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Next event will take place online, on 20 - 22 October 2021.
When or where did you first come across “Agile,” and what was “the thing” that drew you to it?
Matej: The first time I heard about Agile was in college. The first time I experienced agile was in my first job, where I worked as a web developer. The first time I experienced agile’s usefulness was at my second job, where I worked as a product owner. At this job, I saw how we can simply solve complex issues and how each case improved our teamwork. At this moment, I was completely drawn into the agile way of working.
How would you connect agile with balance? What do you think we have to balance the most for creating organizational agility?
Matej: Finding the right balance with agile methodologies is the key to success, in my opinion. My understanding of balance is to find the most suitable compromise between product costs, time to market, and product quality for a product that will bring tremendous value to the customer. Due to the encouraging communication and open culture in agile organizations, this is easier to be achieved. This has to be performed at every level of the company to reach organizational agility. To achieve that, management has to empower employees and set the right company structure.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, we have experienced tremendous shifts in all aspects of our existence. How did you adjust (if you did) your professional and personal life?
Matej: Social contact was limited, so I enjoyed my free time hiking and exploring the nature around me. The dining table exchanged the normal office desk at work in the living room, and in-person meetings changed to video conference meetings with fun backgrounds. I was intrigued by how fast we can transform our way of working when we need to do it in the whole change process.
What did you miss most during the lockdowns? Or maybe still miss?
Matej: Close contact with persons that I like. A firm handshake, a hug. Everyone got distant from each other. Even though this is due to obvious reasons, I still miss it.
Have you noticed any significant changes regarding agile transformation or lean innovation because of the pandemic?
Matej: Not much to be honest. Of course, all companies had to adapt to the current situation, but I think the change was similar in agile as in traditional organizations. I just think agile companies adapted to new circumstances faster than traditional companies, as agile processes encourage communication to overcome such obstacles and guide us with a high pace to the right tracks.
If you would describe non-agile and agile companies with a metaphor of an animal, what would they be and why?
Matej: Let´s use the metaphor from the ocean. A non-agile company can be represented by the whale. Possible to go fast in one direction, but not able to quickly change movement direction. On another side an agile company could be represented by a fleet of fishes, which are working together to survive as a team, can quickly change movement direction and adapt to any non-predictable attack of the predator.
What is one main change you think we are headed to in our work culture in the next ten years?
Matej: I am interested in how virtual reality would change our work culture. I saw some fascinating ideas, but it could be difficult to scale them to the level that everyone would buy them and use them. Still, I hope further developments in this area will significantly improve our way of working and change our working culture (especially remote work).
If any of our participants are flirting with the idea to become agile coaches - what are three personality traits you find important for this kind of work?
Matej: Respectfulness, experimentalism, and patience. Why those three? Because I think we have to respect everyone in the new organization to enable them to open up. Only then can we truly understand their obstacles. Experimentalism is sometimes allowed us to think out of the box, and this can bring great benefits. Don´t overthink; try it and see the result. Last but not least, patience is required not to overreact when we are irritated by customer questions or their misunderstanding of agile frameworks. We have to be aware that we are changing their way of working, which they were used to, and change is hard for everyone.
What is your favorite (business) book and why?
Matej: The Definitive Book of Body Language. This book helped me understand the importance of non-verbal communication. Before reading the book, I knew the influence was big, but I hadn´t imagined how huge it really was. Due to the book, I improved my (non-verbal) communication skills, which helped me in my professional career.
I just think agile companies adapted to new circumstances faster than traditional companies, as agile processes encourage communication to overcome such obstacles and guide us with a high pace to the right tracks.
As a Director of Engineering at Spotify, Marcin is working to identify, diagnose and remove barriers to execution across a 400+ technology organization, critical to Spotify success, in order to facilitate a predictable and sustainable delivery of value. He sees engineering teams as complex adaptive systems and thus works by applying principles and practices from the domains of agile, lean, systems thinking, and similar to allow for the desired outcomes to emerge in presence of sensible guiding constraints.
After experiencing Scrum methodology in many wrong ways, Matej's wish is to help as many teams as possible to improve the understanding and practical execution of this widely used agile method.
"Balance not only plays an essential role for human beings throughout their lifetime. But the way we grow business models and nurture organizational culture only thrives from a balanced kind of intervention and management."
We chatted with Mike Leber, a host workshop facilitator at Agile Slovenia about his views on agile, the effects of the pandemic, and forecasts for the future.
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