Sharing Session: A Place Called Home

Overview

21st September 2018 was a special day for me.
I got the chance to speak in front of lots of Agile Practitioners in Agile Impact Conference 2018.

When I was asked to give an abstract on what the talk will be, I was thinking of something simple but probably become the issue of most Agile Practitioners.

After some considerations, the topic that popped up in my mind was A Place Called Home.

Common issues I found by my own experience and discussing with some other practitioners were the lack of supporting environment that is healthy enough for scrum teams to learn and grow.

In this article I will share my presentation from the conference and you will see what are the things I (and my other colleagues) had done to create a supportive environment for our scrum teams.

Disclaimer:
The presentation is all about experience sharing, you will read most of the content are personal experiences. Less theoretical.

The Slides

Below is the screen shot of all the slides. I will share the detail below by grouping the slides with each related sub topic.

The Power Point can be downloaded here: A Place Called Home – to be published

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Introduction (Slide 1 – 4)

I will skip the introduction slides since those slides are just too interesting to share 😁

What Is A Home (Slide 5 – 6)

Do you know what’s the difference between a house and a home?

For me, home is a place where you’re welcome, a place to grow, a place where it is okay to make mistake, a place where you feel comfort, accepted and protected.

While house is more to the building

One attendee of the talk in AICON18 shared that a home relates with heart and feeling while a house is not.

Why Do You Need A Home? (Slide 7 – 11)

There are some reasons why we think we need a home in our organization.

In the journey of our transformation, we faced these issues:

We grow too fast

Let me give you the analogy
Flowers are beautiful.
But if it grows too fast and nobody is taking care of it, it wont look so nice anymore.

Our organization started Agile about 2 years ago, we intentionally wanted to start small, but all of a sudden we realized that we grow too fast!

We started from 2 teams only and suddenly became 12 teams!
Someone need to take care of that,

People are not ready

Yes, can you imagine that? The change was massive and we were not ready.
We did not have scrum masters, no product owners, less understanding about what scrum is all about.

I shared some of the stories in my previous talk in other place. You can find it in  Sharing Session: Implementing Agile Transformation

Insecurity

Being not ready but somehow forced to be ready creates Insecurity.
People are basically fear of change, and by doing transformation, we create that change.

Forced to be grown up

Realizing those issues we knew that we need to grow gradually.
And where you can grow in the right sequence?
At home!

That’s why we need a home to grow
With the right environment, we hope that our SM, PO, Dev Team can grow accordingly

People Fail

Let’s do the math.

(Growing + Learning) + Insecurity = Failure

What we need to do is creating a home, a place where it’s okay to fail.
No one is going to blame you for that.
Everyone will work together to work on the failure towards something better

How We Build A Home (Slide 12 – 16)

I will share some of the things we’d done in the office to “build a home”

These are still far from perfect.
You can say that these are part of our experiment to make our workplace like home.
And if some are fail, we will learn from it

Community Of Practice

This was our first experiment. Making a community of practice.

The idea behind it was to make a community where all SM and PO can share and learn from each other by sharing and caring.

Our community of practice was held every Tuesday.
Do you know what happen?
IT DID NOT WORK!!! 😀 😀 😀

Few people found it useful.
Most people found it boring.
Some people just came because they have to.

I could say that our community of practice was DEAD!

Was it stopping us? No!
It was an experiment, and if we fail, we learn

Rejuvenate Scrum Practice

One of our Scrum Master came up with this idea, create a challenge to make the community of practice more interesting. To bring LIFE into it.

She (this is her linkedin: Rituparna Kar’s Linkedin) came up with 3 months challenge called Rejuvenate Scrum Practices.

We provided trophy for the best team of the week, best team of the month.
We provided coffee for all by the end of the month.
We included the development team to also showcase their work to be shown in front of other team.
We even used kahoot for one of the challenge month.

Bottom line is we do everything we can think of to bring community of practice back to life!

Was it working? I would say yes 😀

There are more sparkle now in the community of practice. But this is an ongoing process. We can’t stop here. We need to do more experiment to continue with the progress.

Trust

Apart from all initiatives we can think of, one important foundation that we should have when we want to build a home is TRUST.

Without trust, all your effort will be useless.

Offering Hand

We want our team to grow and be mature. In the maturity process they might need some help, advice or maybe just a pair of ear to listen.

So we openly told them that we are here to help.
If we don’t know how to solve their problem, let’s find the answer together.

We planted in their mind that no one knows better than anyone but if you need us, we’re here.

There was a case when one of the team member asked me to come to their sprint retrospective.
I told him “if that’s okay with the whole team, I will, but as an observer only.”

There was also a case when a team member asked me “do we really need scrum master? can we just run the sprint without him?”
You can read the story here: A bug in my blanket

Bottom line is we are ready for them and they are not alone.

Challenge (Slide 17 – 21)

You can’t make EVERYONE happy 😀

Familiar with the quote above?
Well yes, even with all of the things we’ve done, we faced some challenges.

  • Some people threw cynical comments
  • Some people felt that they’re already in a good condition and didn’t need any help
  • Some people just prefer to not be part of anything related to scrum 😀

But bear in mind, my friend

CHALLENGE is only a CHANGE with “LLE” as the additional

I embrace challenge as a path for the change
Change for a better future

The agile transformation future

Bonus Track

As the closure of the presentation, I showed the video of my daughters learning how to ride a bike.

In the video, they can ride the bike by themselves.
But to reach that point, me and my husband put lots of effort!
Back pain, sweaty, catching breath, giving support, time, etc.

These are what we did to help them:

  • Build secure feeling
    We ensure them that they are save. We have their back. They will not fall from the bike because we will catch them when they about to fall.
  • Okay to fail
    We told them, it’s okay if you still can’t do it now.
    Try.
    Learn to get the balance.
    You will be able to ride the bike soon.
  • Practice makes better
    Remind them to practice is not always easy. Sometime they just don’t want to practice, sometime they give up.
  • Encourage
  • Release gradually once and a while
    Once they’ve got the balance, we release them a little bit, but still running beside them to give them the safe feeling that they will not fall.
  • Never compare
    We tried not to compare if the older can do faster than the younger or if the younger practice more than the older. They have their own pace of learning. We must respect that.

By this video you will see the relation.
My daughters are like Scrum Teams that are learning to how scrum works.
Sometime they fail, sometime they just tire, sometime one team adapt faster than the other, sometime they just need support, but in the end I believe that in the end every of our Scrum Team can enjoy the scrum way of working.

Closure

I’m not saying that I have succeed creating a place called home for our scrum teams.

We are still on the journey.
Some people felt the benefit, some not.
Some people against it, some support.

But that’s not the issue.
The most important thing is that we keep on learning, keep on finding the right method, keep on being creative and innovative to help our team feel at home and grow together.

The things that I share here might not be 100% applicable in your environment.

You are the one who knows your environment, your people, the culture there.

Find my presentation as an inspiration to help you creating your environment as A Place Called Home.

Cheers 🍻

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