At Allison Agile, our motto is "Values. Driven." A few years back, when we came up with that little line, I was rather proud of it. It is succinct, pointed, and conveys the item that, to me, is the most important part of agile... it's values. So I was understandably taken aback recently when someone challenged me with, "Which values?" And she had a point, there are a lot of different values out there and not all are worth defending.
So, I'm writing this post to talk about how we run our business. These things are important enough that we should go on formal record with them. Here they are...
In case you didn't realize, these values are directly from ScrumGuides.org, and are, in my opinion, the best and most comprehensive set of values out there. Regardless of your situation, these five values are touchstones that can give you a foundation to do the right thing, take good care of your customers, your people and your organization.
People personally commit to achieving the goals of the Scrum Team.
Commitment: Each and every member of our staff makes a personal commitment to achieving the team goals. This commitment leaves no room for operating counter to the good of the customer, the team, or the organization. Further, we reject zero-sum thinking that teaches that for someone to win, someone else must lose. We approach every engagement with an honest commitment of what success, for both our customers and ourselves, means. Then we bust our butts to deliver that.
The Scrum Team members have courage to do the right thing and work on tough problems.
Courage: Our team has the courage to face up to reality and always do the right thing. We leverage this courage in service of our customers to tell them, not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. We will have couragous conversations at every level of organizational structure.
But this courage is not only outward-facing. Allison Agile team members will deal with each other couragously, as well. We will talk directly to our shortcomings and failures. Then we will pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off... and do better next time.
Everyone focuses on the work of the Sprint and the goals of the Scrum Team.
Focus: The 'Focus' value brings up the intent of finishing things before starting new ones. As the old kanban rubrick goes, "Stop starting and start finishing." We push all of our customers to adopt this value and quit stop/starting projects without moving them to completion. While switching may be allowable on a case-by-case basis, we push back on it being the normal way of doing business.
The Scrum Team and its stakeholders agree to be open about all the work and the challenges with performing the work.
Openness: "Customer collaboration over contract negotiation, responding to change over following a plan," as the Agile Manifesto states. We fully embrace this openness in our customer interactions and prefer face-to-face customer interactions on a regular, short-horizon timeline. During these interactions we will certainly talk about the state of our contracts, but we will always rely on personal interaction to ensure that our customers are getting the value they have booked us for; and that both sides of the client/contractor relationship are thriving.
Scrum Team members respect each other to be capable, independent people.
Respect: Every single person on Allison Agile's staff, and every customer we interact with are met with a strong belief that they are capable, independent people who want to do well for their organizations. This respect shows itself in every interaction we have and will not be tossed aside. While Allison Agile does not participate in large-scale headcount reduction excercises, we have occaisionally had to be involved in removing team members from teams. In every single case this was an action taken only after extensive work to recover and retain that person, and with an abiding belief that the team member in question really was doing their best under the circumstances.
In addition to the above Core Values, we also hold the following Class Values, which come into play when we are offering public classes...
We've had professional development courses cancelled on us at the last minute, and it's never done to our (the student's) benefit. So we believe this...
With these items in mind, Allison Agile never cancels classes except for cases of force majure or if a class simply has zero ticket sales. Yes, sometimes our classes have a slightly lower attendance than other certification shops, but we believe that the smaller class size allows for tighter student/trainer interactions, and this is preferable to the disruption caused by last-minute cancellation based on some accountant's spreadsheet saying that the class was not going to be profitable. Small classes deserve just as much attention, care and focus as larger ones. Allison Agile commits to delivering that.