In 1993, Tina Turner dedicated the song “The Best” to Ayrton Senna in a performance after the Australian Grand Prix. One of her biggest hits, the song broke down barriers. It became associated with the greatest Formula 1 driver in Brazilian history (and the world) and created a milestone in the singer’s life.
“You’re simply the best
Better than all the rest
Better than anyone, anyone I’ve ever met”
In many cases, the first to arrive is considered the best. But we know that in the agile mindset, this is not always the case. Speed is not always synonymous with quality or efficiency. Do we want to be fast or extract the team’s best for the product’s success or to deliver the best value to the customer? The process is as important as the podium. And that’s our “The Best.”
However, agile tools or methodologies are not always available to the entire community. Events require a high and desired investment from the interested party, but this is not affordable for everyone. Also, a personal touch that comes from experience, even from cases that did not work out so well, is essential to identify team errors and generate empathy. But the scenario has changed, and the democratization of information can be the key to strengthen and provide conditions for the agile community’s growth in Brazil and worldwide.
In recent years, we have entered the podcast boom, an online audio format gaining ever-growing audiences. The term was coined unpretentiously, in 2004, by The Guardian newspaper’s British journalist Ben Hammersley.
In Brazil, the word podcast was first heard in 2006, when the duo Alexandre Ottoni and Deive Pazos gave life to NerdCast, the audience leader to this day. And one of the top three in the number of downloads worldwide, along with The New York Times’ Stuff You Should Know and The Daily podcasts. The NerdCast covers topics such as history, science, movies, comics, literature, technology, games, entrepreneurship, education, and RPG.
Almost 17 years later, the podcast format has become a communication industry, attracting listeners interested in a wide variety of topics, including agility. In Brazil, the experience is recent. Podcasts on agility are spreading quickly, with different content proposals, but the goal is the same: to open paths to agility.
“The community is where you share challenges.”
Thaís Rigolon, Agile Girls‘ podcaster
“Today, the agility issue talks a lot about having people with different skills, but beyond the different skills are the different life trajectories. The different looks. Because if we don’t have different looks, how can we differentiate our products? Our clients are different. In the market, to win, we need to innovate. And you don’t innovate with like-minded people. This year, we have been working on diversity, which is still little talked about in agility. And, when it is mentioned, it is more in speech than in action. Everyone agrees when we go to an event and talk about it. But what are the effective actions being taken? There are few of them,” said podcaster Thaís Rigolon, creator of the Agile Girls podcast.
Over the past few years, Thaís, an agile coach, has seen women left in the background in many of the work environments she has visited. Bosses with abusive language, bullying, and little or no opportunity for female leaders.
In IT events and courses, 90% of the audience is still male, both as speakers or participants. This lack of representation has been a nuisance for a long time. And opening a channel for women to become agility protagonists, to state their cases became a necessity for Thaís. And that was the kick-off for the creation of Agile Girls.
“I think we still have many challenges, and the idea of the podcast is to try to tease a little bit about the challenges we are going through. To talk about topics that are not talked about in the community. For example, women who are mothers. What’s their stimulus, their professional career, the career of being a mother, and the question of having to study, do an article, participate in the podcast. How does it all feel for a woman? This is unclaimed,” said Thaís.
Agile Girls was released in August 2020. In every episode, the podcaster invites women to discuss agile universe topics and actual cases of female experiences in life and organizations.
I think that the important thing is to democratize knowledge; many times, these topics we are talking about in the podcast are topics seen in events. And events in agility are expensive investments, and also the courses. The cool thing about this [doing the podcast] is to democratize this knowledge,” adds Thaís.
“Agility has brought more humanity to the working place.”
Ibson Cabral, Pipoca Ágil (Agile Popcorn) podcaster
The agile mindset needs people much more than instruments or tools per se; it includes different values, principles, and practices. Above all, human intelligence drives this sensitivity and creates values that fuel processes and procedures within organizations.
