my new world.
The Toolkit I learnt to pick up was my BRAIN…and I needed to learn to embrace this toolkit and share it with my team in order to build a successful and intrinsic Agile culture in my workplace.
My BRAIN Toolkit is comprised of the following:
B – Banish Fears
R – Relationships
A – Acknowledge Emotions
I – Invest in Experiments
N – Neural Networks
To be truly agile you have to accept that at times there will be mistakes, there will be stressors, there will be problems, but fearing these and avoiding risks with a practice of psychological safety is not going to develop an agile culture. I have to Banish my fears, for me, this is admitting that it is ok if I do not know the answer and it will be ok to try something new!
To have a culture that is Agile and effective your team must have relationships where there is Trust, there is Empathy and there is a culture of feedback. In order to do this we are working on a new weekly tactic where at a team lunch we discuss our highlights and our lowlights, learning to admit our problems and embrace our successes as a team!
To have a successful agile culture we need to acknowledge and accept that not all thoughts and decisions come from a place of the rational, therefore, we need to accept that there is and will always be an emotional base to thoughts and knowledge in the workplace and avoiding this will only be to our deficit.
Invest in Experiments
If someone has an idea, a new or different idea, talk about it, do not dismiss, do not say “that’s crazy”, discuss it, have a talk fest, work through the benefits, value and risks…if there benefits are there, invest in experiments. The only risk you have is not to try!
This is the last piece of my agile culture toolkit…this is the pivotal piece. It is the one I am most challenged by. To embrace my Neural Network means I need to constantly challenge myself, with learning new things, taking on new projects and roles and continually work to stretch and grow my mind and its neural networks. I need to ensure that I do not rest on my experience alone in order to be a successful agile leading project manager.