Agile workflow should be built on creative interactions

Posted on July 9th, 2018

Often agile management project steps and meetings are seen through the workflows and results rather than creativity and social collaboration. For example daily standup turns easily into status meeting where developers simply report their current progress. Or sprint planning becomes a resource planning meeting where activities are simply assigned without enthusiasm or knowledge sharing.

This mostly comes from the management style. If the team leader, product owner or scrum master is more interested about processes, workflows and outcomes than about people, the focus is easily shifting to minor technicalities. The problem is that the team’s possibility to innovate suffers if agile management becomes just a checklist to complete. Developers become factory workers. This might be effective for a while, but never on a long run. That’s because software business is based on creative innovations, not on assembly lines.

The reason why we implement agile frameworks and automated workflows is that we can simplify management, thus forget the technicalities and focus on more important topics: Interaction and social collaboration. Every step in workflow and each event should be seen through the interactions: How to make developers, product owners and stakeholders to face each others effectively and share their current knowledge.

With more interactive approach for example daily status meeting becomes a daily commitment meeting, where developers give small promises to each other. Or sprint resource planning event becomes a negotiation about content vs. goals - how to solve customer’s most urgent challenges with the most cost effective approach based on top priority items from the product backlog.

Actually the whole agile workflow should turn into small interactions rather than work steps. Each interaction allows to share the information and educate people. For example feature review is a moment for feedback, not just to make a quick mandatory quality auditing. To reach this level of collaborative teamwork, the team must think agile methodology more as a mindset rather than just a workflow. Easy to say, difficult to implement.

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K. Tanninen

I'm an Interim Manager, Agile Coach and SaaS Founder. With 20 years of work experience I help global software businesses and distributed teams to perform better.

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