Agile Thinking

A Handy Trick to Increase Agile Comprehension

Although the Agile Manifesto and its principles are the foundation for everything else in the agile world, it might be hard to get the average employee stuck in a training seminar to care about them. That means trainers and coaches need to step up their efforts to make it engaging. In an article for Agile Alliance, Kimberly Poremski discusses the use of “pocket-sized principles” to more effectively convey the meaning and value of Agile Manifesto principles.

Learning for Retention

With pocket-sized principles, people are divided into groups of ideally three to six, and they number a sheet of paper from 1 to 12. From there, they discuss all 12 of the principles of the Agile Manifesto, culminating in them being tasked with summarizing each of the principles in just a few words. Usually, these summaries are contained into three-word snippets; Poremski shares an example of a summarization of the first agile principle: “Deliver software fast! Satisfy the customer.”

Making people reiterate concepts concisely and in their own words is a highly effective way to increase learning comprehension. Here are some specific ways Poremski identifies that pocket-sized principles are helpful:

  • Since this exercise takes place at the beginning of the course, it immediately engages participants with one another, which aligns with [Sharon Bowman, author of books on training’s] trump principle talking trumps listening.
  • Asking participants to write their thoughts incorporates yet another of Bowman’s trump principles, writing trumps reading.
  • The exercise requires active thinking, not just regurgitation of facts. It sets the tone for the course in that participants will not merely be recipients of information; rather, they will be expected to apply what they learn, thereby contributing to the entire group’s learning experience.

You can view the original article, with more summarization examples, here:

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