By Jean-Pierre Lambert
We talked about it at Agile en Seine 2017 and MiXiT 2018!
I’m back from MiXiT, an awesome conference in Lyon. I was there with Richard Sourianarayanane to present our talk about how France Télévisions’s Player team grow from doing Agile to being Agile.
What are doing Agile and being Agile?
The usual definition is that doing Agile is about adopting the practices which are part of the Agile folklore, if I may say so… While being Agile means literally living Agile, it is about the mindset.
So let’s jump directly to the conclusion of the talk. According to us, can we elaborate on what is being Agile?
To us, it is about finding the sweetspot that combines all the following:
- A true product vision, enabling the Product Owner to prioritize and to say “no”
- Technical excellence, necessary to be able to continuously deliver value
- An efficient organization, adapted to the team’s context and characters, focusing on being as lean as possible (do what helps, ditch what doesn’t)
The advices given at the end of the talk are actually complementing this view.
“Have a clear direction”
Here is the first advice of the talk:
“Have a clear direction.”
Well, that is the simplest possible advice we could give and yet it’s also one of the most powerful.
It directly echoes to how product vision is at the core of the Agile model we introduced. Again, the Product Owner must be able to say “no”. But equally important is the ability for this vision to be carried by the whole team — development team included! The development team is the main actor building the product… If they don’t get the vision, then what are they going to build?
Having a Scrum Master helps
The second advice states that having a seasoned Scrum Master aboard (that was me) is of great help.
Inside the team, I was able to sense how things were going and to provide relevant advices. My knowledge about Scrum, Agile, management, processes, facilitation, was very welcome — skills that other members of the team lacked, already focused on other areas of expertise.
I was also acting as the good conscience of the team, or Scrum Police like I like to call it, always reminding them of their own processes, that they had defined for themselves.
Visual management rocks
The next advice is about the use of visual management. It truly helped the team to overcome challenges, while avoiding dispensable tools and processes. Visual management has been at the core of the lean mindset we developed, focusing on what matters and ditching what doesn’t.
Visual management also got us on the tracks of Kanban which was ultimately one of the best things that the team ever experienced.
Oh, and by the way, we ditched JIRA along the way (!!!) and the team has zero remorse about it. Going full on with visual management and physical boards, JIRA felt like it was holding us back.
Engineering excellence counts
The final advice is about how engineering excellence matters.
“Move fast and break things” was Facebook’s previous motto and it was a real challenge for the team to try to live it — basically fighting to get features out of the door and gather real data in production, instead of spending ages to try to validate the perfect release.
Engineering excellence is much more than tools and practice. It is also growing an engineering culture that will always drive the team to go further, but which will also survive to team turn-over.
One specific driver of this engineering culture is valuing the ability to deliver code into production over writing new features. The build and delivery toolchains are really important and at the core of the product — being able to deliver often is essential. In our case, the team successfully moved from one release every few months, to a release every few days — sometimes multiple times on the same day!
And it gets even better: focusing on delivery into production over new code helps shifting the mindset towards value: writing code has zero value until it gets in production, used by real users. Thinking in terms of value was also a big challenge for the team but they eventually made it, leading to less waste and less useless features.
Is it a lasting change?
Six months later, the team’s Scrum Master is gone — I went away, helping other teams instead.
We took the opportunity of the MiXiT conference to reflect on what happened in this team: is it a lasting change? Or did everything relapse without the Scrum Master?
We were glad to say that everything kept moving without the Scrum Master. Actually, practices changed, and keeps changing, but the mindset stays.
There is hardly a better compliment to a Scrum Master!
Want to dig more?
In case you’d like to dive more into this talk and this fantastic team, I’d like to let you know that I have written a comprehensive post digging into various aspects of this talk which you can find here: link. You can also have a look at the slides here: link.
If this feedback inspires you, you can also contact Wemanity to get more success stories like this one: link. We’re here to help!