Over the last 15 years organisations, around the world have started adopting Agile practices to deliver their projects with varying degrees of success. One of the key challenges, and probably the most difficult, is the cultural and behavioural changes required to start and to ultimately embed Agile within the culture.
Below are 5 quick practical tips on how to get started with Agile and set teams up for success.
1. Leadership support & Cross team collaboration
The Leadership team must be ready to adopt Agile and be in a position to provide full support and backing for changes that need to be made in order to set the team/s up for success. This includes setting expectations and engaging all relevant departments and teams that are critical to the success of the project, e.g. Marketing, Operations, Sales. Project teams will struggle to deliver where the basics of collaboration are denied, e.g. various team members being unavailable due to competing priorities and/or business as usual activities.
2. Coaching and educating
Ensure everyone has an understanding of what Agile is, and that they are all on the same page when it comes to knowing what Agile does or does not mean. This means engaging with business users and management ,as well as delivery teams, to provide what can be a quick, non-technical overview of Agile in the context of the business and the project. By getting in early with a relevant overview and articulating the benefits of doing so, teams are likely to be engaged and be open to change.
3. Minimise multi-tasking
The delivery team should be as close to 100% allocated to one project for each role as much as possible. Studies show multitasking multiplies the time to complete the task, thereby limiting the work in progress. Minimising context switching also means the team is more efficient, more productive, happier and the project is completed faster - win-win!
4. Get the right people involved from day one
Schedule a project Inception and ensure all the right team members are in the room, i.e. Product Owner, business SMEs, architects, developers, business analysts, testers etc. If critical people can’t make it, reschedule it. Project kick off and ultimate success can be largely directed by the Inception, so it’s critical to have the right people in the room to shape the vision and scope.
5. Meeting etiquette and boundaries
The meeting culture of an organisation can speak volumes, e.g. meetings are constantly shifted due to other priorities, attendees are constantly late, etc. Over time , this can lead to a large amount of inefficiency and waste. It’s also a culture that can be shifted with a few basic changes, to ensure everyone’s time is considered valuable and meetings are productive and interactive. Tactics can include:
- Starting and ending on time, with penalties for perpetual latecomers, e.g. 3 strikes rule and the penalty is to buy everyone chocolates on a Friday or something similar
- Have a strong agenda
- Laptops are closed and mobile phones are facedown/unused during the meeting
- Each person is asked to voice their opinion