Don’t Let Agile Harm Innovation – 5 Easy Tips

encouraging innovative agile teams

Agile brings many benefits to organizations – more communication, predictable development cycles, and the ability to rapidly respond to changing requirements.   While the vast majority of groups that have adapted agile have found it to be beneficial, it is worthwhile to take off the agile rose-colored glasses for a moment and look at a few concerns.    One potential concern is that agile can place too much of the design and requirements in the hands of a single point of failure – the product owner.   Hence, there is a concern that innovation within the group could suffer.   This does not need to be the case.    Here are five tips for how to make sure your agile teams stay innovative:

1.  Do not put the full burden of writing user stories on the PO.   Let the full team discuss and brainstorm about how to best meet customer needs.  This can be done at the planning meeting, during stand ups or casual discussions.

2.   Pose stories as problems to  be solved.  Do not let the tasks and stories dictate design unless absolutely necessary.

3.    Encourage agile development team members to ask “Why?”    Why is requirement X necessary?   Why is this being designed this way?    Why are customers really asking for this?

4.  Pose a “question of the sprint” to the team – ask them to brainstorm throughout the sprint new ways to solve a problem.

5.  Invite stakeholders that normally do not interact with development teams to the team demos.   New faces can stir new discussion areas.

By doing these simple items, your teams should remain more engaged and focused on how to creatively solve new problems.   What other techniques have worked well for you?


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