The purpose of this document is to outline Agile development and the role of Positive Power and Influence® (PPI®).
The Need for Agile
With so much uncertainty facing businesses today, their need to be adaptable is very high. This adaptability includes sensing market changes early, being organized to respond quickly, and then delivering better products or capabilities to the market rapidly. Many businesses have responded to this need by adopting Agile approaches in software development and further applying these Agile principles to other parts of their business.
Agile Software Development
Agile is a mindset informed by the values and principles contained in the “Agile Manifesto.” These values and principles provide guidance on how to create and respond to change and uncertainty with the optimal speed to achieve customer value.
The Agile approach sits on a rapid iterative development process, where requirements and solutions evolve through the collaboration within a self-organizing, empowered and cross-functional team. The team has a ‘Product Owner’ who has full empowerment to prioritize and make decisions. The Agile process encourages frequent inspection and adaptation, encourages teamwork, self-organization and accountability. It also has a set of engineering best practices intended to allow for rapid delivery of high-quality software, and aligns development with customer value.
Agile’s set of values and principle are followed in project management processes or methodologies such as ‘Scrum’ and ‘Kanban’. When a project is so large that requires many Scrum teams to be coordinated in order to achieve a shared goal, a framework such a SAFe can be adopted. Projects are broken down into ‘Sprints’ or iterations.
At the beginning of each Sprint, the cross-functional Scrum team has a planning meeting, where the highest priority backlog items are reviewed. Next the team discusses the requirements, it makes Sprint commitments and then agrees to a delivery strategy. The team meets daily in the morning for less than fifteen minutes, in front of the task board, to review progress, discuss deliverables for the day, and raise any risks to delivery.
At the end of each Sprint, a review is performed to demonstrate the Sprint deliverables and assess the performance of the team against the pre-agreed Sprint goals. As part of Agile’s principle of continuous improvement, the team performs a retrospective to review mistakes/inefficiencies and agrees on ways to make things better for future Sprints.
Agile Business Practice
To broaden adoption of Agile principles, there must be a shift to new mindsets and behaviors in the business team. Over time, as mindsets change, individuals will adopt more Agile behaviors, such as:
- Breaking down project work, or initiative-based tasks, into iterations (i.e. Sprints),
- Implementing empowered, cross-functional, self-organized, and collaborative teams,
- Setting and working in fast iterations with agreed goals,
- Scheduling daily 15-minute check-ins (instead of holding lengthy staff meetings),
- Seeking excellence through self-reflection and continuous improvement.
This mindset shift into empowered, cross-functional, self-organized, and collaborative teams has been proven to be successful in many fast-moving product companies such as Google, Proctor & Gamble, and 3M.
Agile – Elevation of Collaboration, Communication, and Relationship Behaviors
Therefore, common to all Agile-based approaches is the creation of empowered, self-directive, cross-functional teams of highly motivated individuals delivering capabilities in small but quick iterations. The approach is built on an effective business architecture (business process, systems, and technology) that can handle this fast-iterative introduction of change while enabling business stability and growth.
With Agile, each team member meets every day with their peers, share their work, prioritize efforts, be required to listen, be open to ideas, negotiate win-win agreements, and be ready to be accountable to meet the team’s goals. Team members must handle this new fast pace of work where the people interactions are compressed. Further, because of today’s pandemic, more interactions are likely to be remote. Often, an Agile team has to collaborate with other Agile teams to coordinate their efforts to achieve a larger business goal.
Agile methods (e.g. Scrum) provide the process by which Agile can be followed successfully. Such important ‘process’ skills must be learnt by the team members. However, the ‘behavioral’ skills (e.g. being open to feedback) are just as important to the team’s success. Indeed, as well as high motivation the following ‘behavioral’ skills are critical:
|Self-directing to a vision*||Effective collaboration**||Intelligent communication**|
|Being open to feedback**||Critical thinking||Being creative in a team*|
|Transcending fear*||Championing data*||Influence and negotiate positively**|
For this reason, the ongoing need to invest in people is extremely important to improve both their ‘behavioral’ skills as well as their Agile ‘process’ skills. Not just skilling them up to collaborate and communicate with people in the same location, but developing them to build strong relationships with team members remotely around the world in an environment where change and speed are a priority.
Positive Power & Influence® (PPI®)
PPI®’s Situational Influence Model© (SIM©) was developed by leading human development experts and is the reference model for many people and leadership development programs. In PPI® participants will learn how to handle successfully lateral and upward, as well as downward influence situations, particularly where they do not have or are not willing to use positional power. They will understand the neuroscience behind how to influence effectively, and they will master the impact of their body language, tone of voice, and words.
PPI® can help significantly in accelerating the Agile people development journey. It helps a team member become fundamentally better in effective collaboration, intelligent communication, being open to feedback, influencing positively, and transcending fear to take risks. The behavioral skills PPI® addresses are marked by an ** in the table above. Such an improvement in these behavioral skills enables a team member to perform better in other areas such as motivation, self-direction, use data, and being creative in a team (marked by *).
In PPI® a participant gains great insight into how they impact others, learns how to listen and be flexible in their approach, opens themselves up to feedback, and masters improved and smart ways to communicate. As well as improving their effective collaboration, they will also increase their influence while strengthening working relationships.
Further, PPI® builds on the participant’s personal power, giving them confidence to apply different approaches while not being in conflict with their own personal values. They learn that engaging and collaborating with people in a team is not based on their position of power, but based on who they are and their capability to master intelligent communication.
Such a non-hierarchical approach to influencing, communicating, and collaborating that PPI® offers is very powerful to any team members who wish to be more impactful in an Agile approach and thus accelerate an ovrall organization’s speed of delivering capabilities to market.