Noticed how nowadays everywhere you look people are advertising agile coaching, scrum training, etc? The corporate world’s acceptance – albeit slow – of the need to work differently has (inevitably) brought with it a plethora of startups and consultants ready to take advantage of this shift to make some money. The problem with this, however, is that everyone is so focused on buzzwords, and staying on top of the latest trends, they’ve forgotten what they’re actually trying to achieve.
When you talk to people working in corporates, or the trainers and coaches themselves, you’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of terminology they use. They’re all training in “SAFe, Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Lean, Lean-agile…” – the list is endless. But, maybe it’s time we focus less on the trainers and methodology, and more on what the core concepts of these methodologies are trying to accomplish. I have a few key principles that I like to make sure my teams are working towards, but today I will focus on just one (the most important one in my opinion): Communication.
Communication is a key aspect of the new world of work. With most of our day spent glued to computer screens, we hardly talk to each other. This has obviously had astonishingly negative outcomes. Firstly, even in cross-functional teams, we tend to form silos that don’t communicate with and help each other. Secondly, the team loses sight of what it’s trying to achieve, as every person becomes an island focused on their tasks and KPIs (don’t even get me started on the topic of KPIs).
Often our natural instinct is to manage upwards. What does this mean? Well, we ensure our managers are aware of what we’re doing, team cadence, blockers, etc. To meet this need, we appoint project owners to make sure that this is being done effectively. However, said project owners never want to give wrong (or bad) news to the “higher-ups”, and therefore there’s always a stick behind project teams to guarantee that this is never the case.
So yes, conforming to a methodology can put some good processes and procedures in place for better communication. But really, the success and effectiveness of these methodologies is reliant on communication as a behaviour rather than an output If you’re practicing Scrum within your team, and the only time people communicate (and I’m not just talking about giving brief updates) is during sprint planning or retrospectives, you’re not truly working towards the key principle of communication. It’s essential that your teammates know what you’re doing and vice versa. This way you can really assist each other and purposefully journey towards the new world of work.
CEO Switch Innovation and Field ecosystem colleague