If there’s one thing that everyone should know about running agile projects, it’s this:
They’re all inherently (and wonderfully) different.
Lame, I know. But this is real life, and in real life, each and every project has wildly different challenges, successes, and people.
I wish there was a secret sauce. “The ONE thing you should know about Agile”. But to be truthful, the only thing you can be certain of is that you’ll never be 100% certain. It’s just always different.
Different isn’t bad, though. In the following paragraphs, I’ll show you why this isn’t necessarily a problem. Nor does it hurt our progress, products, or careers. In fact, I believe we can capitalize on the rich variety of personalities and challenges in your agile projects.
You can jump on these opportunities to amplify team members’ strengths—and your ability to capitalize on these differences can be the single most determining factors of success.
You’ll celebrate more successes.
You’ll forge stronger relationships.
A Quick Recap of Agile
When we consider Agile as a whole, it’s important to think back to the Agile manifesto.
It illustrates to us that “individuals and interactions over processes and tools” and “responding to change over following a plan” are core focuses.
This sets Agile apart from other types of project management, because it creates a focus on improving and reducing risk while creating processes to build a better overall solution/product.
Agile centers in on assigning real-time value to the components that make people (and situations) different, and utilizes those differences to help mold and develop teams.
However, truly successful agile teams are the ones who amplify their individual abilities and strengths to the advancement of the whole team and product. It takes a sincere, ongoing effort to develop the soft skills that can make or break Agile projects.
I want to provide you with inspiration and direction as you develop your soft skills and see new ways to apply them to your Agile projects.
What Everyone Should Know About Agile Projects
1. Setbacks are completely normal—and not entirely bad.
Each Agile project is different, which means you’ll face unfamiliar challenges in every single one.
You’ll always have setbacks, and this is completely normal, and not entirely bad. Understanding the nature of challenges, at their core, is incredibly important because—quite frankly—you’re going to come across a lot of them in Agile.
No single tool or development language is ever going to be an entirely perfect fit for what your specific circumstance calls for. Your team will have to problem-solve and find new ways to make things work.
Sometimes it’s going to take a lot of planning, sometimes it’s going to take a lot of research. Sometimes, it’s just going to take a lot of trial and error.
These are the types of challenges you’ll likely find yourself in, and they’re going to be different every single day.
If I’ve learned anything in the world of digital project management, it has been to adjust my perspective of what a challenge is. Instead of dreading it, I learned how to use it to the advantage of the team; to view it as an opportunity for growth and learning.
Example: Project timelines
Project timelines are something that we all (at times, to our dismay) work alongside. Timelines help motivate team members and stakeholders to make tough decisions, even if they can’t reach a full agreement with everyone on the team.
Each project timeline acts as its own path—turning, bending and shifting.
We lean into our timelines to help guide us, but the decisions we make in order to stick to timelines are always going to be carefully tailored to each circumstance we encounter.
When you come up against too-tight deadlines, you’re actually forced to answer some pretty significant questions that reveal important information about priorities:
What feature is most important? Why? What can we downsize?
Where can we save time? What are we doing that’s really unnecessary?
How can we communicate better with clients to get faster approvals?
The challenge of hitting milestones—and the tradeoffs we make to ensure it happens—are ripe opportunities to mine for hidden assumptions, inefficiencies, weaknesses, and more. Once they’re out, only then you can tackle them and make your projects better.
How To Deal With Setbacks In Agile:
So, how do you do it? Not on your own, that’s for sure.
Lean into your team of experts.
- Developers are there to help problem solve with you.
- Designers are there to help create and map out solutions.
- Clients are there to give you the information the team needs to solve the problem.
Lean into your end-users.
- End-users use your tool, and they need it to work well to continue to do so. Use their experiences and opinions to guide the decisions you make.
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