I’m an Agile Coach and I wanted to share some of my recent experiences after taking up a new post at MOJ Digital Services following a stint working at GDS on the transition programme for GOV.UK.
My agile approach
Agile is the project delivery technique that we have adopted at DS. The word 'Agile' stems from The Agile Manifesto, which outlined some values and principles for Software Development. Since it was published in 2001, a number of methodologies and approaches have been inspired by these values and principles. We typically apply Agile by delivering small, iterative product increments regularly; seeking regular feedback on the product and the team's performance in order to continuously improve.
For me, being an Agile Coach doesn’t mean I’m the person with ‘the answers’ or abstract certainty. It means I’ve collected tools and techniques that can help product managers and team members solve problems and deliver their goals with Agility.
You will never hear me talking about ‘the answers’ to your delivery problems in an abstract way. I believe it’s impossible to deliver tangible, valuable results unless you can understand the problem you’re trying to solve and the constraints in which it exists.
I try to help teams find the next most important thing, navigate the delivery constraints (e.g. time, team, expectations - there’s always something!) and deliver it quickly and simply. The sooner we can release and test to see if we’ve actually solved the problem we set out to fix, the sooner we’ll know if we’ve done the right thing.
What’s in the bag?
My Agile toolkit is inspired by methodologies like Scrum, that can help timebox and focus effort, and Kanban, that can help optimise flow and reduce waste in our delivery processes. The techniques and principles outlined in The Lean Startup and Lean Software Development are also really useful.
These Agile and Lean patterns are an excellent starting point for anyone looking to start applying Agile and Lean in their team or organisation.
My colleagues and I at GOV.UK always ask ourselves “am I doing Agile or am I being Agile?” This is an important question because it’s easy to get stuck doing an Agile pattern, routine or ceremony and not being Agile by learning to optimise and evolve your process to support the delivery of the project.
Getting off to a great start
Over the next few months, I’ll be working with our teams at MOJ DS to identify training needs, evolve our governance processes, help set delivery goals and support the shipping of software projects as they embark on their alpha, beta, live journeys.
I’m currently working with the Civil Claims team to help clarify their delivery goals and visualise delivery data on a screen in the team’s workspace. Using an export file from Pivotal Tracker (the Civil Claims task tracking tool of choice) and google sheets, we’ve prototyped a dashboard that gives us up-to-date information about the progress of our epic features, highlights story cards and illustrates our delivery patterns over time. We’d like to use the Pivotal Tracker API to make this data real-time.
I’ll be back in a few weeks to give you an update on our progress.