Agile 101

What Do Agile Communications Look Like?

April 20, 2022

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
  • Meetings
  • Documentation
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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)

Braintrust Group

Braintrust Group is a worldwide leader in Agile transformations. Through practical, hands-on training and enterprise and team coaching, we help our clients learn, plan, and implement Agile processes, such as Scrum and Kanban. Our goal is to teach our clients how to increase the predictability of delivery, decrease time-to-market, and improve overall client satisfaction.

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