Every Smurf You'd Run Into in An Agile Meeting
Calling all Smurfs to the Agile development table.
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In today's world, it's nearly impossible to not to convert your workflow to Agile, and in doing so, you'd experience interesting obstacles and rather funny situations. In this article, I'll be sharing my various insights through the process of transitioning from Waterfall to Agile.
First of all, you'd expect nothing but unconscious resistance from each employee because, let's face it, change is always painful. It naturally comes from the conventionality, but it's not a harsh thing, because it's easier to stay in the current arrangement if you don't have any major impediment in your job. I have to admit, I did not work using Waterfall methods for a long time, but when I joined the team, it was just starting to be discussed with which team they should start the transition to Agile. So in that position, I got the opportunity to observe the change firsthand.
Through all the planning, retrospective meetings, and daily gatherings, I've started to associate all parties with a specific Smurf character. From that point, characters began to really grow in me. Meeting after meeting, the aforementioned parties became more and more Smurf-like for me. Allow me to explain my visions for each character that you're likely to see in each meeting
This person is most likely to dislike every idea that comes to the table, and even questions the whole system sometimes. Whenever this agent takes a stand in a meeting, they mainly respond to the whole crowd with a pessimistic aura and explains that it's his/her way of advising that's the best for the group. This person never admits that he/she wants something negative; quite the opposite, he/she claims they are being brutally honest and that's the reason people think of them as a pessimist. Although it feels like that agent is a necessary evil that needs to be dealt with caution so that he/she won't influence the group to thinking of the system as being broken, that door won't lead to anywhere solving problems.
Even though we admit that meetings should have smiley faces, that does not mean we should give the better part of the meeting to the laughs. This one makes jokes that often result in cringed faces. The main problem this agent causes, in my opinion, is that he/she makes fun of the ideas come on to the table unnecessarily. We should note that those ideas are quite important to the team, since this is an Agile workspace and development team should decide and execute itself, and that makes the environment less and less likely to produce innovation. Let's face it, whenever an idea of ours gets mocked, we would feel less motivated to share or think of one.
With totally good intentions, this one is the most afraid. Because this one is likely the newest to the group, or even to the business, he/she is afraid of making or saying anything absurd to the group or saying something inaccurate. Because of that, this Smurf could be mistaken with Pushover Smurf sometimes. This agent is afraid of being mocked, or being disrespectful, so looks quiet and insecure. That aura makes the team less confident when planning and committing to a task that needs to be done by a deadline. This Smurf needs to be approached with an understanding behavior because a harder approach may end with a backfire. Self-confidence is what this one needs.
With all those going on, there is always someone to look up to. This Smurf is the ultimate source of information and frequently the last person to talk in a meeting. This one waits for all the parties to present their opinions, talk their differences and at the last point, swoops in and starts to explain which ideas are not suitable and why, lastly, his/her own idea. We all need this Smurf in our business life to consult, but note that you should not rely on this one completely. Then you'll build a comfort zone that will be difficult to leave.
This Smurf is on the phone unless it's his/her topic to talk to. Whenever this Smurf is not interested in the topic being discussed, he/she is on social media or surfing around the web. We should give credit for creating ideas when it's an interesting topic on the agenda, but being uninterested for the rest of the meeting is not a great vibe to give to the surrounding people.
Most think this Smurf is the smartest one in the room because they love to talk a lot. We should mention that of course there are quality inputs to the meeting from this one, but after that, he or she keeps on discussing the topic and drifting away from the agenda. This is the main effect from this Smurf: NOT stopping where he/she is supposed to stop discussing. They always feel the need to drive the agenda and the team whereever he/she desires. The main problem is that this Smurf is that they are not the one to decide that, the team is. And of course, if he/she is not the Scrum Master, and so should not steer conversation away from the previously arranged agenda. In my opinion, this Smurf leads the meeting to exceed the timebox very often.
The whole idea behind this article was to identify different parties in an Agile environment through experience. After some time, you'll get used to them and figure out ways to interact with them correctly. I believe this shows that being an Agile development team is not easy but with that variety of Smurfs around you, if you interface with them in a healthy way, then comes the innovation that Agile incites.
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