Monthly Meeting: March 4, 2021, Agile for Content Creators, Kevin Doherty

The OHIOSTC community was joined virtually by Kevin Doherty, Marketing Communications Manager for VYOND, an online animation software company. Kevin is ICAgile Certified Professional (ICP) in Agile facilitation. Agile development is typically focused on software development and/or engineering projects. This is reflected in some of the language used in the literature discussing the Agile processes.

Agile is an alternative to “waterfall” project management. Waterfall is a project-management methodology that manages a project through a sequence of task handoffs. Tasks flow down through an organizational chart. The task is initiated by the leader who hands the task off to a subordinate and this continues until the task has been completed. This process creates distance between the decision maker and the production team. It tends to be less efficient because, each link in the chain slows the process and provides an opportunity for failure.

Agile, which is not a framework or specific methodology, addresses these challenges. For this conversation we are considering Agile as a verb. “A way of doing, a continuous practice of learning and experimenting.” Something you have to keep doing.

At this point, Kevin tried to share a video with the group. The video, The Agile Mindset, was created by Ahmed Sidky. Here is a link to this video on YouTube. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqvB493oDVc)

There were some technical difficulties while sharing the video. One of the best lines of the night from Kevin: “I am going to skip it, in the spirit of agility.” after which he gave a great explanation of the content and a link to the video.

Agile is a mindset described by four values, which are defined by a set of principles, that open up an unlimited number of practices that can be applied to project management.

The key distinction from waterfall is, “Agile is a way of thinking.”

Moving forward the meeting used “Lean Coffee Meeting” (an Agile approach) to structure the balance of the conversation. A Lean Coffee meeting is a structured, but agenda-less meeting. Participants gather, build an agenda, and begin talking.

This allowed the meeting to be catered to the needs and questions of the group.

The agreed upon topics for this meeting were:

  • Agile workflows
  • Promoting an Agile culture
  • Continuously improving content
  1. Agile workflows

This is about everyday work. It’s all about getting the right work out more quickly. The way we do that is through the “Art of Simplicity.” We do that by adopting a pull system; we pull work into the flow. In Agile, we have a backlog that serves as a repository for pending work. Everything passes through the backlog. The backlog is where you evaluate and prioritize your work content and pull in only the most valuable ideas. Your quality increases because you are focused on only a small number of the most important items.

There are two methods of pulling in work:

      • Kanbam, which is used for flow-based work. Kanban continuously prioritizes tasks.
      • Scrum, which is used for release-driven work. Prioritization of tasks occurs on a cadence.

The categories through which tasks move are:

      • Backlog
      • In progress
      • For review
      • Blocked
      • Done

In Kanbam you are pulling from the back log, through the process, to completion.

Using Scrum you select the highest priority items in the backlog and drive them through.

  1. Promoting an Agile culture. Relevant core values include:
      • Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
      • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information is face-to-face conversation.
      • Working software is the primary measure of progress; make sure our content is working.
      • An Agile process promotes sustainable development. We should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  1. Continuously improving content
      • Reduce handoffs and encourage cross-functional collaboration.
      • Develop “T-shaped” generalizing specialists.
      • Bring subject matter experts into the creative process.
      • Avoid burnout at all costs (flow based).
      • Focus on outcomes, not output.

Strategic practices and benefits.

You can release “chunks” of content gradually rather than an entire book at once, which allows the editing process to be extended and which also increases quality.

You can experiment and test different content. You can also revisit your work at regular intervals (retrospective) rather than immediately looking ahead to the next task

With the additional flexibility afforded by the Agile environment, you can increase collaboration, giving your team greater access.

For additional information, here is a link to a write up from the presenter with greater detail: Agile for Content Creators: Webinar Recap | Vyond

Reviewed by Paul Holland