Are you actually practicing Agile?
You might have got a new job at a ‘Agile’ product studio, the right intentions are there, you have daily stand ups, you have a review. Everyone is using the Agile buzzwords like ‘adapt’ ‘transparency’ - ‘collaboration’, however, there is way more to it. Many people I speak to often confuse Agile with Ad-hoc. Or they simply continue to practice traditional project management frameworks such as waterfalls, but use a couple of agile techniques such as daily stand ups and they use post-it notes for brainstorming sessions and call it ‘Agile’.
To combat this, I have put together to a list of warning signs to help ensure you are not just doing agile, but being agile. Then, later in the article we will talk about how to do it right, followed by some next steps information to help you on your agile journey.
Warning Signs You Are Not Agile
1. You are in touch with your customer but not including them in the day to day decision making processes.
2. Although you are reporting to your customers, you are not bringing them along your journey.
3. Your team works on separate items, passing them over to someone else for the next stage and not collaborating together.
4. The product you are working on is taking ages to build, and you see nothing tangible for months.
Do these ring familiar? Do not despair, you can easily remedy your situation by simply flipping this on its head.
Do the opposite of the Warning Signs
This list provides some fruitful thinking about what to consider when implementing the Agile Methodology correctly in your workplace. So let’s flip these warning signs on their head and make them success indicators that you are doing it right.
1. Always ensure you are in touch with your customers and responsive to their needs.
2. Ensure that your development team and stakeholders have well defined team milestones and work plans. Make sure these are not orders coming from executives — otherwise it is not Agile!
3. Your team and their relationship with all those around them is highly collaborative.
4. You and your team are continually delivering output that is actually usable. For instance, the product delivers value from the onset.
Practicing these values
Now that we have looked at some positive ways to turn a well intended practice, into something tangible, we still need to look at putting ‘adding value’ into a tangible agile process. Let’s look at a criteria to help you put Agile in the workplace.
1. Does the team regularly produce value for stakeholders?
This means a potentially shippable product at the end of every sprint. Does your team meet at regular intervals to plan the work they want to deliver in a time-boxed increment of time, often called a sprint (usually two weeks)? Delivering value at every iteration is a cornerstone value in Agile.
2. Does the team validate their work to the best of their ability?
This means testing quality is done collaboratively within the team, whilst building the product each and every day. It is the development team’s responsibility that acceptance criteria, assumptions and risks are managed along the way. This practice ensures customers know that quality and value are considered at every inspection point.
3. Is the team self-organizing?
This means your team needs to meet at daily stand-ups, sprint planning, sprint reviews and retrospective meetings. During the daily stand-ups, it is vital that the dev team take responsibility and communicate what they have worked on yesterday that adds value to the product they are building, and what they are doing to today to do that as well. If they have any blockers that might prevent them from reaching those goals, it is up to the team and the leaders to ensure those blockers are removed as soon as possible.
4. Does the team strive to improve their process?
This means the Agile framework is designed to deliver results, not processes. Working software is key to success. One way to help do this is a chance for the team to meet and self-inspect what has recently worked well, what has not and what they can do to improve it for the next iteration or sprint.
As I mentioned earlier, ensure that your team regularly produce value for your stakeholders. Ensure the team validates their work to the best of their ability. They need to be self-organised, motivated and always strive for success to deliver top quality products, through continuous improvement and a passion to always do better on building and working together as a team!
Does this sound like something you want to find out more about? If so, you can contact me.
Happy to chat about your project. I look forward to hearing from you.