Prashant M J speaks at Agile Gururgam 2017

Prashant, is a Consultant at INNOVATION ROOTS, an avid Agile Practitioner, who has worked with industry experts, helping and facilitating their Agile transformation. He is also the organiser of Agile Network India, started by INNOVATION ROOTS. Prashant, is a highly industrious and amicable person, who doesn’t hesitate to help people when it’s needed. He is the epitome of a team player, who is all ears to constructive feedback and always willing to improve his competency and skill set.

Prashant conducted a workshop on “Team’s Agility Assessment” at Agile Gurugram 2017, a pioneer Agile Conference held in Gurugram in May.

Agile Software development is fast becoming the go to software development model in major companies across the world. Yet some companies are still not able to benefit from this switch because of various reasons that differ from one company to another.

“Is your team really Agile?” started off Prashant, to a room full of Thought leaders and Agile Enthusiasts with bags of Agile software development experience, seated in the Leela Ambience conference room. This was the ideal way to grab the attention of the best minds in the Agile industry , who were taken aback by the question. Prashant, unperturbed by the profile of the audience continued his introduction saying, “The problem lies basically with companies’ lack of understanding of Agility and it’s implementation.” He then went on to organise an ice breaker activity for the people seated in the room, asking them to draw a flow diagram of  how each of them organise their day to day activities. The audience was split into two teams, wherein the first team was asked to picturize their activities at work and the latter was asked to do the same for activities at home.

“Are you Agile?” was the next question Prashant posted to a dumbstruck audience, who immediately started analysing, if they were actually Agile. This activity caught everyone’s attention as it was intended to and served as the perfect foundation, on which Prashant could build his talk on.

So what really is Agility?

Agility is characteristics of an individual or a team to respond to uncertain condition or change. This sums up the motive of Agile methods quite brilliantly. The team that is truly Agile, delivers the desired output without compromising on the deadline and quality. Such teams are called High performing Agile teams declared Prashant, before citing a number of scenarios and examples that substantiated his claim. A High performing Agile Team delivers a number of benefits, quality being the most important one followed by business value and fostering a growth mindset within the organisation.

Now that we have understood what Agility actually means, how do we understand if a team is actually Agile? The answer to this question isn’t very easy, but not impossible. Prashant specified a set of questions to understand if a team is truly Agile. The following questions were posted to the attendees:

Do the team members feel engaged to the business goal?

This is a very important question that needs to be answered, if the answer is yes, then your team is heading in the right direction.

How responsive is the team to changing market conditions?

This is one of the most important criteria to judge the Agility of a team, if your team is highly responsive to changing market conditions and situations, then you have little to worry about.

Do people see intellectual growth by learning new technology or domains?

Every employee wants intellectual growth in a company, if your employees are happy with their learning curve, then they will stay loyal to company’s vision.

Do people in the team feel valued?

Everyone’s opinion is valuable and a successful company or team is built on the ideas of each and every individual.

Are people asked to think?

Monotony is the first deterrent to an Employee’s enthusiasm, if the job has no creativity, employees usually quit their jobs.

Is communication two way?

A two-way feedback system is the best one where the employee has an equal voice and can express his views about the management and challenges.

Do employees focus on organizational success or personal success?

This is a double edged sword, some might argue , every individual’s success ultimately leads to the team’s success, few others might say, individuals shouldn’t let personal gains undermine the team’s gains. There is truth to both the sides of the argument and requires the right balance for both individual and team success.

Does your team demonstrate collective ownership?

This again is one of the most important qualities of a team, where everyone should feel responsible for a team’s success or failure.

These questions were quite helpful and thoughtful, as it was evident people had started analysing themselves and the teams they were a part of. There were a lot of surprises and a big sigh of relief among of few , who were happy to know that their teams were indeed Agile.

Key Takeaways:

1. Make sure employees feel valued and their opinions should make a difference.

2. Employees should be able to express their ideas freely without worrying about the repercussions.

3. An Agile team always encourages thinking and creativity, and should be flexible, to meet the need of hour.

4. A system of constant feedback and trust among teammates will lay the foundation for a highly successful Agile team.

5. Build a team that strives hard to make the organisation successful and puts the organisation’s success ahead of individual’s success.

Prashant, ended the session by quoting the importance and significance of Agility in a team and how INNOVATION ROOTS has been Agile ever since it’s inception, to which there was a round of applause for a simple yet powerful talk by Prashant J Mavinkere.

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Diwakar Varadharajan

Simple life, Sophisticated Thoughts, Big Dreamer, Ever Ready for Intellectual Conversations

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