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Feb 23

How to get to the moon

Where does it start. That is a question I often ask myself. What is the first step to take in the transition from ordinary projects managed by project managers to a new agile kind of way with self-organizing teams? Is there a certain path one should take to get going on the way to success?

From my own experience the first thing I did was start reading Wikipedia, from there move on to a good book, then training and so on. But I was working at a company that was already kind of agile. At least they where very horizontal in organization and everyone within the company was very committed to the quality of work. And communication amongst each other was already at a very good level. So Scrum was just the final touch in getting thing in line. But where do you start when you feel there is something not working in you company but you are the only one that feels or sees this. Remember that it only needs one to change the world.

But to help you on your way, a few simple steps.

Step one:

Knowledge is good. So start reading on the Internet. Blogs, mailings, twitter feeds etc. And start asking questions. Post queries on the web. Fire up twitter and make sure that you get followers. Make yourself visible. The first thing I do when starting in a new company with Scrum is making things transparent. So why not do this with your hunger for more information and the urge to start with change within your company. You found this blog so your first step has been taken.

Step two:

Don’t be alone. Agile is about working together. Sharing the burden and celebrate the successes. So why be alone in this. If you want to work with team members and be empowered just start small. Talk to colleagues. Start bombarding them with information and ideas. Show as much people the benefits of working more Agile and most of all, make it visible.

Step three:

The book. Don’t buy one on your own but ask you company if you can shop for books. This way a small virus is planted within the company. Because the company provides you with books to read, you immediately get the card blanch to share your ideas. You can start with promoting the information from books. Hey the company paid for it, so they have a right to know what they spend money on. It seems small but trust me, it works.

Step four:

Make projects visible. If you are a developer, start sticking sticky notes, charts, plans and stuff on the walls. You are a developer so this can be explained as making your process visible.  At the same time something will happen. People will get used to the idea that work processes can be made visible and can even hang from you office walls. Start a small Kanban. Kanban means Visible Cards so use that. There is much to find on the web about this way of making things visible.

Step five:

The expert. Don’t start with training. It is good but not just yet. First see if you can ask a expert in scrum to come and have a look. Go to lunch with him or her but also introduce him or her to you senior. Try to get them to talk. Communication is everything and a fresh mind can make a change.  Talk is cheap but can go a long way.

Step six:

Training. Finally try to get this approved. Not just for yourself but see if you can find co-workers to join. You should have them if you did step two successfully . If it is to much for you company to spend money on a training, then first go to a scrum seminar. Sometimes these are free or there is just a small entrance fee. Soon you and your colleagues will become the Agile guys and girls. And something will stir within the company walls. Rebellion is starting. And a scrum or Kanban training will just put more gasoline on the fire.

Are we ready then? No, sorry. You have just started. You and your colleagues have a long way to go. But don’t let this discourage you, the first steps have been taken. Be assured that you are not alone in your quest to become a employee of a Agile thinking company or team. Compared with years of software development and waterfall project management, the Agile community is young. It’s just about ten years old but the last few years it has become more and more visible and is growing rapidly . With this the awareness is growing that things are changing and that more people are starting to work the new way.

It’s a small step for one man…. well, you know this one. Take it and beware not to trip. Small steps are good as long as they are taken in the right direction.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

John F.Kennedy

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