April 9th, 2013 Agile for Non-Software Teams


If you’re looking to improve your scale or capability, there’s nothing like having some Agile thinking in place. For the uninitiated, it could simply mean having a workflow with sticky notes on a white board that categorizes tasks as “to be done,” “in process” and “finished.” But it’s more than that for two teams at the Agile for Non-Software Team meetup hosted and organized by Lori Masuda on April 9, 2013 at Kaplan Test Prep.


At the meetup, the two teams who were paired with editorial and marketing staff presented the result of their Scrumban and Lean practices in a panel discussion that allowed for the “sharing of the good, the bad and the future.”

The toughest challenge for both teams proved to be meeting deadline dates.

One team was tasked to write the LSAT Premier book, while another, Grad Marketing, talked about its own process in both managing general tasks and requests for marketing collaterals.

The LSAT team needed a way to collaborate better with a large group of people writing a book. In the past, the team wrote the book with a very small group (one author) then submitted this to stakeholders for feedback and review. However, they never had time to incorporate all the great feedback, so it was not really considered until the next revision. This created tension between stakeholders and other authors.

Marketing, for its part, had a black-box process with many different submitters for work and no real way of prioritizing all the requests. They wanted transparency and collaboration with their stakeholders.

Both team implemented daily scrum meetings and visual task boards. For LSAT, they implemented the Demos and Sprint Planning. For marketing, they streamlined retros and single product owners.

Masuda listed the following challenges presented by the panel:

1. Managing hard deadline dates. Teams had to constantly re-prioritize with dates in mind.

2. Planning/estimation/capacity of team. Teams had to do a lot of guess work band adjust accordingly.

3. Commitment level. It worked well with dedicated teams, and was difficult when teams were not 100% committed.

4. Work-in-progress limits. Used as a guideline, but hard for everyone to stick with on a regular basis.

It beats huddling in front of a computer, as evidenced by the results of all this Agile thinking Masuda enumerated:

1. Increased transparency

2. Increased collaboration

3. Better communication and alignment with business

In terms of collaboration, the panel said most of the people worked remotely but thanks to Google Hangout, the work got done.