How Agile Are You In A Crisis?

Much has been written about agility. So how does it deal with crisis situations?

In a well-known saying, it is said that in the event of rapid changes to the environment, it is not the largest animals, nor the smallest, but those best adapted that survive.

There’s hope in adaptation

Individuals that know how to adapt to the environment and changing conditions can be perceived to be agile.

The question though is how to stay agile when schools are closed due to coronavirus and we are surrounded by children, trying to work at home without personal contact with peers?

How about the best practices?

Seeking an answer, I reached for the best practices and turned to AgilePM®.

AgilePM® is the popular agile project management framework developed and owned by the Agile Business Consortium). Its underlying philosophy expresses the view:

“best business value emerges when projects are aligned to clear business goals…..”.

I understand that, in my quest to be agile, I need to understand my clearly defined goals and align with them. This approach will save me from losing money and time, and from “throwing” myself in too many directions at once. If I don’t know exactly what it is I want to achieve, it will be difficult to properly and effectively use the resources at my disposal.

As a simple example, if I don’t know exactly which sport I want to play, I could spend time and money on many of them without achieving significant progress.

Clear goals will also allow us to prioritize what we should be doing and when. So if somebody wants to achieve professional success, he/she may not treat starting a family as a first priority. However, when it is important for somebody to start a family, the individual’s professional career becomes a lower priority.

This is where the MoSCoW prioritization technique (a key technique within the AgilePM framework) can be of great value; it helps us to avoid confusing what is necessary with requirements which can be omitted with limited (or no) impact. In other words, it enables individuals and teams to focus on what’s most important and what will deliver the most value.

When sudden change is coming …

How do we adapt best in the face of rapid changes in the environment caused, for example, by Coronavirus.

It is important to remember that our goals can become (as is the case for projects) suddenly and unexpectedly outdated.

Clinging to outdated goals may lead to projects continuing (or new projects being initiated) which, from the point of view of the current situation, no longer make sense. A personal example: preparing for a holiday trip around the world in coronavirus times does not make much sense!

Changes in the environment and changing goals

It is the changes in the environment (particularly those that come fast and unexpected) which should prompt us to continually review our goals to verify they are still valid. For example, instead of that around-the-world trip this summer, we will adapt and opt for a staycation instead.

It is also wise to verify the MoSCoW priorities at the same time. In almost all scenarios, a change to scope will ultimately require an adjustment of priorities. Using the holiday example again, the requirements and priorities for a round-the-world trip will differ vastly to those for a more straight-forward vacation in our home country.

By understanding values we find harmony

Understanding the values that guide us allows us to live in harmony with ourselves (i.e. in accordance with our own values).

At the same time, it’s important to appreciate that rapid (and particularly unexpected) changes in the environment may also affect and influence our values, as we have seen with the pandemic.

Change in the environment = change in the values?

We, therefore, need to ask ourselves how values have changed in the face of the pandemic.

Certain values which were formerly very important may now be lower down the order. For me personally, and I suspect for most around the world, the value of “love” for friends and family is now more important than ever, to the point where many have sacrificed personal and career goals to ensure the well-being of our loved ones.

I know how my values have been changed. How about you?

This article was first published on 29 July 2021 on Agile Business Consortium portal

About the Author

Tomasz Nedzi has been managing projects since 1993. He became a AgilePM® Approved Trainer in 2013 and now teaches others to manage agile projects effectively. Tomasz is the Lead Trainer for AgilePM® at skills® group of companies skills® 2004 UG in Germany and skills® sp. z o.o.

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