Discipline and Commitment: Agile the Techtonic Way

Techtonic Example burndown and velocity tracking  Graphic by Nathan Moses

By Jake Mitchell
Visual by Nathan Moses

Commitment and discipline have always been the twin hearts of any strong agile practice. Agile methodologies like Scrum and Kanban are frameworks designed to build whole systems of strong relationships. The handshake between team members is just as important as that between departments - in either case, individuals and groups make and honor agreements to do what they said they’d do when they said they’d do it. 

For context, Kanban originated in Toyota manufacturing plants in the 1940s, focusing heavily on efficiency and just-in-time planning, and also placing value on individual leadership. Scrum was first defined in 1993 in American software development and in turn, prioritized a series of values to define an approach to software development. Here at Techtonic, we believe in using the right tool for the right job, so we use both. 

Whether we’re utilizing Kanban or Scrum, we use the same tight feedback loop to make sure things stay on track. Every morning, the delivery leads review each project’s burndown or throughput chart to help set the focus and priorities for the day. Each team holds their project stand up first thing in the workday. Each sprint or iteration ends in a retrospective where the team reviews their work, talks about what went well and what didn’t, and then sets intentions for the next round. Depending on the client engagement, there may be an external demo for stakeholders at this point too. All of these moments are opportunities for the team to hold itself and each other accountable. Did we hit our commitments? Why or why not? What do we need to do differently? It’s relatively easy to talk a big game about commitment but it’s another thing altogether to have the discipline to deliver on time and to recognize where we fell short, then push ourselves to do better. 

Teams are collocated where possible, Agile ceremonies are held in person wherever feasible. Teams have designated locations and times for stand up. We put a lot of energy into repetition and building an Agile "muscle memory", so to speak. At least, that's the way that the Techtonic delivery team operated in a pre-quarantine environment. 

Then the world turned upside down. Suddenly everyone was living through the weirdest and least predictable period of time that we can remember. While leadership teams at some companies were worried about productivity and what their staff was doing in a new all-remote working arrangement, those at Techtonic weren’t. Our meetings and ceremonies are now held over Slack or Google Meet calls with video on, but that was the only material change. All of the process and discipline built up in months and years prior has paid off and our Agile cycles continue to roll on seamlessly. The quality of work that we're delivering is of the same high standard because we didn't have to re-engineer a process - we just moved the venue.

What has brought your team success as it shifted to a digital perspective? What have your biggest challenges been?

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If you're interested in learning more about Techtonic please Contact Us today! Techtonic is the premier partner for developing onshore, commercial-grade software. We've also developed a unique method to simultaneously close the talent gap that exists within technology, by tapping into a new and highly diverse workforce. Our model is pioneering the way clients develop and hire top talent, and we'd love to work with you!