How being an Agile Advocate enabled my professional growth
Samuel from the Graz Lab shares how being an Agile Advocate helped him grow into a Team Captain role
Hi Samuel, tell me — what do you do at Dynatrace?
I started in August 2021, and I am working as a Software Engineer in the LiCoCo team.
My team takes care of the back-office system (BAS) and actively contributes to the new microservice environment that will take care of Account Experience, meaning controlling customers’ consumption and their entitlement to use certain features.
What was your experience with Agile?
I started working with Agile frameworks around 5 years ago, and since the first moment I heard about it, I was taken by the clear path and big advantages a methodology like that can bring into a deeply technical environment like software engineering.
Previously, I worked in a waterfall methodology and saw first-hand the shortcomings of this way of working: the weeks and weeks without having contact with the business analyst (“the voice of the customer”), plus the pages and pages of documentation received with every feature that became obsolete within the first week of starting coding. I tried to alter the process at the time, by meeting with the business analysts every Friday to show the progress of the new features. Furthermore, I established a close personal connection with them. That broke some stereotypes deeply rooted in my team, like the us, the devs, against them, the business analysts.
So, when I realized a company working in an agile way was looking for a new engineer, I jumped at the opportunity right away.
How was your start at Dynatrace?
When I started, I joined a well-structured and established team that had been working together for some time. Every role was defined, and the team members were clear about their responsibilities, tasks, stakeholders. The day to day worked like a charm.
At that time, the Agile Advocate role was covered by the Product Owner, who was a real enthusiast of Agile methodologies — he joined Agile meetups and built up the Agile community in our Lab. Every retro was designed in a terrific way that was motivating and encouraging everyone in the team to participate and put their ideas forward.
At Dynatrace, I embraced all what surrounded me at the time. I enjoyed every meeting, realizing the long- & medium-term effect it brings to our organization, along with providing feedback about how to adjust SCRUM to the peculiarities of our team.
How did you become an Agile Advocate?
After a few weeks at Dynatrace and thanks to the previous experiences and knowledge acquired over the years, I felt confident enough to recognize areas that could be enhanced: like the daily standup flow or the review meeting and how to engage better with our stakeholders.
Our Product Owner, even though great when dealing with most of the SCRUM ceremonies, was getting too stretched with his time and we recognized the need for someone to take over the organization and moderation of some of the meetings. I stepped forward and took the opportunity without hesitation to be the Agile Advocate for the team. I could adapt things, try new ways to work and help the team keep being successful.
What do you do as an Agile Advocate?
Part of being an Agile Advocate is to talk to a lot of different people, in various positions and teams. I check the stories we complete, consult with the team about what is worth showing, find the appropriate stakeholders that recognize the value of those stories and inform them that we will demo new features that help their team/department.
I also moderate difficult meetings in which personal and professional feelings are involved and try to create tangible, executable action points from them.
Also, this role has given me the chance to prove the Autonomy Principle in my team. I tried to propose new ways of doing things, plan them accordingly, consult with the team members and if I get the buy-in, we could implement them and see how it was working. Of course, plans do not always go that well. If proposals are not received with a standing ovation, it is important not to drop the idea completely. Was there any part of it that could be used even though the whole was not adequate? This helped me come to agreements, to find the middle point and refine an idea until it was the appropriate one for the team.
How did you become a Team Captain?
After some time as an Agile Advocate, things changed in the team. Our Team Capitan decided to start a new adventure in a different team and our Product Owner decided to move to another city. Thanks to the work I put in to take care of the team in our meetings, as well as to make us better known among our stakeholders, I was offered the opportunity to help the team from a different position: as the Team Captain.
The first few weeks were really challenging. Taking over the team representation in some meetings, catching up on a deeper level with my colleagues, engaging with stakeholders in a more direct way. But overall, I can say that the transition was really smooth for me. I already had a good relationship with some stakeholders, the team knew me, already understood what to expect from me, as well as what my style of supporting them is.
It is also important to know yourself and take responsibility for the team’s success. I have identified how I like to work and which aspects of my day to day were my strengths and which ones I must polish. Getting to know yourself is a huge step forward in your career and in life. And roles in which you are exposed to new challenges every day, improve, adapt, and repeat are a perfect way to get there.
And finally, what do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I like to read anything that someone suggests to me. Currently my focus is on leadership material but always keep something lighter to combine with. Cooking is something I love to do too.
I have also been an avid Padel player for a few years and I usually play a couple of times per week with friends. I like it because it combines teamwork with tactical & technical skills.
And when I have the chance to be by the sea, I love to get into my wetsuit and surf, but this is becoming more difficult now that I live in Graz. That is why last year I got my Skipper license to navigate in the Adriatic Sea.
Does your heart also beat for Agile? Then join our team! Check out our open positions in our Careers Portal.
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