A 12 Year Old Agilest, What We Can Learn From Kids About Adopting Agile

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12 Year Old Agilist
12 Year Old Agilist

Ever noticed how children take to Agile faster than adults? At least that is what I discovered a couple of years ago when I trained a twelve year old in a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) class (Want to know why a twelve year old was in my CSM class? Checkout the paragraph with the (*) below). The twelve year old jumped right in and played an active role on his team; he helped write user stories, he completed tasks, he updated his team’s Scrum board, he even answered questions about Scrum. For him it all seemed quite natural and he did a great job.

So what is it about the mindset of a child that helps them adopt Agile so readily? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Kids naturally want to work in teams
  2. Kids will do whatever they can to help their team. Adults often define themselves by their job title and won’t work outside of their job description
  3. Kids learn at an amazing rate and quickly pickup how to do things from their team members
  4. Kids are curious and want to do new things often
  5. Kids feel that they can accomplish anything
  6. Kids are creative and tend to think of problems in unique ways
  7. Even if a kid is stumped at how to accomplish a task they will keep trying different ideas until they come up with a solution
  8. Kids get great satisfaction from completing a task regardless of what it is
  9. Kids like to work and they readily want something new to do
  10. For kids work can be fun
Live Agile!
Live Agile!

Study this list, what can you learn from it? Evidently if we want to be more Agile, then we need to be more childlike. Give yourself permission for a moment to not be so serious, find an activity that will allow you to play, and embrace it with an open mind. The more that you can be like a child, the easier it will be to embrace the values and principles of Agile.

How do you like to play? Tell us what you like to do to be more childlike in the comments section below.

(*) So why was I training a 12 year old in Scrum. Well, I was on-site one morning at a private client’s location for a CSM class. A mother walked in with her son in tow. She said that he had been suspended from school for carrying a pocketknife. No, it’s not what you are thinking… he had been on a Boy Scout camping trip the weekend before and left the knife in his pocket. Like most guys would do, he put on the same pants that he wore over the weekend, the ones with the knife in the pocket. The school had no choice but to suspend him. Since he was stuck with us anyway I invited him to take the CSM class rather than just hanging out in the back of the room. Funny, he did better than half of the corporate professionals on a quiz on day two. It was a really cool experience for all of us!