Why has Agile become the most popular software development approach in the IT industry today? Because it works.
But Agile is not just a software development model—it’s a Leadership style. It is about being crisp, lean, and thoughtful in every piece of the delivery process.
Here are some tips for being Agile through communications.
3 Communication areas that can benefit from an Agile approach are as follows:
- Email communications
AGILE EMAIL RECOMMENDATIONS:
- Subject line:
- Make your subject lines specific. Instead of “Question for you” or “Need your help”, state the topic, purpose or ask, and deadline (if applicable)
- If you require an urgent response, you can add “URGENT” to the subject line, or attach a “High Importance” tag (in Outlook).
- The very FIRST paragraph should start with the purpose or “ask” (for example, “I am writing to….”); subsequent paragraph(s) can then provide supporting details
- For longer emails (that require set-up/background information), begin each “section” with bolded word(s) (e.g., “History”, “Current Problem”, “Next Steps”)
- Emails should highlight (via bold, font color, highlighting tool, etc.) the facts, action points, and relevant ownership, for ease/speed of audience reading/understanding
- Be crisp, clear, and to the point throughout (limiting any/all extraneous/tangential information—when in doubt, leave it out)
- Any “external” information should be referenced via inserting hyperlinks (versus embedding the external information itself within the email).
- The final paragraph should restate the ask and the deadline(if applicable)
- When replying to an email, make a conscious decision about whether to reply-to-all
AGILE MEETING RECOMMENDATIONS:
- Keep meetings short (no more than an hour)
- Meetings should have a detailed agenda (preferably disseminated well in advance of the meeting)
- Having pre-established Working Norms (AKA “meeting rules of engagement”) can work wonders toward holding more productive (and less divisive) meetings.
- It is the meeting Facilitator’s responsibility to ensure the attendants:
- Stick to the Agenda items
- Formally acknowledge and table unrelated discussions
- Remain within the assigned timebox
- It is the meeting Facilitator’s responsibility to ask someone to take/disseminate meeting minutes
- The Facilitator needs to allow at least 10 minutes at the end of every meeting to discuss deliverables/next steps, and to schedule subsequent meeting(s)
AGILE DOCUMENTATION RECOMMENDATIONS:
- Know your audience (to properly shape your language, terminology, acronyms, level of detail, etc.)
- Always begin with the intent of the document
- Unless you are 1000% certain that the readers will know your acronyms, spell them out
- Section the document carefully (preferably with bold or larger font headings), for ease/speed of reading/understanding
- Limit the document to relevant information only; any external information should be referenced via hyperlinks and/or appendices (versus embedding the external information itself within the document)
- Use active (versus passive) voice whenever possible (for example “The team experienced delays” vs. “Delays were experienced by the team”)
- Abide by rules of proper grammar and punctuation; doing otherwise can be distracting (and potentially confusing)