Agile

Agile For Legal Teams – Are There Any Benefits?

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It is long past the days where Agile was only about software development and coding. We now have financial, marketing, sales and many other teams successfully adopting the practices in their day to day activities. However, there are some more specific industries that still doubt the benefits and use of Agile in their line of work. One of such cases is the legal industry and those in it often wonder – are there really no benefits of having an Agile process?

Before answering this question, let’s talk about the Agile process adoption in the legal field overall. While some of you might be questioning the application possibility, there is no doubt that Agile could be fitted into the process. Legal firms would be able to treat their clients as projects and gather their needs as user stories which would later be broken up into tasks and performed over a series of iterations.

As we have seen from applications in other fields, some changes to the methodology might need to be made, but in general there is no question that legal teams would be able to use the Agile process. However, just being able to do something doesn’t mean that you would actually benefit from it. So let’s see why would the legal companies actually consider switching to Agile project management.

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Becoming A True Agile Leader

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As the world keeps talking about the results of the US presidential election, I thought there could be no better time to talk about leadership. However, this blog is not about politics and is not about to become one. Instead, I am taking a look into what it means to be a leader in the Agile community and what does the term Agile leadership actually stands for.

Want to know more? Here is your chance.

Contrary to most terms, there is no one clear definition of what Agile leadership is. In fact, some even argue that this concept on its own is foul and should not even be discussed. While it is natural that Agile community rejects the idea of a traditional leader making orders at a Scrum team, it is important to understand that the concept of Agile leadership is quite different from this traditional one.

The concept of Agile leadership was not created to rule the team or the process, but instead to make the said process run more smoothly. While any small team is perfectly capable of getting customer requirements, prioritizing and dividing tasks and presenting the results to the client, as Agile grows the organization is becoming more and more difficult. Larger companies are stepping into the Agile game and the industry is moving away from one team companies and one project teams, therefore an undeniable need for clear goals and inter-team organization appears. This is where Agile leadership comes in.

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Getting Things Done with Kanban

Startup Stock PhotosWe all strive to be the most effective in both our professional and business lives and there are plenty of ways to get there. To do lists, sticky notes, a constant flow of e-mails as well as methods to reduce our stress levels and increase productivity. Getting Things Done is a method that does just that and aims to create a work pace that frees up the mind and lets you focus on what is actually important instead of just being stressed. And while the original GTD talks about a filing system and physical lists, it is hard to miss the similarities to Kanban approach and wonder if it could enhance this process.

Getting Things Done or GTD is a concept introduced by David Allen in the early 2000s. In his quest to minimize the stress levels created by the constant flow of work, projects and emails, Allen developed a system to get us concentrated on just one thing at a time instead of keeping a running tab of things to do. To achieve this, he suggests one simple thing – taking the tasks out of your head and writing them down.

Most of the stress in our lives comes from uncertainty of the outcome and having a running list of things to do in our heads is the epithamy of that. Therefore GTD says you should get rid of that and instead write all of your tasks down, understand the desired outcome and then write down the next step that is going to help you achieve the end goal. This way, you can focus on one thing at a time, while knowing nothing will be forgotten.

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Millennials In Your Team

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When it comes down to a team, we want one that does a great job, works together well and is motivated to stay on. While it is relatively easy to ensure the first two, keeping everyone motivated has always been a tough one and is becoming even tougher these days. As millennials take over the workforce, it is evident that earning their loyalty is quite a different process than it was before. So will millennials become a productive part of your team or will they move on even before you can sense something’s wrong?

We all have some idea about the standard millennial – they are inconsistent, disloyal and ready to bolt as soon as something better comes along. So what should you as a manager do to make sure your team does not fall apart every few months? Well first we need some clear data about what makes a millennial tick and luckily, Deloitte has already done the job for us.

According to their Millennial Survey 2016, 66% of millennials surveyed are expecting to leave their organization by 2020. While this is expected, realizing that 2/3 of the workforce is planning on leaving is still unsettling. Most of us would certainly like to avoid that fate. So let’s see why exactly this generation is willing to do so.

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Waste in Agile – Are We Truly Rid Of It?

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As true Agile enthusiasts, we strive to eliminate all of the waste in our processes. Cutting the production time, looking for the best practices and asking for frequent client feedback are just a few of the methods we use. However, the focus is usually on the waste of time and money, but another very important aspect is completely forgotten. Should the physical waste of our product be considered a part of the Agile cycle?

While this is mostly not relevant in the software development field where Agile has originated, it is quickly becoming something that has to be talked about. As Agile spreads into other fields and industries, the amount of physical wastefulness is becoming more and more apparent. One of the most obvious examples of this can be found very close to each and every one of us. Most likely, you have even visited this business today or plan to do so later on, as it is something we simply cannot go without – the food stores.

Food Industry

Food is essential to our survival and there is no surprise that the food industry has mastered the art of putting it onto our dinner table. We are used to getting those cold drinks on hot summer days and curling up with soul food when it’s raining out. The food industry collects massive amounts of data on our eating habits, holidays, weather, health situation, etc. and does everything else possible, so that we could all find exactly what we are looking for at the right time. Think about it – when was the last time you couldn’t get something you wanted at the grocery store?

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Keep Your Customers Close

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The business world is facing a society and environment like never before. While on one hand it seems like the progress has slowed down and there are fewer big change waves, at the same time we are creating more small scale inventions than ever before. New technology is tweaking our lives, making it easier to do almost everything and at the same time giving most of you in the business world a headache on how in the world to keep up. How to know which novelties will become popular and which will bust? And could your management practices ensure the cash cow of today will not become a dog tomorrow? Let’s see.

