After a couple years of being a mix between project and product manager, I hadn’t yet heard of scrum or any other type of agile process. At work, we had started doing releases more regularly (about once or twice a month) and priorities were shifting quite often. To make things easier and more organized, I had started a list of all the “priorities” which were all the things people were asking for. Every couple of weeks, I would write the details of the top priorities in a doc and discuss it over with the team so they could give feedback and so we all knew what needed to get done for the upcoming release. Then, after each release, I’d do a pass that what had been released and would sit with the team to see what hadn’t been done, what had been added and so on…
Without knowing it, the team and I had adopted an agile process. The priority list was the backlog, the specifications were the story details, and the meetings resembled kickoffs and reviews. A couple of months into this process, someone who had recently read about scrum and suggested we all get training which we all did. After the Scrum certification, we didn’t end up changing a whole lot of what we were initially doing, but we had names for what we were doing and a little more discipline.
This made me realize that the majority of people who work and need to organize themselves are “agile” without knowing it. Let’s look at what most people do to get things done:
1) List things they need to do this/next week
2) Get the most important things done first
3) Scratch out things they end up not having to do
4) Scratch out things as they get done
5) Add more things – typically urgent stuff that pops up out of nowhere
6) Redo a new list after a couple of days because the current one is a mess
This is really the basics to being agile. You know what you have to do, you do the most important stuff first (or not if you like to postpone!!) and end up having to do more or less than what you have planned. You set yourself some goals that you sometimes manage to hit or not. Basically, you are agile in the way to adjust yourself to what goes on around you.
I believe many teams who aren’t currently functioning by means of a specific project management method are ‘agile’ in the basic sense of the term. And they are so without knowing the ‘agile’ concept even exists. Being more educated about different agile methods such as Scrum, XP, AUP and so on, is very beneficial if you and your team are able to extract the practices you should adopt to become more effective. However, being adamant on adopting every action or activity a said agile method proclaims is a mistake. Instead, teams should take on one or a few new behaviours at a time and evaluate if what they are doing is truly favourable for them. Unfortunately, many times it’s easier to do everything as prescribed by the agile methodology and blame it when things don’t turn out as planned instead of working hard as a team to attain the agile process that works for you.
One advantage with Planbox is that it was built with that in mind; it does not impose a methodology upon you. It’s easy for individuals and teams to setup the tool to have it work how they need it to so that they are being agile best they can.
We’re building a guide to “Softly transition into Agile” if you have knowledgeable recommendations or things you’ve set in place, we’d be glad to include them in the guide.Magali