I believe that we subconsciously apply Lean and Agile Methodologies every day of our lives and I can only imagine where we could go if we learned to apply the principles intentionally.  I believe in improvement for Everyone. I want to be the “Everyday Agilist”.

I have recently moved to a new home in a lovely rural area of Southern Ontario where many of my neighbours and new acquaintances are artists. My neighbour immediately to the west is a lovely older lady who has a studio where she paints in oils and also works in fibre. She is wonderfully talented and three of her paintings adorn the walls in my dining and living rooms.  More importantly, we have a standing date to enjoy a bottle of wine and the view of the bay as a Friday afternoon wind down for the weekend.

Early in the New Year, as I basked in the excitement of sharing my new business venture with her, I asked her to reflect on her relative successes of 2016. She laughingly said that it had been “her best year ever…” then added, still laughing, that “Lean and Agile could not improve her business”. I love a challenge!

Related post : The Agilist and the Car Enthusiast

I started by asking her why it had been such a good year. She replied that while she had opened her studio less to the buying public, her sales had been better than ever largely due to her participation in the local “Open Studio” events of the area. She also noted that she had inspired her creative juices by engaging in more retreats and workshops, particularly in the textile aspect of her work.

My mind raced as I began to realize that often, a big part of being Lean and Agile is inspecting what had worked so that it could be intentionally repeated. Her reply was that while I was probably right, it was time to pour the last of the wine and enjoy each other’s company. Not everyone is ready for Lean and Agile

But I warned Marion that I would not forget! In fact, last week she hosted an retreat here in the county with a guest artist from the U.S. and participants from across Ontario as well as one from the Maritimes.

I was able to join Marion and two of her fellow artists at the regular Friday afternoon wine date before their workshops got underway. Their passion and excitement was palpable! There was also a lot of apprehension about the people’s expectations and I heard tales of one retreat where some of the attendees had walked out when the Mentor artist enforced a rule that there was to be no talking and no music during the working sessions. Clearly this was a group who valued many forms of creative interaction. So I offered three bottles of wine for their mid-weekend party to see if I could tap into the values that fuelled their creative endeavours.

Well, it was a great investment! Marion came by this week for our Friday wine date and was clearly happy to chat about the weekend. I heard how each fabric artist had a goal of making a scarf and a vest during the 3-Day workshop (certainly sounds like a sprint goal). I also heard about how there were no judgments. It did not matter if you were young or old, experienced or new to the art form, everyone was there to learn! And in fact, when one of the group was having problems, the others rushed to their aid and offered assistance. There was growth and learning for everyone as after all, no one can have “seen it all and done it all”. Everyone was free to share their stories and experiences! Topped off with some well-catered food and a bit of wine and these artists were in full glory!

And of course, on the last day of their 3-Day time boxed effort, they all modelled their newly made scarves and vests which sounded a lot like a sprint review to me. As a last effort for the weekend event, they even talked about how to make their next retreat even better, and no one had to tell them to do this Retrospective.

So Marion, I will make my final confession: you are Agile whether you know it or not, and you are even a role model of Agile values. Maybe you should come along the next time my customers need to understand Agility, you are a natural! And I promise to pay in wine…

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Barbara Schultz

I believe that in order to be successful in the 21st century, one must not just manage and cope with change, one must aspire to be transformational. But how does one learn to “think outside of the box”? As a lifelong learner, I want to be a part of your transformation journey. My experience as a corporate change management and process specialist has allowed me to develop my Lean, Agile and Six Sigma skills into a varied toolbox to simplify change management and development. My training as a life coach and mental health facilitator provides a collaborative human touch to add heart and happiness to the experience. After all, Lean is really about finding the shortest distance between two points by leveraging the power of your people. I look forward to providing your team with the training and consulting services that will simplify and demystify your transformation journey.

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