Knowing and Understanding is different than Applying and Learning

As I intimated in a previous post, when I first heard about Agile and Scrum, I poked around a bit and came to the conclusion it wasn’t very different from what I was already doing.  I figured it was no different than normal Project Management except I would have a captive project team (YAY!), all the work going on would be on a board instead of .mpp (EVEN LOUDER YAY!) and there would be 1 fifteen minute daily meeting rather than all the other endless meetings.  Yeaaaahhhhhh.  So, that wasn’t right.

I found some people in the department who did know this and started learning from them.  When I say started learning I started accumulating knowledge.  After I spent a good amount of time listening to others, there were pieces that started to click.  I still didn’t have the whole picture partly because I was getting information in pieces and partly because I didn’t “get” it and, as a PM, didn’t believe what I was hearing really either.

As more and more pieces started to fall into place I began to understand.  That is I knew, in theory, what I should expect and what Scrum should look like.  Once I reached a level of understanding, I was able to ask much better questions AND accumulate more information.  If you thought I was going to say I could apply it (well), I’m sorry to have let you down. I did start looking at the the team, the organization and myself a little differently and tried to think about how all of this information could possibly be applied.  My attempts had not been very, well, awesome.  I had theories…

I set out to figure out HOW to effectively apply my understanding of the information I knew.  Do you know what???  It’s really difficult to tell someone HOW to apply the information they have.  People can give you suggestions and they will be good ones.  True Learning happens when you just go and start trying it out.  We tell teams to do it right?  Fail fast (which means learn fast to me).

Talk about scary.  It’s scary to be with a team and just try stuff out.  However try you MUST.  You will learn so much faster and you can apply all that learning to grow and get even better.  You need courage, trust, some more courage and a desire to improve.  Knowing is useless unless you’re learning, applying and learning some more.  If I had started trying to apply all that knowledge earlier, I would have learned faster.  Would there have been mistakes?  Yes.  What do we learn the most from?  Our mistakes.  See where I’m going here?

When people say “I know all about Agile and Scrum.”  Just smile and wave and wait.  In the meantime, get out there and experiment.  Don’t be afraid to learn and grow.

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