Behavioural Science and Agile

In this blog entry Mike Griffiths summarises some discussions he had with Tony Parrottino, who is a Behavioural Scientist. It is an interesting blog post and Tony’s answers to some of the questions are important clues on how to progress the agile thinking and ways of working.

I have often said that I think “the three questions” (what did I do, what am I going to do, is anything blocking me) are not the best ones. In my view the focus on the daily meeting should be continuous, visible progress, so maybe the most important question is the one about blockage. If we focus on that we can grow a helping culture which is one important component in a fully self-organising, top-notch, team.

I get some support from Tony Parrottino, since he says the three questions are “sub-optimal”. I think Tony is answering the wrong question, though. Because the questions are not put to the team by a manager that wants them to perform. Instead they are the things other team members need to hear to be able to help out.

Tony is much focused on that the one thing we need to manage is behaviour to increase performance of individuals and teams. One of his comments was

trying to remove what you don’t want will not ensure you will get what you do want

But that is in the context of team behaviour, not in terms of obstacles or difficulties. He goes on to talk about “pinpointing” which seems to be a term used to be precise in expressing what you expect your collegues to do and how to behave. To this I can only agree. Focus is one of the most important factors in performance, and you can only focus if you know exactly what is expected.

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