A cracking talk last night from legendary agile exponent Kelly Waters at Skills Matter in London. Titled ‘My Agile Journey: If Only I knew Then What I know Now’, Kelly gave us a walk through of his impressive CV, delivering loads of insights and wisdom along the way.
Kelly has just finished a six month stint as interim director of digital engineering at The Guardian, responsible among other things, for moving the whole site to a new .com url. Previous to this, Kelly worked at RBI and IPC media, where he implemented agile practices across the whole business.
The principles of agile are simple, but successful implementation is another thing entirely. As an example, here’s last night’s list of things Kelly believes business leaders need to do in order to make agile work.
1. Think big, start small. Hold onto the big picture, whilst breaking the work into manageable parts.
2. Collaborate. Too many leaders expect everyone else to do that, other than them.
3. Focus on value. Concentrate on what value the work can add, not just cost.
4. Do less. Focus on what’s really important.
5. Learn fast. Test early and often.
6. Empower teams. And really mean it.
7. Explore and adjust. As Mike Tyson said, ‘Everyone’s got a plan until they get hit’.
8. Accept hard truths. Don’t shoot the messenger.
9. Lead by example. Always.
I’ve worked in agile delivery, but the interesting thing here, is that these best practices are universal, not just exclusive to software development.
The fact is, so much of the editorial brand development process is agile, without it ever being recognised as such. Editorial brand development is all about developing user identification, tone of voice and point of view. But just like releasing code, it’s about launching new product into a fast moving and constantly changing environment. And as always, the best results come from empowered teams, frequent feedback loops, MPV, clear priorities, stand-ups, process visualisation and all the rest of it. In other words, Agile.
All of Kelly’s slides and a podcast of the evening can now be seen here at skills matter. His excellent blog is at allaboutagile.com