Are Your Meetings Contributing to Agile Performance?

BY Tim Londergan
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My brother-​in-​law attended law school, but he never intended to practice law. Intriguingly, his purpose was to gain the mindset – the mental attitude or inclination that attorneys share. In this way, he enriched his business acumen and learned to approach problems in a logical and detached manner. Distinctively, lawyers rely on the study of law and manage to keep their personal preferences in check. You can apply this strategy if you are seeking a mindset to improve efficiency while managing disparate teams of associates. Conversely, the subject is not the study of law but the understanding of the Agile Manifesto. The goal is not inductive reasoning, it is agile performance.

Agile performance originated in software development

Agile is a project development methodology that is highly collaborative while simultaneously breaking big tasks down into smaller sub-​tasks. The concept promotes rapid response to change, constant focus on business value, high level of quality work, and self-​organizing teams. The agile process focuses on the people doing the work and how they work together. Moreover, teams are cross-​functional while the manager’s responsibility is to confirm they have the right skillsets and environment in which to be successful. While a direct transfer of agile principles may not fit your industry, applying some of the practices may be appropriate. Think of agile performance as a mindset.

Harnessing change and uncertainty

The Agile Alliance has established 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto that guide practices and support teams in their collaborative endeavors. Fundamentally, you’ll find these principles are universal or can be modified to suit various industries. Transformatively, the highest priority is customer satisfaction, followed by the acceptance of change, the devotion to flexibility, the dedication to simplicity, and the communication among teams. Crucially, responding to change and dealing with uncertainty are issues that every organization wrestles with and where agile performance can assist.

Construct a new agile meeting mindset

Granted, the meetings required for software development teams are distinctive and unlike those you may have with marketing, sales, customer service, product development, or production. However, you may find the process, speed, terminology, and efficiency adaptable to your routine. Easyagile​.com makes a case for transformation and lays out the challenges in this article. They list 10 solid benefits. Consider these few:

  • Eliminating wasteful procedures
  • Breaking free from workplace silos
  • Encouraging collaboration and increasing participation
  • Identifying roadblocks before they occur
  • Continually improving internal processes

Daily standup meetings and more

Now, imagine a meeting where you, as manager, take a step back and assume the role of facilitator while the team does the heavy lifting. Consider “sprint meetings” that emphasize what transpired yesterday, what tasks are being currently pursued and a brief check-​in for obstacles, needs and how everyone is doing. Additionally, the authors list mistakes and things to avoid during agile performance meetings. Short standup meetings will find favor among your salespeople as they can fill their obligation and move on. Stephanie Vozza, writing for Fast Company, confirms that the default position on frequent, hour-​long meetings is that they are counterproductive. Convincingly, she states, extra people and additional time allotted does not make for a more productive meeting.

Purpose, people, process

Finally, if you decide that agile performance meetings can be productive for your enterprise, then consider the recommendation of Donna McGeorge. She is the author of "The 25 Minute Meeting: Half the Time, Double the Impact." “Clarity plus scarcity makes for urgency,” says McGeorge. “If we’re clear about what we want to do, we know what our purpose is, and we’re scarce around the amount of time—25 minutes—we create a sense of urgency for getting things done.”

Photo by kylie De Guia on Unsplash