“Agility has brought more humanity to the working place. Because, really, it is not only tools that shape agility, but behaviors. The agile manifesto is more about people than processes and tools,” said Ibson Cabral, podcaster and creator of the Pipoca Ágil (Agile Popcorn) podcast.
Talking about people is not simple; just like in music, the tone may vary, but it needs to be understood. The Agile Popcorn podcast came out of this need to talk about agility to non-agilists, in a simple way, without jargon, agility for those who want to be agile.
“The concern I have today for agility to reach more people is this: to talk about agility to non-agilists. Because it is of no use for us to talk among ourselves, and, when we get to the client, to the people, we start with the same conversations. The same jargons. We have to transform agility into something more concrete. Don’t flowery too much,” said Ibson.
With a touch of humor and relaxation, Agile Popcorn brings themes debated by experts, but mainly by those who consume the content.
That’s almost 200 episodes released already, as of 2019. The episodes are built collaboratively, one of the main foundations of agility. “[In organizations] It doesn’t help if I’m sitting next to you, and I’m going to email you a bunch of documentation if I can talk to you. You have to plan, execute, make things happen. A continuous improvement of the process. You deliver little things that create value. Agility brings these insights from you being more collaborative. Agility has no heroes,” adds Ibson.
“If you don’t really impact people positively, impact business results, there’s no point.”
Renato Macedo, podcaster of Conversa Ágil (Agile Conversation)
“Today, we understand that agility is a culture, but in the beginning, it was not like that. Ah, should we talk about Kanban or talk about management 3.0? Today, if you bumped up on agility, it makes sense to talk about it. Because agility is nothing if we don’t have a good product approach, if we don’t have efficiency. We need to know how to work very well with numbers and enter the metrics and statistics world. But people are the big pillar; it’s the way we treat people,” said Renato Macedo, a co-creator of the Conversa Ágil (Agile Conversation) podcast.
The beginning Renato refers to happened about five years ago, when he met and, as he said, “fell in love” with agility. The podcast Conversa Ágil was born from a chat between him and podcaster Odair Bonin. Over a coffee break, with a piece of paper and pen, the podcast not only came to life but gained the purpose of positively impacting the lives of others, agile or not.
“We are not going to talk only about metrics. Is the metric agile? Ah, ok, it’s a subject. But what does it impact? Why does it have to exist? And if not, what happens? And we started to get in touch with people and chat. To create ideas and subjects that help more people is our biggest challenge. Which is to find that subject that people need to talk about or understand,” said Odair.
The Conversa Ágil was launched in August 2019 and proposed a chat with experts from various fields bringing real day-to-day examples within organizations. The purpose of reaching more people with quality content ended up winning over listeners from other areas, such as marketing and human resources, who became agile because of the podcast.
“We had this concern about how much we were going to get into technology issues. Today, we realize in feedbacks that [the listeners] are people who are either technology outsiders or are just getting into technology. Or they are applying agility outside of it anyway. The range is wide in this sense. So, regarding the public, we don’t want to create a niche; we want to leave it more open. Available to everyone,” said Renato.
“Podcasts are not just entertainment, but a way to continually ‘sharpen the saw’ (learn).”
Thomas Cagley, SPaMCast podcaster
The SpaMCast podcast has tried to bring not only entertainment but knowledge about software processes. And he is one of the oldest on the podcast list that we interviewed for this article. Although the wave of podcasts is still recent in Brazil, back in Ohio, USA, podcaster Thomas Cagley has been pioneering the agile community’s expansion through audio platforms since mid-2006.
“The first ‘show’ was released on January 27, 2007. It was recorded in late 2006 in a hotel room in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. Will Mcknight was in a room down the hall and we skyped each other. Mr. McKnight also appears in program 222 (he died a year later in a motorcycle accident),” says Thomas.
The intention is to explore the world of software process and improvement and talk about the challenges encountered in information technology organizations as they grow and evolve. “The main motivation was to develop my brand. Just as importantly, I felt that the podcast allowed me to learn from other influencers and give something back to the community,” said the podcaster.
