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My Agile Day

Blog post
By Pam Ashby | 26 January 2018

“The trouble with Agile is that everyone in the organisation has to use the framework for it to work.”

I heard this at a recent event and was interested. After all, whilst I do have the AgilePM Practitioner accreditation, my first discipline is as a communications specialist. Much of my work doesn’t fit into a strict process built around a project lifecycle – and yet, I try to focus on using Agile principles in everything I do.

Avoiding feeling threatened or overwhelmed

Take this morning as an example. As many of us do, I woke up and thought “I have a lot to do today.” If we’re not careful that’s where panic sets in, but research around Agile culture (putting people first) taps into neuroscience and tells us that as soon as we allow ourselves to feel threatened or overwhelmed, our ability to use our creative and decision making brain is impaired. I can’t afford that to happen, so this is where some Agile prioritisation comes in.

Agile includes tools that offer great value on their own. MoSCoW prioritisation is one of these. I’ve used this in a project setting – such as for website design – but its flexibility means you can even use it to plan your day.

So to avoid that stressed-out feeling, I’ve MoSCoWed what I need to do today. I have listed all the tasks that are threatening to overwhelm me and have sorted them according to how urgent it is that these things get done today. Those things with immediate deadlines, or that will impact the deadlines of other team members are ‘Must have’, then I have my ‘Should haves’, ‘Could haves’ and finally ‘Won’t have this time’ or in my terms, ‘Won’t get done today’.

Applying an Agile mindset

Agilists understand that the world is very fast moving and that things change – frequently. They tend to make good use of post-it notes because these can be moved around to match a constantly shifting context. Online tools such as Trello can be used as virtual post-its, and so I’m able to drag around my tasks through the day as new things are added, others become more important, and it becomes clear that some things can be left for tomorrow. By the end of the day, anything not marked ‘done’ can be reprioritised for tomorrow and nothing will get lost or forgotten.

As Geof Ellingham makes clear in this interview from the Agile Business Conference, business agility is a mindset.

I live my professional life in as Agile a way as I possibly can. The basic tenets of Agile apply to every aspect of business life, and can guide us and keep us focused and productive:

  • People over process
  • Action over planning
  • Collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Agile thinking helps us to stay productive and adaptive in environments that are increasingly complex and uncertain. The results will get better when more people in an organisation are being Agile, and when more projects in an organisation are managed in an Agile way. ‘Doing Agile’ will be more effective if there’s buy-in from more teams and stakeholders, but ‘Being Agile’ is down to us as individuals. 

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