I had a chance to apply agile, and I totally f*cked up.

This year I was invited to join the corporate faculty of Harrisburg University to teach post-graduate courses on lean and agile delivery. I was humbled and excited to be considered and quickly accepted. The university asked me to craft a Lean Product Delivery curriculum to be delivered in the Early Spring 2017 semester.

After all administrative and contractual formalities were sorted, I was sent a packet of basic curriculum documents to get me started and I took off.  I was commissioned to write fourteen 90-minute units inclusive of the core materials, the work assignments and the content for the weekly courseware.  Never having completed a task like this before, I just sat and started in powerpoint – “Unit 1…”

Harrisburg University
Harrisburg University

Upon completing all the units, I then started my course outline that give administration and students the high level introduction to the course and why it matters.  This took a bit longer than I assumed since I had many hours of course content fresh in my head to now distill into a small format.  But after laboring, I completed.  Next I took on the task of writing the course syllabus; the weekly structure, the grading format, the leveled expectations of the students, etc.  Finally I was done.  The joy, the serotonin release, the pride – it was overwhelming as I sent the email to the contact at the university delivering my content in all its glory.  A day or two passes and low and behold, I find out all the work needs to be entered into another system.  But I am still happy to have the experience, so I shuffle off and load all the content into the system.  Then, I find out I needed to add some additional modules to make assignments for students…  cool.  I again go through and make the requisite changes.  Just yesterday I was given a few more required changes (which I should be working on rather than this post 🙂 ).  At this point, the high of this experience is waning through all the large amounts of re-work.

How could an agile practitioner be so naive?

To be fair, it dawned on me at the time of the first batch of re-work that I should have approached this differently. I should have incremented my work, better understood what done looked like, and built in some review unit by unit.  My plan to integrate all the content in one big delivery was foolish.

I quickly did appreciate the irony of my lack of lean and agile practices in delivering my “Lean Product Delivery” content for the course.  I did decide enough was enough, and had a self reflection.  Since the latest batch of revisions, I have agreed to a new delivery method with the course reviewer and plan much more quality work and faster acceptance going forward.

I have spent years coaching others to embrace agility at work, and found myself in need of coaching recently.  What is important is the self awareness needed to improve yourself and your processes.