I don’t have all the answers…and it’s ok!
Coming up on Agile2015 is hitting me right in the feels. This will be my fourth Agile Alliance conference, my fourth job in as many years (actually fifth), my second time presenting at an Agile Alliance conference, my second time presenting in Washington D.C., and my first time really feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing.
Now I’m sure that sounds odd and you’re saying, “Natalie you have all this experience – of course you know what you’re doing!” Or maybe you’re agreeing with me and saying, “I’m glad you finally know you have no idea what you are doing.” The whole point of this realization is that I have grown through these past years and through inspection, adaption, and feedback (some good and some bad).
Looking back at Agile2012 in Dallas, I was the new kid on the block. Taking notes furiously in presentations, going to ALL of them, networking like crazy (I came back with fistfuls of business cards). However, I did think I knew what I was doing, knew all the answers about Scrum and how teams should run. How little I actually knew and how little I still know. I touted Scrum as having all the answers and thinking all teams should be able to follow everything it prescribed verbatim.
Now I show up to work not really knowing what to do. My sprint planning and stand up meetings have evolved (sometimes not for the better). My backlogs are a mess quite often. We write one line stories on the fly. We’re moving so fast that we’re building the road behind us. Yes, young Natalie did have all the answers, but this Natalie does not and that’s ok.
If I had all the answers, how would I learn with the team? Wouldn’t I just be directing them? Coddling them? Not helping them to improve and make their own mistakes?
If I had all the answers, how would I learn new things? Would I get stagnant? Would I become that ‘know it all’ who is only concerned about delivery and not the journey to get to a successful (or unsuccessful) delivery?
If I had all the answers, shouldn’t I have a different job? If I’m not being challenged, I have outgrown my job. If I had all the answers, I would actually be more ignorant than smart – delusional is more like it.
The biggest “ah-ha moment” I had to realize this was the other day when I got together with my friend Brandon Carlson to discuss our Agile2015 presentation. We went off on a few tangents and I realized how excited I was for the conference. To talk about the things I don’t know and don’t have the answers to. Not even to get the answers from other people but to talk about experiences and things we have tried or want to try. Talking to people who are as passionate about this as me. People who are as freaked out as I am sometimes when they don’t know what to do or when are they are afraid of failing or letting the team down.
So as I go into Agile2015 this year, let’s talk about what we don’t know and embrace it. Let’s talk about feeling uncomfortable. Let’s talk about stuff that didn’t work and let’s not be afraid of it. Most importantly, let’s know there is always more to learn! See you there!