‘We need to be more Agile’ is a commonly used phrase within many organisations, particularly in the last few years…. with many claiming to adhere to the Agile principles and deliver for their customers. The reality, however, is that they end up introducing elements of Agile delivery to varying degrees of success. For example, a team will host daily scrums to keep up to date with progress, but then still end up attending a variety of other project update meetings that detract from what they are meant to be doing. Alternatively, the team will spend months developing the ‘perfect’ solution rather than developing and launching iteratively to adapt the final product to ever-changing customer needs.
To get the best out of an Agile delivery approach, you should consider its key principles and allow for these to influence the processes and practices you have in place. To read more about the 12 principles of Agile, read our blog on The Agile Manifesto Explained in Five Minutes.
In this blog we will focus on some of the most common objections we hear from organisations that keep them from fully embracing Agile.
“I’m back-to-back with meetings today”
Agile delivery is driven by an ambition to minimise areas of waste, or Muda, one of the Three Ms known to be major causes of what generates costs and delays in any process (the other two being Mura and Muri if you are wondering!) Muda is defined as activities or processes that do not produce value for the client, and can exist in many forms including:
- Waiting for fixes
- Interruptions causing delays to other workstreams
- Or perhaps most commonly, time and money wasted through people spending excessive time in meetings.
If you are attending weekly recurring meetings with long lists of attendees and loosely defined agendas, you are not operating in an Agile way. When using an Agile approach, meetings should:
- Only be scheduled when absolutely necessary
- Be short and intense, holding to a tight agenda
- Work updates should be limited to stand up meetings, once daily
- Technical questions should be raised in collaboration meetings (with a tight agenda)
- If someone doesn’t have anything to contribute, they don’t need to attend
- Sometimes the best outcome for a meeting is for it not to be needed
“That’s how we’ve always done it”
People are comfortable with what they know. Adopting new ways of working can be demanding, stressful, and ultimately fail if poorly managed. Organisations are usually ravelled in processes which have been in place since before most people can remember and while they may have worked at the time, there is always room for improvement. An Agile organisation would look to weed out these processes for improvement, and if the process change is handled well, you might find that the energy sometimes expressed as aversion to change can be redirected to establish new, effective ways of working.
There is always a balance to be struck here between acknowledging that how you have always worked may not be good enough anymore and the well-known proverb ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’. The Agile principle of simplicity would contend that if a process is already working well, do not change it. Instead, ensure that resource is spent on delivering excellence in the areas that do need to be refreshed.
“It has to be right first time”
Businesses often become paralysed by the need to maintain excellent customer satisfaction ratings and ensuring they get things ‘right first time’. Implementing Agile in an organisation requires a change in mindset, taking customers on the developmental journey with them and enlisting their help to shape the final product. Unlike delivering a finished product a significant amount of time after the original requirements were defined. With the right engagement approach and smart communications, customers will not expect something right first time but instead will feedback on a series of iterations, becoming co-creators of the solution for themselves. If your good customer engagement and satisfaction ratings are a priority, you may have far more success approaching the project in an Agile way.
To help you further with your project management needs, scroll down and download our Little Book of Project Management. If you’re interested in the benefits introducing an Agile approach to your organisation could do, please contact EstherM@NineFeetTall.com