How do be Agile in a pandemic

There’s a great article by Forbes recently that I wanted to echo with my own sentiments. The title is How To Be Agile In Tough Times written by Jen Shroud.

At first her advice sounds like a normal post for agile transformation:

1. Set the right tone 

If an organization’s leaders believe in the importance of digital workflows in achieving agility, and if they demonstrate this by aligning resources to corresponding initiatives, this is a critical first step. 

Leaders must not give up on Agile during this time! It was news when Google offered each employee a $1000 bucks to set up their home environment. This is enablement!

2. Embrace design thinking

“Agility is a baked-in component of design thinking. By rapidly executing small experiments, ideas can quickly be made tangible.”

This is great but I wished she’d indicate that we could us: How might we question, a staple of Design Thinking, address Remote Agility. How might we feel that we’re all in the same office when we’re not? How might we build team dynamics? etc. etc.

 3. Empower employees 

The bottom line is that leaders who allow their employees to co-create their work experience will do better than those who don’t understand the power of employee choice. 

I love this comment. The 9-5 was notional at this point anyway, prior to COVID, so we need to let that expectation go. I work with folks from India to Argentina, from New York to Seattle, so I have to be up all the time and might take a walk or a nap during normal “working hours”. We’re not in the 1800s people!

Returning to a better way of working 

Are we willing to offer our employees more choices when it comes to how, where, and when they work? 

Ms. Stroud has an excellent set of points that wrap up the article, but this one really summed it up for me. We’re in the time where we can re-examine, nay we must reexamine our businesses. From restaurants to movies, all vertcals are looking at new ways of not simply reutrning to work, but how can we do it better, for employee, employer, and the customer.

I see this challenge laid bare for Agile coaches. We can’t anticipate when and where it’ll be permissible or business-smart to do 30 person agile workshops, nevermind the 125+ person Program Increments Plannings that SAFe requires. Fortunately the fine folks at SAFe have created many guides on how to do such things remotely. I think all Agilists can learn from that, be agile themselves, and pivot to the new future, that could even be better than before.