How to Become Agile: The criteria you need to meet

Are you really Agile?

More and more agencies and marketing teams are saying they are “Agile” these days, so I recently started questioning: What is the actual criteria for being “Agile”?

Research and conversations with several Agile consultants has lead me to the following two baseline criteria:

  1. You need to adopt an Agile framework (i.e. Scrum, Kanban, or Scrumban).
  2. You need to undergo a team-wide mindset and cultural shift around Agile values and principles.

While a lot of teams that claim to be Agile are missing one of these criteria – they are probably still getting benefits from the Agile concepts they are utilizing. The more a team can become fully Agile, based on these criteria, the more benefits they will get!

Using an Agile framework without the cultural shift

It is quite common for teams to simply adopt a Scrum framework without changing anything else about how they approach projects. The team organizes their existing workflows into two week sprints and conducts the standard Scrum rituals including daily standups, regular retrospectives, etc.

Doing these things alone should result in several benefits:

  • Better communication, team alignment, and visibility into project status
  • Roadblocks and problems are identified and addressed sooner
  • Continuous learning

However, there are a few common pitfalls if this isn’t done in tandem with an Agile cultural shift:

  • The work might be broken into two week chunks now, but it’s actually still following the previous waterfall processes
  • The previous over-burdened and hierarchical review process for work approvals still exist
  • The team feels like a new, rigid process is being dictated to them and they are skeptical of what value it is really adding

Undergoing a cultural shift without applying an Agile framework

At Intelligent Demand, we first tried to tackle the cultural aspect of Agile by baking Agile values and guiding principles into the way we approach our work and make decisions. This meant that we gave permission to question standard processes in favor of making the best decision for the client and situation. See ID’s Agile Manifesto here.

Leading your team through an Agile cultural shift should bring about several benefits:

  • Better client-centricity, alignment on business objectives, and better decision-making
  • Improved flexibility and adaptability
  • Improved team morale

However, there are a couple of common pitfalls if this isn’t done in tandem with an Agile framework:

  • The team easily falls back into business-as-usual, process-for-process-sake behaviors
  • There isn’t a baked-in method for evaluating how the shift is going and refocusing the team

Using an Agile framework AND undergoing a cultural shift

If a team is able to meet both Agile criteria, there are even more benefits that can be realized. The team will be more productive, release work faster, and deliver higher quality work than ever before.

I have seen teams successfully start with the cultural shift and then add on an Agile framework, and I have also seen teams successfully start with an Agile framework implementation and then incorporate the cultural elements. The key is just to start and to learn and adapt as you go.

Agile Marketing – Finding an Agile agency partner

If you’re interested in how ID and your marketing team could partner in a more Agile way, please let us know.

Or, if you’re looking to help your company better align solutions with business needs, respond to change quickly, or improve efficiencies, reach out to us. We love helping companies become more Agile!

Read more from Intelligent Demand

Nicci oversees ID’s Account Operations department and ensures quality, on time, on budget delivery. She obsesses over reducing operational inefficiencies, improving communication, and enabling her team with tools to deliver the best possible solutions.

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