With more than 640 episodes recorded, Thomas estimates that 350 to 400 guests have participated.
“I have spoken to several speakers, writers, and podcasters who have said that a podcast helped them find their voice. These voices advocate many new ideas that we consider fundamental to doing the work today. Among them are the role of the Scrum Master, servant leadership, and mob programming. On an individual level, I often ask the audience I’m talking to if they listen to podcasts. Over the past few years, the percentage has increased from some to a majority and most are listening to at least a few that relate to how they work. Podcasts are not just entertainment, but a way to continually ‘sharpen the saw’ (learn),” adds Thomas.
“Not so long ago, stories were passed down from generation to generation around a campfire. Podcasts can be the campfires of the 21st century.”
Jeff Bubolz, podcaster at The Agile Wire
Like that coffee break that occurs at events, used mainly for networking, The Agile Wire podcast can also be compared to a coffee break, but for agilists. In 2019, the podcasters from Wisconsin (an American State close to Canada), Jeff Bubolz and Jeff Maleski realized that out of that informal chat could come some cool content about organizational agility, scrum, and agile product management.
“It all started as an experiment. Jeff Maleski and I were working together. We were having a passionate debate about some agile nuance, and some people started listening and said, we could listen to you two debating all day. Later that day, Jeff Maleski asked me if I could start a podcast with him. We had no idea if anyone would listen or how to create a podcast, but we figured it out,” said podcaster Jeff Bubolz.
Created unassumingly among colleagues, The Agile Wire just completed another anniversary in March, with 58 episodes released so far. Podcaster Jeff Maleski told Agile Times .News that the idea for the podcast came precisely from the desire to pursue a more personal and professional development, the desire to build a long-term brand in addition to the professional networking it could provide. “And I thought it would be fun,” he joked.
The podcast’s goal for the two hosts is to give back to the agile community by bringing in-depth conversations with agilists for agilists.
“In the agile community, sometimes there seems to be too much focus on practices and tools. Changing the way people work is easy compared to changing the way people think about work. Our podcast is more of a raw conversation with stories and nuances about how different practitioners worldwide are applying Agile. The best thing about podcasts is that you hear stories firsthand. Not so long ago, stories were passed down from generation to generation around a campfire. Podcasts can be the campfires of the 21st century,” adds Jeff Bubolz.
“A podcast doesn’t help a community grow, but it can create that sense of community because it brings people from that community into the ‘discussion square’ around the topics that interest that community.”
Vasco Duarte, podcaster of the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast
The Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast releases a new episode every day to inspire agilists. With daily small teaching doses, podcaster Vasco Duarte’s purpose is to make teams and individuals find in agility their greatest work inspiration.
“The main idea is to create content that helps Scrum Masters get ideas and inspiration to take action every day. The format is short and focused on the work of the Scrum Masters, and tries in each episode to suggest concrete actions to inspire Scrum Masters to act”, said Vasco Duarte, creator of the podcast.
From his studio in Finland, Vasco interviews agilists from all over the world to bring advice, new tips, and tricks on how to be a Scrum Master. “Some of the topics we discuss include Agile Business, Agile Strategy, Retrospectives, Team Motivation, Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, Backlog Refinement, Scaling Scrum, Lean Startup, Test Driven Development (TDD), Behavior Driven Development (BDD), Paper Prototyping, QA in Scrum, the role of agile managers, servant leadership, agile coaching and more.”
The podcast has been on the air since February 2015, with over 320 guests in the daily episodes and about 50 guests in the special podcasts, called BONUS episodes. For Vasco, agile podcasts are here to stay. The format is dynamic and does not necessarily involve communication experts but agile people passionate about what they do.
“A podcast doesn’t help a community grow, but it can create that sense of community because it brings people from that community into the ‘discussion square’ around the topics that matter to that community. I would say it’s important to have a constant presence, frequent episodes, and value to the audience in terms of influence. Podcasts with less frequent episodes are going to have a harder time being recognized as influential,” concluded Vasco.