Continuing with the “Meet The Coach” series, we have Kemmy Raji - an Agile Coach and Trainer who has been embracing agile principles and practices for over 10 years. In this post, she will talk about her agile journey and her source of inspiration, but more importantly, she will provide you with practical and actionable advice that you can take away from.
Q: How did you first start your agile path and end up coaching with agile42?
I started off as a Quality Analyst in an agile environment, and that was when I realized I had a passion for Agile. I admired the way things were done. What I loved the most was how quick feedback was obtained and how I could incorporate that feedback into what I did. Afterwards, I decided to work for a financial institution in the UK, and people there saw my passion for working in an agile way. I was given the opportunity to become a ScrumMaster, which kickstarted my agile journey. For several years, I worked as a ScrumMaster before transitioning into the role of an Agile Coach.
Having visited Canada in 2011, I made the decision to move from the UK to Canada in 2014. I worked at a Fintech company before I joined agile42 this year in April. For someone who considers coaching and training as second nature, I was beyond ecstatic to become an Agile Coach at agile42.
Q: What is the main inspiration for what you do?
For me, it’s the moment when people get the idea around Agile. In other words, they aren’t just doing agile but they are being agile. They incorporate that mindset not only at the workplace but at home as well. Quite frankly, I have a Kanban board at home, which I use for my own personal development as well as for my kids. I don’t just tell people what to do but I practice it myself. So when people take Agile out of the workplace, this gives me the motivation to continue with what I am doing. I also can’t stress enough that Agile is not just a software way of executing work. Instead, Agile is a mindset - a way of life.
Q: What are your top 3 tips for agile practitioners?
My top 3 tips for agile practitioners are the following:
1. Get a mentor or coach - Getting a mentor or coach to guide you through your path and broaden your horizon is invaluable. Having a coach has helped me reflect on my agile practices and mindset, which is when I made the realization that Agile is a way of life. For instance, I have a physical Kanban board at home that my children and I would use to complete our personal tasks. Activities and chores are planned out and it must meet the standard of acceptance that we agreed upon as a family. In turn, this has enabled me to grow both in my chosen career and in my personal life.
2. Read, Listen, Learn - From journals and blogs to podcasts and books - anything that is relevant to agile, make sure to learn continuously. Currently, I am listening to Agile For HumansTM Podcast by Ryan Ripley, and a book that I have started reading is Unlocking Agility by Jorgen Hesselberg. This is a great read for anyone looking for practical guidance on how to launch, sustain, and improve agile transformation initiatives on an enterprise level. By acquiring and keeping abreast of the latest developments in agile methodology, this allows you to sustain the agile dialogue in your organization.
3. Listen to your client - This is essential. When you are listening, you are not looking to respond but to understand what the other person is saying. This is known as Level 2 Listening. (To learn about the three levels of listening, download The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Agile Coaching and read pages 24 - 27.)
Q: What is your favourite non-fiction book and why?
My favourite non-fiction book is any book written by Lord Jeffrey Archer. I believe I have read every single book of his. I love the fact that he localises the content and the characters of his novels. He would often cite historical events and he would place his characters in those specific events. Despite being non-fiction books, I can guarantee that you will learn alot about past history. It is what I call two-for the price of experience.
Q: What do you think is essential for a new team to follow a proper agile approach?
Mindset. Developing an agile mindset is critical for new agile teams, but a lot of times it is the last to take place for a new team. Frequently, organisations would first introduce tools such as Jira to the teams. This causes the teams to interpret Agile from a tool perspective rather than an understanding of the approach. In order to achieve high performance, new teams must have the right agile mindset. This includes challenging their practices and embarking on continuous improvement.
If you have any questions for Kemmy, feel free to connect with her through LinkedIn
or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
for an introduction.