Don’t Wag The Dog

Why does the dog wag its tail?
Because the dog is smarter than the tail.
If the tail were smarter, it would wag the dog.

When I ask any development team what’s the hardest thing about agile development they almost invariably say it’s the business. It’s the “Us and Them” that’s the hardest to break down. Ignoring it leads to frustration, tackling gets to the heart of Lean/Agile/Scrum – Cross Functional Collaboration.

Dev’s often see the business as the tail of their dog. Trying to tell it how to work effectively is invariably met with disdain. Business people may see the dev team as their tail and feel threatened by trying to be wagged. People get defensive. Progress grinds to a halt.

We’re not dogs or tails, just people trying work together effectively. So how can work in more humane way?

Humility – Instead of “This works for us so you should try it” try a question “What problems do you have with the way we’re working?” and…

Listen –  if you’re expecting someone else to listen to you, Instead of interjecting with “but”, do the courtesy of listening to them first

Empathise – When you can start to see the situation from their perspective you are a step closer to finding a solution that will meet both your needs

Offer assistance – Change feels like extra work to someone struggling with their current situation, start with an offer of help.

Describe the problems your having – Now explain the problems (not the solutions) you see. Allow them to empathise. Once the problem is perceived as shared you can start to work together on it.

Ask for Assistance – Our pride gets in the way but If we want the relationship to improve we must ask not tell.

Collaboratively Create if assistance is offered use it to work together to improve the way you work together

Inspect and Adapt Make a habit of this. Now you have a collaborative working relationship, together you can continually improve the way you work together.

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