There’s Never Been A More Important Time To Learn About Agile Values

Agile Values can be applied in every business

Me talking about agile values in a south american foam factory

After I moved to South America a few month ago I wanted to know how agile approaches could work in a foam factory. I started from the scratch by chatting with many people in the organization and recognized that they react very different when I speak about agile values. The meaning of the term was unclear for them and the teams weren’t sure how it would affect their daily work. This gave me the motivation to point out the importance of agile values and why they bring so much positive impact to a team, even when it’s in the context of production. 

What’s behind the buzzword?

“Agile” is a term that was created from the Agile Manifesto which established a very common set of values and principles. The Manifesto includes 4 core values which are supported by 12 basic and essential principles that help to create high-performing teams. Indeed, these principles are working! I applied them successfully over the last years in several teams and companies.

A few month ago I started to work for a company in Colombia / Bogotá. After having many discussions I gathered a lot of insights about the cultural behavior at work which was partly very surprising. When I was talking in front of everybody about “agile values”, a team member interrupted me and asked me what I actually mean with this term. He asked me what’s behind it and how could it be achieved. I must admit that I missed the part in explaining what I mean with “agile values”. I started analyzing it and recognized that apart from the Agile Manifesto there are some more soft values that are crucial for the success of an agile team.

Why is it important?

Honestly I believe that companies that understand and internalize topics like agile, leadership and team-based learning will have a tremendous advantage in the market in the next few years. Lately we have seen that even big companies can be overtaken by a faster moving competitor. Those small or big organizations who understand the model and concept behind agile and its values will be able to move so fast in the market that competitors can’t reach them anymore. There’s never been a more important time to learn about agile values!

Deriving the agile values

I started to make researches and found plenty of pages and social posts about values but I missed various base characteristics that make teams great and super performing. In the group we discussed about fundamental questions on how a perfect team in “wonderland” would look like. Everybody participated with great ideas.

 

We came up with the following list of agile values that can be applied on every team, company and business. It´s a compact and significant list that can make a difference:

Agile Values contain …

  • Focus – Is the team 100% focused on one single topic?
  • Openness – Can team members talk about everything without shame, blame and fear?
  • Transparency – Is the team´s or company´s work transparent enough to admit even bad results or are they caught by an inner-political system that requires always green reports?
  • RespectDoes the team respect each person and opinion?
  • CommitmentIs every individual committed to the overall goal? Does everybody identify with the solution?
  • Communication – Does the team schedule a regular, non-violent and constructive way of communication?
  • Simplicity – Does the entire team run a simple and lean approach?
  • Flexibility – Is the team or company capable to react fast on new circumstances and market situation?
  • Collaboration – Does the team support and help each other independent from the role or do they still believe in job titles (“This is not my job”) ?
  • Continues Feedback – Does the team constantly collect feedback from themselves, customers and other teams?
  • Courage – Is the team brave enough to try out something new? Has every member the courage to dare something new?

 

I suppose many of you might think that this list is very obvious and well known. It’s not about that list, it’s about the fact that many teams and organizations forget about these items. Each of them can have a huge impact on the team culture. For sure, every individual approaches these values in a slightly different way, but all of these are crucial for the success of high performing teams. That’s why it’s worth to rethink and check if all these points are lived by your team.

agile-kanban-team-in-colombian-fabric

Happy and proud team with an awesome result. I wasn’t sure how the latin culture would react to values like transparency, commitment and focus.

Use the agile value list from time to time and recheck if you are on a good way or if you failed in the last time with one of the points. You can even use it for your next retrospectives.

Related book recommendations

#TitleAuthor
1The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership FablePatrick M. Lencioni
2Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a TeamPatrick M. Lencioni
3Coaching Agile TeamsLyssa Adkins
4Agile CoachingRachel Davies
5The People’s Scrum: Agile Ideas for Revolutionary TransformationTobias Mayer
6Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great PerformancesJ. Richard Hackman
7The Secret of Teams: What Great Teams Know and Do (BK Business)Mark Miller
8The Lean Mindset: Ask the Right QuestionsMary Poppendieck
9The Human Side of Agile – How to Help Your Team DeliverGil Broza
10Getting Value out of Agile RetrospectivesLuis Gonçalves & Ben Linders
11Scrum Mastery: From Good To Great Servant-LeadershipGeoff Watts
12Lean Change Management: Innovative Practices For Managing Organizational ChangeJason Little

Do you miss some values in the list? I would love to read new suggestions and hints. Don’t hesitate to comment your ideas and share your knowledge, thoughts and critics with the community.

If you liked the article I would appreciate your feedback:
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5 comments

  1. I would add two:
    – Passion and fun: Is everybody giving the 100% and enjoying daily activities?
    – Life mission alignment: Does every individual understand what for they do the work? and How it improves themselves and the world?

    • Hi Monica, Thanks for your input. I agree, having fun is a factor that should’t be underestimated. When the team member´s life mission aligns with the organizations´ mission then motivation can be tremendous.

  2. Hi Dominic, I am so happy we are coming back to basics regarding agility. As you say, here in Latin America we have to be reminded about values first, and alignment is key.
    Great post!

    • Hi Carolina. Thank you so much. I totally agree with you. I’m passing through an exciting experience here in South America and to be honest, so far I feel a high acceptance when I talk about values, agile and mindsets. It’s challenging for me as well as I’m from another continent, but this is what we all should learn: Accept and learn from other cultures and progress together! If you have any tips, just drop a message!

  3. Pingback: Building An Agile And Innovative Organization In South America

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