Monday, June 15, 2009

Not Just for Techies

The May issue of Inc magazine had a fascinating article on how a organizations – even those decades old – can work more like a new start-up and tap into the creative potential of the whole team. Agile development – a process that promotes flexibility, speed, and teamwork - may have been designed for software engineers, but it can be an effective way to complete almost any kind of project – if you follow some key guidelines.

Build small, cross-functional teams
Putting employees from different departments on a single team helps them finish projects faster. Plus, getting employees to work closely with co-workers in other departments fosters teamwork and innovations company wide

Break large projects into smaller tasks
Some challenges don’t become apparent until a project is already in progress. By breaking the project into smaller pieces, a company can more easily change direction if needed.

Set short deadlines
Instead of waiting to see if a project is hitting the mark, set weekly or monthly deadlines; this allows the company to rapidly evaluate progress.

Hold daily meetings
Every morning, teams gather briefly to discuss progress, voice problems, and set daily goals. That way, all employees know what is expected of them, and problems are promptly dealt with as they arise.

Invite customers into the design process
Having a few customers test new products and services as they are being created keeps employees from veering off too far in the wrong direction and allows them to quickly scrap ideas that don’t work.

Questions for ChurchWorld
  • Are your decision-making processes agile – or ancient?
  • Is your leadership team a forest of silos – or an interconnected web
  • How often do you communicate – real stuff, not just the same old, same old?
  • Do you involve your constituency and target audience into the design process?
  • Do you focus on the one big goal – or do you have some milestone targets?

Even when we are moving so fast in so many different directions, if we focus on communication and transparency, we can control the chaos. Ed Scanlan, CEO of Total Attorneys, a software and services firm that practices agile development

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