Shirly Ronen-Harel is a coach and consultant in Agile / Lean methods. She is the author of the ‘Agile Kids – Who’s the Boss of Me’ and ‘The coaching Booster” books and she is currently writing her new book.
Q&A on “Agile Concept” with Shirly Ronen-Harel
Please tell us a bit about yourselves & your Agile background!
I have been an agile coach since around 2008, and I am engaged on a daily basis implementing agile in companies, teams and individuals. I have previously managed large QA groups and during that period I gained “a bit” of perspective into processes, and 20 years ago I was a social worker… During that period I gained “a bit” of perspective into people and creating change through people. Without going into too much detail, I see people and processes as connected. There is something in the everyday combination of people in processes and mindsets which I believe has the utmost importance when one sets out to implement a process. Without this combination it will not work. If you ignore the people in the process, you’re in for a nasty fall.
Agile is to do with Software Development only or Agile has its wide application? What are the standard & Advanced Agile practices?
Clearly, agile is not just for software world. Its origin is based in the LEAN and industrial worlds of all places. Today we find agile everywhere. The agile and Lean principles are proven as increasing productivity, create motivation and contribute to creativity. It doesn’t matter where we implement it, with the relevant simple implementations it will give us a good and satisfying result.
Today we find Agile at home, in schools, in law firms, insurance companies and many more. I personally implement it there. The idea is to be able to respond quickly to this complex and rapidly changing world, which demands us to adjust and change constantly. Not only because we “feel like it”, but because if we don’t, our business will not survive (neither will individuals). This is why we need to motivate people, for example:
- We’ll teach them to communicate and work together and also we’ll implement relevant tools that will allow us to respond quickly (taking small steps, giving feedback in time, constant learning, direct communication, transparency)
- All these create the ability to react fast, to survive, to change and to grow.
How can Agile Concept help the Students to be better self-organized with effective speed and in continuous improvement in their studies & career? Which agile practice(s) would be suitable for them?
Agile, with its practices and its mindset, can deal with the student’s ability to organize themselves. One aspect of the method in schools, is in the techniques they use with the students. For example in Holland – the Eduscrum – allows to focus all tasks into something that a student can actually handle. It leads the students in a pace that encourages interest and doing. The students learn in independently well organized groups and are concentrated in learning. They choose from a pool of topics the ones they want to concentrate in. They are involved in the learning process, therefore enjoying it. The method reinforces their sense of control and their self-esteem. Clearly it’s much more interesting to learn this way, and the results improve accordingly.
How students & beginners can learn Agile in a practical manner and What tools would you suggest for them?
There’s a whole world beyond Eduscrum. Most students are not familiar with Agile in their schools. I can suggest you read the following posts: the principals are very simple: prioritized and focused backlog , strong visualization of what’s in front of me, setting small and progressive goals, constant assessment, time frames.
What would be your advice to the readers on “leaning, adapting and continuously scaling in Agile”?
I think that beyond the wonderful practices and the diversity of the tools, it’s most important to take a look at the people in front of you. Sometimes I see the confusion. I see technical organizations that have the right technical practices but almost nothing happens there. The improvement is minimal. After all, the ability to be LEAN is in the mindset and not in the process. The process in the enabler, demands parenting discipline, requires leadership from management, but foremost people’s LEAN mindset is the backbone of the method. People need to believe in the strategy, collaborate and execute it. This is true in High-Tech companies, but even beyond – with students, etc.
This is why I like agile method the most, as it puts the importance on people and mindset. Agile influencers put the people in the center and emphasize that importance of the mindset. There are many practices and tools which were devised in order to bring the people into the required mindset. That’s the beauty in Agile, you focus on the people.