Many people use the term “Agile ceremonies” as a collective term for activities like standups, retrospectives, reviews and planning.
I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the word “ceremony” in this context. It’s never sat well with me and I don’t like using it with people who are new to agile ways of working.
I’ve been thinking about why that is.
A quick look for “Ceremony” on the Oxford dictionary says
“the ritual observances and procedures required or performed at grand and formal occasions”
A google image search mirrors the sentiment here.
Ceremony sounds formal. It sounds like going through a set of steps because it’s the way it’s always been done. It evokes visions of starched formal wear, legal documents, marching and rituals. And worst still, it can make people think agile is a bit of a cult.
This does not fit well with ideas of collaboration, trust, adaptability and learning. It takes away from the reasons for doing an activity and focuses on the process of doing it.
So I’m not going to use it anymore.
I’m going to use habits and patterns.
Simple definitions of these words are:
Habits: a routine behaviour repeated regularly until it happens without having to explicitly think about it.
Patterns: proven solutions to repeatable problems
Teams can use patterns when they are new to a concept; it helps them to work within some constraints and build habits. One habit could be daily communicating, using the standup pattern.
Building habits takes some mental energy. Once something is a habit, it takes less mental energy, and the team can build on top of it and create their own new patterns.
There is loads more out there about habits, and I recommend reading Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this below.