The new system was rolled out on May 1, 2020. Department-wide retros were held in August and December for feedback and adjustments.
Established a process for prioritization
I led a process of identifying all the stakeholders and working with executives to establish a process for prioritizing the work within that executive’s scope and across the organization at large. We began to even align with one another to identify priorities together for further focus and collaboration.
Began delivering work on time
By implementing Scrum, we established a cadence of delivering work. Only three cycles in, multiple teams expressed that they were finishing more work than they ever had before. And that was in the middle of a global pandemic!
By time-boxing the work a team selected, we not only increased focus but allowed for a healthier balance of workload with the team’s capacity. It allowed future work to not be on their plate or in their head until it was time to select it. This focus helped us to “stop starting and start finishing.”
Increased organizational transparency to current project status
I worked with others in the organization to migrate to a more established project management tool, Asana. We implemented the tool to provide transparency for stakeholders to see if their project was on track and even what we were working on in a given sprint. It also allowed leadership to have a high-level view of all the priorities and projects for the first time.
The biggest lesson learned came in the area of socializing ideas. Scrum can sound intimidating or rigid when first explained. If you start with a document describing the meetings, roles, and artifacts, people can feel overwhelmed and push back. Beginning in conversation, not written documentation, around the values and what we want to see change builds empathy and alignment. The more technical concepts can be sprinkled into these conversations where they fit. When you move to the more formal stage of defining what you’re going to do, the ideas aren’t all new, and the details feel more like a gift than a burden.
While I’ve practiced this at various times, much of this lesson was learned by counterexample. It’s easy when you have a good solution that you and others are excited about moving too quickly. But this can be problematic, especially in a large and hierarchical organization. In this case, by going slower, you can go further.