How We Use The Agile Method in Our Work

Applying Agility to Implement a Community Economic Development (CED) Strategy
CED Rationale, Marketing Concept, Renovation Plan, and Financial Analysis for the Former Domtex Textile Manufacturing Facility (36,000 m2) in Yarmouth, NS

The manufactudomtexpngring facility was massive and no longer financially viable. We determined that there was an alternative use but given the capacity of the community and the local economy other elements of their CED strategy would have to be reduced to a minimum or suspended entirely.

The steps to implementing the plan were complex. Following The Agile Approach, the plan was composed of actions that could be accomplished quickly, would show results quickly and would not commit the community to any one long-term development path. Success depended on an ability to adapt quickly to changing external circumstances.

Translating the Power of Agility to Your Organization
Five-Year Economic and Community Development Strategy for the Glace Bay Community and Northside Community, Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM)

Long term plans were produced, each with multiple mutually supportive strategic directions, along with implementation and evaluation plans. Following The Agile Approach we broke the  strategies into many actions that:
  • individually, could be completed in weeks vs. months or years;
  • individually, would produce results that would help inform next steps; and
  • as a group, would add up to reach the main goal.

By breaking the actions into small steps, CBCEDA  could, and did collect the information needed to be agile in its day-to-day implementation and to remain focused on long-term goals.

Using The Agile Approach to Monitor the Progress of Your Plan
Cumberland CED Strategy Logic Model and Measurement Tools, Town of Amherst & Municipality of Cumberland, Nova Scotia

puhwashThe Community Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) has four Focus Areas (Business Support, Tourism Development; Demographic Strengthening and Community Capacity Improvement) built around eight Strategies and 37 Actions.

We were engaged to specify indicators of results and methods to calculate the indicators.

We found that the initial CEDS:

  • reflected very realistic actions  that had wide-spread support; however, it was necessary to identify expected Outputs of Actions or their expected Effects in order for the CEDS to be monitored to enable them to make course corrections;
  • needed seven more Actions to avoid overlooking important steps; and
  • needed measures of results with better logical linkage  to its Strategies (e.g., population change is linked to many more forces than the CEDS could affect and even if its Actions caused the expected Effects external forces could still lead demographic weakness).

Following The Agile Approach we:

  • broke the Actions down into smaller steps that could be more quickly completed, measured and evaluated;
  • identified the Outputs and Effects that would logically flow between Actions and Goal achievement;
  • identified the variables of business growth, tourism impact, population etc. over which the CEDS has sufficient control to be the driver of change; and
  • specified the minimum number of indicators needed to track the completion of Actions, production of Outputs, creation of Effects and achievement of Goals over which the CEDS had reasonable control.

The result for the communities was that they could:

  • measure the progress and effectiveness of the CEDS independent of external forces;
  • judge if results were due to the CEDS or external forces;
  • determine if divergence in implementation or results could be corrected by changes to the CEDS;
  • assess if changes in external forces required changes to the CEDS;
  • ensure that the costs of data collection did not starve implementation; and most importantly
  • act quickly based on evidence.