How to get Started: Agile for Non-Techies

Lego image inspiration from hakan forss blog

Well, here I am at the airport waiting (#thelongwait) to board my next flight to location number two of my December 2017 holidays with the mission to add five new countries to my adventure list. Two things I mostly do during this #thelongwait are; Read a book, Reflect on myself & events in my life or yea watch a movie.

This time, as a passionately-curious soul, I chose to reflect on the main areas of knowledge I have been able to develop, implement and learned through the process. Although there are a lot of things I have learned in the year 2017 (Thanks to every soul I encountered so far), I would like to share about “Agile Project and Team Management”. Yes Agile, the topic with over 106 million search engine results and got a lot of both the tech world more especially transforming the way they work. But, agile can be very useful for non-techies, even anyone or team.

This article is focused on the helping you have an understanding of what Agile means (you might know about it already). What does the agile framework called “scrum” mean and How can you get started with managing your teams and projects the Agile way. Also, I would give a simple non-technical hack I used to manage a Digital Lead Nurturing project.

First, what is Agile and Scrum?

Wait!

Did you know that the most popular apps on the app stores/google play often see updates as frequently as weekly? How is that always possible?

Do you know what can help you achieve your travel bucket list, get the next job, write a book, prioritize better or even plan & implement half-time faster?

A whiteboard and a pad of sticky notes

Well, and the knowledge of how to use them, of course.

But here it’s something more advanced, simple and a bit intimidating.

It’s called “Agile.”

Agile refers to a set of “methods and practices based on the values and principles expressed in the Agile Manifesto.” Which includes things like collaboration, self-organization, and cross-functionality of teams.

Scrum is a framework that is used to implement Agile development. Other frameworks of Agile includes Kanban, Lean, Extreme programming, etc.

Why scrum? Because it is;
- Lightweight (i.e., few rules)
- Simple to understand
- Difficult to master

A good analogy would be the difference between a recipe and a diet. A vegetarian diet is a set of methods and practices based on principles and values. A recipe for a simple green salad would be a framework you can use to implement your vegetarian diet.

This is similar to the relationship between Agile (the diet) and Scrum (the recipe you follow).

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE ROLES, TERMS & EVENTS USED IN SCRUM!

Product Owner: The Product Owner should be a person with vision, authority, and availability. The Product Owner is responsible for continuously communicating the vision and priorities to the development team. This person does not micromanage as it is a self-organized team.

Scrum Master: The Scrum Master facilitates the product team and works to remove any obstacles stopping the team from achieving its sprint goals.

Team: According to Scrum’s founder, “the team is utterly self-managing.” Also, the team always consists of individuals (3–9 people) of different skill set.

Pick your roles: You need a Product Owner, a Scrum Master, and team members. Remember, there’s no room for egos in Scrum. Scrum runs on a “servant leader” model.

Read more about these roles and events in this presentation I did for my team earlier this year (2017).

Making it Visual! (You need a scrum board)!

Scrum board for one of my previous projects.

What if you were like me leading a team of 8 people from 5 different countries and time zones, and you need to deliver on a digital transformation project that involved a Lead Nurturing Implementation & Website redesign & redevelopment sub-projects. How would you implement Agile in this scenario and still achieve your project goals?

Well, I have got a simple hack for you. I implemented Trello as a scrum board to manage my very diverse team and our projects the agile way.

My Team Trello Scrum Board is broken up into seven lists:

  1. Resources: Ideas and sources that can useful for the project are placed here.
  2. Backlog: Tasks with the scope of the project/team that needs to be done.
  3. To-Do: tasks pulled from the backlog and ready for the next sprint.
  4. Doing: tasks the team started working on.
  5. QC [Quality Check]: Completed tasks that needs review and testing.
  6. Done: Items that passed QC and is ready to be shipped.
  7. Blocked: items/tasks preventing the team from completing a task or while working on the task it occurred no to make sense anymore.
Agile workflow I implement using my trello board.

NOW, CLICK TO SEE THIS IN ACTION ON ONE OF MY TRELLO BOARDS

MY TAKEAWAY ON AGILE;

Different people understand Agile from different perspectives. Some might see it as a new way of working efficiently; developers might see it as a new methodology of shipping new software incrementally, corporates might see it as a new tool to get teams and projects focused and productive.

To me, agile is more than that. It’s a new mindset that combines three things: being excited, being disciplined and focusing on results. Because working and living the agile way makes me;

  • Feel excited about my work because I have a shared goal with my team.
  • Stay disciplined being part of a self-managed team.
  • Focused on experiments that bring incremental results and growth.

Remember:

“Life is all about the experiences, and experiences are best when it’s an experiment”.

Why not get started now with experimenting the agile way of working.

Now it’s your turn. How have you implemented the Agile way of working on your projects or life? Don’t forget to leave a comment and share with everyone else.

Thanks for reading! :)

Want to see more about my learnings and thoughts on areas of growth, innovations and digital transformation? Follow me on Twitter.

Want to learn more about who I am and what I have done. Check me out!

Check out trello blogs on Agile to learn more about trello & agile.

Josephus (joey) AYOOLA

Written by

Digital/Growth Consultant. Passionately Curious about everything Tech, Education, Marketing, Travel, Innovations, Digital and Growth.

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