Pragmatism in management is a MUST HAVE!

When I look a few years back I see a person – very enthusiastic, believing in people and process, energetic. The only thing that’s left is actually the same energy I used to have in the past. A lot has changed, especially in a way I work with teams and organizations. The most tremendous thing that’s different is that I know that they (team, organization) don’t have to and it’s OK! Probably you’ve started to wonder what they don’t have to and why it’s OK?  To answer your question we need to start from my brief introduction…

One of my Gallup’s talent is Significance. When I’ve started my journey as a Scrum Master (I didn’t know back then about my talents) this particular one caused me and my teams the biggest problems but at the same time it helped me to become someone I am today. Having Significance you fortify others so they grow stronger and you inspire excellence among talented individuals by challenging them to exceed their best accomplishments of the past. Let’s add one more talent from my list – it’s Competitor. I take energy from any kind of contests (mostly against myself) to continuously be better. Having said that, especially at the very beginning, my constant goal was to push teams to be better and better and better…. Never ending rollercoaster. From one perspective it may seem totally amazing cause eventually it’s all about continuous improvement. But the reality is slightly different. It is to be better but sometimes better means not getting worse. It means millions of things and all of those are about context! And there’s one thing about the context that’s always true – understanding context means being PRAGMATIC!

When I look in the mirror I see someone that sometimes even question need of such people like scrum masters/ agile coaches, etc. Especially when I look at the amazing companies where processes are WOW, where need to bring excellence (in terms of software, engineering practices, people, etc.) is so high it makes me wonder why did I decide to leave software development path in the first place 🙂 I question a lot of things – do we really need this meeting, do we really need to work in sprints, do we really need to follow any rules, do we? Honestly, more than often the answer is negative. We don’t! We’re over-processed, over-roled (if such a thing exists) over-fancy-techniques and tools and everything. And in this forest of overs we just forget to pack with us simple thing – pragmatism! Questioning things – it’s good! It helps you to find the real answers and stop pushing team to be better when sometimes they just simply don’t have to be. And that’s OK! 

What has influenced me the most is my journey with Kanban. Kanban is soooo pragmatic. Everything there is designed to improve in an evolutionary fashion. Asking many (and I mean many, many) questions before you even start. And even if you do the goal of Kanban is not to follow any rules or principles it’s about your context. It’s about making your process better. It’s about reducing over-everything to create the environment for the organizations to thrive. It can be described in 5 minutes (yeah I’ve tried this once ;)) and the key here it’s actually simplicity! And that’s also the biggest trap of Kanban. Cause when you’re not pragmatic, mature… (add yourself here a few adjectives) your Kanban will become a monster that will haunt your team in the night. It won’t bring any relief but additional pain of overs. 

If there’s one thing I want you to remember from this post is that Kanban and pragmatism are great allies but you have to start from the pragmatism first.