An Agile experience – A musical chorus

It struck me as I was watching my mother-in-law’s performance in a musical chorus, how Agile a chorus really needs to be. They were a chorus of approximately 30 women who all had different ranges, outfits, vocal styles, and physical mannerisms while they sang.

I thought they were a great analogy for an Agile team. Here was a team that didn’t try to dress the same or choreograph so that they all sang like 30 versions of the same person. They all had different skills and styles and they embraced those styles. In the end, I believe this added to the quality of the performance and it was quite inspiring. I thought back to how on most teams we try to overly fit people into roles and standardize processes.

It gave me insight to my current and future teams on how we spend effort on choreography rather than outcomes. What did it matter if people had different ranges, outfits, mannerisms, or styles? As long as the outcome was a coordinated effort and delivered value, paying attention to choreographing those other items would have simply been waste.

I believe this excessive choreography comment applies to Agile and non Agile processes and practices. If we blindly follow prescribed methods without ensuring they increase the value of the outcome, we are increasing waste.

And my other observation? All this works when people have passion for what they do. The chorus loved singing and although they went about it differently, the passion came out in the commitment to the outcome. They coordinated the passion and outcome, not the engine that creates output.

All in all, it was a wonderful performance with an unexpected Agile insight. Embrace Individuality, Promote Passion, and focus on Outcome.

Thanks Betty-Anne.

Author: Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

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