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If meeting is all about stress, boredom, or wasted time for you, then now is the time to take action. Opt for the agile method to boost your meetings, meet your deadlines and above all think CO-LLE-CTIF
A-G-I-L-E is the buzz word in most businesses. But in summary what is the Agile method?
It is a way to manage project or issue, by making employees work together with iterative phase and customer-centric approach. The projects are thus divided into several stages. Each team’s member must progressively carry out its various phases with constant collaboration and continuous improvement at every stage to meet the client’s expectations as quickly as possible.
The ultimate VALUE in Agile development is that it enables teams to deliver faster, with better project management, with greater quality and predictablity, greater flexibility to respond to change and regular feedback that ensures a response tailored to needs.
The agile method is based on four main principles: the Agile Manifesto
This method can also be applied to meetings. The principle ?
Make meetings run quickly, with a willingness to share and with a action plans and decisions at the end..
So how to adopt agile management for your meetings and what are the main steps ?
1 – First Step to start the meeting : PLAN
In this plannification step, you will start by identifying the meeting goals to distribute the work among the team members.
To prepare for your meetings it is essential to define an agenda with clear goals : use “user stories” to stay focused on customer needs. In other words clearly identify the issue you want to solve based on the needs of external or internal customer.
For example if your role is to allow the customer to add a product to his basket to buy it, your “user story” will be : « As a customer, I want to be able to add a product to my cart in order to buy it ».
« As Marketing Manager, I want a dashboard to view the performance and ROI of my marketing campaigns in order to maximize the success of my next campaigns »
The “user story” is divided into 3 parts: As (person), I want to (objective) in order to (goal).
Why go through this step? To help you define the effort points and the key points to stay focus on Customers needs during the meeting. So that the objectives shared with the teams are concrete and clear for everyone.
This agenda, built with the “user story ” must be communicated to the teams early enough to give each team member the opportunity to prepare the meeting. Don’t forget to also specify the attended preparation type, given the sprint review session goal : a demonstration, a presentation …
2 – Icebreaker Games : break the ice to strengthen group cohesion
Once you have identified your meeting challenges, you will be able to start it. But in agile management, group cohesion is mandatory to succeed in you project and goals. This is why it is very important that all the meeting participants feel comfortable and can work in a good atmosphere.
The icebreakers are there to set the tone for the meeting. Depending on the goals, there are different types of games to get to know each other, be more creative, share common interests, and develop confidence.
For example, during a seminar or a large team meeting, not all participants know each other. Now is the time to organize an icebreaker game such as “Adopt a stranger”: each person must choose a stranger in the room to form a pair and thus get to know each other.
3 – The sprint backlog or what we have to do?
The meeting goal is to define the sprint backlog associated to the “Users Story”, that ‘s mean a prioritized tasks list to be done by the team.
This backlog can evolve meeting after meeting and is built throughout the various meetings.
To analyze the issue and identify action plans, activities such as the Bono Six thinking Hats can be implemented. You may have heard of it before, Bono Six Thinking Hats make a meeting run through an orderly thinking process that helps people be more productive, focused, and mindfully involved.
It serves as a team-based problem solving and brainstorming technique that can be used to explore problems through various perspectives.
Each hat represents a different perspective or visions on a particular problem and is an insightful activity that prevents narrow or conflits because most people think and reason in a specific way based on their personality type :
- The Blue Hat is for taking a step back and organizing: explain how the activity will unfold, the expected objective.
- The White hat represents neutrality: each participant is content to state the facts, their successes, figures, what they want
- The Red Hat for intuition: emotions sequence, without having to justify themselves, everyone can speak to what they felt, what they thought of teamwork, what inspired it , etc.
- The Black hat for pessimism or prudence: even if it is not in your nature to see the glass half empty you will have to force yourself to find the negative points, highlight all the problems you had to do face even the most insignificant. The goal is not to repeat the same mistakes the next time.
- The Yellow Hat, back to optimism: be constructive, find solutions, improvements, benefits, how to go even further!
- The Green Hat to unleash the imagination and creativity: it’s time for you to be innovative, to make innovative suggestions, to imagine other possible ways to achieve results.
The Blue Hat comes again to close the session to make a summary, agree on the conclusions and build the action plan.
This 6 Hats Analysis is very useful to generate ideas and take decisions.
Crucial step at the end of this meeting: consolidate your action plans into a collaborative monitoring tool to drive your meeting, share a meeting minutes to validate the decisions
4 – Feedback on the meeting: ROTI method
Still in this logic to animate meetings in agile mode, giving feedback on thee meeting in relation to the time spent and the value is also very important for the Teams effectiveness.
To measure this, there is for example the ROTI method: Return On Time Invested. The principle is very simple, each participant votes by show of hands:
5 – The sprint : flagship step on your agile meeting
The sprint is arguably the most important step. With a period of one to four weeks, it represents the crucial moment when everyone will carry out their tasks defined in your meetings to achieve their goal.
The sprint itself is divided into several shorter sessions to break down the development process that sometimes is very complex. In this way, the team is able to move forward calmly step by step and is able to readjust as needed based on the retrospective evaluations (between each session).
For the “sprint” follow-up, you can use with your teams 2 types of meeting:
« daily scrum » or « daily meeting » : the agile synchronization meetings (Scrum methodology), for example standing.
These mini meetings, often of 15 minutes, allow each participant to inform the team about their progress, the tasks performed and the tasks still to be done, any blocking points, etc.
Why stand up? The idea is that when standing, people have no choice but to keep it concise and only touch on matters that are critical to the team achievement.
LE SPRINT REVIEW
Each week, a “sprint review” is useful for analyzing the past week and the results obtained.
The objectives were defined, the tasks were shared with each one with collaborative work in the most complex cases or requiring a rapid intervention. This action plan having been defined and noted, to manage your sprint reviews, all you need to do is quickly go over this To-do List and Go around the table to find out if the subjects are progressing as planned and are in line with the planing.
If so, this is the time to put all the sticking points on the mat and readjust the action plan if necessary or just discuss things together to find the solution.
The meeting summary is :
- Highlighting the small victories
- Updating the action plan in line with blocking points and new constraints
The sprint reviews follows the agile and visual management logic. To manage and organize your tasks set up visual dashboards:
- To Do: Lists all the to do items. This column is filled in real time by the team’s member
- Finished: tasks completed
- Risks : overdue tasks
- The weather of your goal
- The different milestones …
The goal is to facilitate decision making by visualizing all the Team activity in one glance
6 – The agile retrospective to capitalize on good practices
The goal is achieved! Now is the time to draw final, with a view to continuous improvement. The perfect time to celebrate each other’s successes and to thank the teams for their involvement throughout the process, but also to analyze everyone’s satisfaction, their way othey work as a team and the agility level they have shown.
The retrospective is the last step in the process to manage your agile management meetings. The goal is to make a final presentation of the project in front of all employees so that everyone can see the progress and give an opinion on what is working well and areas for improvement.
You can again use the 6 hats method to draw up your balance sheet.
These agile management methods are ultimate to permanently improve all types of meetings. They will bring dynamism, innovation and modernity to your meetings. But they also allow you to resolve your issues more quickly. Problems that could last for weeks are resolved thanks to structured teamwork and smooth and regular communication. Agile management is also a tool for team development and motivation. Each small victory is shared regularly and no more lonely moments to get stuck on your problems.
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