Humanizing Agile

Agile methods go beyond business; even looking human from a different perspective.

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The best part of my professional life is that I’m expected to grow and expand my knowledge of project management skills continuously. While I was hired because of my PMP, there was an expectation that I wouldn’t remain “just” a PMP. My manager was looking out for my professional growth and for a teacher, someone to help hone the skills of the team. Well, the pandemic put a damper on that.

So those who can’t teach, learn! (Or something like that? 🤷‍♂️ ) And learn I have. After taking a stab at Python and Excel’s PowerPivot to keep up with my engineering peers' analytic skills, I decided to pivot (see what I did there) and solidify my longtime use of Agile practices; I’m preparing to sit for my PMI-ACP. While doing my daily reading, flashcards, and generally banging my head upon the desk, I’ve come to realize that the creators of the Agile Manifesto were indeed human.

Take away the business aspect of Agile via Scrum, XP, ScrumBan, etc. and what’s left is generally Agile doing its best to mimic life as it should be. For instance, there’s a huge emphasis on servant leadership and ensuring people generally feel good (safe) about what they’re doing and when they do it.

As a longtime practitioner and critic of leadership (face it, we all are), I’ve taken comfort in the fact that empathy and a sense of “do the right thing for the team” are being taught to such a large audience. In fact, even my previous employer, the U.S. Coast Guard, has been sending people to get trained in Agile methodology via a ScrumMaster certification (seriously, they waited until after I left). This gives me hope that if my peers within the CG are training on the human aspect of leadership, it’s surely being realized as a positive across the globe.

Again, taking away the business aspect (or software for that matter) and concepts such as MoSCoW (see bottom) work in everyday terms. “Ok, kids, we need to get the house cleaned before Mom gets home; we Must do this, you Should do that, etc.” Put up a Kanban/Scrum Board, and you have your chores task list.

My point is that the Agile world of work isn’t that far removed from everyday life. I suspect that the goal of creating the standard and subsequent methodologies was along of lines of “you don’t have to be an ass to get the job done.” When it comes time for you to start learning the Agile way, remember, now’s your time to help each other get the task done. This is the humanization of Agile.


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MoSCoW Method; Must have, Should have, Could have, Would like to have.