Keeping the Agile mindset during lockdown
If you work in an agile environment, and are now working remotely due to the lockdown, it can be a little daunting, and perhaps a bit bewildering as to how you can possibly keep things agile when you can’t physically get together with your team, and keep things moving across your physical board.
And you’d be right! It’s tough, and it’s unprecedented, but is it doable? Absolutely. If anything, now is the time to keep things as flexible and transparent as possible with your team. Whether it’s through the use of video conferencing to keep up the communication, or using an online project management tool to stay on track, as long as your teammate doesn’t forget their camera is on whilst they’re going about their daily business (we’ve all seen the clip of the guy in America who ended up naked in front of his boss…), we can keep connected.
I’ll use Nimble as an example. Whilst we aren’t using the Scrum framework to release a usable product from a software point of view, we are using it to make sure we are providing our clients and Nimblers with the best (productised) service we can, as well as keeping the day-to-day running of the business ticking over.
In our new, virtual office, we have a Sprint Planning meeting each Monday morning. Our Product Owner (or Chris as we more affectionately call him), will have created a backlog of stories on Jira (our workflow management tool).
These stories will be made up of things that we (the Development team if you will) have discussed between us and placed as tickets in a sprint backlog contenders bucket.
Chris will then spend time prioritising these tickets for discussion and agreement with all team members in the Sprint Planning session (held via video conferencing, and using a split screen to keep an eye on the ‘board) and away you go, just as normal. You can still use your fibonacci scale. You can still move things into ‘blocked’ or ‘next’, and each morning you can still hold a Stand Up around the virtual board to make sure no one is blocked and we have a daily goal/purpose.
So at least some of the key elements of the Agile mindset can remain in place. Of course your team will need additional support - not just to make sure they’re handling the new situation and working successfully, but also to make sure they’ve not started rocking back and forth slowly in the corner… Keeping things as ‘normal’ and routine as possible will help things to not only run smoothly, but also to keep your team communicating and feel like their well being is being cared for.
Some people will prefer to create their own Kanban board with a million post-its on their living room wall, others will want to just use a simple ‘to do’ list on the back of their council tax bill, but honestly, in these challenging times, as long as you can all keep communicating, keep things moving, and most importantly keep looking after each other, that’s ultimately all that matters right now.