By Soma Bhattacharya
The entire purpose of creating a process is to ensure that the roadmap is followed. Everything is supposed to unfold as planned and predicted.
But following the status quo has always been a problem for me, because we should have the courage to break it when we know it can be done better. In most cases we don’t, because that’s how we are mentally wired.
Why do we follow the regular path? Why do we never think of breaking the process? I recently read the book The Pathless Path: Imagining a New Story for Work and Life by Paul Millerd, and that led me to believe that there are people who are questioning the status quo (of course, the percentage is very low, but still there).
Process in most organizations or teams is something that, once determined, is just part of the routine. Numbers and reports come up every month, but no one takes the time to actually look at and question them. When that’s the path we take, the meaning of every ceremony or sync-up or meeting gets lost. Now we just do them because we are supposed to.
So, does the process really lead you anywhere? Self-discovery? Team bonding? Dynamic teamwork? Better thinking? If the answer is no, it’s time to change the process.
Process for me triggers thinking. So instead of looking into the “tasks to get done” every day, do you want to replace it with something else? Maybe look at team deliverables with detailed data? When you run a team survey, do you want to include sensitive questions like, “Are you experiencing burnout?” And instead of pushing back the evitable, we try to create a system that allows everyone to develop insights into their own (and the team’s) performance.
Here are some things to think about:
Replace the standard three daily standup questions with better questions, so the work you do is acknowledged. Focus on the work done as much as you focus on what needs to get done.
Team retrospectives can be done with anonymous surveys to bring out better inputs that actually improve team health. Remember, happier teams = better outputs.
During planning, look at how much churn happens every sprint, and why. What can be done to reduce it? Is any rework taking a toll on teams?
Encourage everyone to question the planning, and come up with better plans (especially the newcomers—they need to feel engaged and listened to).
Don’t be afraid to bring in a new way of thinking or planning if it works for everyone.
Agile is for everyone, not just for team leads and domain experts. When everyone participates, they feel included and acknowledged—and the process brings out the best.