Leverage Agile 
Essential Agile Practices for New Teams

As you grow your product development team, you will want to establish some standard practices for the team to work collaboratively. An agile approach is ideal for teams sizes of 2 or more and there is a natural translation of executing a plan identified with a Lean Canvas using Agile. Here are a few essential agile practices that I would recommend for new teams or established teams looking to become more efficient and adaptive in their product delivery.

 

  1. Designate a Product Owner and Scrum Master

    1. Ideally there are two different individuals dedicated to these roles, but for small teams these could be part time roles for 1 or 2 individuals

    2. Product Owner - the person responsible for defining and managing the work backlog. This is the person responsible for helping the team define “what” they are working on.

    3. Scrum Master - the person responsible for helping everyone understand agile and team practices, rules and values. This person will coach the team on “how” they work together and typically will be the prime facilitator for the team.

  2. Establish Working Agreements

    1. Working agreements come from the team and consist of a list of practices the teams commits to following. These could include

      1. Communication channel(s)

      2. Regular meetings (or “ceremonies”) for the team

      3. The iteration or “sprint” cadence for the team

      4. Practices around how work is completed and validated

      5. Practices around how products are delivered

  3. Visualize your work

    1. There needs to be some mechanism for visualizing the backlog of work for the team and the work currently in progress with an indication of the state of doneness

    2. This could be as basic as a poster with sticky notes on it, a set of lists in a text document or spreadsheet, but ideally some agile project management tool is used. There are several good options. For example:

      1. Trello

      2. Jira

      3. Rally

      4. Airtable

      5. Monday

  4. Have a Daily Standup

    1. The team should meet every working day in order to communicate the status of everyone’s work tasks and to request help if needed. Each team member should answer these 3 questions:

      1. What did you do yesterday? - a brief status not a detailed story

      2. What are you planning to do today?

      3. Do you have any blockers?

    2. The facilitator (typically the Scrum Master) can then help organize any needed follow up discussions

    3. The Product Owner can help clarify priorities if needed.

    4. It’s very important to keep these light and quick (15 minutes!)

  5. Plan at the beginning of each iteration

    1. Prior to each iteration the team should meet to review where they are at in product or product feature delivery, review the current product backlog and identify the next set of work task priorities

    2. The Product owner should facilitate this discussion

    3. If you are using a Scrum agile approach, the team will “commit” to completing a set of work in the up coming sprint based on the historical work velocity of the team

    4. If you are using a Kanban agile approach, the team will commit to “pulling” work tasks from a prioritized list 

  6. Retrospect at the end of each iteration

    1. At the end of each iteration, the team should meet to look back at the last iteration of working together and identify:

      1. What went well?

      2. What can be improved?

      3. What new practices should we try?

    2. This discussion should be facilitated by the Scrum Master

    3. Everyone on the team should contribute to the discussion

    4. Everyone should bring positive intent to this discussion. “How can we work better as a team?”