The agile process has helped make software development inside companies more successful for the better part of the last two decades. But implementing this type of process in other places in a company can also help make other departments function better.
Productivity can be a major stumbling block to getting critical tasks completed in most organizations: Team members are constantly inundated with interruptions, notifications and competing priorities that make it hard to keep their own projects on track. But having an agile process can help limit these interruptions.
Managers can implement an agile process in their teams—here's how to get started:
1. An Agile Team Environment
An agile work culture focuses on producing quality over following a strict set of processes or being forced to follow a specific rigid plan. The goal is to eliminate the types of barriers that prevent the desired objective from being achieved.
Solving problems with agile employees is not a solitary sport; it is done together as a team. When people can solve problems together and aren't competing against each other in silos for the best solution, results usually happen much more quickly.
Also, it's important to make sure the size of the team fits the project. In general, consider keeping teams small (three to nine people) to help maximize their flexibility and promote close cooperation.
2. The Daily Check-In
This happens with programmers in a development environment, but rarely takes place in other departments.
Consider having a quick stand-up daily meeting (minus smartphones and less than 15 minutes a day). Each team member can discuss what they are working on and what they hope to accomplish that day.
This is also a perfect time to talk about shifting priorities that affect the entire group. Stand-up meetings give people the ability to help others, so everyone has a more balanced workload.
3. Team Member Control
In any agile process, the focus is on employees owning the work results and not having the manager always directing it.
Remember: Agile cultures limits hierarchies. This helps enable team members to directly help each other and not have to circuitously go through a manager to get something done.
4. Meeting Free Times
While meetings are important to be effective as a team, productivity can be boosted by having certain times during the day when employees never have meetings. This is scheduled “focus time" where the work actually gets done; it acts as an interruption buffer.
It may also be a good idea for this to be a communication “quiet time"—a time when work spaces aren't visited or called. This part of the agile process also allows multitasking to be minimized since while this may allow more tasks to touched at one time, much of this work will be of lower quality. Focusing on single tasks typically yields better results.
5. Limit Meeting Attendees
Avoid inviting or copying everyone on a meeting. I believe the only people who should be at a meeting are those who can make a significant effect on the agenda. (If others need to be aware of what is happening, you can send them the notes afterwards for comments.)
You can help make sure attendees are prepped for the meeting before it starts by sending an agenda and questions they should be prepared to answer. Consider making everyone turn smartphones off or leave them outside so meetings can be more productive.
Read more articles on organizational productivity