Agile: How to Get Started

Published 19 June 2018 by Helen Thomas

Agile. It’s a word that’s very much in fashion for twenty-first century digitalites. Some want to be it, others claim to already flaunt it, and others are asking what it is and why they should be so excited by it?

If you’ve ever wondered how some of the biggest online companies we know today - Amazon, Facebook, Adobe, for example - can support such vast numbers of customers with few noticeable hiccups, while still innovating and bringing useful new features to their users, you may find the answer in their adoption of Agile or Lean practices. These companies have bought into a culture of fast, frequent and iterative deliveries, and, as a result, can constantly give more and more to their customers, retaining their loyalty in a world where competitors lurk round every corner.

If this sounds like a no-brainer, it’s because it is. Nine out of ten startups fail, demonstrating just how difficult it is to deliver something that people actually want and then, once you've acquired your customers, actually retain them. Surprisingly or not, organisations regularly blame their failures on not having the right team, getting beaten by competitors, or not listening to their customers. So how can Agile help? And how do you even 'get' Agile?

It’s widely known that Agile promotes values of:

  • Delivering small changes frequently
  • Collaborating with customers and users
  • Communication, teamwork and trust
  • Responding to changes in the market and environment

Sounds great, right? But if you're looking to adopt Agile principles, it can seem like a daunting prospect. So where might be a good place to start?

Why not begin with the daily stand up? This team ceremony is a daily meetup where each member of the team covers off what they achieved yesterday, what they’re hoping to do today, and if they have any blockers (a blocker being anything that is preventing them from progressing with the task at hand). It’s an opportunity for everyone to understand what their teammates are doing and offer a helping hand if it’s needed; a perfect example of the values around communication, teamwork and trust that Agile is built upon. It’s fun too - and yes, the team get to communicate and become involved in others’ experiences, but ultimately, it’s how Agile inspires openness within your team during this daily standup that is one of its real strengths.

This is just a small step, though one that’s easy to implement - and it can be fiercely effective - but there are many more practical things you can do with your team or organisation to start off on the road to Agile. In Circus Street’s new Agile lessons, you can find more practical steps that you can take to apply the principles of agile to your everyday working life. For more information about these lessons, visit our Agile course page here, or you can check out a preview of Agile Part 1 below.

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