This is the 11th in a series of posts on Agile Marketing – the working definition of which is to “Create, communicate and deliver unique value to an always-changing consumer (or business) in an always-changing market with an always-changing product.” (See the the original post here.) One of the main tenets of the Agile philosophy is the idea of knocking down barriers that exist around the project – and that the knocking down of barriers alone can often be the difference between an unsuccessful project and a successful one. You can get better at identfying and removing barriers by adopting a mindset affectionately nicknamed “spot it, got it.”
“Spot it, got it” – begin with the Answer in Mind
Quick – what’s the difference between a successful team and one that flounders when faced with a challenge? It’s likely that the successful team contains people with a “spot it, got it” mentality who are willing to identify the tasks that need to get done, determine what needs to be done to solve them, and then just knocks those tasks out. Notice that I didn’t say “the best team” but “a successful team.” It’s hard to know what the best team is going to be before they become the best team, but a successful team has a good shot at being “the best team”
What does it mean to “spot it, got it”? Let’s start by thinking about what it doesn’t mean. “Spot it, got it” doesn’t mean pointing out all of the problems that the team has and never will have time to solve. It also doesn’t mean dumping the laundry list on your boss’s doorstep without a solution. And “spot it, got it” doesn’t mean pointing out a problem and then stepping away.
“Spot it, got it” means making yourself a valuable member of the successful team by identifying an issue, clarifying what it means and how important it is to solve, and then proposing a solution for the issue. If nobody responds, then Just Do It and let people know what you did and why. You might get yelled at but – as my ex-military friends often say – it’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission. Identify some barrier, explain to the team why you’re knocking them down, and then go and do it and you’ve created a blueprint for everyone on the team to be the CEO of their own job.
“Spot it, got it” also means clearing the decks for the rest of your team by clearly communicating ownership and resolution of an issue. If you reassure your teammate that you are going to solve her problem, it’s also your responsibility to go do it and to tell her at the appointed time that you are ready to deliver what you promised. And there’s an important corollary here: sometimes you can’t just do it. So when you hit roadblocks you’ll do much better if you inform your co-workers and your boss that you need help. The daily scrum (if you run one of these) is a great place to say what you’re doing, what you’ve done, and where you need help. And a phone call or IM to your team can also uncover the help you need.
What’s the takeaway for the “Spot it, got it” idea? You can make life better for your team by suggesting a solution, not just pointing out a problem. Your guess is as good as anyone’e on the team, and provides a “straw answer” for everyone else to test. So get cracking – find the things that bug you about your workflow and the work you’re doing, propose and broadcast a solution, JFDI, and then tell people you did it. You’ll be happy you did.