One practice a day...

Nicole Belilos

How do you change the way you live or work? Many people, and companies, seem to think it's enough to adopt just one or two practices. While they continue their old habits, too. Will this lead you to your desired outcome? Or will you just get frustrated? 

The desire to change

Suppose one day, after a particularly bad hangover, you decide to change your life.  You long for a trim body, a balanced spirit, lots of energy and no more headaches. In short, a happy mind in a healthy, good looking body. But how do you get there?

Well, we all know that there are many practices that will help you achieve those goals.  Exercise three times a week, stop smoking, reduce your alcohol intake, and change your eating patterns. Oh, also, get more sleep, less stress, no more pills, and drink herbal tea instead of espressos.

But you hate sports, you love chocolate and smoking is your way to reduce your stress.  So what do you do?

The daily fruit practice

In order to get healthy, you decide that from now on, every day, you will eat a piece of fruit at lunch.   It’s pretty easy to do, even though you don’t like fruit very much.  So now you are satisfied, you do a healthy thing every day, and you expect to reach your goals (more energy! greater happiness! better looks!) anytime soon.

Will you? Of course not! While the daily piece of fruit is a step in the right direction, you will never fully get the benefits you are seeking if you keep up your old habits of smoking, drinking and eating greasy food,. And after a while you might even get disappointed and frustrated, and you will decide to stop eating fruit, claiming that “a healthy lifestyle simply doesn’t work for you”.

Doing just one healthy practice, or even a couple of them, isn’t enough. What you really need is to change your mindset. You want to be a healthy person, not do some healthy stuff. Once the healthy mindset becomes your way of life, the practices will simply be the natural way to go. And they will be a lot easier to start with and maintain for a long time.

The daily Agile practice

The same applies to Agile. We see many companies and teams that ‘ do‘ Agile. They take a couple of practices from an Agile framework such as Scrum, and they figure that that will be enough to give them all the Agile benefits. Some teams even think that if they just do a daily stand-up, they do ‘ Agile’.  While daily stand-ups, just like that daily piece of fruit, are definitely a good practice, your are still far removed from true agility if the rest of your behaviour consists of old, non-Agile practices.

A company or team only gets the most out of being Agile, when its mindset is based on the Agile principles stated in the Agile manifesto, such as continuous learning at all levels in the organization, business and IT working closely together, delivering the highest business value first, welcoming change, and creating an environment where motivated individuals can be creative and self-directing.

So if you are doing ‘some’ Agile, expand your practices. But more importantly, change your mindset. Don’t do Agile, be Agile. And remember:

One practice a day does not keep the old habits away...

Comments (1)

  1. Sunil Inteti - Reply

    January 26, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Very nice analogy from day to day life, should be the first lesson for an agile practitioner. Goes to say
    "And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles."

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