Staying relevant and understanding what your customers want is key to survival in this market. As new companies are founded every single day, you have to change with the technology and trends or your customers will move on. And due to the same speed of change it is becoming more and more important to actually ask and listen what the customers opinions are.

“Business executives should leave the big data and offices behind and go talk to their customers once in a while.” says Martin Lindstormm and I could not agree more. In his recent article, Mr. Lindstormm outlines holding on to what you think your customers want as one of the main reasons most of Fortune 500 companies from 1955 are no longer. And with the ever-changing technology capabilities, it has become not only more difficult to predict customers wishes, but also more important to ask what they are.

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Tips & Tricks On Using Agile

tips-tricksTaking on Agile can be a tough challenge, especially if you have no previous experience with it and have no one to coach you. The good news, however, are that all it takes is time and determination to take over and understand. To make that process more smooth for both you and your team, we came up 17 tips and tricks. Use them to reach your goals sooner and more easily.

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Choose The Right Agile Method

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The next big question after deciding to go Agile is deciding which of the methods is right for you- will you go with Scrum, SoS or SAFe? While this decision is not an easy one and will take careful considerations, there are some aspects to each of the method that can help you along the way. Below you will find our easy 3 step process that will guarantee you consider the right options from the start.

 

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For more helpful Agile cheats and tips see The Ultimate Agile Guide.

 

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Transitioning to Agile: Running Effective Meetings

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Ah, meetings.. The thing we all hate, yet cannot live without. No matter what project management method your team is using, meetings are always a part of it one way or another. And while most of us associate these gatherings with long and strenuous activities that often yield little to no actual results, when transitioning to Agile you should keep an open mind.

The whole idea of Agile is being effective and eliminating practices that create waste. So when talking about meetings there is no surprise, the same rules apply. No matter the chosen method, all meetings have to have a clear purpose, duration and must yield a result. So to get the Agile meetings right from the start, you should understand that contrary to other practices every single meeting has a very specific value to add to the table.

  • Understand the reason of the meeting

Depending on your chosen Agile method, the number, complexity and scheduling of these meetings will differ. Scrum meetings are planned based on the length of iterations, while Kanban meetings are held once the team feels the need for them. However, no matter which method you have chosen, the first thing you will have to do is to understand the purpose behind each of the accompanying meetings.

More often than not, the meetings will be very distinctive and specific – sprint planning is only held for planning tasks of that one sprint. Daily standup only discusses the results and plans and so on. While at first, it may seem hard to keep track of all the different rituals, it is understanding the reason behind them that will help pull you out of the dark. Ultimately this will not only help you, but will also make your teams transition a lot smoother.

  • Go by the rules

Another thing that might be difficult to do at first and will possibly slip your mind later, is that the meeting rules and rituals are there for a good reason. It might seem silly to be standing during daily Scrum for the first few times, but this will help to keep the meeting short and on point. And while planning the work for only a two week iteration could seem very irresponsible and short sighted, you will later realize this way of working cuts a lot of planning time in the long run.

Therefore make sure to stay along the lines of the meeting rituals, especially in the beginning. They will create right practices and rituals within your organization and that will help you avoid overcrowded, extended and useless gatherings. And if you still feel that some rituals don’t work for you after you’ve completed a good number of iterations, you can change them. Only then you will have experience and will actually understand what will work for you.

  • Have a clear goal to be achieved

Lastly, before going into any meeting, make sure to have a very clear goal and a plan to achieve it. It may be to show your client the results of a sprint and to get an informative feedback in a review meeting or it might be as simple as catching up with the team and logging the progress in the daily Scrum. No matter the type of meeting, without understanding what you are trying to get out of it, you chances of success are slim.

In order to avoid the possibility of making your meetings redundant and fruitless, take some time beforehand and draw a mini plan to understand what you are trying to achieve, who should be involved and how long it might take. By doing that you will save your team a great deal of time and frustration as well as will achieve your goals faster.

Agile meetings and meetings from any other project management practice are not much different – they are all set up to improve project success. However, as with anything else, Agile tries to eliminate as much waste as possible. So to make you do just that, take note of why those meetings were set up and fulfill their requirements as best as you can.

Happy meeting!

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Transitioning to Agile: Understanding the Methods

agile processAgile is not a new concept in the business world by any means – it is being adopted to more and more various fields, innovated and even discarded by some teams that feel they have had enough and are ready to move on. However, as the Agile reign continues, we find some of the practitioners are still trying to figure out how exactly to be Agile. For this, we are launching a series of blog posts explaining and answering some of the questions most new Agile users have.

To practice any methodology, first you have to know what it actually is and we find that there is still a lot of confusion out there about what exactly can be called Agile. So is Agile equivalent to Scrum as many out there believe? Or is Agile an ancestor of Extreme Programming? Let us try and explain everything.

Agile is a term that describes an effective way of working. It was introduced to the mass public by the release of the Agile Manifesto in 2001 and while it does specifically outline 4 values and 11 principles to be followed by the Agile teams, it does not include any particular methodology or recommendations of a methodology to be followed. So in itself, Agile is simply a framework to be followed.

Naturally, after the creation of the Manifesto, the practitioners felt a need of a clear method to be followed and thus the search has begun. Some looked into existing project management tools and though how they could be made to fit the Agile framework, others created whole new concepts and methods completely from scratch. Thus today we have a wide variety of Agile methods to choose from and new ones coming up every single day. Check out our Agile method genealogy tree.

So to answer the questions we have posed in the beginning, Agile is not Scrum, not XP and not any other method in particular, but all of the methods that comply with the Agile Manifesto are Agile. And as long as you are practicing one of them, your team is Agile too.

 

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