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As we close the door on another year and look ahead to 2023, it’s a natural time to reflect on what we want to keep, what we want to change, and what we want to leave behind. Whether 2022 was a great year or a challenging one, there is always room for improvement and growth. As an Agile practitioner, it’s important to continuously seek out opportunities to improve and evolve. With that in mind, here are six New Year’s resolutions for your Scrum team to consider as you embark on a new year filled with possibilities.

Resolution #1 - Start with why. Avoid building crap. When you start refining your backlog, ensure you understand what problems you are solving, why they need to be solved, and how you will know they are solved. By doing this you will build more value by solving human problems.

Resolution #1: Start with Why

Start with why and set goals focused on problems to be solved. Far too often, we aspire to build things. We create backlogs designed to create precise output that often needs to be used. This happens when we focus our efforts on buildings instead of solving problems. With every item on your backlog, ask yourself, “why does this need to exist?” and “what problems is this going to solve?” When we are specific about the problems we are solving and how we will know they are solved, we have a better likelihood of building something someone will want to use.

Resolution #2: Tools can't make you Agile. Focus on self-reflection, reducing waste, and solving human problems. Start with the most flexible tool with the least friction. If in person, use a whiteboard and sticky notes. If not co-located, use a simple whiteboard tool. Utilize the least amount of features possible and adapt over time so the tool serves the process.

Resolution #2: Throw your tools in the garbage.

The tools serve the team, the team should never serve the tool! Tool developers love to pitch their latest feature and how it will make your team “more Agile.” Don’t get me wrong, I love my tools, but your tools will never make you Agile.

Agility starts with self-reflection, focus on reducing waste, and solving human problems. Your tools can help with this but cannot create this. I always coach, starting with the most flexible tool with the least friction you can find. If you are in person, use a whiteboard and sticky notes. Design the board in a way that empowers your team’s ability to move quickly without having to “serve a tool.”

If your team isn’t co-located, start with a simple whiteboard tool like Miro, Mural, or iObeya (my favorite is iObeya, shoot me a message if you want to learn more about it!). Once you have a basic tool, utilize the least amount of features possible, and then adapt over time so that the tool serves the process and you can avoid situations when you change your process to fit the tool.

Resolution #3: Embrace Change. Reflect on the past year and consider what improvements you can make in the coming year. Embrace change and strive to be better every day. If you're not a little bit better each day, you'll fall behind, especially in the world of Scrum and Agile.

Resolution #3: Embrace Change

Always be changing! Reflect on how your personal life, team, product, and company have changed over the past year, and consider what improvements you can make in the coming year. If you don’t look radically different from where you were a year ago, then you should become more comfortable with change. If you aren’t a little bit better today than yesterday and tomorrow than today, you will fall behind, especially if you are building a product. This continuous path to enlightenment stretches you slowly but surely to be better. Agile is a continuously changing philosophy. Embrace that change!

Resolution #4: Humans Matter. Prioritize the well-being and happiness of your team members. Create a positive and supportive work environment. Encourage teamwork and trust for increased productivity and success. Make work a positive and fulfilling experience for all.

Resolution #4: Humans matter!

Focus on the humans in the machine. As an Agile practitioner, one of your resolutions for the new year could be to focus on the humans in the machine. This means prioritizing the well-being and happiness of your team members and working to create a positive and supportive work environment. This could involve promoting work-life balance, encouraging team bonding and collaboration, and supporting team members facing challenges. By focusing on the humans in the machine, you can foster a culture of teamwork and trust, which can lead to increased productivity and overall success. Additionally, by prioritizing the well-being of your team, you can create a more positive and fulfilling work experience for everyone involved.

Resoluition #5: Be in the now. Practice mindfulness to reduce stress and improve focus. It can help you stay grounded in fast-paced or high-stress situations. Check out the Mindful Agility podcast for tips and guidance in how you can apply Mindfullness in your Agile journey.

Resolution #5: Be in the now

Practice mindfulness. Agile work can be fast-paced and stressful, so taking care of your mental health is important. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment. It can help reduce stress, improve focus, and increase overall well-being. As an Agile practitioner, practicing mindfulness can help you stay grounded and focused, particularly in fast-paced or high-stress situations. Our friends over at the Mindful Agility podcast are experts in this area. You can start your mindful agility journey by adding this helpful podcast to your listing list.

Resolution #6: Skill Up. Encourage continuous learning in your team. Host training sessions, encourage attendance at conferences or workshops, or set aside time for skill-building. Expanding knowledge and skills will enable you to tackle challenges and come up with creative solutions.

Resolution #6: Skill up

Learn a new skill or take on a new hobby. Foster a culture of continuous learning by encouraging your team to learn new skills and take on new hobbies. Host training sessions, encourage team members to attend conferences or workshops, or set aside time for learning and skill-building. Expanding your and your team’s knowledge and skills will enable you to tackle challenges and come up with creative solutions, and learning new things can be a fun and rewarding experience in and of itself.

Of course, I have to give a shameless plug here. You should check out our Agile and Scrum Credentialing courses. We work closely with the Agile Education Program to provide top not Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Registered Agile Coaching options. These are great to help your Agile team thrive in 2023.

How about you?

These are my New Year’s Resolutions for your Scrum Team. What resolutions are you adopting for your Scrum team? A core concept of Scrum is constant adaptation. How are you adapting your process to have a better, more effective, happier year?

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