Manifesto for Helping Others Learn Agile

Note: This is not intended to be an alternate version of the Agile Manifesto, but it was inspired by it. Values and principles are a powerful approach. The fact that this manifesto can parallel the Agile Manifesto is a testament to its endurance.

We are uncovering better ways of helping others learn how to create value for their business and customers. Through this work we have come to value:

Learning Agile over learning frameworks

People learning how to learn over learning a set body of knowledge

Focusing on how people can get their job done over giving them certification

Teaching different Agile approaches over going deeply in one method

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

Principles behind the Learning Agile Manifesto

We follow these principles:

Our highest priority is to help people learn how to learn. This requires achieving an understanding of any underlying principles of what we teach, while recognizing that best practices are only best in certain contexts.

Welcome the needs of the learners, especially the way they learn, even when we discover these after we’ve started our engagement.

Recognize that most trainings are best delivered in small chunks over time. When a multiple day workshop is advisable for focus,discussions should be interspersed with actual work being done under the guidance of the instructor.

All roles must learn together. We must provide them with agreements which focus them or providing true value

Create environments within which people can both work and learn so that they can continuously improve by taking advantage of what is already known to work while being able to invent new methods when needed.

The most effective way to learn is doing actual, meaningful work with one’s peers and having guidance provided as needed.

Demonstrated success in the learners’ own environment is the primary measure of progress.

Effective learning promotes sustainable learning. It must provide a support system after any workshops so that the learners can continue working on their own in an ongoing manner.

People learn best when taught in a way conducive to their method of learning. Instructors/coaches must pay attention to this.

Conveying just what is needed and when it is needed is the most effective way to help people learn.

People learn best when working with their peers.

At regular intervals, trainers and coaches must reflect on their methods to see how to improve them – never blaming poor results on their learners, but always taking responsibility for the results achieve.

Some Thoughts That Pertain To This

“We cannot solve our problems with the methods we used to create them.” – Albert Einstein

“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” – Albert Einstein.

“For every complex human problem, there is a solution that is neat, simple and wrong.” – HL Mencken

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” – Upton Sinclair

“Thus, the task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought about that which everybody sees.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

“Truth Passes Through Three Stages: First, It Is Ridiculed. Second, It Is Violently Opposed. Third, It Is Accepted As Self-Evident.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

“We must set aside our egos and embrace what others have learned so that we may assist our charges by using what is needed instead of insisting we use our own methods. We must acknowledge much of what we know is not correct.” – Al Shalloway

Creating understanding is more essential than offering solutions. Many, but thanks to Michael Kuesters for the suggestion.

It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than think your way into a new way of acting. ― Jerry Sternin, The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World’s Toughest Problems

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. – Maslow

Note from Al Shalloway

This is obviously a first cut. I believe I am speaking for a large number of people. I request feedback on how to improve this. I promise to listen and improve.

If you agree with the intent of this article please write a post about it and/or retweet it.

How to decide on what to start with when starting Agile at the team

 I’m guessing most people are expecting me to talk about making a decision on whether to use Scrum or Kanban. But I don’t believe that’s the biggest decision to make. The first thing when starting Agile at the team is to ask “what’s in my way of creating and delivering value?”

Although Scrum proponents hail Scrum as a good way to figure this out there are other, faster methods available (mostly just look at your current situation and see where your blockages and large queues are – see Value Stream Impedance Scorecard for more).

Common challenges are:

  • developers & testers don’t collaborate well together on stories
  •  people aren’t interacting well with each other
  • the lack of cross-functional teams is causing delays
  • work is not done in short cycles so feedback is hard to get
  • teams are being overloaded with work
  • teams don’t know how to write small stories

Clearly Scrum & Kanban both attempt to address this in their own way and it should be clear how each one addresses these. Your choice though is to learn a framework or method that helps you with these challenges or in your initial training work on them directly – and then adopt a Scrum/Kanban approach that best fits your situation.