Sparking joy with Agile – #3 Finish discarding

In my previous blog posts, I started sharing with you the commonality between the KonMari method and the Agile principles. We have looked into Commitment & Vision

This time, I would like to focus on Rule # 3 – Finish discarding first

Do You know the feeling of drowning in stuff, being overwhelmed, and do not know where to start?

It could be your closet, your kids’ playroom, your team issues, or your backlog.

What you see here is a picture from the desk of CBC traffic reporter Angela Knight

Too many things sparked joy for her… so here is the result.

Before you add new features, new meetings, new processes – go over the existing ones, make sure you actually need them.

As it is stated in the agile manifesto, “Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done – is essential”

In most cases, less is more…

When we have an inventory – it has a cost.

In my closet, it is a visual clutter that makes me uneasy. Or the playroom full of games they never use.
In KonMari there is a method to fold shirts and place them horizontally. So I started doing that. You can see my daughter’s shirts folded below.

My husband figured he should do the same for his shirts, so he started folding his shirts the same way.

Only he did not sort or discard any of his shirts that do not spark joy. Resulting in dozens of shirts waiting to be organized differently, and that did not work well. He did not understand why he had to fold his stuff in a method that takes twice the time, and then his closet looks even worse than when he started.

Sounds familiar?

It was like having the best-defined User Story sitting in a pile of 1000 unprioritized User Stories in the backlog.

If you want to do something, do it all the way. Be thorough and make sure you understand why you do it, and what you need to do.
Only then – how to do it. (Start with Why by Simon Sinek)

It’s not enough doing things right, you also have to do the right things.

Imagine a meeting where there are 40+ items in the To-Do.
It is hard to prioritize, and hard to visualize the value. It is hard to create a clear sprint backlog.
We also have a tendency to keep old items in the backlog. Just in case. So we will not forget them, and one day, we will get to them. I call it the graveyard. These items are preventing you from focusing on the important and urgent ones.

By the way, it does not apply for backlogs only. I had a client once, that for everything that did not work in their process, they added another step.

I worked with them to simplify their process and improve their existing meetings instead of adding new ones. For example, we changed all 1-hour weekly status meetings & long emails into a 15 min Kanban meeting… that freed up loads of time and actually put the responsibility to the team rather than to the PMO.

Before you make any changes in your process, gather your team and ask:
Where is the waste?
Where are you missing the joy/value?
It is important to remember that the current processes have been established at a specific point in time where they solved a problem and created value. Once they no longer provide value, they become waste or obstacles.
Once you have handled these obstacles, only then will you be able to make progress and see new options for improvement.

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