Agile in the Age of COVID-19

Adapting to change will be our new normal and companies need to be agile. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has brought big, unprecedented challenges that require companies to respond to a new business environment. 

“Agile is first about mindset, and your thought process. Once you evolve your mindset there are multiple ways to implement an agile way of problem solving,” says HRCI Chief Information Officer, Chris Scandlen.

Scandlen shares how HRCI has adopted an iterative approach for managing projects and developing software to deliver value to our customers. Here are some valuable agile practices HRCI is currently implementing:

Deliver Work in Small, Meaningful Increments

Agile project management and software delivery breaks complicated large projects or product requirements down into more manageable tasks tackled in short iterations or sprints to deliver value to customers faster.

For the agile approach to work, you need to be comfortable starting small and iterating. “This can be very liberating. You can understand very quickly what is working and not working for your customer, stakeholders or organization and then improve your deliverables. This prevents analysis paralysis,” says Scandlen. This kind of approach can be particularly useful in times of uncertainty or crisis.

To deliver work incrementally HRCI is using an ‘agile scrum’ methodology that plans and executes work in two-week sprints. “We’re doing work that is directly tied to delivering value to our customers, stakeholders or organizations at the end of each two-week cycle,” says Scandlen.

Continuously Evaluate Plans and Requirements

The success of agile comes from the fact that you can continuously evaluate what is important to our customers, stakeholders or organization. “HRCI has baked constant reflection into our decision-making to determine what we should be working on next and these priorities flow into the different cross-functional teams,” says Scandlen. Agile scrum enables HRCI’s teams to quickly plan and execute these priorities.

When you work in smaller increments and do constant reflection, it allows you to pivot much more quickly. You will solve the most relevant problems for your customers, stakeholders or organization based on the current business environment.

Create Empathy and Trust

Trust is a critical component of agile teams. Working collaboratively as a team requires trust that each team member is empathetic with their customers and with each other.

HRCI holds demos and ‘retrospectives’ during our agile scrum sprints to get input from customers, stakeholders and the organization. Agile teams need to operate in a psychologically safe space. “It is important to create the right tone and goal for these feedback sessions. It is not intended to assign blame. All input is welcome as the end-goal is to improve together as a team,” says Scandlen.

Holding demos allows the team to celebrate and share what they have accomplished as team with the entire organization. It allows teams that may work behind the scenes to receive recognition for their work.

Collaboration is key to the agile mindset. Receiving constant feedback from your team and customers and acting on the information fuels collaboration. The foundation to building trust is the belief that everyone is looking out for the customer and organization’s best interest, coupled with the confidence that teams meet their commitments.

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