We are starting this series of Agile & Innovation People articles with Tudor Tofan, one of the people that inspired me to make bold steps in my Agile learning journey.
Through this series, I would love the community to understand better these concepts, as coming from real people with different point of views.
Who is Tudor Tofan? What would you like your audience know about you? What about your clients? Please describe yourself anyway you would like it, but try to add one thing or idea that is truly you or about you.
Tudor Tofan: Well, it depends on the context: Professionally speaking, I'm Tudor the Agile practitioner. I'm currently on a quest of introducing Agile to the business world, in a fun and friendly manner. Over the past decade, it has become more and more popular in IT, but the trend is to introduce Agile in other industries as well.
For example, in the past, I worked with product development teams from the energy sector, while now I'm introducing Agile to a large retail company, working with their sales, marketing and HR teams.
When I'm not rambling about Agile, I'm a full time dad & husband and a part time traveler.
If you were to describe Agile to a 3 year old or to your grandmother, how would you do it?
Tudor Tofan: Let's say we're going on a road trip to Italy, but with no prior reservations. We know that we want some days in the mountains, some days on the seaside and a couple of days sightseeing in Venice.
But 2 days into the trip, the weather worsens and instead of going to the seaside, we decide to go on a wine tasting tour in Tuscany. And after checking the hotel prices, we decide it's much more cheaper to visit Rome instead of Venice.
Agile is all about being able to change your mind or quickly adapt to the environment to get the best possible result, all while having fun.
Was there a trigger to send you on this journey related to Agile? How did you get to be here?
Tudor Tofan: The story is actually funny. I was studying project management for my master's degree, while working as a part time tech support. My teachers were glorifying one of the traditional ways of working (Waterfall), presenting it like a silver bullet for every situation. Being a very curious person, I started wondering how Waterfall applies in the real world and I asked some of the more experienced work colleagues if they're using it. And I remember that someone said "No, we're using something new. It's called Agile". I was like, "Wow, Agile? What's this?". But after only reading the Wikipedia page related to Agile, I got immediately seduced by the concepts it promotes: customer focus, adaptability, speed, empowering people. The rest is history 🙂
Do you have a recent or important project that you want to showcase? Something that makes you proud or something that is concerning you and you want people to know about?
One of the things I'm really proud nowadays is not directly related to Agile.
When I attended an event in Berlin, earlier this year, I fell in love with a novel concept, called "Liberating Structures". It's a set of activities designed to foster lively participation and involvement in groups of any size and can be used in a variety of circumstances, from 1 hour meetings to full blown 2 days workshops.
So, wanting to spread the word but also to learn more, I started the local LS community several months ago. I'm proud to say that now we already have more than 170 members and we're meeting on a monthly basis, at the moment only in Bucharest. In the following period, the plan is to expand to other cities as well and to help local communities get started.
Why does Agile fail? Are there any caveats, advice, tips or tools you might want to share for people that are just starting this bumpy road?
One of the most common mistakes I've encountered is to see Agile only as a "project management methodology". Instead, Agile is much more than that. It's values and principles can be applied in product development (does MVP ring a bell?), way of working, company structure, org culture etc. And in order to get some real improvements, a much more holistically approach is recommended, instead of just cherry picking
Another common pitfall is to adopt Agile just because it's trending. Instead, it is just a means to an end. Successful companies adopt Agile because they want to delight their customers, adapt in this ever increasing VUCA world, lower their time to market or increase their workforce engagement. Or maybe all of these combined. Remember, Agile is the journey, not the destination.
If you were to be a Lego character, how would you look like? Please describe us and let your imagination go free. Visualization is a powerful tool and we might all find new things about ourselves when trying to step out of the old shoes.
I think I would be a little monster with multiple heads. Why? It's because in my role, I have to use multiple stances. It's almost like having multiple personalities: With not so experienced people, I'm a mentor. When I'm delivering a training, I'm a teacher. When working with teams, I'm a facilitator. With other agilists, I'm a coach. When talking to executives, I'm usually a consultant. Other personalities include adviser, change agent, expert, or servant leader.
Keep Calm and Embrace Agile!