Kristen Thornton
Kristen Thornton

The power of standups – how I fell in love with Agile

I didn’t really consider myself a newbie. After all, I have 2 uni degrees and over 15 years experience at a senior level within the “Big 4” consulting firms, not to mention a 6 year stint in-house with one of the world’s largest banks. I’m used to fast-paced environments and high-pressure project delivery. Then, 12 months ago I made the move into the world of Agile when I joined Aginic. I assumed it would be easy given my experience, but it wasn’t. 

 

Initially so many concepts were familiar, but, once I got further into it, I realised I didn’t really understand it. It was all new to me. The concept of minimising waste (whether that be man-power, time, or money), is as important to being Agile as drinking water is when trying to get fit. So why are there daily meetings (called daily stand ups) when running an Agile project? Doesn’t that seem tedious and excessive? 

When I was a consultant in the Big 4 firms and I used to manage project meetings. We’d try to schedule them every two weeks, to give us time to actually get stuff done and show progress. Those two hour meetings always included a risks and issues log, and generally had a hundred follow up actions. So when I heard “daily meetings” for Agile projects I cringed and thought “what a waste of time”. 

 

Little did I appreciate that stand ups are literally just little huddles. Like a pep talk from your Personal Trainer. How did your training go yesterday? Sore anywhere? Anything stopping you working out today? Daily stand ups are 5-15 minute sessions where everyone just quickly runs through any blockers or issues, and updates are given as to whether the goal is on track. I have never seen such a targeted and well-run update session, devoid of wasted time. Boom! Done and dusted. Issues flushed out, obstacles flagged, a forward path identified, and work moves on. 

The more I learned about practicing Agile, the more confidently I can say that an Agile mindset is a great thing! It means that you get to see things as they progress just enough to confirm you’re on the right track. It means you don’t waste time and effort to undo a million things. I understand that now – now that I have an Agile mindset.

 

The longer I am in this field, the more I can’t believe that everyone isn’t using Agile to run their projects! I wish that I left the old “waterfall” club for the Agile approach sooner than I did. It was hard to let go of my old habits, and really understand what Agile was all about, but geesh, I’m glad I didn’t give up! I am definitely part of team Agile now.