“Embrace change to add more value!” and other “aha!”s

Every time we run an Agile Project Management class we tweak it slightly, based on what we've learned in the last one. Inspect and adapt, as they say… err, I mean, as we say.

One thing we noticed happening over an intensive two days period is that people tended to generate many more insights than they can retain. "Aha" moments that seem memorable at the time have faded after the two day barrage of new information. How to capture the spontaneous learning as it occurs and preserve it, without disrupting the flow?

Our solution: Create an "aha!" wall where students can capture their immediate insights by putting up sticky notes at any time during the two days. These ahas formed a significant part of our retrospectives at the end of each module, and make a fantastic mnemonic take-away.

As we strive to structure our workshops to resemble agile projects as much as possible, we framed these ahas as representing the "learning value" the students were generating during each educational "sprint." Needless to say, this maps quite nicely to "business value" and demonstrates the beauty of incremental delivery in a tangible way.

This week we had thirteen very bright students show up for a two day workshop offered through the Bay Area chapter of the PMI, most of them PMPs, some with a high level of agile awareness, others new to the field.  Here are some highlights from their wall of over fifty "aha!"s. Reading over them, I think these could easily be chapter headings for a book on Agile Project Management:

Retrospective = lessons applied = improved output and flow.

Fail safely; fail softly!

Work becomes fun!

Things that are visable get more attention–and get done!

Embrace change to add more value.

If you won't need it, don't do it!

Responding to change means changing the plan.

Document to the extent that value is added to maximize ROI.

Focus on done, not doing.

Slow down to increase output.

Early delivery, early revenue = "compound interest"

A lot of the students in this class expressed an interest in returning for our upcoming Certified Scrum Master Training on August 12 & 13, which Chris will be co-teaching with the inimitable Jeff McKenna, which we have yet to formally announce. If you want to join them for some more ahas, save the date and either join our mailing list or check back early next week, when we should have details and a registration page.

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