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The 12 Agile Principles. Part Two.

This is the second part of the blog series were we discuss the 12 Agile Principles. In this post we will focus on principles 4-6.

4. “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

I recently attended a workshop with Woody Zuill around Mob Programming and it really opened my eyes up to just how powerful it can be for a whole team to be working on the same computer at the same time in the same place. The whole team! That included the Product Owner who is the representative of the business and customer needs for the team.

Now the Product Owner did not sit all day every day with the team, that would be unrealistic, how would they ever learn more about the customer and business requirements if they spent all their time with the team? What they did do is ensure that they spend some part of their day, every day, with the team.

This kind of access to the person that makes decisions around the product they are working on is vital. It gives them real guidance and focus on what is important. The more time the Product Owner can spend with the team on a daily basis, the less time is needed in rigorous planning meetings.

5. “Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.”

This principle seems to be more aimed at the management structure around the team than the team itself. Step 1, ensure you have motivated people, step 2 give them what they need, step 3 leave them alone to work their magic.

How do you ensure you have motivated people? Dan Pink in his book “Drive” shows us there are 3 main facets to motivation in knowledge workers: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. That is, give them the Autonomy to have some say in how they do their work, don’t micromanage them. Let them have Mastery over their craft, pay for them to go on courses or conferences, let them play with new tech when the opportunity arises. Sometimes the hardest to help the team with is the Purpose, so try to explain to the team how they are going to change peoples lives by working on this product, what a difference it’s going to make.

6. “The most efficient and effective method of information to and within a development is face-to-face conversation.”

In this day and age face to face isn’t often possible. Agile people have for years been preaching the need for teams to be co-located, and whilst it definitely does have its benefits, technology has enabled us to work remotely, and a certain virus has forced us to at least give it a try. If you want to learn more about remote facilitation I can highly recommend visiting the Remote Coaches for tips and tricks.

When it comes to this principle I always think of the communication effectiveness graph which can be found here:

Often we find the team will start with an email conversation and escalate up towards face to face as the need arises. Maybe an email isn’t responded to in time, so they make a phone call, maybe the phone call didn’t give them the info they need so they book a meeting. What we actually want to encourage is to start with face to face first, and if that isn’t possible then work your way backwards to a form of communication that is possible, so use this model as a decision tool rather than an escalation tool

Well I think thats enough for today, as always I look forward to your feedback, let me know if you are enjoying this series and if there is anything else you take from these particular principles.