Relationships & Agility

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I’m excited. I’m excited to write what I’m about to write. This is only an introduction to hopefully a longer series of articles.

A little bit of background and how this came to be. I’m a Communications Manager. In short, that means I create the narrative for teams, projects, Executives and events. That can come in multiple forms – print, social media, newsletters, videos, or town halls. I’ve been working in Communications for roughly seven years now. Admittedly, it can get a little repetitive. However, at this point in my career, I work in a financial institution that has a mandate of working with agility 80% across the organization. The actual team I work on, and the team I create communications for, is dedicated to coaching teams in the organization on how to work with agility. Honestly, this has given my communications career life.

I know, this article may be heading into technical territory, but I’ll try to leave out as much technical jargon as possible. So, are you still with me?

You’re probably asking, “What’s Agility Julius?” Agility originated from the Agile Manifesto, which is primarily based on development, teamwork, collaboration and process adaptability throughout the lifecycle of a project. Check out the 12 guiding principles of the Agile Manifesto, which serves as the framework for working on projects as a team. Agile is a set of values around individuals and interactions, working software, customer feedback and responding to change. My team’s key agile principles are client value drives us, work in small, creative, cross-disciplined teams that are empowered and aligned, and build iteratively, deliver frequently and learn continuously.

Agile is a way of working and, in this case, a way of thinking. It’s a mentality that questions everything. The opposite side of this is Waterfall, which a lot of organizations still work with today. Waterfall is defined as sequential order, meaning projects and teams only move to the next phase of development or testing if the previous steps are completed successfully.

Anyways, how does this tie in with relationships? How does this tie in to places that aren’t focused on projects or developing applications? Well, since I started working in agile, I’ve been exposed to a vast number of methodologies that can, in all honesty, relate to all aspects of life – not just app development.

Before I elaborate further on that, a quick disclaimer. I’m a communications person that works with Agilists – ScrumMasters, Coaches and Change Management enablers, a team of roughly 13. Although I am not agile certified, I am currently in the process of working on ScrumMaster Certification, as well as Kanban certification, and I’m surrounded day in and day out with agile methods and try to implement them with my communications work.

Now onto how all of this relates to relationships. Think about what you can do at the beginning of trying to find that special someone, similar to the beginning of a project or engagement – establish the following: Entry Criteria, Definition of Ready (DoR) and Definition of Done (DoD). Agile teams spend time laying out what is pivotal for a project to succeed and each of these terms is defined differently depending on the team or project – or in this case, the individual.

Entry Criteria generally defines what the characteristics are of developing a system, project timelines and budget, and planning of testing efforts across the length and breadth of the project.

In relationships, you could apply a similar ideology. How long are you going to be dating around for? What are the characteristics of what this will look like? Are you going to go on many dates (tests)? What is your budget? The last one is a little bit of a joke but dating can be expensive, so ensure you’re honest with yourself on how much you’re willing to spend on trying to find the one/woo your current partner. Essentially, it’s important to ask yourself questions early on to help determine if you’re even ready to be in a relationship. If you’re not true to yourself and are not firm on some of the things needed at the beginning, you may not reach the intended outcome. The project will fail.

So you’ve determined your Relationship Entry Criteria. Now it’s time to figure out your Definition of Ready (DoR). In agile, it is a working agreement between the team and product owner on what readiness means – the foundational things set in place that will allow you to move forward with the project.

In relationships, your DoR are the foundational things you need to work properly in order to move forward – to find the right spark. This could roughly translate into defining what exactly it is you’re looking for in someone else. Establishing a support model for yourself when things go sideways (who will you reach out to when you want to vent about your dates?). Analyzing yourself – are you even ready to date? Do you have baggage that will keep you from focusing on someone else? Have you truly reached self-love? Self-love enough that will allow someone else into your life without compromising what’s important to you.

Definition of Done (DoD), agile-speaking, drives the quality of work and is used to assess when something has been completed. It roughly translates into a Product Owner accepting the project’s features, defects are fixed, re-tested, and then fixed again, the project is shared to stakeholders and performance testing executed and passed.

In relationships, your DoD can be you’ve found someone that has all the characteristics you’re looking for, there are no red flags and if there are you’ve addressed them or agreed to fix them (on both ends), you’ve introduced your partner to friends, family and co-workers and they’ve all approved, and you’ve dated long enough and tested certain issues, as in debating over sensitive topics, and you can still stand each other after – meaning it’s a pass.

Heyo, maybe this is all wishful thinking. And maybe dating, relationships, and love is WAY TOO complicated to put into categorical buckets. But in starting this journey, it got me thinking – sometimes people need to put labels or terms on things to help make sense of something. Right now, I’m constantly thinking in agile terms. I’m always looking to do something better or to properly invest my energy into something. Why can’t agile methodology be applied to all facets of life? Including relationships?

My ideas on relationships and agility may not fully be hashed out – yet. But I honestly think I’m onto something and with a little more time, thought, and accreditation, I could draw even more parallels between agile and life in general. If you’re out there in the dating scene, give some thought into your Entry Criteria, Definition of Ready and Definition of Done. It might help you out even a little bit.

 

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