Crucial Conversations and Agile

Posted by Doc
Mar 06 2009

I’ve proposed a session for Agile2009 on applying the ideas and techniques from Crucial Conversations to agile teams. If you’re interested, and you’re registered on the site or feel like registering, you can read it here.

The first thing that surprised me was the comments from folks that made it clear that they were not familiar with the book or the work. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Not everyone can have read everything that I find to be important.

Still, I’d suggest that anyone who has not read Crucial Conversations or Crucial Confrontations, and is working on/with/around any team, and particularly an agile team, should read one or the other (or both) immediately.

So there is my bias, right out there – these books are transformational and essential.

Second was the question “How does this apply to agile teams, specifically?”

That’s like saying “How does that computer keyboard apply to agile teams, specifically?”

Does a tool that works have to be specific to agile to be included in the conference? I’m a bit stumped by that. While I feel that these works do apply very specifically to agile teams, I’m still stumped. People will be talking about programming tools and process approaches and teaching games, any of which could be applied anywhere. So why is this different?

Interpersonal communication is one of the most critical skills someone on an Agile team can have. Knowing how to say “I felt upset” or “You made a commitment, but didn’t fulfill that commitment” is essential. And really, most people I know don’t know how to talk about this stuff. Without it, I believe that teams will fail. Without these skills, team members bottle up their upsets and frustrations – even happiness, sometimes – and they fester and then the team’s ability to work together breaks.

I’m hoping that this session gets accepted, because I really want to deliver it.  Really.

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