Research Articles

Agile – Getting Stuff Done

Agile – Getting Stuff Done means taking time to consider how Agile application and methodology has improved the reputation of projects. Indeed general managers who have seen their credentials significantly elevated working with Agile methodology are the beneficiaries of the movement.

This can be achieved by conducting a simplified view of the framework, looking at Agile application through the following lens – Adaptability, Getting the Job done, Innovation, Learning and Engagement

Adaptability

The plan is the plan was an archaic observation and comment from a many a former project leader, understanding the changing needs of the client was not really top of the agenda way back when (BA – Before Agile) and changes during the work process were resisted especially if it could be proven (sometimes not) that they were out of scope. This is hard to imagine in 2020, a bit like trying to explain how we used to listen to music on a piece of plastic.

However, the ability to obtain feedback, pivot the solution and check for engagement has elevated the relationship between project members and clients. The Agile methodology encourages interaction and involvement without blame, it is not perfect, but it is most certainly better!

Gets the Job Done

Delivering work (Getting Results) meeting objectives and matching expectations of the wider group is the gateway to success. Teams that use the Agile frameworks tend to get an early warning if they diverge from the plan. Feedback given in the Plan, Do, Check and Act cycle over 10 or 30 day sprints ensures that projects have an activated GPS device that pulls them back on track. Getting the job done is a priority no matter what application and/or methodology you choose when structuring the work. It is rare when producing results, working within timescales and budgets that you are asked about specific processes but knowing that you are Agile in thought and in process helps to keep that big picture in view. Agile is my GPS device of choice for projects.

Innovation

Agile is regarded by some/many as the new kid on the block and although for some that may well be true it is in fact an excellent elevation of some sound project principles with the benefit of a language and communication style that enhances both understanding and learning. It essentially mimics they way we learn as both children and adults, learning through experience and avoiding mistakes by being aware of how and why they occurred, reviewing them in present time rather than past tense. Agile provides the template for improved creativity and this visibility through message boards such as Kanban both illustrate and simplify project status, we see quickly and understand where we are and what we need to do.

Learning

Project retrospectives or reviews were historically painful, team leaders and members unable to recall the exact circumstances, players, and protagonists engaged in elements of the project execution. There was less transfer of knowledge than there should have been because ‘blame’ was the name of the game. In so many PMO reviews Project Managers openly admitted that they moved on to the next challenge without taking time to review what was working and what was not.

Agile encourages that active learning via the simplified framework of what went well, wrong and what needs to be done (WWW) and this very simple model has been widely adopted in general management and leadership, why? Because it works!

Enterprises that leverage learning evolve quicker than others, this provides the opportunity to first survive and then thrive within whatever market or segment within which they exist.

Engagement

People, projects, process, and structure are important and critical to the success of Agile, but it is primarily the relationships between team members, internal and external clients, suppliers and subject matter experts that drive the vehicle forward. If the engine is lubricated properly with discussion, debate, problem solving and constructive feedback it performs better. This is similar to the pit crew for a Formula 1 team, they practice, review, evolve and work together as a team to get the car back on the track, if one person within the group fails to deliver the result is a delay and potential loss of position on the track. But they learn together and improve together. Agile engages the whole team, the feedback drives the evolution and those that do it best gain an edge in performance that is both sought after and valued.

Summary

If you are asking questions about AGILE deployment in project or general management then remember that the benefits are clear and validated. Agile delivers enhanced results because the framework and methodology it deploys offers the following advantages.

Adaptable and flexible in approach and application.

Gets the job done by managing and aligning expectations

Innovative framework that allows for evolution and growth

Leverages learning in real time to give visibility to flaws and application around a simplified review framework (WWW)

Engages everyone providing improved interaction opportunities by establishing a common platform for all individuals within the team.

Written by Dave Wallis

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