The 6 Principles of the Agile Method Applied to Building a Better Business: Lime Red L.A.B

If you pay attention to the web or software development world at all, you’ve definitely heard of the Agile Method. We use it, it’s great — it saves us tons of time that translates to money for our clients. So far the results are the best websites we’ve ever built.

The process is so great at ranking, solving, and deploying parts of a website, it makes sense that the method can be applied to other kinds of complex problem solving from business to family management.

We’re using this Agile process in our consulting practice, and specifically in our long-term consulting engagement called L.A.B. Before we get into what this is all about, I need to write about the fundamentals of the Agile Method.

This post from 18F is one of the best Agile guides I’ve ever read, so let’s not reinvent the wheel.

I’d like to touch on the principles of Agile development that guide our L.A.B. consulting practice.

1. DEFINE A MEASURABLE GOAL

In my previous post, I outlined in detail where we want to go as an organization. You can do this too, by making clear measurable goals. Whenever I’d write a goal like “build brand awareness,” I’d have to think about what that means to ME. That might mean a different thing for a corporation or nonprofit — no matter — the point is to define it so we have a starting point.

2. EVERYONE OWNS THE PROBLEM

In a small team, strictly top-down or bottom-up decisions rarely make it very far. I’ve learned my lesson on both ends of the spectrum. We have to work as a team because marketing, operations and revenue goals will touch everyone’s job at Lime Red. We might fundamentally change the way we talk about or measure our work, so every needs to have a stake. Transparency in governance is also a major part of the B Corp ethos, which we believe in.

3. SMALL STEPS WITH VISIBLE IMPACT

I don’t know about you, but I can only take so much planning, though that is one of the things we do best here. I like to do just enough research to get to the heart of the matter and then execute. So we’ll take small steps and roll out as we go. Every month we’ll tackle a new issue and roll out a solution. That way, the enormity of the task won’t overwhelm us and we won’t tie ourselves to a strategy that stops being relevant as technology or other factors change.

4. VALIDATE WITH YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE.

Hey, that means you! We’re going public with this process and hope to get feedback as we go. We’ll also be polling our current clients, prospective clients, past clients, employees, friends, and followers as we go. We’re dedicated to improving our community.

5. MEASURE SUCCESS

Since we have a foundation of measurable goals in step now, we will keep dashboards to monitor our progress. I have daily, weekly, and monthly metrics I look at to keep tabs on everything that is happening. You can look at anything from employee attrition rates to volunteer signups to newsletter click throughs. The amount of data at hand can be so overwhelming, which is why I recommend choosing the top 5–10 that will clearly show your progress.

6. REFLECT, ADJUST, ITERATE

My favorite part of this process is that we have built in time to think about where we’ve been. So instead of writing a huge plan over 6 months, we have smaller plans with smaller execution. At the end, we’ll look back at what we’ve accomplished and talk about what we learned and what we can do better next time. This breaks down the space where judgement, distrust, and fear lives. It’s the best part.

We’ll do our best to define and Agile vocabulary we use throughout this L.A.B. process. I’m not into jargon, but this method works so well, I’ve learned to trust it.

Hopefully seeing this process unfold throughout the year will bring even more clarity. I’m glad you’re here for the ride.

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