While trying to maintain and grow my photography company, I was ecstatic to discover a process from the tech world that allows me to seamlessly enhance my business: a system called Agile. Agile is designed to improve collaborations, build teamwork, and create a smooth path of communication, and it has proved invaluable to my day-to-day and long-term business operations. So, let’s dive in!
Agile: what is it?
In an Agile-based company, teams work together to achieve a goal and bring something beneficial to the customer. The practices in Agile aim to create a seamless process for your business, so you can improve your customers’ experience and your team’s communication.
In this post, we’ll focus on three Agile practices—daily standups, planning meetings, and retrospectives—and how you can apply them to your business. Before we dive in, I want to clarify that these the stated frequency of these processes should be the norm, but obviously all businesses are unique and ever-changing. It is acceptable, and even encouraged, to adjust your Agile schedule when needed.
In the tech field, the daily standup meeting takes place (spoiler alert!) daily. This is when your team comes together (either in person or via phone) and each member shares what they did yesterday, what they’re doing today, and whatever may be blocking their progress. This meeting is a time for collaboration, and it allows the team to understand what everyone is doing. Whenever a new team member is unsure about their next steps, a tenured team member will be able guide them and answer any questions.
These meeting should be held about every 2 to 3 weeks, though this can change based on a project’s timeline. A planning meeting is when each task is assigned to a team member and placed on some sort of project board. Having a board is important because it gives the team a visual way to remember and concentrate on their assigned tasks. You can either set up a digital board online or create a physical board on a wall in a common area using tape, sticky notes, and index cards (be as creative as you want!).
No matter which project board format you choose, you should have cards to represent each task and columns to track the status of these tasks. Examples of columns used in tech are “Ready”, “In Progress”, “Done”, and “Accepted”. Each team member should have a task on the board and move said task across the board as they work. When a task is moved to “Done”, the project lead or business owner can review the work and move the task to “Accepted”. This shows that the team member has successfully completed their task and is ready for the next one.
Retrospectives can be scheduled during the project, half way through the project, or even at the end of the project. Whatever cadence you choose, the most important thing is that you keep the communication going. During a retrospective meeting, the team comes together to reflect on the overall process of the project. How did the project go? What went well? What didn’t go well? What can we do to be better next time? This allows the team to highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly during the project. You can also squeeze in some kudos for all the hard work!
So there you have it! Remember, the key to Agile is communication and collaboration. Without these, things can go wrong within the team and possibly affect the customer. If you’re ready to bring the Agile process into your workplace, I offer one-on-one coaching and would be more than happy to help.
Go forth and be Agile!