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Glass Doors Wide Open

This week we are addressing transparency.

Why ‘Glass Doors Wide Open”? Because although you can see through glass to observe you need to open the door to have clear, open and honest discussions.

We shouldn’t really need to blog about transparency, but as managers, teams and businesses when KPIs have not been fairly aligned, “stretched” and/or are unrealistic, this can bring uncertainty, unhealthy competition and lead to teams splitting apart without intention = non transparent ways of working

The Cambridge dictionary defines the noun transparency in a number of different ways. So let’s also take a look at how they correlate with the way we work in agile environments.

the quality of being done in an open way without secrets

Let’s start with the end in mind “Definition Of Done”: A list of criteria which must be met before a product increment “often a user story” is considered “done”. Failure to meet these criteria at the end of a sprint normally implies that the work should not be counted toward that sprint’s velocity. (1)

Agile teams should keep one another accountable, asking questions such as;

  1. Is it ‘Definitely Done’?

  2. Is it ‘Done-Done’?

  3. Does it meet the Acceptance Criteria set?

Be true to yourselves as a team, be transparent about how to define what is done-done to continue to add value to end users.

a situation in which business and financial activities are done in an open way without secrets, so that people can trust that they are fair and honest

What’s the key objective to agile? To deliver incremental value to the business, allowing regular feedback loops to inspect and adapt and realise return of investment quicker.

So let’s look at ROI = Net Profit / Total Investment * 100

This involves everything, the team’s time and energy, the equipment invested in to develop and deploy, the quality of product and quantity manufactured, deployment and sold, etc…

As agile teams it’s so important to stay honest to yourself and your team. If you’re struggling then speak up, don’t waste valuable time and energy on focusing on what you don’t know, invest it in helping the team to be transparent in what can be deployed within the sprint.

the quality of being easy to see through

Transparency can bring the best (and worst) out in people. If you are genuinely being honest and focused on bringing the best out of the team, driving to support the business then keep going.

However, if you are dealing out the Agile Lip Service cards, unintentionally trying to blind fold the team with second hand demands, then it may look a little something like this;

  • setting unrealistic targets and claiming they are sprint goals

  • bringing new items in to the sprint without challenging the status quo

  • having a “quick chat” after the daily with one of the team members to ask “could you quickly …”.

You may think these examples are of minimal impact on the team but they do directly, and indirectly, lead to hazy communication and a lack of transparency creating a large impact on the teams dynamics.

So it’s time to reassess your intentions.

a photograph or pictureprinted on plastic that you can see on a screen by shining a light through it

Just like a photographs transparent plastic film a shining light will expose a negative picture.

Inspect and adapt your intentions, your drive and be truly transparent with your team.

When you have transparency as one of your values make sure that you are living that in the best way you can to promote a healthy and honest way of working.

Image by PastelDecoco from Pixabay - Chess pieces
Image by PastelDecoco from Pixabay

Here’s some points to help you along your way:

1. Be cognisant of when you are being played, if regularly new priorities or new work comes in, always ask:

  • Is this a higher OR lower priority to what we have already committed to within this sprint?

  • Do we have all the information that we need in order to deliver incremental value to the business within this sprint?

  • If we bring this into the sprint which story(s) will be removed?

  • Does this new priority align with our common goal?

2. The daily stand ups are there for the team to make a plan for the next 24hrs. If circumstances arise that mean a new priority comes in OR that you needed something ‘extra quick’ from a team member, ask the team as a whole there and then.

You will maintain respect and continue transparency by surfacing your concerns. And likely, to have a much quicker response to whether or not this can be resolved/actioned. If it’s not relevant to sprint (after asking point 1. questions), agree with the product owner, add it to the backlog and plan it in for future sprint goals.

3. Breakdown frustration: being transparent is not just about workload, sprints, product owners … it’s also about our relations with one another. As humans, other humans (& inanimate objects) will annoy us from time to time, for whatever reason.

Gossip, pent up frustration and heavy hearts do not add value to our day to day relationships and communication. The more pent up we are the less we listen, which is a key element of highly productive teams. Deal with these head on, without conflict and with attack mode switched off.

Majority of people don’t set out the door to annoy others or do crap job – so give your colleagues, friends and family the benefit of doubt. It’s hard, but why not grab a coffee or arrange a video call and start with …

  • Care by asking how are you?

  • Listen to their response and follow up; easy when not frustrated …

  • Respond to any questions…

  • Reflect with them on the situation;

  • I wanted to understand a little better the view on ….

  • How about we take 5-10 mins (whatever time allows) to work through that together?

  • Can we agree to …

  • Can we explore further options as a team?

  • Avoid “YOU” statements, this can come across more aggressive than you might have intended.

It’s so important to ask questions on your journey, yes it’s can be uncomfortable and bring disagreement but this way you are able to bring the most value as a team member and to the business.

Looking within is something we touch on regularly @Maykit because it is such an important aspect of moving from doing agile to adopting an agile mindset.

Next time we start to look at the *change of plan* check out our new blog coming soon on Sprint Midpoints!

Let us know what you think!


Cambridge Dictionary

Agile Alliance – DoD (1)

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