Why Isn’t Your Non-Engineering Team Agile?




  • — December 2, 2018

    In 2017, our team made a big commitment to the idea of agile marketing. It was sexy. We saw that it could increase productivity while making marketing more evidence-based. Who wouldn’t want that? We were sold.

    We sold our clients on agile, too. The next step was figuring out how to actually get started with agile marketing. So when 2018 rolled around, we committed to the process and hired a consultant to get us going in the right direction. It wasn’t long until we fell in love with the technology that enables agile.

    Today, this productivity junkie is happy that life at Stryve has become more efficient. Now it’s time to have you follow suit. Here are the everyday, real work-world reasons to give agile a shot.

    You hate wasting time. Engineers solved that.

    Agile methodology came from the engineering world, but it shouldn’t stay there. These guys and gals have it figured out. Someone sets a vision. Someone breaks the vision into small, actionable tasks and prioritizes them. These tasks get assigned, and BOOM! You’re running sprints.

    Engineers know stuff flies at them out of the blue. They know that plans will change. With agile, they get to balance flexibility and focus by restricting what they’ll allow in the scope of the sprint or not. It’s freakin’ genius. If Karen wants to update the database, she should’ve brought it up in sprint planning or threw it in the backlog. But if Karen found a software-crippling bug? There’s room for the actual emergencies.

    Why Isn’t Your Non-Engineering Team Agile?

    Sick of meetings? Great. Cancel them.

    Too often we hear about people being in back-to-back meetings. They’re never able to focus on getting shit done until the office is empty. Most of those meetings are getting updates on what work got completed, needs a nudge, or isn’t started. Stop having these conversations!

    A Jira board can make these status meetings irrelevant. If someone wants an update, they can go find the task. They can read through the updates and know where things are at.

    Why Isn’t Your Non-Engineering Team Agile?

    “Okay, but a stand-up is another word for a quick meeting.” False! A proper stand-up focuses on unblocking things and acknowledging potential opportunities or risks. In other words, it’s 15 minutes of your day to help you get back to work. Sometimes Karen joins the status meeting 15 minutes late! You could be back moving tasks to ‘done’ by now!

    Who needs a committee? Probably not you!

    Diplomacy is nice. Reaching your goals by getting shit done is nicer. We waste a lot of time gathering a lot of input when ultimately very little of it shapes the final decision. Brainstorming is debatable, but there are times when you need to generate ideas. That’s one thing. Bringing in 8 people to a 30-minute meeting (aka. 4 hours of total time) to work on your Twitter tagline is a whole other thing.

    Agile forces you first to break down the ‘making a Twitter tagline’ problem into tiny chunks:

    1. Determine communication priorities for Twitter
    2. Draft Twitter tagline
    3. Provide feedback on Twitter tagline
    4. Finalize Twitter tagline
    5. Publish Twitter tagline

    This example is ridiculous, but it points out that each one of these little pieces can be assigned to one person. Karen’s boss sets the priorities. Karen drafts it. Her boss provides feedback. The Head of Marketing gives final sign-off. Karen gets those beautiful 160 characters on the profile. That’s accountability. That’s clarity. That’s still collaboration. But now, it’s way more efficient.

    Yeah! Let’s get shit done!

    Now that it’s nearly 2019, we’re all thinking about what we could have done better. Maybe agile is a way to solve a lot of those existential mysteries. Luckily, it’ll be easy to quickly plan, adjust, and iterate thanks to this smarter way of working.

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    Author: Sarah Rosenquist

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