Agile in a broader perspective is an acronym for a mindset rather than a methodology. Agile is a mindset of rigorous collaborations, welcoming new ideas, redefining working norms, embracing change, increased customer-centric approaches, and most importantly, an effective way to optimize product life cycles. In a nutshell, agile is a paradigm of making complex things streamlined. Rigorous team meetings and co-located working spaces are an essential part of the agile implementation. But with the spread of COVID-19, agile has entered the regime of remote working. Owing to its attribute of embracing change and adapting to new technological horizons, agile has pretty much got fit into remote working. However, since adaptability always comes with the additional time cost, so same is the case with agile methodologies.
In this time, it is the responsibility of the agile leaders to buck up their teams. Agile leadership in virtual environments should facilitate their teams in the best possible manner so that they don’t feel disconnected in these troubling times. Starting from the quickly replicating in-person meetings with that of virtual meeting rooms to simplifying team problem solving and enabling fast-paced feedback and decision making, agile leaders have a lot to do in order to maintain the parent effectiveness and optimization of agile methodologies. To catch more insights about the role of agile leadership in virtual teams, let’s get to know about the key methods which shall give a beacon of light for agile leaders to continue with their agile journey.
Agile Leadership in Virtual Environments
In these special circumstances, special procedures are needed to cope up with the gross implications pertaining to leadership lag. In pursuit of maintaining the sheer advantages of agile methods, the following are the five key methods:
Creating a Safe Environment
Conventionally, it is discouraged to be failed at something. But when it comes to agile leadership in virtual teams, agile leaders should create a safe environment for their virtual teams where agile players can experiment. Giving teams the leverage to experiment shall enlighten them with the failures, and these failures shall provide them with a way to change their course of actions or brainstorming methodologies. Furthermore, given the implications pertaining to COVID-19, such a safe environment will allow teams to adapt more readily to these virtual ways of working. They shall experiment with new things and it is then the responsibility of the agile leader to create such a welcoming environment, where in case of any failures, teams shouldn’t be afraid of any adverse consequences.
One token of advice in this regard is to celebrate the failure of the week in parallel with celebrating success or achievement of the week. This shall allow agile teams to come up with new ideas with confidence and thus broadening their horizon.
Agile leadership in virtual environments is a lot more than video conferences or telemeetings. Instead, it seems more effective to make use of file-sharing mechanisms, chatting sessions, and most of all, using Kanban boards to collaborate. There are plenty of available collaboration tools that agile leaders can use as per their convenience as well as in conjunction with their particular setting or agenda. For instance, Slido can be used to gather questions, Mentimeter can be used to engage the audience, Nureva for the brainstorming sessions, Google suit to share files, and Zoom to host virtual meetings.
To make sure that these collaborative tools give desired results, agile leaders should put some etiquettes in place. Some of them include being punctual in the virtual meetings, muting mics when not talking, remaining focused, and turning on a webcam.
The efficacy of agile methodology is highly reliant on rigorous feedbacks. As agile allows organizations to develop strategies flexibly, it is mandatory to check the efficacy of such strategies. Take an example of a marketing company where agile leaders test different marketing campaigns over a short period of time rather than investing a lot of time and money in formulating a long-term marketing campaign with no or very few interim testing and feedback sessions. Such long-term plannings have a very sound chance to not meet the expected results, as their development phase wasn’t cross-checked and the rigorous feedback was not taken, thereby resulting in loss of finances as well as time in a long run.
One way to avoid such situations is to set a vision and strategy. After this, devise the program increments of six sprints, spanning over the timeframe of two weeks each. In each of these sprints, plot the high-level goals. Now whenever the respective sprints come up, divide the due tasks in a virtual Kanban board while visualizing the workflow. While the sprint progresses towards its end, document the achieved benefits and progress. Depending on the mutual understanding or business needs, share this document with the stakeholders so as to have their feedback. Based on the feedback, agile leadership in virtual teams can decide to either modify their strategy or may continue with the defined strategy to reach the end goal.
In this time of virtual meetings and remote working, personal engagements are not possible. This lag expects from the agile leaders to devise ways to deepen their intra-team relationships. The agile leadership in virtual environments needs to prevail a sense of being connected amongst various agile groups and teams. For doing so, one approach is to get into a video interaction and also allocate 30 mins for tea/coffee breaks. In these 30 mins, do not turn off the audio as well as video. Try to have an informal conversation with each other along with a cup of coffee/tea and snacks. This interactive session will make them feel as if they are having a conversation with each other in the office.
Adaptiveness is key to be a successful agile leader. In this time of virtual working, the need to have such adaptive behavior increases manifold. Agile leaders are required to have a keen eye on changing internal and external events. They need to have a subtle approach towards analyzing these dynamics from the perspective of their organizations. Such type of situational awareness leverages agile leaders to find a way to adapt agile methodologies with respect to these changes.
Virtual environments have changed plenty of organizational dynamics. From contextual situations to organizational structures, everything has been affected. In this lieu, this adaptive behavior may help agile leaders to strike a balance between innovation and efficiency.
Leading an agile team is a very privileged assignment, but nowadays it is not less than a challenge. The norm of remote working and being away from cross-team collaborations as well as meetings have resulted in a number of challenges for agile leadership. This is why these special circumstances are demanding special measures from agile leadership in virtual teams. The methods like collaboration, feedback mechanisms, informal discussions, adaptiveness, and giving space to the agile team members by providing a safe environment, are the five key ways by which agile leadership in virtual environments can be made effective. By following these five approaches, agile leaders can maintain the efficacy, persistence, and sternness of the agile methodologies, while complying with the virtual mode of business operations.
Find out more about agile leadership during the Corona crisis, by clicking here.
5 Ways to Demonstrate Agile Leadership in Virtual Environments
- Creating a Safe Environment
Giving teams the leverage to experiment shall enlighten them with the failures, and these failures shall provide them with a way to change their course of actions or brainstorming methodologies.
- Collaboration Tools
It seems most effective to make use of file-sharing mechanisms, chatting sessions, and most of all, using Kanban boards to collaborate.
- Continuous Feedback
The efficacy of agile methodology is highly reliant on rigorous feedbacks.
- Deeper Relationship
The agile leadership in virtual environments needs to prevail a sense of being connected amongst various agile groups and teams.
Adaptiveness is key to be a successful agile leader. In this time of virtual working, the need to have such adaptive behavior increases manifold.