The latest research into what makes people happy intersects neatly with agile philosophies and good collaborative practices. If you want the best from your teams and you want them to be content, you’d better go agile.
Grumpy, uncommunicative work places are a scourge in digital and IT departments. I’ve worked in offices where retrieving a ‘good morning’ was cause for celebration and where a chat round the water cooler was frowned upon as disturbing the work ethic. But common as these things are, they do not help the well-being of staff, do not promote happiness and cause distress among the very people that are supposed to be making a difference to the organisation.
We all know that digital technicians and IT people are fabulously well paid. This is important for recognition but it turns out to be far from the most important factor for predicting happiness.
In David Rock’s excellent book How The Brain Works, he sets out five parameters for mental well-being in work situations:
Happy agile workers
Agile teams, and Scrum teams in particular, are encouraged to relate to each other, do not blame but look for solutions, and follow a strong vision. Team ceremonies build trust, continuous improvement is highlighted through regular retrospectives, and the commander’s intent, or sprint goal, gives certainty. A well performing team is in charge of how it builds solutions and the work it chooses to do (i.e. it is autonomous).
Agile promotes communication, vision, excellence and well-being through its rigorous processes, and attention to transparency. It turns out these are the very things that make most people happy.
And we all know that happy people are productive people.