Agile Project Management: Be the Agile Ninja in Your Company
July 9, 2017
Consider this: The product owner covertly drops down from the ceiling and while using his ninja skills, he disperses a cloud of agile project methodology for beginners throughout the room. While this scenario isn't that easy, practical or even realistic, with a bit of planning and some collaboration with management, there are some entry-level things you can experiment with to ease your company into an entry tier agile management and work environment. Getting employees' attention and cooperation might just require some people skills, but you can probably handle that with finesse when you first introduce them to the agile work process concept.
Introduce the Agile Project Plan One-Day Pilot
Now, the time has come to circumvent the raised eyebrows, eye rolls and groans that come with hints of new project methodologies. Begin a staff meeting by announcing, "Tomorrow, we all work without being tethered to a desk or a time clock." Give the staff a moment to digest that stunning proclamation, then explain a one-day pilot experiment in agile project management. You have their attention, so define agile management, as simply and efficiently as possible.
Demonstrate the purpose and layout of a scrum board before dividing the staff into five teams or so, and help the teams work through an initial scrum meeting. Divide the group into teams with white boards and dry erase markers. Assign projects for the experimental agile work day and assist the teams in setting up their scrum boards. Introduce the scrum standup queries that they must be able to answer for their 15-minute daily standup scrum meeting on your agile pilot day. As reported in Forbes, these include: "What I did yesterday? What I'll do today? Any impediment I am facing.../I am blocked due to..."
Proceed With the One-Day Agile Working Pilot
Younger workers tend to prefer flexibility, so let them take their laptops and give them the freedom to work when and where they want for the day. Workers who dread long daily commutes may use that time to work, instead of fighting traffic. Others may feel more productive later in the day or evening, but either way, they feel empowered in their work when given the opportunity to structure the rest of their day around it.
Remind the teams about their standup scrum commitments as they need to make arrangements regarding how and when to conduct their meetings. Brainstorming should produce some great options, including meeting in person at the office for teams that work on site, or online, as a choice for individuals who work outside of the office environment. All participants should fully understand that they take ownership and personal accountability for the work they need to accomplish.
Allocate Agile Office Space & Communicate
Designate some temporary agile areas in the office to offer spaces for focus, collaboration, relaxation, telephone conversations and team meetings. This provides dedicated space for your workers who decide to come to the office on the agile pilot work day. Communicate from the very outset what the potential rewards are for successfully carrying out the pilot. It could simply be an opportunity to gain new skills that let team members take on higher-level responsibilities further down the road. Be sure that the incentives and rewards are enough to give every team member a stake in the outcome, according to Fast Company.
The in-house workers' standup scrum meetings are a cinch, unless some of their team members choose to work from home. If that is the case, arrange for a conference call from home-based employees so that everyone is involved, whether at home or at work in the office.
Your company wants to sample agile project management, and you, the agile product owner, must be visible, or at least reachable, to keep projects moving. Teams perform the work, and they must communicate, collaborate and interact freely and fully. From the initial meeting to the daily scrums and through the iterations, one individual must accept responsibility for ensuring that everyone and everything aligns with his agile management style. That person is the product owner, or, if you prefer, the agile ninja.
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