Born to be Agile

Another management/leadership conference under my belt, and another set of speakers from the field of IT, all preaching about Agile. Literally, every single IT related presentation irrespective of topic appears to mention Agile is someway.

More and more often, when I hear about Agile at conferences, I think to myself: Old News! But is it? It seems to me like I’ve been doing agile projects all my life, but looking at my CV that is clearly not the case. So where the feeling of old news? 

fot. M. Pirga
fot. M. Talar

The answer is in sport. In my case American football. I’ve been playing the sport since I was 14 years old, and after fiishing my playing career, coaching was the next natural step.   Over 25 years of experience in an absolutely agile environment, I think that is quite a wealth of experience.

Before you click away from this article, because “sport is not your thing”, or “it’s got nothing to do with IT or project management”, DON’T!  The analogy is clear, and instead of reading the same old books, listening to the same agile coaches, step outside the industry. You might just learn something new.

Each year we start a new season, the opponents are different, the players are different. So by definition, each season is a project. The season is made up of multiple games, each is essentially a sprint. Of course, you don’t have to treat it that way. You could treat the season as a waterfall project, gather the requirements and stick to them.

But what happens when there is an injury to one or more of your players. What happens, when you realize that one of your opponents has totally changed their playing tactic, or have a new star player who now has to be accounted for?

Agile, agile, agile – that is the answer. Each week we look at the new opponent, we change the practice schedule accordingly, and even more importantly we change the style of play for the given opponent. But this is only possible, if everyone in the organization has an agile mindset. You have to be totally open, and ready for an absolute turnaround, from week to week. Moreover, you have to embrace it, and love the ever changing environment. I met many players and coaches, who were not able to adapt to this style of work, and hence their on-field success was limited.

One of the most tangible examples of that was in the PLFA1 final, in which the Kraków Kings, beat a favoured Seahawks team. In the build up to the final, we totally changed the defensive scheme and heavily altered the offensive plan. This was only possible, because we instilled an agile mindset in our players, in which they understood that constantly changing preparation was the standard.

fot. M. Pirga

Our opponent had clear trouble adjusting to the different approach of our team.  Not only were they favoured to win, but to be absolutely honest they had more talented and experienced players.  However, our agile approach and mindset gave us a significant enough advantage to win the game.

The tools used are secondary, the most important is the willingness of all participants to contribute what is necessary to the team’s success at this particular moment.

Dawid Ostrega

Dawid Ostręga – The best trainer among managers, and vice versa.

Proven leader with over 15 years of management, operations, implementation, project leadership and technology experience. History of leading multi million dollar projects.
Past achievements include successful start ups, branch offices establishment and management, as well as board level responsibility in international companies eg. SKK, IBM, epam. Head Football Coach of Kraków Football Kings

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