Blog

When agility meets reality – Comic Agilé

8 juni 2022

On June 1st, we had the privilege of welcoming Luxshan Ratnaravi and Mikkel Noe-Nygaard to a fantastic evening in our Agile Kitchen! Luxshan and Mikkel are the heart and soul of Comic Agilé, the tragicomic strip about agile anti-patterns and misunderstandings. Their mission is very clear: “we want more people to laugh, reflect and improve their agile ways”.

Comic Agilé is hugely popular and we surely noticed: this session accounted for our highest number of subscribers and attendees to an Agile Kitchen session to date. We also got a Net Promoter Score of 63, which means something between ‘great’ and ‘excellent’, depending on the source. It will be hard to beat these figures next time but we’re definitely going to try though. 😉

And now, more importantly, what did we learn in this – pun not intended – animated session?

Our main takeaway would be this one: it is easy to mock situations that are misaligned with the agile mindset and principles and we should definitely do so from time to time (a Comic Agilé strip can definitely help with that). But it is much more useful and empathic to see how we can help people and organisations in achieving better outcomes.

During the session, we touched upon a large variety of smelly and cringey agile situations which many of us frequently encounter out there in the organisations we belong to or coach. Equally cartoonesque and relatable versions of all usual agile roles got covered, sparing none: from the Product Owner who does not own anything, over the inexperienced scrum master, the end users who never get to talk to the development teams, to the expensive consultants from AgileBS, developers speaking ‘Chinese’ and the line and product managers seeking a new ‘raison d’être’ in this agile setting. After having a good laugh with the depicted tragicomic situations, we got some practical advice on how to help out people in these situations. You laugh and then you learn.

Rather than summarising the whole session, let us share some very useful and valuable nuggets of wisdom that we took away from the Comic Agilé session:

  • It makes no sense to approach your agile transformation as a waterfall project.
  • Transformations often start out in software development or digital, but you can massively increase the impact by slicing the change across the wider organisation.
  • Help management by clarifying the reason for going agile.
  • Clarify what empowerment actually means in practice. Clarify responsibilities.
  • Don’t measure your agile transformation using vanity metrics like #teams trained or – much worse – velocity comparisons. Rather focus on metrics like customer NPS, employee NPS and lead time.
  • The scrum master role is not an entry-level role, it is a leadership role. Guiding a team on its path to continuous improvement is no small feat. So if you work as a scrum master, consider asking for a raise. 😉
  • Empower scrum masters to look beyond the team level
  • As a developer, help your product owner understand the business impact of technical debt. Try to speak business language, rather than ‘Chinese’.
  • End users actually love to talk to people providing value to them (like developers). Let them. Also encourage developers to do so.
  • Ideally, the product owner is the CEO of the product. Product managers can focus on the strategic part while a group of product owners takes care of most other stuff.
  • Scaling mechanisms can be helpful in dealing with dependencies, but make sure to consider descaling by removing the root cause of the dependencies.
  • SAFe uses release trains, but what is actually less – pun intended – agile than a train? Well, it’s not about the train, it’s just the rails that limit agility. So limit any commitment to the next quarter.
  • Roadmaps are forecasts, not contracts.

We just gave you lots of insights to digest! So let us finish by saying that at the end of the session, ten lucky session participants won a copy of the first Comic Agilé book, allowing them to dive deeper into the witty world of Comic Agilé.

If you did not attend or win, and you are curious about Comic Agilé and their insights, make sure to check out the Comic Agilé website or follow them on LinkedIn.