At the Agile Austin meeting this week, some folks from Borland spoke about the company’s move to Agile methodologies.
One of the things they talked about was the desire of the marketing side of the company to be able to “declare Agile victory”, stemming from an attitude that “being Agile” was a milestone to accomplish, that once they had done steps 1, 2, 3… etc., the company had achieved “Agile”, as if it were a merit badge, or having completed a grade level at school, or growing to a certain age or height.
What they didn’t understand was that “being Agile” is a process of continuous improvement. It’s like breathing… you can’t “declare breathing victory” (“Hey, I took a breath! I’m done!”), you have to keep breathing (at least if you want to keep living).
I got stuck on the phrase “continuous improvement“. That was the goal of the R&D group the panelists had been a part of – to continue to find ways of doing things better, making things better.
I was still in the process of polishing up my previous post that was essentially about “declaring career victory”, at least from the perspective of the job hunt I had been involved in, so it was still on my mind when I heard the phrase “continuous improvement”.
Not that I hadn’t heard the phrase before – many, many times. Just in the context of thinking about my career, the phrase struck me anew. I had long since written the sentences in that post about continuing to network, blog, Twitter, learn, and grow, continuing to develop my career, but now I saw that in the context of process improvement.
If you look at my last post, you will see that what I did was really a form of process improvement applied to myself and my career. But, even though I bill myself as a “Process Improvement Champion” (for my ability to understand business processes and find ways to improve and technologically enable automation them), and even though I had been working hard to improve my career and the way I developed it, I hadn’t really thought of it from a “process improvement” perspective.
I had gotten so trained by my work (and my passion for helping others) to think of process improvement in specific terms of “business processes” that I had missed opportunities to apply my skills to myself. A mistake I shall make no longer! And I will now be on the lookout for ways I can look at my life and career from the lens of my “work skills” and see how they can be applied.
What work skills can you apply to your own life? I’d like to know. Please share your thoughts, as I’d like to help everyone (myself included) shake up their views and gain a new perspective.
Jim Adcock is Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Check out other career-related entries.