Recently, the entire staff at Bluleadz was given the Jeff Sutherland’s book Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time to read. Interesting. I went ahead and read the book so you don’t have to - and found the key takeaways for you to utilize for your business.
First off, you probably have the same reaction I had when I first heard of this book: “what the heck is Scrum?” It’s this: cutting out the age-old business management techniques that simply don’t work, and replacing them with a methodology (scrum) that does. It’s derived from the work of Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi, two work management geniuses who studied how Toyota, Honda, 3M and countless other companies became so largely successful using their business management models. Take these tips and apply them to the way you and your business works for 2015.
1. Priority Tasks Get Tackled Pronto
Focusing your efforts on the tasks that are imperative to your company, and the ones that need to be completed the soonest, will increase your productivity. One of the steps to creating high priority tasks that need to be completed each day is having a 15 minute stand-up meeting every morning with all teams. In this meeting, every team will voice what they are doing and what roadblocks (if any) they’re experiencing. This way, everyone is in the loop. It also allows daily feedback from everyone in your office of what’s working and what isn’t. So, if something isn’t 100% awesome it can be changed right away instead of at the end of the project, when it may be too time consuming to change.
This goes into the 80-20 Rule. This rule says that, as quickly as possible, you need to be delivering 20% of features that hold 80% of value. This way, you’re completing projects with the highest values first. The thing you need to figure out for your business is how to create that 20% value first. By using this rule, you could start delivering more profitable things quicker.
2. The Proof is in the Planning
Forget the old, dusty “waterfall” method if project management. You know, the detailed plans of what you’re supposed to be doing months down the road (that always change and rarely end up being correct). By using daily scrum meetings, you’ll be getting feedback everyday on your projects, rather than just upon it’s completion. Daily feedback means things are going to change - and scrum leaves wiggle room for this.
Scrum tells you to create a backlog. This is a list of items that need to be completed in order to achieve your goal at the end of the sprint. The idea behind this is that it contains everything included in the project. From there, you decide what items have the biggest impact to your business - do these tasks first. Ask yourself, “which tasks are going to create the most value for my customers?” and “what are the projects I can do that will create the most revenue?”
Not everything on this list is supposed to get done. This list is simply for prioritization purposes. By looking at tasks in this way, you will deliver the most value to your customers right away.
3. Multi-tasking is Overrated
Your attention being scattered on a number of projects hurts your productivity dramatically. Try single-tasking. Work on one project a time. According to scrum, this product development cycle you use to complete projects is called a “sprint.” It’s a workload that usually takes one to four weeks to complete. Hone in on the project that fits inside the 80-20 rule. Don’t get bogged down by little tasks that aren’t going to generate meaningful results.
One way I began implementing this in my own life, is by turning off my email and only checking it four to five times each day. I didn’t realize how much time I was wasting by being distracted by (mostly) junk. This way, I can allocate a certain amount of time with my full attention to the project I’m working on.
4. Closely Connected Teams
Tasks get completed more efficiently by using small, tight-knit teams that work independently on prioritized projects. They have the right to work on everything that is within their project; in this way, they are cross functional. The team usually consists of five to nine members. It’s up to them to organize the work they do within their team. This means that they are essentially selecting their sprint goal (goals with the highest priority that are needed the soonest) and the tasks associated to accomplish this goal.
5. Better Work Happens In Happy Offices
“People aren’t happy because they’re successful, they’re successful because they’re happy.” Working in a good environment fosters better work. It’s been shown in a myriad of studies that people who are happy just simply do superior work. A happy office is one that is has purpose, prowess and autonomy. Those attributes keep people happy and aid in the company’s success. Scrum fosters this because, when a sprint is completed, it feels like a goal has been achieved. This makes employees feel great!
One cool aspect of scrum is the transparency it offers in the workplace. With everyday meetings first thing in the morning, everyone is involved and is aware of what’s going on inside every sprint. There isn’t any worry of a “secret agenda” if everything is out in the open. The feedback aspect in scrum meetings makes every member feel involved, and that their input is valuable - very important stuff for an employee’s happiness.
At Bluleadz, we've started using a number of these business management techniques. We now hold scrum-like meetings, just less frequently. Our Senior Inbound Marketing Consultants meet together once a week to discuss their projects. After this, they meet with the Web Designers and Copywriters to discuss what the next plan of action is for the day. We've also started using fast-paced sprints to complete long-term goals. Like the book suggests, we've created a board in our conference room that outlines the project and what stage it's in. The three stages are "To do," "In Progress" and "Done."
For scrum to prove effective for your business, you need to implement the concepts that work for your business. It’s been studied over and over again: if you put together these pieces of methodology, it will provide your business with optimum, extreme performance. It’s a new year... and that comes with exciting new ways your company can improve the way it does business. Check out what scrum can do for you in 2015!