My first 100 days in an Agile working environment

In June I announced I was about to start the most exciting challenge of my career.

Why I stated this was because I had chosen to move away from traditional, hierarchical and thus silo-driven environments (some of them multinationals) to go and work for an organisation which is organised in a horizontal way and which works fully Agile.

Back then I couldn’t have even begun to wonder what would be so beneficial to me about this change.

After 100 days I really want to share more about my experiences of working in an Agile environment.

This is not at all meant to be a plea against vertical organizations, one size doesn’t fit all…

I just wanted to share what it did to my personal work attitude.

This Agile environment cheers me to challenge the status quo at all time.

As an ‘enlighter’ or a person that gets energy out of taking the “What? Who? How? Why?” of a situation and transforming them in new ideas and concrete action plans, I have been naturally challenging the status quo throughout my whole career.

With this mindset, in some environments -inevitably- I was seen as a ‘disruptor’: I was confronted with people being very happy with how they have been working for so long and thus they went for maximum protection of their work habits.

In other situations, I felt I had to invest a lot of time AND even more “politics” in the change process to finally be able to move something…

In my current Agile environment, a lot of ideas actively live and they are shared. Not everybody always has the time or wishes to contribute to translating these ideas but at least I get input and realisations are thus the result of TEAMWORK.

I think this mindset is mostly triggered by the “retrospectives” (during retrospectives the team takes the time to reflect on how to become more effective. There exist several ways to do this, but they all have in common that they are used to inspect and adapt the way of working in a consistent and ongoing way).

There is no dedicated fixed “lead”, only great ideas and no one in particular feels the need to take credit or withhold good ideas from taking form. Everything just moves to the maximum, no constraints, no politics, just do it. GREAT!

This Agile environment grows my engagement and it doesn’t mean I have to be part of a hierarchy to have impact.

I’ve always felt the need to belong to a real ‘community’ at work. Not being able to identify myself with my employer doesn’t work for me. Mainly because of this, I’ve stumbled in a vertical path as SR, Teamleader, Manager and then even Director. Blabla all because I wanted my opinion to matter. Recognisable?

I feel more so than with previous employers, that my engagement is appreciated no matter what role I take up in the community. My employer is actively interested in learning more about the engagement of EVERYBODY and in fostering that. The engagement of all is triggered to a maximum and leads to good business results. Nobody needs to be in a hierarchical position, we all just get energy out of building and sustaining good relations. I don’t miss previous roles; this environment gives me more satisfaction.

My opinion matters, no matter what role I take into the team. ENRICHING!

This Agile environment triggers me to overcome my ‘natural’ urge for structure/processes and still delivers to a maximum of ownership.

Before, I was used to layers of hierarchy, structured processes and everybody knowing what direction to go in for the next 5 years.

Ok, that’s nice and clear you would say.

Now I found myself in a situation that took away (in my view) all that structure & also role clarity.

Tasks and priorities shift, and urgencies can change in the course of 2 weeks or even less. And this doesn’t mean that there is a lack of strategy, not at all, the road to this strategy is reviewed constantly.

This was a hard one for me but in the end, it helped me to grow my resilience and actually do what needs to be done most urgently.

What seemed like a chaotic and unclear fuss at first for me, it opened possibilities that are here to make things concrete and practical. Finally, I can say I got 200% more energy not by merely talking about how things should be done, but by just doing them. FINALLY!

This Agile environment is an environment where time for a real conversation is not ‘clocked’ but seen as necessary.

Time logging and clocking is still common in a lot of organisations. There is an unwritten rule that work-related conversations are OK but all other conversations should be banned to free time. It is mostly seen as leisure and wasting ‘company time’.

This Agile environment stimulates human interaction and thus fosters feeling good at your workplace. My colleagues and myself are not seen as numbers and targets but as the contributing individuals we are with our own unique talents. UNIQUE!

This Agile environment forced me like never before out of my comfort zone and there is so much going on out of it.

Stepping out of my comfort zone is discovering a whole new ‘playing field’. I’ve always known that. I’ve always had a positive learning attitude. But not to this level. I feel triggered to really live life-long-learning. NEVER TOO OLD!

In conclusion: this change completely got me out of my comfort zone and enriched me. It was hard and still is hard work but the mindset of “seeking opposite minds to challenge yourself” really works!!!!