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Practical Tips for Adjusting to Agile

(P.s. It’s kinda like a new way of thinking)

Throughout my career, I’ve observed Agile projects ranging from overly structured to highly autonomous. Rarely are these projects able to hit a sweet spot between the two extremes, and the projects suffer for it. So what’s the problem?

  • Overly-Structured Projects. In some scenarios, people have had the luxury of running things in their own way, in their own time. They are using their own or an antiquated methodology, their own scope, their own deliverables; and it makes adjusting to Agile more difficult.

  • Too Much Freedom and Autonomy. In another scenario, the managing model provides a sense of freedom and autonomy that is quite refreshing, especially if the project is stressful and ever-changing (Let’s face it, some projects are ever-changing). However, it can be difficult learning how to handle this freedom, and often new agilists find themselves forced to learn, not just a new way set of rules or procedures, but a new way of managing themselves and thinking about projects.

  • Easy to Change. It's easier to change with the project than to change the project. This is very similar to the Agile process, but it is not just a way of doing, it is a way of thinking. The Agile methodology produces continuous results and these results will add up to a project in the long run. It is what I called the sweet spot. Agile is not just a methodology. It’s a new way of thinking, doing, expecting and delivering.

How do you adjust to Agile? Be practical! Tip #1:  See the Big Picture.

Change your way of thinking about management. The big picture is not what the project manager wants, but what the customer or client wants. It includes the scope, the time, and the deliverable - not just for each member or part of a project- but for the WHOLE. There’s a major part of Agile called a Sprint which is used to organize tasks. In a Sprint, there are items that are chosen to be completed and delivered within the specified time frame. The process occurs until each part of the project is done and, ultimately, delivered. This is an important piece of the puzzle. Tip #2: Prioritize.

Since everything can't be d one at the same time and has different levels of importance, we have no choice, but to prioritize. It makes no sense to put the cart before the horse so we need to make sure everything is in the right order. Agile projects are broken down into simple and measurable objectives that can be accomplished and delivered to the client. As a result, the project stays on track and it is delivered within the scope required of the time, money, and deliverable. Tip#3: Relax and Enjoy.

Last, but not least, relax and enjoy the process. Using the Agile methodology allows us to focus on one element at a time so that the best effort can be put toward that one thing. This reduces a great deal of stress, thereby allowing its users to produce a piece of the project that will ultimately provide the greatest satisfaction not only to themselves, but to their customers.

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