Although every entrepreneurial journey is different, at some point we've all felt overwhelmed, behind schedule and unsure of how to finish a large project. It's inevitable. You solve one problem just as two more appear, and the time you planned to spend growing your business or making significant progress on large projects gets overpowered by having to “put out fires." Agile management may be what you need to see improved productivity.
Being in a constant state of defense and problem solving can put you, and your team, behind schedule quickly. It can be both an excitement and productivity killer.
I've hacked away at building businesses since age 19. Having hired business consultants and personal performance coaches—and surrounding myself with successful entrepreneurs—I've learned one thing about company productivity: Implementing a project management model that allows projects to be worked on in sprints and systematizes solving problems faster keeps my team happier and more productive.
Ryan Rickert, founder of craft beer loyalty app PintPass, is no stranger to building a complex tech company. PintPass is navigating patents and interstate laws and regulations as it builds a first-of-its-kind product connecting every craft brewery in the U.S. by using beer as a currency.
“Implementing an agile management model that simplifies our projects, embraces problems and [creates] small breaks for replanning is the fuel that has allowed our small team to work so efficiently," Rickert says.
Ben Stoner, head of product for the hunting news and information platform goHUNT, also has experience with implementing agile management.
"We're constantly trying to solve our customers' challenges in new and unique ways," Stoner says. "With agile methodology, we find solutions collaboratively and pivot quickly, saving countless hours that would be wasted in a traditional waterfall approach."
What Is Agile Management Methodology?
The Agile Management Methodology (AMM) is used extensively in software development project management, but it can be applied to any business.
Its singular purpose is to reduce time-to-value in projects by quickly adapting to changing needs as projects present issues to overcome. Quite literally, it's the definition of productivity.
The driving force behind AMM requires you to break down large, complex projects into smaller tasks and subtasks to be worked on in sprints. Working in sprints means that you a) outline everything that you want to be done each week and b) work on all of the items you want to be completed in that week. The next week, you reassess where the total project is and make new sprint goals for that week.
Every single task in a project is essentially separated into extensive to-do lists. This is done so that you—and your team—can see your project for what it is. This helps make the project much less complex.
Breaking down the tasks can help you problem solve and deliver small batches of work much quicker, improving productivity.
An integral feature of agile management is its ability to reduce downtime while problem solving.
By responding to problems as they arise, in small batches. Researching solutions, replanning and implementing necessary changes at the right time can help you make continuous improvement and complete your projects with little delay.
The feeling of making continuous progress as you solve problems, make small pivots to the project and complete smaller portions of the project can help build momentum. These small-yet-momentous victories can help keep your team excited and improve overall enjoyment. And as you probably know yourself, when you enjoy your work, you become more productive.
Parkinson's Law is the adage that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." Meaning, people tend to get things done in the time they're given. If I give you a task to put together a simple overview of this article and send it to a friend in one week, you'd likely take the week to do so. But if you were given the task to do it in 10 minutes, you'd get it done in that time, too.
Parkinson's Law is an important perspective of agile management. It teaches us that if we break large projects down into smaller tasks and give shorter deadlines for each, we will complete them in the time we're given. So when we're given smaller problems to solve with shorter timelines, we tend to make it happen.
Agile management has a built-in system for problem solving inside of large, complex projects. Smaller tasks and smaller problems may mean shorter timelines for completion.
AMM provides a well-tested formula, which can empower you to focus on completing small portions of a project and not fear any roadblocks. While working with agile management, embracing problems and change can become exciting. In my experience, I felt less pressure because I wasn't obsessed with hang ups or complications anymore. Instead, I was driven to solve them and move on to the next task in the project.
Read more articles on organizational productivity.