Everyone is talking about implementing Agile methods in their companies these days. You hear people talk about: “Sprints, Releases, Iterations, User Stories, ScrumMasters and Product Owners.”  But we get the impression that that is all it is – talk. Here we share a few simple tips – How to be more Agile.

We believe Agility is really more of a mindset than a rigid methodology. It is about being willing to experiment. To learn by trial and error. An Agilist makes quick prototypes of her ideas and puts them into the hands of the customer for feedback. She then takes the feedback and uses it to make better prototypes. And she does this until she has something that works pretty good.

The core of this is a different way of thinking. An agilist is able to start fast, willing to make mistakes, and loves to collaborate. So we are talking about someone with courage, speed, resilience, and great communication skills.

In today’s business world everyone needs more of this.

Here are a few simple things you can do right away that will make whatever you are doing a little more agile:

1.        Talk to the Users Often:

  • Engage the users throughout the project, not just at the beginning and the end.
  • Review their feedback and adjust your plans and deliverables to meet their evolving vision.

Benefits:

  • Increase Customer Satisfaction
  • Reduce Risks
  • Why: It is not possible for anybody to know everything at the beginning of a project, many things will change, and new lessons get discovered along the way. By keeping the users engaged, we can adjust our actions to suit the latest situation.

2.        Consider User’s Perspectives:

  • When reviewing a system functionality or requirement, consider what kind of user would need the functionality, for what purpose and what value it would deliver them.

Benefits:

  • Increase Customer Satisfaction
  • Prevent Over-design
  • Why: This helps us to focus on solving the actual problem for the user in a valuable way. The user cares more about their experiences and productivity, rather than technical details that tend to be the center of a “system specification.”

3.        Daily Team Sync-up

  • Hold a quick daily meeting – no more than 15 min – for the team to share what was done yesterday, what will be done today, and if anything is blocking progress.

Benefits:

  • Increase Transparency & Accountability
  • Better Collaboration
  • Why: Each team member feels more accountable when a daily progress report is required in front of the team. Progress becomes clearer to the managers and stakeholders. The team also starts to collaborate more when an issue is shared in a meeting.

4.        Communicate & Collaborate

  • A quick, informal chat is often more effective than going through a formal written procedure. Communicate directly first, then confirm in writing afterwards.

Benefits:

  • Improve Teamwork
  • Increase Efficiency
  • Collaboration is critical for project success, and direct communication is a key to success. Prioritize direct, clear communication for urgent matters, so that the right people can get to work on issues quickly.

5.        Prioritize Your Work:

  • Prioritize the team’s work based on: Value to the users, and Effort by the team. And always deliver the best stuff first.

Benefits:

  • Reduce Risk
  • Increase Customer Satisfaction
  • Why: The sooner the team can deliver high value functionality to the user, the sooner the project risks go down. This lets users test & verify early in the project, when there is more time to correct or improve.

6.        Conduct Regular Post-Mortems (Retrospectives)

  • Schedule a regular time to review what went right and what went wrong. Enable the team to improve what they can. Provide help when management support is needed.

Benefits:

  • Continuous Self-Improvement
  • Stronger Team Performance
  • Why: Developing the habit to review and discuss openly helps build trust and improves processes and behaviors.

This post is also available in: Japanese