6 Ways to Work Smarter using Agile

Business author, Belinda Waldock, shortlisted for the CMI Management Book of the Year prize shares top tips on how to be more effective at work and work smarter using agile methods and approaches.

1. Work Smarter: Take a reality check

Whether projects, plans or ideas, visual mapping helps gain immediate clarity to help identify, understand, share and review work in progress both for you as a manager, and for your team.

Agile tools literally put the writing on the wall providing a real time snapshot and practical communication channel which will encourage collaboration and help maintain a shared understanding and perspective within a team.

2. Work Smarter: Cut yourself some slack

Agile is a learning based method and builds continuous improvement into our daily workflow, build in slack to give you and your teams time to improve and respond to changing circumstances.

Create time to review current approaches and identify the blocks, bottlenecks and issues that limit productivity and performance. A great manager empowers their team to improve their working practices by ensuring they have time and resource for growth and improvement.

3. Work Smarter: Validate your assumptions

Being agile means to validate and test solutions early. Releasing early solutions for feedback provides vital information to help evolve and develop an idea into a solution that meets demand and needs.

Agile works to ensure the right thing is built, and that thing is built right through test driven development and improvement practices.

4. Work Smarter: Maximise work NOT done

When your growing, changing and developing there are a lot of options, but not enough time and resource to do them all, we have to make difficult choices. Sometimes we can get caught up in trying to achieve perfection and the law of diminishing returns kicks in. That point you reach when the amount you are investing into a solution becomes greater than the value you are creating and the costs outweigh the benefits.

Use the Pareto Principle to optimise your work, 20% of the effort put in creates 80% of the value delivered. Take some time to analyse your work and identify the optimum 20% that is of the most value. Optimise the amount of ‘work not done’ to reach your objectives and improve productivity.

5. Work Smarter: STOP managing by exception

If you only manage and respond when things go wrong then teams, and customer relationships can quickly become disconnected and chaotic. Without regular communications ad hoc interruptions and distractions become common place.

Check in regularly and consistently to talk about work in progress and identify what’s going well and what could be going better before issues escalate or opportunities loose strength.

6. Work Smarter: Empower your teams

Empower individuals and teams to be self-organising and managing. Encourages teams to work collaboratively and improve their performance collectively through shared metrics and a culture of continuous improvement. Agile leaders provide their teams with the environment, tools and skills to deliver value and achieve optimum performance levels.

Allow teams to play to their strengths and identify opportunities for development and improvement. Leverage talent and create teams that perform at their best, use agile as a tool to improve team performance and individual job satisfaction.

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