We tend to think about agile as a software development approach, but it has applications to the business as it can aid the improvement of business processes and give non-technical staff an approach that help them gain the efficiency in projects that agile has delivered in the software development environment.
At the recent Australian Computer Society Agile Special Interest Group, I shared my experience in implementing Scrum for a services team with a backlog of projects, and within three months we were able to take the team from Unconscious Incompetence to Unconscious Competence and provide them with increased efficiency and a simplified process to deliver both their Business as Usual (BAU) work as well as IT project initiatives.
We used a psychology based model to implement Scrum. In psychology, the four stages of competence, or the “conscious competence” learning model, relates to the psychological states involved in the process of progressing from incompetence to competence in a skill. It suggests that individuals are initially unaware of how little they know, or unconscious of their incompetence. As they recognize their incompetence, they consciously acquire a skill, then consciously use that skill. Eventually, the skill can be done without consciously being thought through, and the individual is said to have unconscious competence.
The team always seemed to have a “backlog” of work that never got done. The main issues were:
- No collective process for them to process business user requests
- New work coming constantly coming in from the business
- Team not sure of which work was important, urgent or ranked higher
- No collective processes to handle BAU as well as project work
- Team working in three streams of activity As a result, they started a bit of each project but never quite got anything finished.
This exposure to agile in the business setting had a flow on effect to IT projects in that when the product owners needed to work with the technology team on backlog refinement and user story development, they have a shared understanding of the process and this helped improve the collaboration between business and technology and enhanced clarification of specifications and requirements.
Outcome at the end of the three months:
- Better understanding of commitment to take on a product/story in a Sprint
- Greater visibility of BAU capacity
- Collaboration and pairing across old silos occurred to complete tasks
- Not silos of 3 streams — a single team with a single, shared vision of how to get their work done
Why use a behavioral based learning approach?
- Demonstrates how to retrospectively assess story complexity to improve capacity planning of teams
- A framework for coaching agile teams based on observing their behaviour to identify their of learning
- It is the behaviour that needs to change to ensure the agile approach is successfu