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Courage to Become Agile

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Being brave is about doing what is necessary, even when you are afraid. The single most important thing in agile is to inspect and dare to change things which aren't working, said Gitte Klitgaard. You can start with small experiments to find better methods,  and if it turns out it is not working, then you stop it.

Gitte Klitgaard, an Agile Coach, gave the opening keynote titled "Are You Brave Enough to Be Vulnerable?" on the second day of the European Testing Conference 2017. InfoQ is covering the conference with Q&As, summaries and articles.

On courage is defined as "the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery." Reacting on this definition, Klitgaard said, "if we have no fear, usually that’s stupid". Fear is there to help us see that something is dangerous. There can be fear in courage; courage isn’t a matter of not being frightened. Courage means doing what you have to do.

Klitgaard stated that:

Being brave is not about removing fear or not being afraid – it is about doing what is necessary even when you are afraid.

Her definition also includes "Show your heart". Courage is about opening your heart, making yourself vulnerable. You can get hurt and you have to allow yourself to fail, because what you get out of it is so much better, Klitgaard claimed. You need to have the courage to be different, even if your surroundings find you strange. Share your fears and joys.

There’s no such thing a little courage. You don’t need to do something big to be courageous- small things matter.

When you are a tester and you go and talk to a developer, you will make yourself vulnerable. And in other cases, you may have to speak up even more when there’s a real problem. It’s important to stand up for what you believe in. But pick your battles; you can’t stand up for everything, said Klitgaard.

Being a developer is being a craftsmen, Klitgaard commented. Developers care about good quality code. As a tester you can help them to improve quality.

The single most important thing in agile is to inspect and adapt, claims Klitgaard. You have to change things which don’t work. When you implement a change, you will step into unknown territory, not knowing whether it will succeed. People must dare to do it, said Klitgaard.

If everything is working, then she suggested to start with small experiments. This can be scary as if nothing is broken, why change it? The reason to change it is to find improved methods. We can do an experiment, and if it turns out it is not working well, then we simply stop it.

The more you learn, the more you know what you don’t know. You have to be brave to learn. It takes courage to ask for help. Asking for help is not stupid, said Klitgaard. It means that you are brave enough to make yourself vulnerable. When you are receiving help, you are opening up, and that can be scary.

Taking small steps is very important. Klitgaard stated that you have to be yourself. To do this, you have to figure out who you are. You have to listen to your gut, to your heart. Go out on an adventure of finding out who you are. If something feels wrong, go figure it out, said Klitgaard.

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