As trains and roads start to get busier as workers return to offices – for at least some of the week –agile working is top of mind for most employers and employees at the moment.
Especially since lots of organisations are using a hybrid model, with teams both in and out of office, requiring extra flexibility and adaptability.
But many words and phrases associated with agile working are confusing. Of course, working in an agile way is more than just using the right language. But, you can get there faster with the help of this handy guide.
A backlog, or product backlog, is a list of new elements, changes to existing elements, bug fixes, infrastructure changes or any other work a team might be doing to achieve a particular outcome. It should be the go-to resource for all the things that team is working on, and if something isn’t in the backlog, there should be no expectation that it will get done.
This is like triage for your backlog (see above). You don’t want your backlog to get too cluttered, out of order or filled with things that aren’t important. So you should structure it, organise it and focus on the most important things first.
Continuous improvement should be part of your retrospective meetings (more on that below) and it should involve keeping your processes flexible so you can make them better.
This is a strategy that involves executing an idea quickly, gathering either positive or negative feedback on it and then using that feedback to improve or even abandon the initial idea. The mindset that should be applied to this process is that failing quickly is better than dragging things out and failing slowly.
This is a method of designing, managing and improving flow systems for knowledge work. It allows organisations to start from their current workflow and build towards big changes. That can happen by visualising workflow while cutting back on work in progress (WIP). This can help a team fully complete existing tasks rather than just starting new ones.
MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
MVP is a concept that focuses on the impact that learning can have while you’re developing a new product. Eric Ries, the American entrepreneur and author of The Lean Startup, created this acronym and defined it as “that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort”. A key part of MVP is creating a real product for your customers that you can give to them and then observe how they interact with it. This is a much more valuable exercise than just asking your customers how they would use a product.
These should be ongoing meetings that reflect on the work done since the last retrospective meeting. You should talk about milestones and significant events, as well as identifying opportunities to improve.
A scrum is a process framework a team can use to manage both product development and any other knowledge work. It’s especially useful because it provides a method for a team to create a hypothesis, test that hypothesis, reflect on outcomes and then make any necessary adjustments.
A sprint is a short period during which a team works to complete a set amount of tasks. This method of working is at the core of agile working because getting sprints right will help you work quickly and more effectively.
A stand-up is a daily meeting that works like a status check. A stand-up should be an opportunity for quick updates and to make sure everyone on your team is aligned in their activities and goals.