An Agilist’s Journey Away From Face-to-Face

So once again, our world as we have known it, has suddenly changed. Almost overnight we went from being present, in person, and available in the room, to now being sheltered in place and not sure what happens next. As someone who has always tried to be present and available our new world changed how we do business and how we function.

For me switching to the working #remotely just didn’t seem right or possible.  To get the same results I, or my teams had achieved ‘in the room’. As I started my journey, I realized that there was going to have to be some trial and error and lots of frustration.  As a professionally trained Scrum Master and Agile Coach, I understood and embraced #Empiricism and understood it’s application in helping organizations change, but my strength was drawn from ‘face to face’ communications.  

So, it began.  I started by writing down how I handled all the ceremonies in SAFe and Agile. I went back to basics and went through the process one step at a time. First, I went with the way I would want to learn it, and since I am a visual learner it worked for me. This made me consider, would it work for others who are not “visual learners”? I watched my kids as they struggled at first with the remote process, both my college age and my high school age kids had the same issues, they were not used to the remote process. For me it would have to be a very well-planned balance of visual and personal teaching through the eyes of a laptop camera.

I took my time and worked through how I would handle the process in a normal situation.  I considered how it should be broken down in the new world the remote world where tele-commuting #virtualwork are the norm and Zoom and MS Teams are our communications channels. Putting each part of Scrum and Agile into a functioning process that could be taught via remote workshops. Considering not just the delivery of Data, but also how to help my teams’ transition from Data, to Information and eventually Knowledge.  Breaking each process down into small enough bits to make sense but not so small it would seem not important. Also keeping in mind that staying on point and keeping the integrity of the process would be a key component as well. How much is enough and how much is too much, and would it lose the focus in the process?  Balance became the key driver for what is the most important part and maintaining focus on it but not losing sight of the lesser details that hold the whole process together and enable everyone to consume and embrace it.

Taking each part of the whole process apart and putting it together helped me to understand that it can be presented in different forms with the acceptable results. It is not always necessary for us to be present and available. There are several different channels that we can learn through. We must embrace and leverage them together, to try to achieve what we typically achieve in person, face to face. What we may have thought can only be done the way we learned can suddenly be turned into a whole new avenue of learning and teaching. A New opportunity! Our world being “disrupted” has brought us to realization of the fact that normal is what we make it. We can let circumstance dictate to us how circumstances unfold and how ‘work’ is supposed to be done, but the people with vision and perseverance find a way to get it done. When Scrum and Agile started people said it won’t work, it can’t be done, yet here we are. Change is constant and coming, so the ability to take these processes and turn them into a different channel of learning has deepened my understanding and appreciation of the process. If we stay true to the process, how it is learned, and embrace disruption for competitive advantage, we can be ever changing but the result will be the proof that achieve the outcomes we seek and innovate as well!

How long will the “new normal” last? No one really knows.  Even if they did, the one constant is there will always be change. If we change, we learn and we adapt, and are willing to embrace the change, then we will always find a way to succeed!

A special guest post from Todd Reed