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How to Lead Agile by Being Agile

How to Lead Agile by Being Agile

How to Lead Agile by Being Agile
Michael Chan
Head of Delivery
 November 2019

Transforming the video experience is a pivotal part of what we do here at Accedo. Being an agile-minded company not only helps us deliver great apps to our customers, but also makes us a responsive organization that is constantly changing to adapt to the market needs.

Agile is not the fix, only a fully loaded tool-kit

In this post, we aim to discuss our agile approach when engaging with customers and debunking some common myths in the process. One of the most prevalent myths today is that adopting Agile methodologies in software development will yield better project deliveries (i.e. repeatable processes, faster timelines, less overrun, and better software quality at lower costs).

While Agile is a powerful methodology, it’s success lies in how people apply and use it in their day to day projects, not in how compliant they are with the defined scrum best practices and activities.

In reality, doing “agile” isn’t the same as being agile.

We understand that the agile way is not the answer to all our problems, and failure is possible regardless of which methodology we follow on our projects. In fact, we celebrate failure in a sense because it allows us the opportunity to learn from it, and agile helps us do exactly that. When a team is designed to iterate quickly or take on greater velocity/scope, it shines light on the constraints and bad practices that ultimately lead to its failure. It is these bad practices, tool-dependencies, legacy structures and patterns that we strive to break in iterative cycles. More often than not, you will see us challenge predisposed methods of decision making, prioritization, resource allocation, governance, performance management, and organizational structure.

One of the greatest strengths of being truly agile is to uncover failures early.

It is impossible to deliver projects without failure at some point, it is our response to these failures that define Accedo.

Solving the problem comes first, learning from our mistakes and moving forward comes next.

The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.

As an organization, we value our people and their collective success. Often, being agile is not only about following Scrum, Kanban and other agile methodologies, but also about bringing the right people together who can create a symbiotic fit. There are several software execution partners in the market who liken themselves to “assembly line development shops”, a software-factory if you will, with expendable resources and engineers. This goes against the grain from what we believe here at Accedo, cultivating the culture to embrace change, bringing cognitive diversity into our teams, and providing them with what they need to do their best work is a big part of who we are as an organization.

Often being agile has led us to value progress over perfection, and trust in talented people over control. Instead of getting dependent on tools and complicated processes, we rely on people to do the right thing at the right time. We still execute on the basics of burndown reports, effective stand-ups, sprint planning, backlog grooming, demos and retrospectives. Each event, when done properly, is designed to encourage rapid feedback, to iterate effectively, to shape and guide the client’s expectations and, ultimately, to get everyone aligned for success. 

Software is created by designers, engineers and project managers – professionals that have many years of experience and training.  It is knowledge, hard work and no matter how detailed the specification, or how defined a methodology, creativity is needed in choosing the right actions to build masterful video experiences.

An analogy would be songwriting. You can’t write a song using pre-scripted processes, one line at a time. It requires a group of skilled musicians to collaborate and execute creatively.

Change is the only constant

There is an unfounded myth around Agile being anti planning, when what it really is, is anti static-planning. Here at Accedo, we are firm believers of change being the only constant, we use the Agile methodology as a strong guiding principle.

We make our plans on the assumption that they may change, and therein lies the beauty of the Agile methodology. Sprint planning and backlog grooming meetings are designed to iterate early and often, not to stick to a preconceived project plan that was laid out in the proposal stages of the project when the scope, dependencies and final goals are adaptable and open to change.

Never confuse movement with action.”  -Benjamin Franklin

We conduct sprint demos to showcase the team’s progress (or in some cases, lack of progress).  More importantly, sprint demos are designed to collect group feedback, to encourage progress over perfection, and to start conversations that help firm up the final outcome.

Similarly, retrospectives are possibly the most honest conversations we have with our teams and clients alike. We tend to focus on what we can do better rather than what went wrong; these meetings are also fun and collaborative.

Ultimately, we are aware that the industry is always on the brink of remarkable change, and that’s exactly where we like to be. Being agile is a mindset, not a static end-state.   By relying on continuous planning and feedback processes, we embrace change.


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