I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of Telstra’s transition to Agile at scale and have learnt valuable skills that have shifted my personal and professional mindsets.

I have found the benefits of Agile practices and methodologies don’t just translate to the office, they can extend to your personal life and can help improve your mindset and approach to life.

I asked our Agile Coach Jane Ilsey if learning about Agile can shift your personal mindset. Her response was:

“It’s not uncommon to hear stories of how people have taken the Agile mindsets, practices and tools and applied them to their personal life.

“I love that the changes we make at work have impacts that extend beyond the work itself and into the lives and homes of our people, whether it supports a couple getting married using sprints and Trello boards, or helps shape the building blocks for family agreements with team charters on the fridge.”

Here are the positive impacts Agile methodologies have had on me:

Setting personal goals

Often in our personal lives, we usually set a large goal without really breaking down the steps into smaller chunks. For example, a personal goal could be to buy that dream house or car.

Using the OKR framework here is how a personal goal could be broken down:

Objective: Buy your dream car

Key Result: Save 10 per cent more money month on month

Example Epics: Food, Travel (pillars to save money on)

Example Stories: Make lunches, cycle to work, work out in the park over the gym etc.

Every two weeks, you should review your stories and plan new stories to reach your goal. You can also use data to measure the impact your stories or epics are having on your key result.

This framework could be applied to long, medium or short term goals. It’s important to identify what type of goal you have, to help you with your planning.

Create a charter to live by

When we formed our new agile team the first thing we did was to create a team charter. This conversation is a great opportunity to learn more about your team and what values you all have.

Every two weeks at our Retrospective we review our team charter and ensure we are living it and review new items. One of the rules that resonate with me the most is to assume positive intent, which has built overall trust in our team.

Some members of our team have even created their own charter with their families and have stuck it on their fridge. They created it as a family and regularly check in on the values.

Here’s an example of the framework:

An example of a charter framework.

Burn rate and burn out

Early on in my career, I went 110 per cent all the time to achieve my goals. My theory was the harder I pushed myself, the more I would achieve. What happened was burnout, and I soon realised it’s impossible to achieve peak performance at all times.

What Agile taught me is that ‘slow is smooth, smooth is fast.’ Looking at your work in two-week sprints is a great way of pushing yourself as it allows you to peak, recover and start again.

Each burn rate might not be perfect, but it allows for peaks and troughs to be measured. This enables you to avoid burnout in the long run, which translates into a happier personal life. 

Regular verbal communication

When we first introduced our agile ceremonies we were a bit freaked out by the number of meetings we had in the diary. Suddenly we had daily stand-ups, planning sessions, sprint prioritisation sessions, sprint reviews and retrospectives. We were all a bit concerned about when we would find the time to do the work!

However, having the agile ceremonies as regular as we do means we solve problems quicker and have open conversations. It also means less emails, which has meant we have more time to do the work.

In our personal life, we can also fall into the trap of phone messages and group chats and forget how powerful regular verbal communication is for connection and problem-solving.

Creating psychological safety

Google spent years studying effective teams and they found that the single quality that contributed most to the success of teams was ‘psychological safety.’ They code-named the study Project Aristotle, a tribute to the philosopher’s famous quote, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” The researchers found that what really mattered was less about WHO is in the team, and more about HOW the team worked together.

As a keen hockey player, I have introduced this concept to my team. It’s not about our team having the greatest hockey players in the league, instead it’s about how we play together and trust each other.

Now that I have adopted this way of working, it’s challenging to think how we didn’t ever work like this. I look forward to how we continue to evolve and mature on our agile journey here at Telstra.

Learn more about Telstra’s transformation, purpose and values here.