The 3 Keys to Success in an Agile project

Before you start any agile project you have to prepare. If you don’t have the proper vision for how your team should be functioning, and how your organization should be relating to and supporting your team, you’re not going to get where you want to go. Let’s talk about the three keys to a successful agile project.

  1. Build the right team. The right team is about more than just exceptional talent. You need the right mix of skills and abilities to get the job done. An example I like to use is Peyton Manning. He’s one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, but a team of Peyton Mannings would lose every game. In order to win, you need people who specialize in catching, running, tackling, blocking, and kicking, not just in being the quarterback.

The same thing is true with your agile team. You need software engineers who are the very best at coding, architects who can design any data structure, QA managers who will find any bug, and more. The right team will have a mix of front end specialists, back end specialists, senior developers, junior developers, and leadership, all working together on the agile project. It’s a tricky mix that can be tough to get just right, but when you do, the results are worth it.

  1. Assign the right product owner. The product owner is the team’s link to the outside world. This should be someone with business acumen, someone who understands the market and can thus serve as a guiding force in terms of how to make sure the product is serving the market. Product owners need to be accessible and to be excellent communicators. This is particularly important, because it’s imperative to be available to the team during the sprint process without being underfoot. If a product owner doesn’t have a clear vision for the project and share it with the team ahead of time, they’ll be tempted to throw changes at the team during a sprint, completely derailing it. Changes should always occur outside the sprint.
  1. Take the time to strategize. A sprint period is an enormous outpouring of energy, a single-minded focus on reaching an intended, short-term goal. But there’s also the larger focus, the persistence that enables leadership to reach the project’s overarching objectives. Sprints are incredibly focused on the details, which makes it easy to miss the forest for the trees. That’s why the Sprint Retrospective is so important. The retrospective gives you the chance to zoom out and refocus on the bigger picture. It’s absolutely vital that time is spent on the retrospective and going over the backlog. The logistical highs and lows experienced by the team yield valuable insights that can be applied to the next sprint, related support and logistics within the company, and so on. If you truly have an agile team, expect them to be changemakers, and welcome this—it means you’ve hired good talent. By the third sprint, they usually know your product better than you do, so make sure you listen to them!

If you want to be on the leading edge of your market, it’s imperative that you create an agile culture in your organization. Your main takeaway should be that adaptability and agility matter at all levels of your organization.

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