Hi, my name is Jack and I am currently in my first year of a business and management single honours course. As a student I was curious about business practice in the real world, thus I took an opportunity to gain work experience at Radtac, which is an agile company.
I had never heard of agile before so the concept was new to me, I thought it would only be useful in the IT sector but actually its application is far wider than I originally thought. You may think “How wide of a range can it be?” Well, you’d actually be surprised to hear that it was applicable to a student at university. To illustrate to you how it can be applied I shall share a story with you about an experience in my first year at university.
To set the scene it was my first day at Royal Holloway, University of London, and I had all these great ideas about what sports I wanted to do and planning which gym weights I wanted to lift for the following year (in case you were wondering, I’m a fitness freak!). Sticking to my fitness goal plan, I turned up to American football trials on a rainy day, without studs, feeling very confident, and thinking ‘this is easy’. Halfway through the trials I slipped, fell and damaged my shoulder on the ground.
This abruptly resulted in my plans for sports having to change. Instead I had a new plan to play in the American Football team (yes, it is the girly choice).
Midway through my American football season performing as a pro (my opinion, coaches may have felt differently), I ended up at the doctor for a check-up and I was diagnosed with a hernia. As a consequence, they said I was not allowed to do any more exercise. Obviously, being the fitness freak I was, I did not listen and just continued to do what I wanted when I wanted, in order to achieve my fitness goals.
However, this was only possible through not saying anything about this to my coach, which I didn’t for about 2 months. Then it all came out! My coach told me I could only partially train, but I was “too good” to listen so I continued as normally. Eventually he banned me from training to stop me from making my injury any worse. Consequently my goal of playing American football had failed.
I ended up going to the gym more frequently to get my pump on (gym terminology for testosterone) and lifting heavier weights as I was certainly determined to meet one of my bloody goals! Halfway through my waiting period for treatment I realised my hernia had actually got larger and as a result I had to stop, because according to my doctor it could strangulate and kill me (I find this to be highly dramatic). So I did stop and was unable to meet any of my goals, both for the gym or for American football.
What’s the point in the story - you may ask. Well, when I looked back I realised that if I would have had a more flexible plan, I would have been able to factor in the changes I went through physically, and to adapt my goals appropriately. This would also have saved the argument with my coach and I would have been able to negotiate light training under his supervision.
These two values - factoring in changes and adapting your goals appropriately - are values of an agile approach, as I’ve learned. Whether these are important to a business in the real world I will leave to your good judgement.