Last Updated Aug 05, 2022 —

Digital.ai is thrilled to be back at live, in-person events this year, especially the Agile 2022 Conference by Agile Alliance. The conference was full of great topics, and Silvia Davis, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Digital.ai; PMP; SAFe SPC; and ITSM Expert, wanted to share her insights from the event. Here are the three main points of significance: Engineering with empathy; Leading with kindness; Delivering with passion

Read the full article to learn the “why” and the “how” and let us know your point of view!

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After two years of being grounded, Digital.ai attended our first post-pandemic conference: Agile 2022 at the beautiful Gaylord Resort in Nashville. What an incredible event!   

The Agile Alliance team did a great job in bringing everyone together–in a safe and healthy environment–to reconnect and share experiences about how Agile teams are working, their current challenges after the pandemic, and of course, fresh ideas.  

Other great opportunities included the “open jam” sessions, where everyone was able to share their experiences and discuss common challenges face with one another. This experience was priceless.

So, let’s dive deeper into the three key takeaways from the event.

Engineer with empathy: Get all your teams to understand the value of their contribution to the end customer

The first keynote entitled Engineer with Empathy was delivered by Kelsey Hightower, Principal Software Engineer at Google, who is also a developer advocate and speaker for his work with Kubernetes. Hightower’s presentation was able to evoke fond memories for those of us who are (or once were) developers. Hightower explained that it is easier for developers to create applications that they will never utilize as a user. Developers may think that creating certain applications is the best idea, but do they really understand the need for an application? Product managers write the user stories/scenarios without even seeing how the functionality will be used. Developing based on assumptions is not acceptable anymore.

The solution is simple: get you and your developers connected to the user experience, go into the field, and see it; be a part of the experience and create applications with empathy for the user that will use the application daily.  

It is a team effort, from the product/solution manager down to the scrum masters and engineers–the process is not solely restricted to the developer.  

When we see and understand the needs and values applications are bringing, the chances for the them to succeed are higher and the risk of adoption failure is reduced.

Leading with kindness: Understand the needs of every team member, meet them where they are, and make them feel valued 

Times have changed since the pandemic, and the disruption in the job market has been affecting productivity and continuity. Leading people is challenging for many scrum masters, project managers, and product managers–getting the teams to collaborate and be in sync is not an easy task. Thinking about the time it takes to deliver is important but bringing a sense of unity to the team is far more vital in accomplishing your goals. Additionally, organizations often lack the structure and culture required for adequate support.  

In order to help others feel as though they love their job, it’s important to make them feel valuable. The solution is to understand each person on an individual level and empower them to strive by giving them the suitable tools to succeed. In this case, the necessary tools would be a supportive mentorship, space to fail and learn, and applications that make their job easier. 

In the Six stances of product leadership session, the presenters Nadezhda Belousova and Anjali Leon shared insight on this subject, stating that product leadership requires competence, collaboration, and connection. From a connection perspective, it especially requires empathy, understanding, meaningful interactions.

product leadership

In the session Facilitating culture-defining meetings, the presenters Christine Hudson and Ronica Roth explained the framework of “Practice Makes Culture™”. One statement of value was, “Your words and behavior create an experience that shapes others’ beliefs and actions, and ultimately your results.”

The session served as a lesson that sometimes we struggle as leaders. How do we create an environment with psychological safety, facilitate divergence, and welcome the elephants in the room?

customer advocate

Other opportunities the conference provided were the “open jam sessions.” From various discussions and sessions, the consensus was to “listen more” and “talk less.” It’s essential to understand where a team member is coming from, give them a chance to propose their ideas, be compassionate, and lead with kindness. Not an easy task for many, but one worth trying to improve on every day.

Delivering with passion: Understand your business and deliver value  

This takeaway is not about how to build products, which everyone knows well, but about “why” and “what” of the process. The big question is, why are you building it and what is the value of the solution, the product, the epic, the story, or even the feature? Is it quantifiable?   

In her session Working backwards from Objective and Key Results (OKRs), Mariya Breyter, author of the book Agile Product and Project Management, answered these questions by explaining how to be intentional and work backward when developing products. She reminded the audience of Peter Drucker’s five most important questions to ask yourself in order to best direct your focus and resources–which start with the “why” and not the “how.”  

As product managers and scrum masters, we want to get the product done on time, but what is the value that it will bring and how can we measure it?  

Breyter shared research that showcased how connecting the dots between product and value can increase user retention by 50% and achieve the product’s Net Promoter Score higher than 50%.  

The bottom line was that OKRs must be defined from top to bottom in an organization and linked to digital product development down to feature, with a feedback loop from user experience back to the OKR.  

Aligning teams and delivering value is not easy, especially for large enterprises that need to deliver thousands of applications continuously, but there are ways to make the process less painful:

  • Adopt a hybrid framework that fits your organization’s culture
  • Implement a leader enterprise Agile Planning tool and predictable AI-based solution–in this case, Digital.ai Agility and AI-powered analytics
  • Deliver with passion

Digital.ai (formerly known as VersionOne), now equipped with AI-machine learning analytics, strives to help you achieve these goals by understanding the value, orchestrating with kindness, and engineering with empathy.  

Digital.ai is looking forward to attending another event at the end of the month, the 2022 Scaled Agile SAFe Summit in Denver, Colorado. See you there!

 

Interested in seeing what upcoming events and activities we have planned? Check out our Events page.

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