Scrums are great for creating software, but the Agile approach was never intended just for developers. Forged by innovators who wanted to unburden the creative process, Agile makes it easier to adapt in the fast-moving technical age. And since Agile was introduced in 2001, flexibility has become all the more critical. Industries across the world increasingly define their work by rapid change. So, whether it’s in technology, journalism, marketing, or banking, an Agile approach can enhance efficiency and, most importantly, the quality of your final product.
Here are four ways to apply Agile to any initiative.
- The work is in the thinking, not the documentation. The process to create something new–whether it’s a piece of software or a new medical device–should not follow a strict formula. If you over-plan it, you might end up with a bunch of notes but no final product. The cornerstone of Agile is a belief that individuals are the most important part of any venture. Allow casual conversations to spin into concrete ideas. Foster team collaboration and creativity. Of course you should still schedule regular meetings. Short, daily check-ins are ideal. But the trick is keeping everyone’s minds actively engaged, so no one feels forgotten.
- Don’t get bogged down with one big undertaking. Create short-term goals, and start delivering. It’s encouraging to feel like you’re making progress. If the task is too large, people start to feel disheartened when weeks go by and they have nothing to show for their long days of hard work. Consider the long-term goal, and chop it up into manageable targets. Some refer to these as “sprint cycles,” offering an opportunity to excel, while also meeting a challenge.
- Start producing as soon as possible. If you’re working on a website, for example, get a skeletal version of it into the hands of prospective users as quickly as you can. Get used to a continuous cycle of testing whatever you’re working on – while you’re working on it. This allows you to improve as you go. It may take some adjustment to learn to live with “good enough,” but it often leads to an ultimately superior result. Better yet, you won’t face a cascade of problems at the time of launch.
- Have a clear vision, and make sure to communicate it well. With Agile, you let go of micro-managing and embrace a little chaos. The vision should evolve from conversations with customers and clients and be shared by everyone in the organization. It becomes a constant reference point, encouraging teams to be adventurous without losing sight of the goal.
Taking all of these tips together, remember not worry about whether you’re getting Agile “right.” Iterating on the process is part of the process. Just get going, and you’ll find an Agile mindset will help you meet the reality of how work gets done today.