The Crisis and Agile:  What is it? — What do we do?

This is a talk or group discussion I want to have soon.  See what you think.

My goals are two: To help in general, and to help get us all get back to work, which I think is very valuable about now.  (Reasonably safely, of course.)  But we have several impediments.

You see above the title of the discussion.  Below is an explanation.

The first idea is that everyone will have a different viewpoint on this.  Understandably.  So we must listen, sympathize and explain also ourselves (as our colleagues see a very different elephant). This is all too much change for everyone, also, in my opinion.  If they are honest.

So, this is best done in small groups of around 6-7 people.  People who can accept their differences, and yet also have a reason to share and listen.

This is a journey of listening, thinking, learning.  Leading ultimately to action.  Requiring a bit of compassion for ourselves and others.


My hypothesis is that we have a kind of crisis on multiple levels, or in multiple areas, at the same time.

First : How do we define or just understand the situation?

  1. The Coronavirus
  2. The Economic collapse
  3. A Changed way of Working
  4. Business Confusion about what to do and related “turmoil”
  5. The Economic Recovery has started – how much?
  6. Will the Coronavirus come again? When?

Those are several ways of giving partial, quick definition to the Crisis.

Related: How MUCH uncertainty is there? Or FUD? (fear, uncertainty, doubt)  Have we been terrorized by the media on this?

Always there is uncertainty about the future, but now, maybe notably more.

Discuss: What IS your situation? How do we describe it?

Second: How much should we as agile people, and “Agile” itself, adapt?

Adapting is, in fact, what we are pretty much all about. Adaptation, and quickly, or more quickly.

How does this affect Agile Transformation?  In a good way or a bad way?

Does this affect our agile Teams?  (I think obviously.)

Let’s discuss a bit.

Third: Do we really know how to collaborate remotely?

My hypothesis: Yes, we know some things.
We know video calls, we know Slack or Whatsapp or MS Teams, we know email, we know Google Docs and similar.

BUT: We do not really know how to collaborate well remotely. Most of us do not. And we can become MUCH better quickly.

I will use as an example. (There are other good examples.) We are FAR from expert at using Mural.

Let’s discuss.

Fourth: How much do our managers need more transparency?

I think this is key.
Managers are having anxiety now. And part of it is lack of transparency.

WFH gives managers mainly LESS transparency.  So far.

So, anything that gives them more transparency — is good for us (the workers who report to them).

Fifth: What is the impact of the Crisis on us so far?

  • On most of us personally, I hope rather small. Compared to the impact on others. We will survive.
  • Still, for each of us, a BIG change
  • For some of us, a very big change
  • For others, a huge and truly hard change

My idea: I think it is hard to be so isolated from others. We are more pack animals than we know or accept. And this is harder on almost all of us than we are willing to admit.

And, this idea (about isolation) is far from the biggest impact, but an important one.  And this is harder on almost all of us than we are willing to admit.

Let people talk. Be sympathetic. They need it.

Discuss: What is the impact on us so far?

Us is defined as: each of us personally, our families, our associates at work, the agile movement, our firms more broadly, our city, and our country.

Sixth: What is the short-term Future?

We must GUESS how much things will change.

* Coronavirus itself

* Our reaction to it

* Affect on your business / department

* Affect on you

* On family and friends

* On your family finances

* On the economy

We must GUESS how much they will change.

Say, by end 2020.

To take any action, you must have some idea where you are going.  Yogi Berra: “You have to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

Let’s discuss.

Seventh: How Helpless do we feel or have we felt?

I think we have felt helpless a lot lately.  I, for one, am sympathetic. To a large degree we at least were helpless. (And maybe the Government made us too helpless.)

It is generally not good to feel helpless.

It is also generally not good to worry too much about things you cannot control.

Maybe we need to grieve (for our helplessness among other things) before we can move on.

Let’s discuss briefly.

Eighth: Can WE take action?

IMO, there are no actions that can get us “back” into complete control. (We never had complete control.) Still, action will give us some control, more control. We can avoid bad things and we can take action to make good things happen.

Let’s brainstorm.

What actions can we take?

Action can be for any purpose and in any domain: work, personal, family, office, agile-related, helping other people, …whatever.

By any definition of I or US.
(But not outside North Carolina tonight. For example, let’s not talk about Washington.)

Ninth: Can we agree to TRY to work together collaboratively to “fix this”?

Again, I am not defining “we”. You must do that. We might mean your family, or your Team, or Women in Agile, or your group at work, or a local community group, or the Red Cross, or two new friends.

I do not want you to just say you will commit.
And I do want you to consider, maybe overnight at least, what you are committing to and how it might work.
And maybe, like a lot of the New Year’s resolutions of life, many will not fulfill their commitment today.  That’s ok, even normal.

But, at least think about working with someone, or some team, or some organization, to make something somewhere, a little bit better.

And, I hope, you will at least THINK it is somewhat related to what we have talked about tonight.

And I think you will feel better.

You will also help the world, if you commit in this way.  It may be a small thing, but as Yogi Berra said, little things are big.


We will discuss in small groups. To some degree, we will share.

Personally, I hope for laughter.

Personally, I expect many people to take these questions in notably different directions. Use the questions to help you clarify your emotions and your thinking.

You are responsible for moving yourself forward.


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