Agile Project Management Assignment: Reflection On Agile Ways Of Working
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”- Aristotle
You are required to write and submit a 1500-word individual reflection on agile project management assignment about how your work as a Agile Team is progressing so far. You are required to use Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle as a framework for this exercise and your reflection should clearly follow the steps of the framework.
1. Describe your personal concrete experience - by this stage of the trimester your team is formed with a Working Agreement and moving forward with the project using the cycle of sprint planning, sprint reviews and sprint retrospectives.
2. Undertake a reflective observation on your experience working as a self-organising Agile Team so far: the good, the bad and the ugly.
3. Using the abstract Agile concepts that you have learned: Working Agreements, Self-organised teams, the Agile Mindset, Psychological Safety, reflection in Agile practices and Servant Leadership consider whether your team is working effectively as an Agile Team.
4. Plan your next steps of active experimentation: what will you do in the next phase of the project to bring those abstract Agile concepts to your practice and how do you believe that this will bring your team greater success.
The reflection in this agile project management assignment has emphasised on evaluating personal and my team's role as well as understanding of Agile concepts. The discussions have pointed out the extent to which we as a team have been able to understand the role of self-organised teams, Agile mindset, psychological safety, servant leadership and retrospective as well. Kolb's reflective model for experiential learning has been applied for structuring the work and focusing on the level of effective performance achieved by the team. Extensive research has been carried out with respect to the agile concepts which have been utilised in this reflection for measuring the performance of my team in handling agile project management. Lastly, on the basis of the gaps identified in the team's performance I have identified some solutions which will prove to be beneficial in enhancing our competencies as an agile team.
Individual Reflection using Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle
Till now we have attained adequate theoretical knowledge in relation to different components of Agile ways of handling projects. The initial three modules of the course have helped us to gain ideas about Agile Manifesto, Agile mindset, Agile principles, Agile teamwork, Agile ceremonies and so on. As a team we have compared and discussed the differences between traditional and Agile project management along with focusing on different Agile methods (Scrum, Kanban, etc.). On the basis of the theoretical knowledge we are continuing with our project work. So far we have finalised the working agreement and have conducted many meetings, some of them belong to agile ceremonies. We are at the beginning of the execution stage of our project and have learned a lot of things while trying to apply theoretical knowledge to practical application. Through the practical application of the Agile concepts we have got an opportunity to refine our ideas and competencies in the context of Agile project management.
According to O'Connell (2018), agile teams are self-organising teams which do not operate as per particular set of commands or orders. The team members have varied skills and handle the problems on their own by applying their skills and expertise. Agile teams are primarily cross-functional and have the key aim of focusing on problems as well as delivering quality products to the customers. The target in this case is to deliver appropriate values to the customers. Team coordination, division of work, leadership and orientation are some of the factors which teams have to consider while deciding to operate as an Agile team (Gren, Goldman & Jacobsson, 2020). Establishment of defined roles and implementation of shared decision making are some of the other crucial elements of an Agile team or self-organising team. As a team we are able to refer ourselves as an Agile team since we are handling the challenges as per our knowledge and competencies. Each of the members has a different expertise and we use them to identify the most effective ways of continuing with the development of our project. While finalising the working agreement the team leader along with the members had established defined roles for all members and as a result we have been able to achieve proper division of work. This is a good aspect of our team functioning as an Agile team. However, regarding shared decision making we still need to work harder. Measey (2015) is of the opinion that agile team members shift from working within a particular functional area with definite specialist concerns to members working collaboratively on a single set of problems to deliver value to the customers. I have observed that my team is still concerned about their functional expertise while handling project problems. As a result disagreements occur and shared decision making gets negatively influenced. Therefore, my team still needs to clarify their notion about the key aim of Agile team.
Agile mindset has been recognised as a crucial element ensuring business or project success within contemporary business environment (Jackson, 2012). While attending the modules I attained the idea that there is no particular theoretical representation of Agile mindset. Thus, it can be understood that practical application can result in development of an idea about Agile mindset. By following the study by Mordi and Schoop (2020) I have been able to identify the concept of Agile mindset. According to Mordi and Schoop (2020), Agile mindset includes certain team characteristics, they are - responsibility, continuous improvement, trust, willingness to learn, adapt and grow. Based on these characteristics I am of the opinion that my team members to an extent are capable of reflecting an Agile mindset. All of us are open to learn about new things and adapt with possible solution in order to overcome the new challenges. My team members including me are responsible and focused on continuous improvement. However, we need to work on the aspect of developing trust in relation to each other's ability. This is the primary problem which is negatively affecting our capability to meet the goals of shared decision making.
