Experiments for more agility

What can be the first experiments that could help your organization as a whole take the first steps towards agility? In this post we will describe examples of such experiment and their potential impact, hopefully inspiring you to their own experiments.

Self-determined working hours / Hackathon / Ship it day

Many organizations have tried it and were amazed at how the same people, who otherwise tend to be less motivated and slow, can suddenly work with fun, bright eyes and inspiration. Working on real content that is valuable to the organization. How does it work?

Short description:

There is only one rule for the day (sometimes 2-5 days). Anyone can work on whatever he / she wants, but at the end of the time it has to be shown what was created. Typically, the day starts with short 30s pitches of ideas, where individuals introduce what they want to work on and campaign for fellow combatants. Then there is one for a short time – typically 15-20 minutes in which the groups find themselves and they choose a room, then the work starts, completely self-organized. The day ends with presentations of the work results of individual groups and mostly pizza + beer.

Possible sustainable results that we have already seen:

  • Leaders and employees have a reference experience . They know what is possible with the same colleagues. What it’s like to see the same people, only when their eyes are lit and they are there with a lot of desire and motivation. And what can come out of it.
  • New ideas are born that can be used in very unexpected places. This is another reason why many organizations organize hackathons on a regular basis (eg once every two months).
  • New human connections develop between employees and many learn from each other not by words but concrete joint work.

Shoulder view / reflection

Coach can perform such a service. In the end, the organization looks into a mirror and decides what to do with the new consciousness.

Possible sustainable results:

  • A shared awareness of the current state of the organization, a prerequisite for joint decisions
  • Understanding aspects of scrum / agility in the concrete context of one’s own organization
  • if necessary, joint agreement on the next concrete structural change steps
  • If necessary, get moving from unpleasant “encrusted” topics

Scrum Pilot Project

Of course, an experiment can also be that the organization is actually trying out the structure of Scrum. It is important for all involved to understand what they are getting involved with. Therefore, this step typically comes after a scrum training . For this experiment to succeed, it is important to actually try Scrum and not to change it before the experiment.

It often takes some preparation / clarification: definition of the product, the roles and the new responsibilities, first agreements and who belongs to the team and what happens to the things that these people have done before.

If such an experiment runs for at least 6-7 sprints, the following sustainable results are possible:

  • Results of the team can far exceed ordinary results. Especially if previously focused work was a challenge.
  • Better understanding of the organization, what Scrum actually means in their conditions.
  • Reference experience for the entire organization. Inspiration for other employees to break new ground.
  • Typically, the work of the Scrum team brings to light obstacles that also hinder other parts of the organization. Resolving this will allow improvements to other parts of the organization

Introduction of a weekly cadence

As opposed to the complete scrum structure, they can also take smaller steps. From our own work we know that sometimes the introduction of individual elements of Scrum can already bring about major changes. So a clear cadence (or tact) can be introduced for a department or a team. For example, every week at the same time a team looks at the results of the previous week and makes plans for the upcoming week.

Possible sustainable results:

  • Feeling of safety and structure in otherwise volatile environment
  • Basis for further systematic changes
  • Greater awareness of all involved for their own progress

Transparency of all work units

Another experiment idea is inspired by Kanban’s first rule: “Make all work transparent”. For a department / team / person, the entire work can be made visible in individual work packages and their steps on a board. Every time something changes on the state of the work, the board should be updated accordingly.

Extensions: Of course you can also hold meetings daily before or reduce the amount of simultaneous work, measure characteristic values, etc. But the visibility of the work packages alone is a big step that should not be underestimated. Of course, it only works if all or at least most of the work becomes visible. That needs discipline.

Possible sustainable results:

  • All participants gain a higher awareness of what is happening in the organizational unit under consideration. This is a prerequisite for intentional changes.
  • Recognition of bottlenecks in the process becomes possible and thereby effectively improve the processes.
  • Many assumptions can be verified by actual data.
  • Some problems simply dissolve through transparency. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant”

Mob programming or mob work

Mob Programming / Working is a practice in which all members of a team work on a task. When programming this means, for example, there are 5-6 people in a room with a video projector and a computer with a keyboard. Everyone looks at the projected image on the wall and discusses what needs to be changed next in the code.

  • Only the previously discussed may actually be written in the code
  • Every 10-15 minutes the person sitting at the keyboard changes
  • You do this from 2-6 hours a day with regular breaks

And if you do not program it anyway, everyone is working on one thing. It seems at first that this is an inefficient way to work. But the more different expertise you need to do the job you are doing and the harder it is to achieve high quality, the faster this type of work will accelerate the team.

Possible sustainable results:

  • Everyone involved learns many skills from each other and learns about the problem that lies ahead of you. That’s one of the reasons many organizations implement this kind of work as a regular part of their job.
  • Some teams find that in this way they are faster in the long term than through the work of individuals.
  • Human connections become possible through mutual understanding. Many work conflicts are directly manifest in such a work and can also be solved immediately.

What experiments did you use to advance your organization? Write us on comment. 

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