Increasing productivity through Agile scaling, with Angus Muir, Ep #4 

In this episode, I’m delighted to be joined by Angus Muir, a Senior Leader in Application Delivery at an international insurance firm. As an Agile practitioner and Agile coach for twenty years, Angus has drawn on his broad experience to guide organizations through the journey to implement and scale Agile. He has focused on building beyond team-level success, working with corporate leaders to solve complex issues of merging Agile principles into existing corporate cultures. You’ll learn a lot from his experience merging the theory with the needs of the work team and the organization.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…

  • Angus’ beginning career [01:55]
  • The broad uses for Agile [03:03]
  • Focusing principles [07:27]
  • Getting leaders onboard with Agile [12:38]
  • The benefit of an outside coach [16:46]
  • The unwritten rule of Agile [20:43]
  • Finding Agile practitioners [23:04]
  • The future of Agile [29:18]

Lean and Agile principles

Before Angus started his career as an Agile coach, he worked with a manufacturing firm that built military radios. That opportunity introduced him to the ideas of lean and lean manufacturing. He started to see the applicability of that and how it applied to software development around the same time the Agile movement began in the industry. This early involvement gave Angus a uniquely broad perspective of how Agile applies to software and how it applies to things like marketing and human resources.

Angus quickly realized that Lean and Agile principles could be applied to just about anything. He’s helped companies with focusing their sales approach by turning the problem into a Kanban solution. Over time, the client’s process was refined from a scattered approach to a narrow, focused approach where he knew his focus was on getting the job done.

Multitasking isn’t working

A common trend Angus sees in organizations is looking busy not finishing three things rather than completing one. There’s a belief that starting something is good. That puts pressure on starting too many things and multitasking. The reality is that things aren’t being completed. Switching from task to task like that isn’t a productive use of time. The research shows that we’re not good at task switching. Instead, we’re causing stress on individuals and losing hours of productivity a week.

How can Agile help?

Angus loves to give Agile presentations to leaders to help them see how some things they do are counterproductive. He wants them to see how something they’re doing higher up connects directly to the problem down the line. Most of his coaching isn’t focused on teaching the Agile principles. Rather, the focus is on helping people understand what the principles look like day-to-day. The coaching process isn’t just for a month. It’s touching base regularly over a long period to help move ideas forward.

Angus has a group of full-time practitioners who are in touch with the limitations of companies. He stresses that these coaches must be absolute pragmatists. They not only have to understand the principles but also use them successfully. That personal experience is necessary for the level of patience required for the job. There will be many times when ideas will be ignored and need to be revisited repeatedly. Managers have to unlearn things they’ve trained their whole lives to do. This change is a psychological process that is a lot of work. That work will pay off in the form of a culture of trust that is more productive than it ever was before.

With Agile, the client’s process was refined from a scattered approach to narrow and focused #AgilePrinciples #Focus Share on X

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Angus Muir

Connect With Jodi Kulek Mayer

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