My Agile Life: Agile Is A Dialogue

(This column is posted at, and Steve’s Tumblr)

This is my continuing column on my “Agile Life” experiment where I use the Agile techniques in Scrum for a more productive, less-stressful life.   My latest insight to shareis how Agile and agile techniques like Scrum are about diaogue.

These dialogues may be with yourself, with one person, or with many people. But there’s always a dialogue to be had. Not surprising, it’s part of the Agile Manifesto.

Three of the four parts of the agile manifesto are about communication – among the team, with customers, and with the reality of change. You talk to each other, to your customer, and respond to reality.

I’ve had plenty of dialogues in my Agile Life practices;   I’m the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and a Team Member – sometimes it helps to have a little sit-down with myself.  Here’s a few:

  • In my planning I’d look at my Backlog and my Projects and have to ask what delivers value.
  • I’d ask how to break down stories into deliverable value.
  • In breaking down my Stories into tasks I’d have to ask what the tasks were and how they’d complete a story.
  • In my daily reviews, I’d ask what’s next and think over what I had to do – and maybe coordinate with people on things like when I’d run an errand or who could help me with something.
  • My Cumulative Flow would help me realize how much work was in the air – and how much I was delivering, in case I was overworking myself.
  • As I took care of things, I’d get ideas for the next Sprint or ways to improve, and make sure I had revised my plans and improved my methods.

Scrum, the Agile method I’m most experienced in, actually sets up tons of “dialogue moments in the form of ceremonies:

  • A planning session.
  • Daily standups.
  • Retrospectives.

So when you’re trying to be more Agile, to use Scrum or whatever, remember the need for dialogue – even with yourself. Asking good questions means getting good answers and doing good works. Even if it’s just you sitting there asking what’s the best way to cook for a party.
– Steve