“The Nature Of Most Bugs Is In The Lack Of Communication” – Alexander Buratynskyi, Senior Agile Coach At Innovecs
Agile is a way of thinking that helps build high-performance teams and maximize business value. Alexander Buratynskyi, Senior Agile Coach at Innovecs, speaks about an agile approach, how it originated, and why modern business can’t do without it.
What is the agile approach, and why a business needs it?
Nowadays, businesses can not survive without agile approaches, frameworks, and methodologies. Agile is a culture, a mindset that helps organizations to be adaptable, make timely decisions and stay afloat in today’s world. According to the “Cynefin” model, which determines the complexity of the environment, our modern world is defined as complex since it is now full of uncertainty and instability.
Agile as a philosophy is a continuous learning cycle that originates from certain market events to which the organization responds and processes. If fast feedback cycles are embedded in the Scrum methodology, the business can adapt very quickly. Otherwise, if agile is not preached, feedback cycles are not understood at all, and it is unclear what adaptability is in terms of frameworks and how the business implements them — the organization can burn out, leave the market and cease to exist.
When did that turning point for businesses occur when they started to form the agile philosophy?
The adaptability and feedback cycle readjustment have been around for a long time. The Scrum methodology turned 25 last year. The pandemic was a huge turning point, as companies urgently had to adapt to new and unexpected conditions. Though the scrum already existed and was gaining strength, a clear, agile trend flourished in early 2020.
Scrum masters, agile coaches have been periodically reminding businesses of the importance of agile. The first State of Agile Report was issued in 2007. When the companies realized that there were scaled tested frameworks, such as SAFe, LeSS, they were more willing to invite coaches and scrum masters to join the company.
There also used to be a misconception that scrum was only for IT companies, but not anymore. Last year, the definition “IT framework” was removed from the scrum guide when it was updated. With this change framework’s broad application for life, business, and development became apparent.
Is Agile a gradual process, or can it can solve the crisis without preparation?
Any decision depends on each individual’s ability to adapt. It is essential to understand that the agile coach can not solve anything on their own because we need a decision from business owners that says, “Yes, we do adapt.”
We also have to ask business owners how they run their business, how they make decisions, and how much they are involved. We need to see what the roles and relevant tasks are and what their focus is. Therefore, solving business problems is not one click away. You need to be with the business for some time to identify the problem.
What does an agile coach do?
The agile coach is an engaged and active listener, trainer, mentor, facilitator, and consultant If the company has a strategy, a coach also helps to transmit it. If not — one helps to create it. Every so often, good coaches approach the owners and find out what the purpose of the transformation is. What exactly does agile mean to them? Is it just implementing some cycles or forcing the developers to do more without understanding their specific performance? By understanding what agile means to them, we develop a particular optimization goal.
On my project, we produce certain goals for the quarter — quarterly OKR (Framework Objective Key Results). Transformation can also have quarterly goals. For example, some specific commands need to be passed through phases, formed and carried out through brainstorming, and normalized to begin to perform. People who do not participate in discussions about architecture need to be exposed in face-to-face communication conducted one on one. Chapters where people discuss expertise-related matters can also be created.
When there is no scrum master or agile coach, people do not believe they are heard, and that can change. Agile coaches carry out targeted round-ups on meeting topics, interactions, communication channels, optimization goals by roles, the inclusion of specific roles, and creation of cross-functional teams.
How did you arrive at your professional role?
I entered the IT world as a tester in a startup engaged in Big Data long before it became mainstream. I was curious about everything. When I started looking for bugs in the software, I realized that these bugs are rooted in misunderstandings. For example, the tester and the developer receive technical tasks, and throughout that process, the communication limps and results in bugs. At that time, I was already a tester and Scrum master.
I saw an opportunity when no one else wanted to be a Scrum master. So, I became the first person to be chosen for this role by the corporate old-timers — they decided that the young man would manage. I handled things so well that it turned out that we simply cannot do without agile. I delved into communication between developers, testers, and requirements makers. At that time, I thought that the bug involved specific people and ill communication between them.
I then switched companies and worked as a QA manager and Scrum master, building test chapters and forming teams. I finally realized that bugs occur between teams. I figured out that the shortcomings of communication and behavior arise from leadership. Basically, the organization should be considered as one whole organism. Each team is a cog; everything affects everything at once.
It was fascinating for me to explore these systems, ways of changing the organization, what point actions (communications, meetings, additional roles, documentation) can fully optimize the company to perform better. The search for wastes, bugs, optimizing the work of the company made me an Agile coach.
You worked in Poland for some time. Are there critical differences between the work style in Poland and in Ukraine?
When I returned home, Ukraine appeared closer to the United States in terms of mindset. Crises hit our countries hard, but it gives a lot of development changes.
In 2018, Poland changed its status from a growing economy to a more stable economy. They now have many outsourcing companies that work from 9 AM to 5 PM; some come to work at 6-7 AM and leave by 3 PM The way that Ukraine approaches software development is closer to my heart: I like working on a project, building a product, influencing its evolution, and seeing how it grows.