Sparking joy with Agile – Are You Committed?

One day I got this quote

And I did not get it.

So, I had to find out who Marie Kondo is, and why is this so funny?

Marie Kondo is a tidying expert, bestselling author, star of Netflix’s hit show, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo”. She has spent years tidying up homes. Starting with her home growing up and later on as a professional.
She has made many experiments to see what works for her, and along the way, discovered this is her calling.
You see, Marie loves mess. She does. And tidying up is her kick.

As a mother of 3, my house looks like a war zone. Stuff everywhere. So you might understand what brought me to explore more.
I realized that KonMari for tidying up in my personal life, is like Agile in my professional life.
Sparking joy in my home life = adding value in my professional life.

Let me share some insights with you.
The KonMari method has 6 basic rules.
(Of course there is a lot more to it when you come to practice it. Same as in Agile.)

These are the 6 rules of KonMari:

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle
  3. Finish discarding first
  4. Tidy by category, not by location
  5. Follow the right order
  6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy

This time I would like to focus on the 1st rule – commitment

In her Netflix series, Kondo is invited to American households to coach them how to spark joy in their life by decluttering their homes.
Wendy and Ron Akiyama, provided one of the most dramatic ‘before-and-after’ episodes of the series by utilizing the KonMari method.
At the beginning of the episode, Ron is a no show. He may be there physically, but he is absent.
He arrives late to meetings, he just sits there. And he says “she decided…” familiar?
In order to understand the context, this is Wendy’s pile of clothes, but here is also Ron’s baseball cards collection, located in their bedroom.

Personal commitment, in my view, means you will be changing the way you do things. And you will need to step out of your comfort zone and do this for a while before it will get comfortable again. This takes hard work.

In the episode, Ron is sitting there… sorting his cards, for days. He falls asleep in the middle of his work. But he gets it done. Then he learns to appreciate the cards he chose to keep.

It is amazing to see how we have things that bother us, but we are reluctant to take action.
Action is driven by true commitment to make a change in our own behavior.
Take a moment to reflect, in your daily life, what are you committed to?
Where do you find yourself stepping out of your comfort zone for a clear purpose you would like to achieve?

There is a difference between personal commitment and organizational one.
How many times did you have people in your team saying “management decided to do [XYZ]”?
I heard – “Agile is for managers to have better control by planning detailed work into 2 week sprints, for the next 6 months.
Who Makes the commitment?
In many cases, the people that commit for an Agile transformation do it on behalf of the organization, but as a coach you need commitment from different people in different roles for an effective change.

On the Netflix show, it is not visible to the viewer who made the commitment, but it is clear that Wendy wants this more than Ron, and part of the process the couple goes through is realizing their mutual vision and committing to tidying up. I can only assume that part of their commitment was to invest a lot of time and effort in this process.

Organizational commitment, in my view, means that management needs to know what they are committing to and be willing to invest in it. When I start working with an organization, I do not intend to “fix the development” or “change people” . I strive to make the workplace a better place, for the people and for the products. In order to achieve that, we (the people of the organization and I) need to have the environment that supports that.
Same as personal commitment, the organizational commitment is about stepping out of the comfort zone and taking risks. Allowing people to make decisions in spite of knowing there will be some mistakes along the way.
Organizational price could be time and budget. For example, you will need to slow down before you speedup. Because learning takes time. Is your organization willing to afford that in the short term?

Additional price could be organizational changes. Since culture follows structure  (according to Larman’s laws of organizational behavior),
In some cases changing the organizational structure enables better flows in your system (aka the organization). This is a hard step for most organizations. That requires a lot of managerial courage before, during and after the change. Since we have people involved, it is a very delicate and complex network of interests that needs thoughtful management. Naturally, this translates into time and effort are required during the change to create an impact in the desired direction.

Although I differentiate between personal and organizational commitment, it’s important to understand that both are crucial to drive learning and improvement in organizations.

I invite you to reflect, are you and/or people in your organization committed to go act on taking your organization to the next level?

Next time I will elaborate on rule No. 2 – “Imagine your ideal lifestyle”, which I refer to as: Your vision.

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