Is Agile Practice The Key to Work Happiness?

is agile practice the key to work happinessWhen you think back at all the times you’ve enjoyed what you done. You were likely and most certainly had that overwhelming feeling of accomplishment, like there was purpose to what you were doing. It may have started when you were a young boy or girl, at home, on the beach, in nature, or at the park. If you were to imagine or recall what it was that you were doing, it would have probably been in the form of a game, involved friends, or the use of a repeat sequence of movements or patterns that stimulated your creativity and ideas. Something along the lines of building a sandcastle, piecing a puzzle together, or some other form of genius process in the making.

We can relate the practice of agile and the agile mindset to almost a similar way. If you don’t get that feeling in what you are currently doing, then something is likely missing. Yes, we’re aware, Agile practices are done at work not in our personal lives. If we read between the lines on what Agile principles will advocate, we learn to see that there’s a certain pattern to stimulate the creative process. Is it possible to make a certain “work” process enjoyable? Many of us might think of our work as mundane and repetitive, but Agile doesn’t have to be! The context in which we think of our work is always a factor in which we can enjoy and be happy about what we do.

The following are just some key thoughts on how you change your perspective and kick your daily work life routine into something you enjoy and bring out the kid in you:

1- Think of work like a game, not actual “work”

Remember the example we gave above? We’re saying, you don’t have to be doing something just because someone tells you to do it, do it because YOU WANT TO DO IT. Better yet, the Agile practice is filled many ceremonies (Sprint Planning, Daily Scrums, Sprint Demos, Retrospectives, etc.), and those are opportunities to turn it into a game, a game that is continuously improving. One of the things we see in sports, is that the actual game, the event of one team vs. the other, never just ends there. The end result of each game played (much like an iteration) is part of the process, and the team (and individual athletes) is looking to play future games a little better over time, and so on.

2- Find purpose in the actual work you are doing

Do you like the industry? Do you like product you are developing? Do you like the people you are working with? If you’re having a hard time answering these questions, you need to stop and take a look around you and take a mental check on what you are doing there to begin with. Half the stress you may be subjecting yourself to is the actual environment you are putting yourself into, not necessarily the actual work itself. Agile principles refer to “people”-like values. If you are not a social person, you might not be liking what you are doing, and it’s important to consider that. Much of what is happening today is remote-work, which includes most teams working at home alone and without any form of social interaction. Probably the most of what remote workers get are Skype and Slack messages and phone calls. If you are looking to be Agile the first thing you should be looking to do is be more social and have more face-to-face interaction. If you are working remotely, it might be difficult, but using that laptop camera during meetings may definitely enable more social aspects and sense of community with the rest of your team.

3- Celebrate achievements and milestone acknowledgements

Much of what we can get out of building purpose and happiness in our work lives can be stimulated and maintained by putting in rewards and trophies. Much like any game or achievement, you feel a lot better when you get to the end while acknowledging what the team completed and achieved the end goal. Perhaps this can be used at the end of each Sprint? or each product release? why not? All that time and hard work, should be rewarded with any form of accomplishment. Many companies are learning that this is one of the best ways to build that sense of purpose into their cultures. That is not to say that these types of rewards are necessary, as we mention above, you need to have your own intrinsic reasons for purpose and happiness in the workplace, much like you do for your own personal goals.

Anyone telling you what YOUR purpose is at work is futile, and will only lead to more dissatisfaction. The cycle will create more and more levels of disappointment and perhaps even more levels of conflict. One of the easiest ways we can advocate happiness in the workplace is to take the process and turn it into a game, but make it a game that everyone can play creatively, and take seriously. Sure there’s always a few laughs that are encouraged along the way, but make sure you have something in place that can be sustainable and enjoyable for all. If you are already practicing agile methodologies, your easy bet is to make those into games. One of the more common ones we’ve seen already is Planning Poker during Sprint Planning, but as most things in life, we can change practically anything that involves teams into something with increasing levels of fun.

[Image courtesy of Ambro at]

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.