Pro Tips by Agile experts to Take Your efforts to the Next Level [#AgileProTips #AgileTips #AgileExperts #AgileEfforts #AgileNextLevel]

1. Do not skimp on training
2. Do proper onboarding
3. Try pairing Agile with lean development
4. Know when Agile doesn’t suit your organization
5. Lead by example
6. Find a smart cadence
7. Get cross-functional support to speed things up
8. Prioritize the “what” over the “how”
9. Reward people who drive change on the frontlines
10. Find alignment on your goals for Agile

1. Do not skimp on training
“The Agile methodology may seem straightforward on the surface, but there is a lot of complexity hidden away in each piece. Organizations that don’t train their teams on Agile are sending their troops into battle with butter knives.

Training and doing are the two antidotes to this problem. Send key team members off to receive proper training on Agile so they can come back and inject that knowledge into the team’s process.

Also, start small on a few non-critical projects to get your feet wet. Do a post-mortem after each to evaluate your team on what went right and what went wrong.
Consider hiring an Agile expert to help jump-start your team.”
– Mark Runyon, principal consultant at Improving

2. Do proper onboarding
“Agile approaches may vary from company to company.

When new people join the team, it’s important to onboard them with the company’s approach to Agile and how they are expected to participate in the role they are playing. Failure to do so will result in time-consuming misunderstandings, which could have been avoided with the time taken upfront for proper onboarding.”
– Holly Knoll, business coach and creator of The Consultant Code

3. Try pairing Agile with lean development
“While we practice Agile methodologies, it’s important to recognize that Agile is not enough. Sure, it tells you how to build fast and with less risk, but it doesn’t tell you what to build or why to build it.

This is where lean comes in. Lean is all about is figuring the optimum set of features to produce maximum ROI. For us, life or death occurs in the backlog – not the ‘done’ lane – which is why we pair Agile with lean development.

Lean development is all about validating assumptions through experimentation and market data. The goal is to increase efficiency while reducing the amount of waste we create during the process. Lean development was inspired by, and draws directly from, lean manufacturing.” – Ben Wald, co-founder, Very

4. Know when Agile doesn’t suit your organization
“It can be a tough realization to come to, but some companies just don’t have what it takes to implement Agile well.

Does your department love to fight fires? You may not be right for Agile.

Do you try to micro-manage every chance you get? You may not be right for agile.

Make an honest assessment of your department’s strengths and weaknesses before making the commitment to agile and diving in.” – Mark Runyon, principal consultant at Improving

5. Lead by example
“Leaders need to lead by example by executing core Agile practices themselves:

Visualize all work in an open and transparent manner inviting conversation and feedback.
Hold retrospectives early and regularly to drive continuous improvement and course-correction.
Encourage daily synchronization of team members with each other.”
– Tim Beattie, engagement lead for Red Hat Open Innovation Labs

6. Find a smart cadence
Ask “What’s the highest-value work we can ship this week?”

“Agile doesn’t have to be a never-ending cycle of development with no finish line in mind. Quite the opposite. Set epics, set milestones, set budgets – just be open to re-prioritize work as you learn new things.

Be open to learning along the way and set a cadence where you have set aside time to re-evaluate the remaining work to be done.

A good guide we use is, every week we ask ourselves and the project team, ‘What’s the highest-value work we can ship this week?’ and we go from there.

“Carefully monitor development velocity. We define velocity as the number of story points that we’ve completed and accepted each iteration or week.

Bugs and chores don’t carry story points; if your velocity stays consistent over time, you’re doing it right.

Tee up work in bite-sized chunks. This is critical in order for an Agile process to unfold where features can be started and completed within a week, and testing can turn around quick acceptance or feedback.”
– Ben Wald, co-founder, Very

7. Get cross-functional support to speed things up
“Your team can follow Agile principles to the letter yet still fail because you don’t build within a vacuum. All development teams have to interface with other departments within the organization to retrieve critical information. They can throw a serious wrench into your project if they don’t respect your process.

Try to get buy-in from the C-level and have the executive team push these priorities to other departments.

Also, plan to get with outside departments at the launch of the project and fill those dependencies early so you aren’t pushing out your deadline as you wait around on someone else.”
– Mark Runyon, principal consultant at Improving

8. Prioritize the “what” over the “how”
“The real benefit of Agile project management is having the flexibility to achieve a specific business outcome – without knowing in advance the precise steps you’ll take.

Focus on achieving that outcome and creating the flexibility to get there in a fixed timeframe and budget.”
– Jim Berrisford, chief operating officer for Step5

9. Reward people who drive change on the frontlines
“Agile is the best way for a business to balance constantly changing customer demands and the need to consistently show progress that benefits the customer. It’s applicable to all parts of the business – not just for development and IT – and it’s well worth the effort to implement Agile early and often.

But the only way to see long-lasting agile change in an organization is to make it appealing. The question is not how to change, but how to convince your team they want to change.

And the answer is simple: Reward those who engage and drive change. Those who fight it or sit on the sidelines will ultimately see the results and choose appropriately. Convince your team they want to change by rewarding the change you want to see.

Too often, our companies and departments flee from change or have it forced on us. And that is inherently bad because it forces us to react rather than be the harbingers of change.”
– Robert Reeves, CTO of Datical

  1. Find alignment on your goals for Agile
    “We often tell folks not to assume that Agile is a silver bullet. But I think it is more nuanced than that.

The best way to ensure that organizational change occurs is to ensure that everyone understands the problem set you are addressing with the word ‘agile,’ and also the outcome you want should those issues resolve.

Many leaders say that if we implement and add all of these ceremonies, then we will be Agile. This often adds significant overhead to an organization that likely doesn’t need it and doesn’t understand why the overhead is being placed onto them.

The best bet for me has always been to ask ‘What things we are doing that are counter to the behavior we want the organization to be participating in, that we can try living without?’ instead of asking ‘What new process or tooling are we introducing to fix our problems?’”
– Jen Krieger, chief agilist, Red Hat

10 Agile project management tips from the masters:
The Enterprisers Project

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