Ben Linders: Being a 100% Agile Isn’t Agile

Ben Linders: Being a 100% Agile Isn’t Agile

Ben Linders: Being a 100% Agile Isn’t Agile

1. What motivated you to speak at our conference?

I attend many conferences, to speak, do workshops, and learn about the latest developments. I’m a big fan of conferences that attract a diverse audience consisting of developers, tech leads, managers, and coaches. Developing software products is all about collaboration, it takes professionals in different roles who work intensively together, trust each other, who reflect to learn how they are doing, and look for ways to improve together.

Looking at the conference website I see that GrowIT aims to create valuable connections between for instance IT experts, business owners, students and other people interested in technology. This resonates with me, this is the audience that I like to reach and I want to contribute to GrowIT with my talk “Teams, what’s in it for me? – How to (not) manage teams” in helping people connecting and doing great stuff together.

2. What drives you to do what you do? Where do you find your daily motivation?

I’m truly convinced that people want to do and usually are doing the best they can, given the situation that they are in and the circumstances that they have to deal with. It drives me to support people in finding ways to deal with all kinds of situations and impediments in their daily work. I do this by teaching them how they can observe, reflect, and learn, and inspire them by providing possible solutions based on my experience from collaborating with and coaching professionals all over the world.

In the end, the feedback that I get from people that I interact with is what really drives me. People tell me that what I do has a real impact. Small or big, it’s the steps that I help people to take on their agile journey that keeps me going.

Now you might think, ok, how does that look? Let me give an example. One team that I trained was working on a product for their user. Often there were questions about how users would use their products, but in their organization, it was difficult to reach out. Asking questions was not part of the culture, in fact, it could be seen as a weakness since managers expected employees to “just do their work”.

I helped the team to become aware of this culture and taught hem ways to deal with it. In a psychological safe workshop setup, the team practiced to stop their work and ask questions instead of continuing with assumptions that might be wrong. Feeling more confident after the training they tried this in their daily work, to find out that it worked for them! It helps them to increase their chances of delivering something their users really use, not wasting time on unnecessary functionality.

The teams that I train or coach are often very busy getting their work done. Practicing in a workshop how to stop, reflect, learn, and act, and getting practical ideas on how to do this in their daily work, helps them to deliver more value. I also teach their managers how they can support teams and create an environment and culture that enables professionals to grow. It’s a win-win for everyone.

3. Can you apply agile way of thinking to every aspect of your life?

Nothing is absolute, so the short answer to this question is no: Being a 100% agile isn’t agile. But yes, you can certainly call the way how I live my life agile.

I prefer to work directly with people and communicate frequently. I dare to share, and I’m open and honest about my intentions. In the things that I do I look for the value that I can add. I welcome change, will use new information that comes up to adjust what I’m doing. And I’m open to feedback to learn and improve continuously.

No big plans for me, knowing the purpose and having a couple of ideas on how to do things is enough to get me started 🙂


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