Little by little...

Little by little...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Your Value is Not in the Tasks that You Do

When I started as a BA, I would fuss over every task that I learned. I completed exception forms to the letter, created detailed incident tickets, and clearly documented detailed requirements. I was new to IT and I thought these tasks were a reflection of my value to the organization.

Then I met my first agile coach. :)

As he challenged our team’s assumptions and taught us leaner ways of working, I began to question my own worth. If no one needed my documentation, then what was I supposed to do?

Then this coach suggested that my value is not in the tasks that I do.

Hmmm. Up until that point, my self-worth was wrapped up completely in my tasks. I had lots of ideas, but pushed them aside in favor of a checklist of deliverables that someone else deemed important. This idea set me free!

I uncovered skills and strengths that I didn’t know I possessed. I learned to facilitate meetings and draw pictures on whiteboards, which added much more value than typing up pages of meeting minutes. I also discovered an ability to collaborate and aid understanding across multiple teams.

Maybe more importantly, I began to see some of my quirks as assets. My openness (a.k.a. big mouth) and lack of a poker face encourages authentic conversations. And my need to understand, which sometimes results in asking lots of “dumb” questions, has emboldened others to admit when they don’t know an answer.

In retrospect, that statement was the first little moment where agile clicked for me. Following a pre-determined checklist can get things done. But using your strengths and those of your team can uncover better ways of doing things and ultimately greater success.