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The Agile confessional podcast - The sin of greed

Fellow agilists,

I recently took part in the Agile Confessional podcast with Giles Lindsay. This podcast explores the agile sins people have committed in a confessional format and for me, there have been many.

I have fortunately been granted absolution for my agile sins, however as penitence, I agreed to confess my 7 agile sins on video to all who wish to hear them.

You can listen to the podcast here;

Time to confess about greed

I have been guilty of committing the agile sin of being greedy.

The scenario I'm about to describe is one I'm sure you've all experienced at one time or another. It may not always stem from a desire to be greedy, however, through your own omission you've allowed greed to creep in.

Lets start with a story. You join a new company, you're eager to impress. For whatever reason, be it sick leave, another member of staff leaving or just too much work for too few people, you commit to too many projects or teams in parallel when management suggests someone needs to pick up the slack.

A hard pill for us all to swallow is that we aren't build for multi-tasking. We aren't designed to constantly context switch and it leads to inefficiencies.

Your own desire to be a team player, 'to help out', to show your value, results in you taking on more than you can handle and the consequence? Poorer quality work.

Rather than spreading yourself across a number of projects or teams that you can handle with aplomb, you end up being spread so thinly and each of the projects, each of the teams, only gets a partial version of you. A less than adequate version. A poorer quality version.

That not only frustrates you, but it frustrates the teams you work with also.

This doesn't just apply to those in agile coaching or scrum master positions either. If you're a leader and you're trying to promote a sustainable working culture, but you're then in every meeting & working late every night, unfortunately, you're part of the problem as you're setting the wrong expectation by not leading by example.

How can you avoid committing the agile sin of greedy?

  • Understand your own limitations - Only you know how much you can handle. In my experience, I start to struggle when I'm working with more than 2 teams on a regular basis. Seek feedback from the teams you work with and sense check if they are getting value from your work. Be open and vulnerable to this and take action to correct it. It's ok to push back if you have too much on.

  • Focus on value delivered over volume delivered - In the same way we coach agile teams to focus on customer needs and value being derived. Challenge yourself to deliver great results across a smaller number of engagements.

  • Manage expectations early - Have conversations with your stakeholders (those managing you, and those you manage or facilitate), and set expectations for healthy sustainable pace. Revisit this as frequently as is needed as this may change over time.

The next agile sin video will feature the agile sin of Wrath

Don't stop believin folks

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