Agility in Team: Right fit and right attitude team members

Value individuals and interactions over processes and tools..

This write up is to share some of anomalies in hiring which has led to ridiculing “Agile as only theory and does not work on the floor, Agile is fad & cannot sustain the business or project” .  This is an attempt to understand why few scrum teams are filled more with such people, who are not so agile in practice.

Lack of agility in team, or the agile mindset. One of reasons for  agile failures are fitment issues. Usually one can find that Scrum master is reporting to Managers and Managers still having command and control approach to manage so called agile teams.

“Mediocre interviewer hires mediocre candidates”

One needs to be skilled enough to identify the “good” apples from the basket full of apples. If lacks in necessary, required skills, probability of it being average or rotten is relatively more, though.

Similarly to hire for a role (any) you need to be skilled enough, first place. This helps in finding the right fitment.   Now lets look at another perspective. Managers are first line of resistance for the agile adoption / journey as their mindset is command and control.  Another perspective  – there are still few Managers who are tend to measuring lines of code or the equivalent as the key productivity metric, where as in agile, optimizing is the key which is quiet opposite to old school of thought.  Even if some one wants to measure the lines of code, how about the code generator applications.  Developer designing the forms, using code generators should be considered as superman developers J.  Low codes software adoption is on the rise, in fact. Coming back to agile, scenario is no different. Actions speak louder than words. Few excerpts from candidates who have been though such interviews given below reinforces the state of agile mindset in such scrum teams.

Interview One :

  • Telephonic Interview for Agile Coach:
  • “Only three questions were asked to me. Have you given trainings. What were its content and did u use PPT to deliver it ? What are activities in road-map?  Are you certified?  When asked for clarifications or to elaborate the questions, Interviewer turned out arrogant and especially offensive. After the call, checked interviewer profile in LinkedIn and was surprised that he did not had the relevant experience to do the interview except for one SAFe certification”

Interview two

  • Face to Face  first level Interview for Scrum Master:
  • “I had been to an interview where they made all of us sit in a conference room. For Scrum Master role I was sitting next to the interviewer. My previous candidate mentioned definition of ready as “story when it is ready for deployment”. He got selected for next round and I got typical routine answer as “we will get back to you” for telling the correct answers”

Interview three

  • Face to Face Interview for Scrum Master:
  • “Interviewer had scribbled slips (questions) to interview. One of the interviewers also had three dozens of certifications. He started asking bahubali opening scene, after three seconds of interview, he asked which lean principle is used.

Interview four

  • Face to Face Interview for Product Owner:
  • “Interview I attended, interviewer googled and asking the questions. Expecting answers from there”

Point is unless the interviewer mind set is not truly agile, it is impossible to hire candidates who are agile in nature.

“To choose the best, you first need to be the best” . Not that everyone is bad, it is just a bad fitment by bad interviewers, could be experienced, not doubt. What best can be expected from such mediocre knowledgeable people.

One should look at hiring who brings in agility along with him, Upskilling is a bigger issue once hired. So looking for a person with relatively higher learning quotient is always good in the long run for getting agility in team

Designations or positions or the number of experience years should not be input criteria to interview. It is sad these are still the first set of criteria applied . Another criteria is the certifications the candidate posses. It should be the skills one has that will help in choosing the best from the rest. One should look at the projects one has worked to understand initially.

Adding certification to their resumes are good for the freshers, atleast it helps to know if the candidate possess the knowledge. Ultimately its knowledge of the subject and the hands on experience that will help people perform and sustain. Just having certifications, does not qualify either way –  to be candidate and also it does not quality to hire another candidate in the same field of expertise. Interviewer should have practical hands on experience and multiple points of views to experiment from the SME perspective. Positive mindset which will only from years of experience, exposure to different challenges and solutions that were worked and failed in different scenarios.

Focus on your “Why”:  People buy ideas, opportunities, and inspiration – not products. You have to approach hiring in the same way. Tell people why they’ll love working for this position and how you are part of it.  This idea goes beyond things like salary and benefits. In the job description (and in future interviews), tell candidates what their purpose will be if they join the team. Simon Sinek said, “If you hire people just to do a job, they’ll work for your money. If you hire people who believe what you believe, they don’t need to be “managed” – they go above and beyond without telling them what to do or how to do it.”

Showcase Agile culture: Does your company or team have something that makes it unique or special? Tell candidates what it’s like to work for you and be honest. If it’s quiet and everyone keeps their head-down, find a way to express that. The goal is to find candidates who are great fits for you and for candidates to feel like your workplace is where they belong.

So to assess the candidate, pre-hire assessment could help uncover a candidate’s thinking style, behaviors, and interests–critical criteria for making smart hires that one just can’t get from interviews or resumes.

To remind everyone what the values are in the context of the Scrum Guide:

When the values of commitment, courage, focus, openness and respect are embodied and lived by the Scrum Team, the Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation come to life and build trust for everyone. The Scrum Team members learn and explore those values as they work with the Scrum events, roles and artifacts.

Successful use of Scrum depends on people becoming more proficient in living these five values. People personally commit to achieving the goals of the Scrum Team. The Scrum Team members have courage to do the right thing and work on tough problems. Everyone focuses on the work of the Sprint and the goals of the Scrum Team. The Scrum Team and its stakeholders agree to be open about all the work and the challenges with performing the work. Scrum Team members respect each other to be capable, independent people.








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