Like many others, I wasn't an immediate fan of Agile at first. I had a strong drive to achieve results using traditional project management and waterfall methodologies that I was familiar with.
In my early days, I was completely immersed in the world of project management. I prided myself on being a master of risk management, always striving to ensure projects were delivered on time, within budget, and meeting all scope requirements. I had built a reputation for my unwavering work ethic and ability to navigate the triple constraint with ease. Risk management was my domain, and I had the certifications to prove it.
However, in my pursuit of project success, I became laser-focused on the technical aspects and neglected the human side of things. I was so project-focused and goal-oriented that I overlooked the importance of fostering strong relationships and considering the impact on the people involved.
My teams would do some routine Agile ceremonies without a proper understanding of deeper values and principles and why some basic guidelines were to be followed to get full value out of Scrum. This added to my misunderstanding that “Agile has a Laissez Faire or an ignorant Attitude towards Risk”
I had no clue that my perspective was about to change, leading me to a whole new understanding of risk management in the agile world.
Moving to doing Agile with Understanding:
Things were changing fast in the business world. Companies wanted projects to be released more often and with a simpler process for making changes. The old-school project management style was becoming less popular, and Agile was becoming the new star.
I decided to connect with my ex colleague, Sarah, who was an early adopter and strong proponent of doing Agile wisely. I remembered a statement she would make often: “ Agile done wisely is simple yet powerful”.
Her impressive accomplishments with Agile piqued my interest, as she made it sound both effortless and impactful. Interested by her claims, I arranged a casual coffee meeting to discover the secret behind her achievements.
As we enjoyed our warm coffee, I shared my concerns about Agile's relaxed approach to risk management. How could I, a seasoned project manager like myself, let go of control and trust that risks would be handled effectively? Sarah chuckled and posed a thought-provoking question, "Tell me, Amit, what risks do you typically handle?"
As I pondered her question, I realized that the risks I dealt with went beyond just technical project aspects. Sure, there were the usual suspects like changes in scope and delays in the schedule, but there were also risks related to keeping customers happy and managing team dynamics. Sarah smartly pointed out that Agile, at its core, addressed these risks in a different way.
I discovered that Agile was much more than I thought. It reminded me of when I learned to ride a bike. Just like I had to let go of fear and trust the bike's balance, Agile done wisely carried the potential to help me but I had to learn to let go of strict control and rely on the team's collaboration. It felt like finding the missing puzzle piece that made everything fit together perfectly.
In Agile, risk management is integrated into different roles. The product owner takes charge of risks related to customers, like time, scope, and budget. The ScrumMaster handles social risks by promoting a healthy team environment and addressing external factors that could impact the project. The development team tackles technical risks by using engineering practices and working together to avoid problems. This way, risks are divided among the team, leading to increased chances of success.
Reflecting further on my own experiences, I realized how these risk categories resonated with my projects. I recalled instances when customers sneaked in additional features without change control, throwing our timelines and budgets into disarray. I laughed at the memory of team members showing up late to daily scrum meetings or the panic that ensued when testers were bombarded with work towards the end of a sprint.
Sarah's advice and practical illustrations gradually broke down my reluctance. I came to realize that Agile wasn't about recklessly disregarding risk management, but rather a fresh method that empowered teams to tackle risks together. It became a voyage of trust, placing confidence in both the team's abilities and the Agile framework itself.
As I delved deeper into Agile, I encountered a quote by Carol Dweck that struck a chord: "The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life." It made me realize that my transition to Agile was not just about adopting a new methodology; it was a mindset shift. I had to let go of my need for control and embrace the power of collaboration and adaptability.
Coming back to the analogy of riding a bicycle for the first time, letting go of control was both exhilarating and terrifying. It required me to trust my team's expertise and rely on their collective wisdom. There were days when I stumbled, holding onto my old ways, but gradually, I allowed Agile to guide me towards a better future.
Risk Management Redefined:
In the Agile world, risk management was no longer about meticulously creating exhaustive risk registers. Instead, it became an ongoing conversation among team members. It was about being proactive, identifying risks early, and finding creative solutions together. Agile made me realize that by embracing uncertainty, we can transform risks into opportunities for growth and innovation.
My journey from control to trust has been nothing short of transformative. Agile has challenged me to question my long-held beliefs and reimagine the way I approach risk management. It has taught me that true leadership lies in empowering and trusting the collective wisdom of the team. As American author and speaker Robert H. Schuller once said, "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" Agile gives us the tools to answer that question boldly and fearlessly.
I invite you to join me on this roller coaster of change. Embrace the power of Agile, relinquish control, and discover a world where risks are not obstacles to overcome but stepping stones towards success. Are you ready to take the plunge?