One big challenge for Agile practitioners is the general disregard of parts of the 4 values of the Agile Manifesto. Even, if it says literally: “That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”
This becomes probably most prevalent on the following value in the Manifesto:
Working Software over comprehensive documentationManifesto of Agile Software Development
Working with many software companies (service or product) over the last 10 years, this is already a challenge; albeit this is a challenge, which we can fix quite straightforward. In Software development, documentation happens implicitly all the time: User Story Writing, In-Code Documentation or simple comments/messages in their commits and pull requests within the code repository are already simple forms of documentation. Software such as quod.ai even helps to automate that process using artificial intelligence.
Developing Documentation in Non-IT organizations
For non-software organizations, this value often becomes a relief. They already are busy and Agile often gives them the (wrong!) impression, that they even have to become faster. Cutting of documentation, therefore, will give back a lot of time to each individual contributor.
semdi solutions as a small organization already made experience with lack of documentation of important agreements and processes. As an Agile organization, we believe strongly in self-organization and giving employees their power over their time. Nevertheless, there is a need for meetings, synchronizations or general awareness, what is going on. When initially hiring people, we at semdi solutions underestimated the fact.
We are now at the next step of our growth journey. We invested a lot of time to develop documentation on our most important team agreements and processes. This should ease the onboarding process for any future newcomer. We now have documentation about the expectations on all job roles, most important team events and artifacts. Moreover, we described simple agreements on how we make decisions or resolve conflicts.
Looking back at the Agile value, this seems as “over documentation” and yes, it took some initial efforts to create them. In the end, though, when we have interviews now, we can point them to clear expectations, agreements and generally, to how we want the company to work. It is only fair to our candidates and future colleagues to have a way of making sense of a new job environment.
Start documenting your core values: the reason of your existence
I bet that also you as an organization have a way to start this documentation process to ensure, that most of your team members are on the same page: Your core values. Nearly all organizations have core values and want to have them visible in the organization. But writing them on the wall or describing them in your confluence or website is mostly not enough. Values should be visible by inspiring actions within your team. A freshly onboarding newcomer should know immediately, how to behave. “Ownership” sounds like a nice value, but no newcomer understands, what you expect. Therefore, a list of behaviors for each value can help them to care about the company and do the right thing for your organization.
If you document anything at all, start describing your values with a list of actions to set clear expectations to existing and new team members. This is important already in co-located organizations. But in a world, in which remote and working from home becomes more normal every day, this is even more important.