Clarification: Since we are now trying to better understand companies and organizations as living organisms, what appealed to me about this posting was turning the highly topical and much sought-after characteristic of agility into a person – Agililly. With the constant indispensable companion and pioneer Scrummy in the role of Scrum Master – a mostly overworked and often ignored evangelist for the necessary principles and practices. The fact that the scene takes place in a hospital should not really come as a surprise.
Blue lights flashing and sirens blaring, an ambulance slews into the driveway of the hospital’s Emergency and Accident Department and brakes to a screeching halt. Quickly but calmly the stretcher is pulled out of the car by the paramedics and pushed into the passage to the emergency room. A slim, long guy with a worried expression follows them with hurried steps. On the stretcher under a white blanket, barely visible, a female figure with a painfully distorted face and a staring gaze.
But first and ruthlessly the formalities: Name: Agililly, age: born in the 1980s, place of residence: none, lives mostly in companies, … “And me who are you?” the sister finally turns to the companion. “I am Scrummy. We have been working at the same company until now. We always work together.” “Uh-huh. Well, wait here. You will be called,” said the nurse as she left.
After what feels like eternity, a man in a white coat approaches Scrummy, who has been holding Agililly’s hand the whole time. “Hello, I’m Dr Botch, the emergency physician. Well, what have we here?” and bends down to Agililly with these words, pushing Scrummy aside. He flips back the white sheet. “Oh, no,” marvels the man in white, “but your face looks familiar. Aren’t you Agililly? Back again?” and almost too compassionately he strokes her hair. “It looks quite alarming again,” he says more to himself and turns to Scrummy: “We will examine her thoroughly first. At the end of the corridor turn left into the waiting room. We’ll let you know.” Scrummy had one more question. But before he could put his thoughts into words, the doctor had disappeared behind a door, together with stretcher and Agililly.
Again it takes a while until he is asked over the loudspeaker in the waiting room to come to treatment room 3. When he enters, the doctor is sitting in front of the screen. “Sit down,” the doctor asks him. Scrummy is just taking a breath to ask a question when the doctor turns to him and, looking at Agililly, says, “We have examined her thoroughly. But once again we could not find anything organic. In principle, everything is working. We’ve given her a sedative.” Scrummy looks at Agililly and at a now relaxed face. The doctor gets up and goes to the door. On the way he says, “There is nothing we can do for her here. Wait a minute, I’ll get the psychiatrist.”
It doesn’t take long for a chubby person to appear in the doorway and walk towards Agililly, “Ah, we meet again,” he greets her. And Agililly replies expectantly, “Yes, I need your help again. People just don’t know how to deal with me properly.” “That is how it looks. But I’m very surprised considering how attractive you are,” he replies and looks at the now quite extensive medical file. As he leafs through the records, he mumbles to himself “My God, what have you been through!” And looking at her, “I must confess, I’m at my wit’s end.”
He turns to Scrummy: “You always come with her. The intervals between your appearances here are getting shorter and shorter. What is actually going on out there?”, he asks inquiringly. “We can tell a lot of stories about what has happened to us so far,” Scrummy begins and sighs audibly. “But to cut a long story short, the essence of what always happens is the same.” “And what would that be?” the psychiatrist asks visibly curious, leans back and crosses his legs.
Scrummy begins hastily and emotionally: “The story usually begins in board meetings. We are welcomed with open arms, people listen to us, are convinced, and then everything actually happens much too quickly. We get the feeling that we are supposed to be the panacea for all their problems. We haven’t even finished our detailed introduction and explanations of how to deal with us, and decisions are already being made, unrealistic goals announced and initiatives ordered. People just don’t listen to us any more, we have no chance to voice our reservations about such spontaneous actions. And with that we are exposed to expectations that put us under a lot of pressure. We’re used to dealing with challenges and it’s kind of fun. But when we get together with the people in the engine room, someone throws a spanner in the works. This is where the panacea mutates into the latest bandwagon. That hurts us a lot.
Where we are perceived with our principles and encounter curiosity and willingness to learn, we make slow but good progress. But mostly people see us as just another tool to get results quickly. But without insight into our principles and their practical application, we miss the ambitious goals. In the end it is us who have failed. Seeing us as just another method and managing us this way is what really destroys us.”
After a moment of silence the psychiatrist gets up. Agililly wipes a tear from her eyes. “Don’t expect a magic formula from me now,” the psychiatrist begins pensively. “After what I have heard from you, I strongly recommend that you both make yourselves available for cooperation only if you have previously convinced yourselves that your principles fit the task at hand and that the people involved are really willing to engage with your basic ideas and learn to work with them. Be patient with yourselves and the people involved. I’m sorry, but there is nothing more I can do for you here. I hope we won’t meet again so soon.” With these last words he squeezes Agililly’s hand and turns to say goodbye to Scrummy. “Thank you very much for your encouraging words,” says Scrummy and extends his hand to him, “we are here privately, how do we manage the bill? “Oh,” replies the psychiatrist, “I suspect this won’t be last time you come. By the way, we could really use you here, too. I think we’ll sort money matters out later.”
What is the state of health of agility in your company?