Shift happens. Shift happens everywhere. The world around us changes so quickly.
Family. Politics. The environment. Business. It’s naive to think that things will happen exactly as we plan them. We only fool and frustrate ourselves when we get bent out of shape because of changes in the marketplace or changes that could cause delays in our projects.
No matter what type of project you’re managing, it makes sense to insert key agile principles.
- Constant collaboration with stakeholders
- Continuous improvement at every phase
- Responding to change over following a plan
What does this look like? Let’s break down each.
Constant Collaboration with Stakeholders
Be intentional about staying in contact with stakeholders. Stakeholders are people involved in the project, people and entities that will be affected by the project, and people and groups that will receive new or changed products or services due to the project.
For some of these groups, a meeting cadence is important. For some a periodic newsletter is sufficient. In other situations, a monthly roundtable may be engaging and keep a certain group of stakeholders informed.
It’s important to keep all groups of stakeholders up to date about project efforts so that progress or lack thereof is not surprising. No one wants to find out all of a sudden that things are not what they thought they would be. I had a coworker who used to say, “Tell me now, it’s our problem; tell me later, it’s your problem.”
Continuous Improvement at Every Phase
I like to do an after-action review at the end of each project phase or major milestone. It’s the perfect opportunity to evaluate how things went and determine if there are changes we should implement to our approach.
I like to make surveys anonymous so that stakeholders and team members share their unadulterated truth.
At the end of a long meeting, workshop, or training I ask: “How could we have improved this session? What should we stop, start, or continue?” There’s always an opportunity to improve. As long as different people make up project teams, there is an opportunity to improve things in a way that makes sense for that group of people.
Responding to Change Over Following a Plan
Having a plan is an awesome thing. It means you have thought through an approach to leveraging your money, equipment, and people to reach your specific objectives.
But, it should not mean you can never deviate from the plan. Sometimes things need to change. If you are constantly checking in on progress against the plan, it’s easier to see what about the plan doesn’t work.
I like to have a daily scrum call for complex or fast-moving initiatives. It’s an opportunity to check in on progress against the plan and quickly see where and how to make adjustments in real-time.
This is way better than getting to the end of a quarter and realizing that the plan is not feasible. Daily can seem like overkill. But a 30-minute check-in can save you numerous emails and multi-hour meetings.
I have found it incredibly impactful to include agile elements throughout my project work regardless of whether a project is purely Agile, Lean, or more of a traditional waterfall approach.
Constant collaboration, communication, and improvement is important when it comes to keeping a project moving forward because teams are encouraged, energetic, and engaged. It makes for the framework of a solid culture.