Julie Wyman presented on “Agile Lessons from Antarctica: Responding to Change over Following a Plan at the DC Scrum User Group on March 12st, 2021.
I spent January 2018 in Antarctica hanging out with penguins, whales, and seals. It was about as different from my day-to-day work as an Agile Coach as can be. And yet, on my long flight home, I couldn’t help but reflect on how well my trip aligned with one specific value of the Agile Manifesto: “Responding to change over following a plan.”
I think it’s a common misconception that there’s no need to plan in Agile. And while this isn’t the case, specific approaches to planning do change—from big upfront design to a “just enough” approach. The act of planning still holds great value when it occurs at the right level, but in Agile we accept that many things will change and we’ll need to remain flexible to respond to them. If we’ve planned well, we’ll go into those changes with a clear sense of our goal and how to still achieve it under the new circumstances.
Nowhere is this truer than in Antarctica. Throughout the session, I’ll share six specific takeaways about change and planning that I brought back from my trip. I’ll share how my trip to Antarctica drove home why we need both planning AND, even more importantly, the ability to respond to change and how these real-life, non-software examples of responding to change can serve as great reminders to bring back to more typical work environments, including software development. And after being stuck in Antarctica six days longer than planned, I’ll share why my biggest takeaway of them all was increased empathy for team members struggling with dynamic situations!