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Importance of Courageous Communicators in Agile Organizations

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All work performed in Scrum needs a set of values as the foundation for the team's processes and interactions. Courage is one of those. Because in scrum everyone works as a team, team members feel supported. This gives them the courage to undertake greater challenges.

Daniel Sloan, enterprise agile coach and professional scrum trainer, describes the importance of courageous communicators in agile organizations, in his recent blog. He says that leaders should promote courageous communication within the organization.

Daniel says that agile organizations usually have incredible leadership dynamics operating on the inside. One critical dynamic is when senior leadership supports the role of courageous communicators. To cultivate the culture of courage, organization’s senior leadership must be supportive of open and honest behavior in the workplace.

Courage is a profound value of great leadership, but it requires skilful communication, emotional awareness and a degree of professional safety to be effective in the workplace.

Daniel explains the importance of courageous communication by giving below example.

A software company ships a broken feature to your smartphone prematurely and it causes you (the customer) a big headache. Application Developers might have known that the quality was suspect, but perhaps they felt management pressure to ship it because of a competitive threat or a customer obligation. Or even worse, maybe the Developers have a financial bonus that will only be awarded if they ship the feature immediately.

This situation can be avoided with Courageous Communication. Perhaps someone would respectfully and calmly step up to senior management and say something like:

I feel like the management approach is forcing us to do something that could be damaging to our customers and our company’s reputation. This feature doesn’t meet our mutually-agreed standards of quality and completeness. If it isn’t “done”, what will happen if we ship it now?

Daniel says that in a productive retrospective, courageous communication is critical.

Mark C. Layton, Principal at Platinum Edge Inc. and author of Agile Project Management for Dummies and Scrum for Dummies, mentions choosing good communicators in agile teams, in his blog. He says that while selecting scrum master, management should look whether the candidate has communication and facilitation skills to guide the development team in reaching consensus.

Daniel explains how anyone can become a courageous communicator as follows:

  • Be open and honest about your own fears.
  • Do not judge.
  • Stay calm.
  • Don’t wait.
  • Celebrate courageous moments from others.

Are you a Courageous Communicator? Are you fostering a culture where courage is valued?

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