Ah, the Agile community, where the noblest of intentions often find themselves skewered on the sharp end of a Twitter (ehh hmm…X) thread. It’s me, your friendly neighborhood Agile Curmudgeon, here to remind you of a quaint little principle that seems to have been forgotten amid our ceaseless online brawls: valuing people over processes. Yes, that’s right, it’s actually one of the core values, not something I just made up to ruin your day.

Now, you might be forgiven for thinking that “Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools” was a misprint or perhaps a piece of ancient Agile lore, like the unicorn or a project that’s on time and under budget. Yet, here we are, in a world where the loudest voices in our supposedly enlightened community seem to believe that Agile is less about humans and more about who has the most followers, retweets, or, dare I say, certifications that might as well include “Can recite the Agile Manifesto backwards” in their list of achievements.

Have you ever watched two Agile coaches go at it on LinkedIn over the minutiae of a framework? It’s like watching two bald men fight over a comb. Or better yet, witnessing a Scrum Master and a Product Owner argue over story points is akin to observing toddlers squabble over who gets the bigger slice of cake—endearing for a moment, then rapidly descending into a headache-inducing cacophony.

But let’s not stray too far from our beloved principle: valuing people over processes. In practice, this should mean fostering collaboration, supporting individual growth, and creating environments where teams can thrive. Instead, what do we have? A cacophony of Agile evangelists trying to outdo each other with the latest buzzword bingo, turning social media into a battleground where the spoils of war are ego boosts and speaking engagements.

Social Media for Good

Here’s an idea: instead of using social media to launch thinly-veiled jabs at each other under the guise of promoting “Agile thinking,” what if we actually, I don’t know, talked to each other? Shared a coffee (virtual or otherwise) and discussed how we could help our teams overcome challenges? Revolutionary, I know. But hey, if we’re truly committed to the Agile value of individuals and interactions over processes and tools, maybe it’s time to practice what we preach.

To truly embody this value, let’s start by elevating empathy and understanding in our interactions. Recognize the unique contributions of each member in our community, appreciating that diversity of thought and experience enriches us all. We could host more forums and workshops focused not on the superiority of one framework over another, but on sharing stories of challenges, failures, and successes that highlight the human element in our work.

Five Ways to Value People Online

  • Highlight Success Stories: Share stories of individual achievements and team breakthroughs to celebrate the human element in Agile projects. This focus on people, rather than methodologies, underscores the principle of valuing individuals.
  • Create Collaborative Spaces: Utilize social media platforms to create groups or forums where Agile practitioners can ask for advice, share experiences, and offer support. These spaces should prioritize respectful dialogue and learning from one another over rigid adherence to processes.
  • Encourage Mentorship: Facilitate connections between experienced Agile coaches and newcomers seeking guidance. Social media can serve as a platform for mentorship opportunities, matching mentors with mentees based on their areas of interest and expertise.
  • Celebrate Failures and Learnings: Encourage the sharing of “failure stories” where individuals and teams discuss mistakes, what they learned, and how they grew from the experience. This promotes a culture of learning and resilience.
  • Encourage Diversity and Inclusion: Use social media platforms to promote diversity and inclusion within the Agile community. Highlight stories and contributions from underrepresented groups in Agile and discuss ways to make Agile spaces more inclusive.

Living Out Our Values

Let’s replace the algorithmic coldness of social media likes and shares with genuine connections and mentorships. Imagine a world where seasoned Agile practitioners adopt a more nurturing role, guiding newcomers not just through the technicalities of Agile methodologies but through the nuanced human skills required to navigate complex team dynamics.

In fostering these genuine connections, we’re not just paying lip service to the idea of valuing people over processes; we’re living it. By doing so, we don’t just make Agile a methodology we follow; we make it a community we belong to, one that is truly agile in its ability to adapt, empathize, and unite.

So, here’s my call to action for all you Agile aficionados out there: next time you’re about to engage in a social media skirmish over Kanban versus Scrum, or whichever methodology tickles your fancy, take a moment. Remember that at the heart of Agile is a commitment to people – yes, even the ones who disagree with you. Perhaps, by focusing on what brings us together rather than what divides us, we can start living out the values we so ardently claim to uphold.

And who knows? If we actually start valuing people over processes, we might just make the Agile community a better place. Or at the very least, we’ll reduce the number of eye rolls per post, and that’s a win in my book.

Stay Agile (and human). Much love!

Now, go forth and Scrum like you mean it!

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