Aug 1 • Rizki Yogaswara - Agile Coach DKatalis

A Chance Encounter with the Agile Way of Working

DKatalis Agile Coach Rizki Yogaswara on digital transformation, self-discovery, and navigating team dynamics.
More often than not, growth takes shape through two powerful forces: the indomitable will of oneself and the unique circumstances that pave the way. In the case of DKatalis Agile Coach Risky Yogaswara, his growth story is a beautiful combination of both determination and opportunity.

Since his early days tinkering with his father’s old IBM laptop, Yogas has been captivated by the wonders of technology. From humbly playing around with MS Paint and Microsoft Word to exploring the vast world of the internet, he knew that it was a field that would never cease to catch his attention. As he matures, his fascination only deepens, driven by the more profound impact technology has on people’s lives.

With a bachelor’s degree in IT, Yogas launched his career in tech as a Network Engineer for a local telco company, setting up cables and ensuring that the network ran well for everyone. Then, he decided to explore more fields of the tech industry by venturing into digital product development, getting first-hand experience in digital solution development and project management. This was also his first introduction to a product management approach such as value-added service, growing his skillset even further.

Equipped with more experience and skills, Yogas took a leap of faith into another role handling IT strategy, which aligns more with his passion for self-development and people-tech dynamics. Eventually, he was introduced to the agile way of working, a twist of fate that brought him to his current role at DKatalis.

We sat down we Yogas, where he shared his thrilling transformation journey.

What piqued your interest in the Agile way of working?

Rizki Yogas (RY): One of the earliest instances I got the Eureka “Agile!” moment was during a conversation about iterative development. Somehow, the idea of it being a safe space to do wrong things, where you fail fast, but you learn faster, resonated with me personally. I’m not a confident person, and my biggest fear is to be wrong. In my whole career up to that point, the assumption was that you must do your job right from the first try, or else you’ll get punished. And it made people like me feel a bit out of place. But somehow, this approach believes that mistake is a part of the process and is encouraged. This unique approach really piqued my curiosity, so I spent time digging, exploring, and getting deeper into it.

I’m a bit neurotic and have high anxiety, always ruminating about the past and worrying about the future. Any type of change makes me uncomfortable, yet curious. So this interest in Agile actually comes from my insecurities.
You’re afraid of change but took a leap of faith when deciding to join DKatalis despite already having a good position in an established company. Why?

RY: Well, the opportunity to start something from scratch doesn’t come every day. At that time, it was actually a no-brainer decision. First, there was that opportunity, and I got to work with people I admire and like working with. So I have to take it.

Aside from that, the people starting DKatalis already have a proven track record. They have achieved so much in their career, not a green leaf with zero experience and big dreams. So the chance for this new initiative to actually succeed and create an impact for more people is big. Furthermore, I feel like the culture here has an element that encourages people to search and figure out for themselves when doing their work.

Your first role here was to grow tech capacity and capability, could you share a little about it?

RY: At the beginning, we had a clear problem statement: we wanted to create an app and needed people capable of writing it. So, how could we hire these people and ensure they have the capability? We made much hiring effort at that time because DKatalis was still unknown. We created an academy, partnered with other parties, basically looking for other sources of talent. Because if you just directly approach software engineers and ask them to join us, they would be reluctant to since we literally still had nothing. Luckily, some of our first engineers brought some of their connections to join, but we still needed a lot of people.

Then, your pivot to the Agile Coach role?

RY: DKatalis was growing, and our Chief Engineering Officer pointed out that the way of working at that time no longer fit our purpose. You see, as companies hit a certain number, it becomes magnanimously more difficult to ensure coordination, prioritization, and communication run well. A fundamental change was necessary, and he suggested implementing Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS).

Despite already implementing a different agile way of working at that time, there was no Scrum Master or Agile Coach as they weren’t seen as necessary. As long as the engineering and product team could collaborate well, no third party was needed. But then again, it could work within a team of 8–10 people. Once you have around 150, that kind of setup will just result in a bottleneck. Hence, the question of whether to have an agile coach or not was raised, and eventually, they decided to create the role in the organization. Since I was the only one with hands-on experience, they offered the role to me. I didn’t make an immediate decision. I did some soul searching, ruminating where I was at that time, where I was heading, and how this role could actually help me.

In December 2021, I asked around about how people define the value of an Agile Coach in an organization. Because I didn’t want to take a role without any purpose. It seems like a natural progression, as when I talked with the product development team, they shared that the pressure was really high from all stakeholders; remember that we were launching an entirely new product; and at one point, most of the team was burnt out. It was a scary time, and most people would avoid taking this role.

Still, despite my logical reasoning advising me not to take it, my gut feeling said differently. So I took the chance, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made in my work career. Honestly, 2022 was a transformative year for me, impacting all aspects of my life.

What are the responsibilities of an Agile Coach at DKatalis?

RY: Primarily, 3 things: observing the team dynamics, facilitating events and conversations, and teaching when needed. It’s very important to sit down and observe the team, understanding their work mechanism and the existing problems. For example, if during refinements the team feels like their old approach no longer works in defining problems, I will initiate discussion and offer them to try some other approaches. And if they agree, I will ask whether they need training and help them arrange one if they say yes.

With this approach, we avoid having a “know-it-all” that only tells people what to do without knowing the context. People tend to be less receptive when you do it that way.

I want a more collaborative approach where we sit down with the team and help them understand their challenges and also find ways to solve them.

Should an Agile Coach wait until the team asks for their help, or should they intervene when they see a problem that no one else realizes?

RY: It depends, and I consider it as one of the hardest aspects of this role. You never really know when is the right time. You can drive them to change because sometimes there are glaring things that need to be fixed, but no one realizes it, so you have to intervene least they’ll go straight off the cliff. But there are other instances where you can see them heading towards a cliff but decide not to take action until they fall, feel the pain, and learn from that experience.

I like this approach because whatever you do, you can never be wrong, as accountability is always squarely yours. It’s just one decision at one time. When you decide to intervene but people push back instead, that’s also not a problem. You can just reread the situation and make another decision.

How would you describe DKatalis people in 3 words?

RY: Hmm, not 3 words, but I can in one sentence: solving real problems with real friends.

What do you usually do to decompress?

RY: I love to cook! Because when cooking, you really have to focus and can’t think about other things. And you also get direct feedback on what you’re cooking. As for my signature dish, I don’t know. But lately, I’ve been making Budae-jjigae a lot.