Continuous Learning through Communities of Practice

Photo by Pablo Tortorella

Photo by Pablo Tortorella

Continuous learning is essential in agile, and I think it is sometimes taken for granted.  I’ve noticed an attitude—complacency—that can show up after a team or organization has been following scrum for a while.  It’s as if the team or organization decided it has learned “enough” and can sustain itself at the level of knowledge it has.  Like they have arrived at the top of the agile mountain.  But I’ve found that if an individual or group is not pushing forward, then it is going to move backward. 

Thankfully I’ve also seen some motivated people seeking knowledge, sharing ideas, and teaching themselves new skills.  Establishing self-organizing communities of practice and participating in book clubs.  Striving for awesomeness.  Living the first part of the Agile Manifesto:

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.

For me, learning is a given.  I read constantly.  I take classes where there is interaction with other students, I attend conferences and user groups, and I blog—a significant amount of learning can be gained from sharing with others.  In fact, my peers and I have formed our own little community of practice.  We struggled to meet as a group when we planned purely social events, and we’ve had more participation since we made learning the agenda.  Our calendars are stuffed with meetings, and we all have more work than can fit in a 40-hour week.  We push ourselves.  And as a group, we prioritize learning into our busy schedules. 

Forming a coaching community of practice has deepened our relationships and renewed our energy for the work we are doing.  We are active practitioners and continuous learners.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.