How to make faster progress with an agile approach

Agile is often used in technology projects but there are principle and techniques that can be used on all projects – whether it includes technology or not. For the InspiredCEOs.Biz audience I introduced 5 principles relevant to all businesses.

5 Principles for ‘minimum viable governance’

There are 5 useful principles around agile to take to an organisation:

  1. Rolling Wave planning and fund for outcomes (instead of the fixed annual budget, and pay for inputs)
  2. Plan with objectives and key results and run a backlog of changes
  3. Deliver via Sprints
  4. Collaborate – both in planning and checking results
  5. Use Retrospectives to learn from successes and mistakes

5 Useful elements of Agile

When kicking off a piece of work – however small or big start with the Why and What. Why are you doing this, and what will it deliver. You can then chunk it up into the stepping stones for success.

As you chunk it up – put things in to 2 weekly cycles or ‘sprints’, and start the sprint with the team knowing exactly what they will do and what success looks like

During the sprint do a regular (daily) stand up of simple status to show progress, and ask for help

At the end of the sprint, review what was achieved, and demostrate that to the wider team.

Lastly, complete each sprint (or several sprints) with a retrospective of what worked well, what to change, and do you need to adapt the process

Putting Agile into the Annual planning cycle

Each sprint fits into the wider cycle. Although most companies have annual budgeting cycles, its possible to fit the project into the whole. The start of the Fiscal Year sets the direction, and then a monthly team meeting feeds upwards for progress and status, and quarterly there is a governance review. This will take the results of the quarterly Objectives and Key Results, and flesh out the next quarter. It might ask for ad-hoc investments based on results. Then in the final quarter that shapes the next year – however with rolling wave planning – the plan is actually continuously evolving over the year, rather than a mad dash every 12 months.

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