An Agile experience – A musical chorus

It struck me as I was watching my mother-in-law’s performance in a musical chorus, how Agile a chorus really needs to be. They were a chorus of approximately 30 women who all had different ranges, outfits, vocal styles, and physical mannerisms while they sang.

I thought they were a great analogy for an Agile team. Here was a team that didn’t try to dress the same or choreograph so that they all sang like 30 versions of the same person. They all had different skills and styles and they embraced those styles. In the end, I believe this added to the quality of the performance and it was quite inspiring. I thought back to how on most teams we try to overly fit people into roles and standardize processes.

It gave me insight to my current and future teams on how we spend effort on choreography rather than outcomes. What did it matter if people had different ranges, outfits, mannerisms, or styles? As long as the outcome was a coordinated effort and delivered value, paying attention to choreographing those other items would have simply been waste.

I believe this excessive choreography comment applies to Agile and non Agile processes and practices. If we blindly follow prescribed methods without ensuring they increase the value of the outcome, we are increasing waste.

And my other observation? All this works when people have passion for what they do. The chorus loved singing and although they went about it differently, the passion came out in the commitment to the outcome. They coordinated the passion and outcome, not the engine that creates output.

All in all, it was a wonderful performance with an unexpected Agile insight. Embrace Individuality, Promote Passion, and focus on Outcome.

Thanks Betty-Anne.

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