Being Agile in Communicating Information

Transparency is synonymous to the Agile methodology and integral to ensuring projects are hitting deadlines, blockers are unblocked, and teams are happy.

It's not unusual that I'm managing 10-15 projects at once, all at different statuses, all across multiple teams and all with a different set of stakeholders. Part of what I love about my job is ensuring that these multiple projects are constantly spinning and ensuring that everyone has transparency across the board, but I've experienced the detriment a lack of transparency can have to projects.

Transparency ensures that people are aware what they need to do, by when, who is responsible, who is accountable, what the dependancies are and what the risks are if something is delayed or not done. Alongside the daily stand-ups and other Agile ceremonies, I produce a weekly project update which is circulated internally across the whole company and covers all projects, both internal and external. This outlines each of the projects which are being worked on with a one-line general update, any key action items and the RAG status. Although there's a wealth of important information included in this document, I'm aware that it's not the most exciting read.

I started observing that, although this document was proving useful for the senior management team, the rest of the company wasn't engaging, despite knowing that the information outlined on this weekly document was critical for other team members. To challenge my theory, I started testing how many people were engaging with this document by asking the reader to send a photo of something (usually an animal in a hat) if they had read the document. This instruction would be at the bottom of the document meaning that only the people who would have read the entire document would see my photo request.

So this was my dilemma: there was a lot of important information that I needed to circulate on a regular basis, that I knew people needed to know, but people weren't reading it. I'm sure other PM's can empathise with the slight frustration that's experienced when someone asks a questions to something which you have just sent an update on.

At LiveStyled, where I currently work, we have a fortnightly Company Townhall. This is a company-wide meeting where the CEO announces key updates for the company. This ranges from announcing any new business, employee shout-outs, financial updates and introducing any new starters. I decided that this is the forum to deliver my weekly updates. Everyone is in one place, and whilst talking through the document and information, I can ensure that everyone has engaged with the update.

I will be still sending out the weekly email update, but by supplying the information in an additional medium means that I can ensure this information is getting delivered and understood. Having this forum also creates time for a quick Q&A session so questions can be addressed straight away. Although public speaking is not my natural forte, I had found a solution to a problem, alongside challenging myself by getting out of my comfort zone by practising (and improving) public speaking.

Being Agile isn't just about following the Agile Scrum lifecycle. Being Agile is about constantly finding ways to improve efficiency, not being too proud about current process and having the confidence to implement change. Being Agile should encompass all ways of working.

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