Learning and Agile Fluency

Photo by Luis Miguel Justino

Photo by Luis Miguel Justino

Maturity is a tricky word. It implies judgment and a sense of lacking in the less mature. How mature are your friends and family members? Any of them child-like? Or childish? Any less-than-responsible people come to mind?

Talk of agile maturity suffers similar judgments--that teams who are not mature "don't get it" and just need to do X, Y, Z to improve. Ouch.

The truth is that team performance is a function of the environment, and the amount of agility needed will vary from one organization/product/team to the next. The Agile Fluency model by Diana Larsen and James Shore articulates this well to help leaders consider what learning investments might be needed for a team based on the outcomes that are wanted.

Steve Holyer taught his Fluency by Design workshop this August in Dallas, and it uses the Agile Fluency game. The learning was incredible--and I was already familiar with the model!

My team invested in technical practices early and was still on the brink of getting fired for many sprints: the cost of maintaining existing features and the "learning curve" cost of learning practices threatened our ability to deliver a feature each round. And we'd treated one business practice as a low priority item to invest in last each round only to discover huge benefits that could've helped us in the game if we'd focused on achieving it earlier.

It's easy to be short-sighted in making time for learning. It's a bottleneck in software development, and there's rarely a convenient time to learn. The Agile Fluency game helps people understand how much learning can be involved in transitioning to agile methods, and it has me wondering how we can create more immersive learning environments for teams--creating "study abroad"-like environments for teams to develop fluency in new ways of working.

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.