Meet Andrea Darabos, an experienced Agile coach and trainer who has recently joined the agil8 team to support the delivery of our Scaled Agile Framework training for both In-house courses, and as part of our public schedule.
How did you become interested in Agile, and Large Scale Agile in particular?
My journey into Agile actually started as a Software Developer. During which time, I spent 7 years at leading telecoms company Ericsson – where the decision was made to pilot an agile way of working across the Software Development Teams in 3 out of the 100+ countries that we operated in.
Being part of this agile pilot in 2017 was an amazing experience and included my first ventures into the use of extreme programming, pair programming and eventually agile release train planning with over 100 people. The pilot was a success and eventually grew to 300 agile teams, with around 3,000 team members – which naturally led to a large scale agile transformation.
What is typically the most challenging aspect of an organisation becoming more Agile?
The first challenge is to get organisations, and the senior leadership team, to understand that the goal of an agile transformation is not to just become agile – but instead that agile is a method and pathway to achieving whatever their actual goals and objectives are.
Agile should never be seen as a window dressing exercise, but instead it should provide clarity for business delivery and enable the organisation to collectively agree on core outcomes and objectives, before focusing on operational efficiencies.
The second challenge, is to achieve genuine buy-in and drive from the top, and right across the organisation, and not just a senior level directive from a top-down hierarchy. Transformations are complex and therefore can’t be delivered in a step by step linear process – it must be people driven, by motivated individuals and teams, ideally through connecting people across the organisation in a flat hierarchy.
What in your experience are the biggest misconceptions about Agile, and more specifically scaling Agile?
That in order to achieve large scale agile transformation, you simply take the same principles and techniques from team level and just scale them up – this is not the case. Constant communication, visual management, collaboration across the value chain and the right infrastructure are all essential to be able to scale up to teams of teams.
What do you enjoy most about being an Agile coach and trainer – who or what has inspired you?
I enjoy different aspects of both coaching and training, but it’s the combination of both that I enjoy the most. When I was at University, and a beginner at public speaking, I had a particular role model who was an incredible public speaker.
After questioning him on how he delivered his talks with such confidence and entertainment, he gave me the following advice; “Go out, experience it, enjoy it, and share it”. And so, I always try to apply that ethos to my coaching and training style.
What has been the most unexpected thing that has happened to you in your career?
I’ve recently had the opportunity to coach a former line manager of mine. When I worked with him a number of years ago – I really didn’t expect that I would subsequently coach, mentor and support him and his whole leadership team through their own agile transformation.
How do you think you will complement the existing agil8 team?
It’s a pleasure to join the agil8 team, which already has such a great mix of trainers each with their own area of specialism.
As I’ve eluded to earlier, I’m very people focused, and firmly believe that people, and not processes, are at the centre of everything. I’d therefore say that my main area of expertise is in People Management and Team Development
Do you have a favourite Agile quote?
My favourite quote is “Lean isn’t lean if it doesn’t involve everyone” by John Shook, who is an international lean consultant and renowned author.
I love this because agile and lean transformations are about a quest for improving and solving problems. If we can make these problems visible and interesting for all employees then we can truly involve everyone in improvement of the business and themselves.
If you weren’t an Agile coach and trainer, what do you believe you would be doing today instead?
I’ve always been passionate about the use of technology in Education to make it more accessible and effective, so I probably would focus on this area. Possibly working with start-ups to develop new and exciting technologies within the Education sector. Being an agile coach makes it possible to combine this calling with work, so I am hopeful to explore this in the future.
What do you do for fun?
I love spending time in nature, hiking or running, and visiting art galleries. I’m also a keen runner and will be running the next Budapest marathon.