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  • Writer's pictureMerrill B. Lamont III

As an Agilist I want to do Disgustingly Agile Things so that I become even more Agile

Admit it: you've laughed at an Agile notion taken too far. A blog post title expressed in the User Story Form? I thought that was hilarious! For about half a minute. Then I asked myself, "Why needlessly insert some aspect of Agility in a superfluous or infelicitous manner?"

For practice! Maybe you're finding opportunities in your life to inject some Agility to make your own experience as you look for that first Scrum Master job, post-certification. Or maybe you think you're (temporarily) hilarious.

Either way, I submit it's good practice as you skill up. Or at least self-amusing.

Here are some Disgustingly Agile Things you can try.

Ask for the Purpose of a Meeting

Just like how the User Story Form has the 'so that' bit at the end, the benefit, 'the why', y'all should know why you're hanging out together in that meeting. It sets the tone. One tone. Think of it as an investment of a few seconds to possibly save an hour. Or likely half-an-hour, since those are the atoms that make up our corporate calendars.

Talk about Respecting Time Boxes

I mean, this is just polite.

The phrasing, however, is just nerdy.

You would elicit the description of a Sprint, and subtly the Agile idea of getting things to done to subsequently get feedback. Or you could just want to move on to the next thing already because you don't care about feedback... depends on how Agile you are. Or you could be hungry.

Set a Limit for Life-In-Progress

Once you configure a column in your Jira board to turn red when there are too many rectangles in there, thus sparking a conversation amongst the team about reducing Work-In-Progress, you eventually think, "Man, can I put a cap on the number of things I'm juggling in my life?"

And then you start talking about it like it's this new diet you're trying, like an excuse you half-happily tender for why you're not working on that new thing, like it's new science you read about on the internet where it is helping other people so you're going to give it the ol' college try even though you don't fully understand it, like it's "doctor's orders".

It is actually a cheat to more easily embrace how we as humans are not good at multi-tasking, through facilitating the admission of a seemingly personal failing, casually, and with a smile.

Treat It like an Experiment

This borders on social engineering.

Let's say there's tension in the meeting: it's a hot topic, the discussion is getting heated, folks are getting hot under the collar, and there's no ventilation in the room, so it's literally getting hot. (And now you know this blog post was written in the pre-Coronavirus era.)

What better way to de-risk some movement, lessen the potential mess of some decision, and lower the barrier to some agreement than by this magic pill of recommending a trial that is time-boxed (to be respected, see above).

Watch as people's shoulders go down. "Oh," they'll exclaim, "it's not permanent. We are just trying something. After a short while, if it doesn't work out, we'll try the other thing. OK. That's way more palatable. This direction isn't set in stone."

Now extract yourself from the conference room and air yourself out. (I think I'll start a new category of joke: pre-Coronavirus.)

Give Everything Story Points

My wife used to make fun of me for this one.

Not everything has to be turned into a Backlog Item with Story Points, yet the point of Story Points isn't the number, but the conversation by the team leading up to that number, representing a level of discussion such that the team is now comfy enough to start that story.

To me, if I see a number in that Story Points field, it's a flag that means the team talked about it, and is ready to start it (based on their knowledge at one point in time).

To get to a number, you have to drive through having that conversation.

Want to ignite a chat about shared understanding? Ask about the number of Story Points you might give for that task.

Talk about Sustainable Pace

I feel one can be most disgustingly Agile by the terms used.

This term is so formal, and also so powerful.

If you ask somebody about if they're working at a sustainable pace, and they answer 'no', they will deflate before your eyes and look up at you, pathetically, and start treating you like their therapist. Be careful because this question is also a possible affront to the decisions they've made to get to this point. They may take pride in burning the candle at both ends, saying it's only temporary, and no, they're not dousing that candle in gasoline, then chucking it into a dumpster fire, itself on a burning ship set afloat, like a Viking burial.

Wow, that image is... lit.


I'll stop here. I've given you 6 ideas.

Which is well within the range of... 7±2.

Time to take the experience of writing this blog post and... run a Retrospective.

See if I can come up with any... Kaizen.

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