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Less Scorn, More Listening

I got a tweet this morning about the new VersionOne "State of Agile Development Survey" in which the re-tweeter used hashtags like #shocking and #fail.  Looking for a good laugh, I clicked on over to the survey, and realized I #liked the survey and I thought it was #interesting and #helpful to me.  I didn't find anything that jumped out to me as a #failure in a particularly #horrifying way.  Then for a moment I thought maybe I am not one of the #Agile Cool Kids.  Of course the moment was brief and I bounced back quickly--please don't worry. 

But as I thought it over, I realized I myself used the phrase "that's CRAZY" yesterday for a perfectly reasonable management reaction to a difficult personnel situation on a team.

Have you ever thought about how much elitism and scorn we carry around with us in the Agile world?  Every question becomes a target for someone to poop on, as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog would say.  Do you use written requirements?  Aren't you collocated?  Do you still have silos?  Do you still have a PMO?  Does your firm have management?  Are you working for The Man?  How many Agile Manifesto signers do you know?  Do they think you're cool?  Are you still using Sharpies withcaps instead of the ones that click?  It goes on and on.

On the other hand, one thing we do too infrequently is stop to listen to each other and to our clients.  By "listen," I mean more than just "waiting until the other person stops talking before getting to say what you are dying to say."  You may be surprised if you actively listen to what other people are saying, rather than thinking you know what they are saying, because they've said it 1000 times before.  Did you know--stay with me--that people only hear between 25-50% of what you say?  (You skipped that, didn't you?).  Listening is a good skill to have, and being agile doesn't make you exempt from having to do it.  In fact, the fast pace of most agile projects and their reliance on spoken communication make real listening vital (at least until you know your fellow team members well enough so that you really do know what they're going to say all the time).  (KIDDING!)

Just stop.  Listen. 

It's okay to feel distress on behalf of others who don't share your point of view, but it's not ever going to be productive to poop on them.

This post is from Pragmatic Agilist by Elena Yatzeck. Click here to see the original post in full.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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