How to use six fantastic agile techniques that will help you promote Agile
HOW TO USE SIX FANTASTIC AGILE TECHNIQUES THAT WILL HELP YOU PROMOTE AGILE
These six agile techniques will excel your team(s) towards Agile ways of working.
And the best part? They won’t cost you (or your directors) a penny. Well not in hard cash anyway.
Also, when you’ve read this article, you will have six clear things that you can start implementing IMMEDIATELY.
For me and the Scrum Masters, I’ve worked with, these agile techniques have helped turn strong technically driven teams to value driven, innovative teams, in a flash.
I’m Matt Adams, Agile Business Analyst, blogger and founder of Business Analyst Guru. The blog that provides insanely practical Business Analysis techniques for BA’s and Product Owners across the world.
In this post I’m giving you some truly practical techniques, you can start using immediately to coach a young Agile Team towards innovation success. Done through a regular promotion of Agile values and beliefs.
Note how I say promotion, not enforcement. In my view, this is key to Agile delivery. And one of the many differences between a project manager and a scrum master.
But that’s not all. I’m also giving you the exact template from an email that I wrote to a team I was once working with. It was written with the goal of creating a shared understanding of the Agile principles.
So here goes…
Take the Agile team to a local Agile event
This is a great way to improve team spirit. Not to mention an increased shared understanding of Agile methodologies.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of Agile events or meetups going on right across the world. And I’m sure there’s one not far from you.
Here’s a couple of things you should do to set this up…
As it’s likely a full day, get it in the diaries early.
Plan it into the sprint and make sure the Product Owner knows you are planning it in.
You could take half the team for one day and half the team another day, but don’t make it look like you are picking favorites.
Go with them. Coaching by example is a great way to enthuse a team, so make sure you show as much enthusiasm for the event as they should be showing.
If you’re not that bothered about Agile, the team will spot it a mile off! And it probably means you’re in the wrong job.
Promote the Agile values – little and often
There’s no point setting up a full day’s meeting once every two years just to talk Agile. Why? Because after about a week or two everyone will forget and be back to the old ways of working. Which, in my experience, the old way is usually just ‘mini-waterfall.’
Promote Agile in the same way that Agile promotes working software – Iteratively.
Individuals learn things at different rates. And pick things up at different times, sometimes depending on how much they are listening at the time.
So by explaining the Agile values regularly, information that isn’t absorbed the first time, the may be the second time and so on.
Another hint. If you suggest something and someone asks, Why? Don’t say “because that’s what the book says.”
If you say this, it usually means you’re unsure of the real benefits of doing something. And just as it goes in Agile, if we’re unsure of the benefits… Why are we doing it?
I’ve found the best way to do this is to improvise your Agile teaching nuggets during regular meetings such as planning, backlog grooming, and retrospectives.
You will know what you’re doing; others will hopefully just think you’re enthusiastic about Agile.
Send out an ‘Agile Weekly digest.’
This is a great way to share the knowledge about Agile views without spending a penny or taking up much of your precious time.
There are thousands of Agile blogs out there which are available FREE. So let’s use them.
What’s an Agile weekly digest?
It’s a weekly email that contains a link to a blog post – Simple.
If you’re enthusiastic about Agile, you probably have signed up to lots of blogs and read posts regularly.
All you have to do is send out a link to the articles you’ve read. How easy is that?
It’s good because they get seven days to read the article before receiving the next.
People are always keen to learn more but may not take the step to go out and find their learnings, so give them a weekly nudge.
But at the same time, as the saying goes… “You can lead a horse to water, but you can´t make him drink.”
That’s why this technique will help you identify who is with you on the Agile transition and who isn’t that bothered.
Here’s a sample email that I sent out to a team when I very first started an Agile weekly digest.
Click here to view the Agile weekly digest email
Hold monthly ‘Are we happy?’ meetings
I once read this in a book and thought it sounded great. The idea is that you hold a ‘Happy’ meeting that addresses three questions…
- What made you happy this week?
- What made you unhappy this week?
- What can be done that will make you happier?
This is also a possible opportunity to make your retrospectives a bit more fun. But could be done separately to the standard ceremonies.
You won’t believe some of the funny things that can come out. Also, some team members only want a small thing to happen to make them happier for the next few weeks.
So remember, a happy team is a productive team!
Hold monthly Agile Innovation meetings
More often than not, we find that the Product Owner or Business Analyst is coming up with ideas and the team is asking questions – that’s good. But to me, Agile is about everyone coming up with the ideas and everyone seeing them through to completion – as a team.
Discussions about innovation will transform teams from technical development workhorses to a value driven phenomenon.
This is one for the Product Owner to be involved in or even for the PO to own and facilitate.
How does it work?
You (or the PO) set up a fortnightly meeting called an ‘Innovation coffee morning’ It only needs to be 30 minutes. Schedule it in the morning so that people aren’t winding down when they arrive. And don’t forget to provide coffee – real coffee.
What’s the agenda?
The Product Owner provides 2-3 problems that the users or stakeholders are facing with their day to day tasks.
The PO will then offer up some ideas of how the team’s solution might help overcome the problems. This gets the conversation going.
Then, members of Agile Team make suggestions about what ‘blue sky’ solution ideas they have to resolve these problems. Often their technical knowledge will help to uncover ideas the PO had never thought of.
Make the meeting optional but request that a minimum of 3-4 team members attend to each one.
Set 3 rules, here they are…
- Only positivity, Not negativity
- No idea is a bad idea
- Be as wacky as you like
This is something that’s mentioned a lot in Agile. And I fully agree.
When a team works hard at the end of a sprint to deliver a feature. They should be recognized for it.
Some ways to celebrate…
- Buy chocolates (but don’t forget healthy treats for some)
- Go out for lunch
- Go for an hours team meeting to discuss how the success
- Spread the word around the business
- Just say thanks! This is often overlooked but the easiest one to do
- Ask the PO to provide positive customer feedback
A final word on promoting agile
If your promotion of agile techniques works within your team. You should look to expand them out to the wider business.
There’s no doubt that people will talk about what’s happening. If the team is working well together, before long, people will even be requesting you to get involved themselves.
Remember this too…
Everyone learns at a different pace. So even more importantly, be patient but stay persistent.
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Great things mentioned in this blog post. I sent my first Weekly Agile Digest Email today and I have a lot of ideas for the coming ones. I sent it to the team and to some Scrum Masters in neighboring teams. How much do you remove from the first mail when sending it the second time? Is it only the link or some more info? I want to send it out to more parts of the organisation but then I might need to reformulate it a little. Any thoughts on that?
Thanx for some great ideas to spread the word!
Hey Jesper, Matt here. glad you’re getting in on the Agile Digest. In my second email, I literally sent the link and a couple of lines eg…
This one came in as a request…
I’ll look for another exciting subject next week.
For me, the benefit of the Agile digest is that it only takes 2 minutes of our precious time :-). So the less the best I’d say.
You’re right – in order to scale it across the company you would want to restructure it slightly. Maybe send an email once every month/2 months and make it more generic. Alternatively, select a department to send one to but remember – keep it simple or it will fall off the cliff.
Those were my thoughts on how to move on.
I follow your articles often it’s quite helpful with tools. I have sent my first Weekly Digest today.
Great to hear your using the digest and really pleased you like my work.