This article is the second in a series about Susan Evans’ journey from an internal agile coach to an external agile coach. In this part, Susan will cover how she used the agile principle of reflecting on effectiveness and adjusting accordingly by making changes for the better.

[Back to Part 1:  “99 Problems But a Coach Ain’t One”]

I strongly believe that if there’s anything in my life that I’m unhappy about, it is only up to me to do something about it. So when I found myself considering a complete career change, I knew it was time to inspect the situation and see what needed to be changed. As hard as it was for me to admit, I found that, as the internal agile coach, I was no longer being heard and, therefore, no longer making a difference.

My confidence was shaken until I elicited feedback from the development teams and discovered that they valued my involvement, but they felt that the executives didn’t agree. In fact, they felt the executives were good at ‘talking agile’ but not good at ‘living agile,’ and no matter what I said or did, the culture beyond the development teams would never truly embrace agile.

That was a very sad day… I helped guide agile teams that were growing, shrinking, shuffling, international, self-managed, and completely brand new with an ever-changing process that evolved to fit the situation. Yet, executives still wanted ‘one throat to choke’ instead of understanding that a self-managed team either succeeds or fails together, not due to a command-and-control manager.

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I knew it was time for me to do something about it. So I proposed a solution to the CTO, who was my boss at the time. To make a difference again, I needed to be empowered to influence the culture, which meant that I needed to be a peer with the executives as a Director of an Agile PMO. Unfortunately, he was not interested in an Agile PMO Director so this solution was not available to me. I knew that the environment that the CTO would foster and support was not one in which I would thrive and, therefore, it was my time to evolve and move on to a new opportunity.  I asked myself, “What do I do now? In what kind of company and industry do I want to work? What will make me happy?”

To help provide focus and know my priorities, I wrote a simple user story with acceptance criteria:

“As Susan Evans, I want to change jobs so that I enjoy working again.”

Job Satisfaction Acceptance Criteria:

  • To make a difference and help people and organizations be happier and more productive and, therefore, proud of my work.
  • To respect the leaders of the company I work for in their ability to grow the company and do the right things for their customers. I wanted to work hard to make money for my executives.
  • Work for an agile organization… I CANNOT go back to the “dark side!”
  • Work for an established and stable medium-sized company where I can work with, and get exposure to, many departments.
  • The culture of the company must be causal with attire and work hours, and strive to have happy employees with fun activities during and after hours. I want to feel a part of a hardworking family.
  • I want to be challenged and provided the opportunity to learn and grow my skills.
  • I want a supportive manager who will trust me to do my job to the best of my ability and provide guidance when necessary.

As Peter Saddington said during a speaking engagement at a Scrum Meetup in Atlanta, life is too short to hate your job. So, I challenge you to write down and prioritize your acceptance criteria for job satisfaction and assess how you’re doing.

Don’t miss my wrap-up (Part 3) of this series coming soon, where I will discuss my experiences as an external agile coach.

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