The Agile Method

People naturally use the Agile Method for everyday events like breakfast, but for more complex situations we often set big objectives and then cross our fingers that they will add up to achieving our goals.

So what does an Agile plan for breakfast look like, and how can we translate an Agile breakfast plan into an organizational plan? Click and see.

An organization is Agile when:

  • It recognizes that being good is the 1st step toward better and best. (“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”: Wayne Gretsky, NHL All-star; “Better is the enemy of good.”: Voltaire)
  • There are clear and measurable “goalposts” for success.
  • Progress is reviewed frequently (bi-weekly is the norm).
  • Stakeholder/customer feedback is frequently sought.
  • Marketing and planning assumptions are continuously assessed.
  • Every task is linked to goal achievement.

The non-agile organization risks going down the rabbit hole and finding more tunnels instead of goalposts!

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Look at some of the proven benefits:

  • Productivity: Quantitative research found that companies using the Agile Method of management brought products to market 37% faster — with no increase in defects, improved cost control by 29%, improved on-time performance by 91% and are 25% more productive than non-Agile companies.
  • Higher customer satisfaction: Studies of Agile methods reported 50% quality improvement and a four-fold increase in stakeholder/customer satisfaction.
  • Revenue and Profitability growth: Firms using the Agile Method grew revenue 37% faster, generated 30% higher profits and had ROIs almost five-times that of similar firms that did not use the Agile Method.
  • High team morale
  • Reduced risk due to frequent review of progress
  • Flexibility

The Agile Method organizes work more intelligently because it:

  • Focuses on a LIMITED SET OF TASKS that can show quick results
  • Involves EVERYONE
  • Provides personal INCENTIVES

Under the Agile Method, RESULTS ARE MEASURED frequently to check progress; test for changes in supporting and opposing forces; and make accountability more about confirmation than confession.

How Do You Do It?

1. Start with a Lean Canvas

A LEAN CANVAS is a working draft plan that defines problems from a stakeholder point of view. It captures the most likely elements of your plan.

MonaLisaThe Lean Canvas:

  • Starts with the LEAST that needs to be done to make PROGRESS towards goals
  • Adds details and evidence for implementation in INCREMENTS

But remember, every plan needs to ADAPT to changing circumstances.

2. Logical Due Diligence Makes the Plan Ready for Implementation

(Learn how this relates to Cargo Cults!)

Logical Due Diligence fleshes out the details of a plan with:

  • Measurable Goals
  • Actions
  • Expected Outputs of the Actions
  • Expected Effects of the Outputs on Goal achievement

It culminates with the test of the logical connection between Actions and their Outputs, Outputs and their Effects, and Effects and progress to Goals. That is, is there evidence, theory or at least a plausible argument that a given Action will produce the expected Outputs, that Outputs will cause the expected Effects, and so on.

3. Agile Implementation Stems from the Lean Canvas

During implementation work focuses on producing value, not process, by linking every task to goal achievement:

  • Tasks are assigned to a time period or “iteration”, with ALL other tasks going into future iterations.
  • Everyone is clear on what work needs to be done and who is accountable for it.
  • There are deliverables at the end of each iteration.
  • Deliverables help assess progress and can signal the need for change.
  • Every task is linked to goal achievement as understood from stakeholders’ point of view.

Here are some examples of how we employ the Agile Method in our consulting projects.