Agile and Face to Face Communication

Welcome to February of #MyAgileYear. This month’s theme was about face to face communication. We’re all guilty of typing an instant message instead of walking to a colleague’s desk. Or sending a text when we could have called. Technology is a wonderful thing, and can save us loads of time. Time to spend scrolling through Facebook or Twitter, enjoying videos of baby hedgehogs eating banana slices. This month’s theme was a lovely segue from last month’s theme of simplicity, particularly the health lens. I am fortunate to be working with a client that is located in one big building. And the opportunities to prioritise face to face conversations also tie in nicely with staying healthy and getting my steps up! In fact the focus was so much on talking with people face to face, I have not had a chance to post it!

Stop… Collaborate and Listen

This month I have made a big effort to stop typing and ask myself the question:

Could this be resolved with a face to face conversation or a phone call rather than an email?

Simply asking myself this question has been very powerful. Sometimes the answer is categorically no. The email needs to be sent. Other times I have continued with the email to give myself clarity before picking up the phone. Other times  I have stopped and either picked up the phone or walked to said person’s desk. Sometimes just the act of walking for a minute or two has given me the clarity I need.

The Power of Human Connection

I facilitated a retrospective some time ago where the team expressed their disappointment they were not seeing enough of the Product Owner. True, the Product Owner had been absent. When I met with her she told me she had been in constant contact with the team via instant message, email and phone, making herself available to answer questions and resolve issues as soon as she could. She was puzzled when I asked if it was possible for her to come up and be with the team a bit more often. She has a busy day job as well as being the Product Owner (not advisable by the way, but this was the situation), and thought she was being efficient by answering email and instant message queries promptly. She started coming to stand ups weekly and spending time with the team answering their questions face to face. While nowhere near as efficient, the team appreciated the time she spent. Conversely, she got value from overhearing the conversations of the team and getting an early understanding of some of the issues facing them. And got some great outcomes as a result! Sure, the ‘efficiency’ wasn’t there but the outcomes were. And I know which one I’d prefer!

Face to face communication is not efficient, but it is effective.

This month wasn’t just about increasing face to face communication. It was about being mindful of how I communicate and ensuring that I am taking time out to connect where possible and appropriate. How might you embrace this principle and not only improve your effectiveness but feel great too? Feel free to share using #MyAgileYear



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About Emma Sharrock

Emma is the author of The Agile Project Manager: Thrive in Change with Agile. An experienced change leader, Emma is passionate about working with people to facilitate successful change. Emma utilises Agile techniques, coupled with the Agile mindset to coach leaders and teams to achieve their business goals.