The concept of psychological safety is necessary to ensure the development or existence of a collaborative approach among the team members. This specific aspect enables the members to feel safe and respected while conveying their ideas and viewpoints (Thorgren & Caiman, 2019). Leader inclusiveness is essential for developing and maintaining psychological safety within an agile team. Such an element results in the attainment of collective responsibility instead of individual responsibility. Currently my team reflects concerns about individual responsibility instead of concentrating on collective responsibility. Lack of trust on each other's capability, tendency to give importance to personal expertise and poor shared decision making are all leading to poor development of a climate of psychological safety within the team. Another component of Agile which is affecting the development of effective psychological safety is servant leadership capability of our team leader. Servant leadership has been identified to be beneficial in enhancing the productivity of Agile or self-organised teams (Parker, Holesgrove & Pathak, (2015). Such leaders are meant to influence the ability of other team members in a positive manner and assist in understanding the goals of the teamwork. The primary aim of an Agile team is to collaboratively focus on common set of goals and share views in order to come up with appropriate solutions and recommendations. Capable servant leaders are suitable for establishing a culture of psychological safety. After observing the performance of my team leader I am of the opinion that servant leadership has not been implemented. The team leader is more focused on leading the team towards the completion of the project in time. A participative leadership is more reflected by our team leader instead of servant leadership. The leader is helping us to solve the problems by listening to our theories and selecting the most suitable one based on evidences and information. However, the members are not encouraged to invest time on understanding agile concepts and apply them to carry out self-development. The leader is taking the decision instead of implementing shared decision making. Often team members refrain from delivering their thoughts. So, there is absence of servant leadership which is needed for supporting the productive performance of the team.
Agile retrospectives have been identified as crucial components which are also required for supporting the success of projects. Studies have found out that appropriate conduction of retrospectives including planning, reviewing and modifying of the projects result in attainment of successful agile project management (Cooper & Sommer, 2018). Till now sprint reviews, sprint planning and modification have been carried out for further improvement of the project outcomes. The scheduled meetings have been productive however there is lack of shared decision making and evaluation. Therefore, it can be said that there are still areas of improvement of our Agile team.
Based on my reflection about the performance of my team as an agile team I have developed four ideas which can be implemented for improving agile mindset, establishment of psychological safety, servant leadership and retrospectives within the team. For improving servant leadership the leader needs to attain clear ideas about agile principles and servant leadership principles. This will help the leader to support the implementation of Agile principles in our team. Next, it is the responsibility of our leader to change the way of conduction of the meeting. The leader needs to help the members to realise the capability of each other and participate in shared decision making. In addition to this the members need to encourage each other and support each other, this will help in increasing team trust. Finally, the leader needs to focus on increasing the team growth and development instead of individual development.
The assignment has been of great assistance in improving my ability to take part in Agile project management and refine my knowledge about Agile concepts. Agile mindset, psychological safety, servant leadership and Agile retrospectives are some of the most crucial elements which help in effective implementation of Agile project management and ensuring successful project outcomes. I have realised that lack in any of the elements can negatively affect the performance of the Agile team. Leader plays an important role in improving the understanding and performance of the team members. Proper clarification of the Agile concepts is needed for bridging the gap between theoretical and practical application.
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Measey, P. (2015). Agile foundations: Principles, practices and frameworks. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.laureate.net.au/lib/think/reader.action?docID=1759633&ppg=62
Mordi, A., & Schoop, M. (2020). Making IT tangible-Creating a Definition of Agile mindset. In ECIS. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Azuka-Mordi/publication/342010154_MAKING_IT_TANGIBLE_-_CREATING_A_DEFINITION_OF_AGILE_MINDSET/links/5ede47cc45851516e65ebed6/MAKING-IT-TANGIBLE-CREATING-A-DEFINITION-OF-AGILE-MINDSET.pdf
O'Connell, K (2018, March 23). Agile Methodologies [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/learning-login/share?forceAccount=false&redirect=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.linkedin.com%2Flearning%2Fcert-prep-pmi-agile-certified-practitioner-pmi-acp%3Ftrk%3Dshare_ent_url&account=56744473
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Thorgren, S., & Caiman, E. (2019). The role of psychological safety in implementing agile methods across cultures. Research-Technology Management, 62(2), 31–39. https://doi.org/10.1080/08956308.2019.1563436. https://lesa.on.worldcat.org/v2/search/detail/8022837813?queryString=agile%20psychological%20safety&clusterResults=true&stickyFacetsChecked=true&groupVariant