Do you ever feel that the project landscape has morphed into a world where the ‘agile mindset’ is taking over? It’s as if you aren’t ‘current’ nowadays unless you have experienced ‘agile’.
Yet, agile is a broad umbrella term encompassing many different approaches – for some it is synonymous with a particular agile approach, such as Scrum, DSDM®, Lean or SAFe®; for others it is living true to the agile philosophy or mindset, focusing on iterative and incremental delivery in an environment of uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.
If you are trying to comprehend what it’s like living in an agile world try these tips.
6 Tips to living and understanding ‘agile’:
- Team Focus. It’s all about the team, not just individuals: no one is smarter than all of us. Think about small teams where everyone can make both a contribution and impact, think working towards a common goal, clear ground rules and expectations; empowered, high performing teams, shared goals and values. We, the team, are a cohesive unit that rises together and learn together from our mistakes. We listen to all the members – not just the most senior.
- Open and Transparent Communications. Information is highly visible: we have ‘information radiators’ or team boards that all can see, as opposed to locking information away. The focus is on trust, sharing and disclosing the truth. Clear, transparent and regular communications are valued.
- Customer Involvement. The customer/user is part of the team, enabling engagement of the right people at the right time. If we do not have customer/user representation on hand at all times how do we truly understand what is required and what is of value? This often requires a change of mindset and a commitment of time. Such a commitment is reflected in the results.
- Prioritisation. The focus is on achieving the highest value, recognising the need for tradeoffs. Consider: Do we always need everything? What is really needed versus ‘wanted’? We might think something is a ‘must’, but is it really? Prioritisation is about negotiation and tradeoffs, focusing on value; expect changes, expect to re-prioritise. Agile approaches are typically about conversations and understanding, not set contracts discouraging change.
- Learning, Adaptation and Experimentation. Regular reviews are inherent in agile approaches. We seek feedback regularly from stakeholders; we communicate through results. It is about reviewing regularly via ‘retrospectives’: what did work, what didn’t work, what can we learn? What can we apply to improve the next sprint or timebox? Continuous improvement and continual learning are part of the DNA of agile. Think rapid experimentation or ‘spikes’ with the focus on learning and adaptation. Think ‘inspect and adapt’.
- Deliver regularly, deliver incrementally. It’s not about waiting months and months and then delivering a ‘big bang’ solution. Agile is about delivering in small, frequent bursts or releases; it is about incremental. Take small steps, get feedback, take the next step. This can assist in reducing the risk of errors due to misunderstanding or changing requirements. It’s about getting results and value sooner.
“An organisation amenable to incremental delivery of solutions into live use will benefit from early return on investment.”
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