Natural Agility – Trip to Switzerland
To those who are following my blog, sorry in advance for not posting last week. I am trying my best to post every Wednesday, however last week due to travels, I was not able to do so. But I finally have some time to share a unique agile related experience with all of you and share my thoughts on how we can all achieve the mission of bringing agility to science. Throughout my previous blogs, I really wanted to re-iterate the point of “Empowering the Team” and the concept of Trust. As a tourist in a country where there are people from all over the world, I had the opportunity to see in person, a unique practice, that I call natural agility.
What is Natural Agility?
So my trip started from Geneva, Switzerland. As soon as we entered Switzerland, there was no need to ask anyone for anything in regards to baggage claim, process, etc. Everything was well mapped and with minimal assistance, we were able to travel without worrying. The first factor that showed us natural agility in Switzerland was the Swiss travel system. The system is so flawless and well-defined that it allows tourists to travel without any hesitation. For example, during our entire trip, we traveled by train and normally on train rides, a conductor checks to make sure you have correct travel documents while on-board. However, in Switzerland, this check wasn’t done on every train, due to the amount of trust the travel system places on the travelers. Second example, within the travel system, there was a demarcation of first class vs. second class, but again no one was constantly checking, which exemplifies the trust the system puts on the people. I was amazed that with very few people, the train system was on-time at each station, no chaos, and just a pleasant journey from one destination to the next. In my mind, the conductor was similar to a scrum master and travelers like us were the team. This entire team contained team members that trusted each other to make sure each ride was smooth.
There was no scrum process here, but it is an example of natural agility. Natural agility means a process that works inherently and the teams are very efficient and productive. It wasn’t like someone was enforcing a particular framework, but it was just simple common ground principles like trust, communication, and customer service which made the system seem flawless.
“I need Scrum/XP to be Agile”
Sometimes we get carried away with a particular type of process and we try so hard to implement agility. Often times, organizations want to be agile by utilizing frameworks such as Scrum, Kanban, and XP and think that its the only way to implement agility. However, one should step back and ask these questions:
- What does agility mean to them?
- What does agility mean to the organization?
These are two very different questions and it takes alignment of both to find the answer. But if we know these answers, organizations can craft and observe a process that works. Maybe, it is Scrum, or Kanban; however, remember that the direct outcome by using a framework like these is NOT agility, and there are other factors that should be considered (Future Blog Post). In addition, don’t get carried away with the terminology, and get stuck in the process. I recommend that we observe the process, and see what works and what doesn’t, and then work towards achieving our definition of agility.
This opportunity in Switzerland allowed me to take a step back and really look at agility through a different lens and relate it back to how teams can conquer true agility. It made me realize, that my vision and passion of achieving and bringing agility to science can be brought in many ways. Again, I apologize to all my readers and followers. I have been busy with travels and trying my best to share my agile experiences. Let’s spread agility today and don’t forget to EMPOWER TRUST within your team.