Agile has forced us to change the way we think and work. This includes everything from how we behave and how we think about the work that we do. This iterative way of working has helped teams move quicker and more effectively.

So it’s no surprise that many teams are taking an agile approach to work.

However, one fundamental component of agile work is communication. While teams make strides towards agile work, communication is often de-prioritised and neglected.

So what happens if communication is neglected in agile teams? Here are some ways that teams working in agile can improve their communication.

What is agile?

When compared to traditional ways of working, an agile delivery approach is designed to be more adaptive and responsive to change. In an agile environment, team members work in short cycles, or “sprints.” Teams regularly align with each other to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This allows for greater flexibility and collaboration and ultimately leads to better results.

One of the care components of being successful in agile is effective communication. Yet it’s often the piece left behind.

Improving communication in an agile environment

As teams move to agile project management and delivery, it’s important to think about how the same principles can be applied to communication. When communication isn’t agile, it’s difficult for teams to meet the fundamental goals of flexibility and iteration. Relying on communication strategies implemented by traditional teams is no longer good enough. The styles are entirely different.

As a general rule, agile communication should be simplified and reduce the barriers to sharing information. There are several ways agile teams can rethink how they communicate.

Agile communication is frequent

In any project, clear and concise communication is critical in order to ensure that all team members are on the same page and working towards the same goal. Agile delivery relies on the philosophy that constantly adapting the workflow and being flexible is the best way to achieve results. This means teams should be communicating on a more frequent basis to ensure alignment.

This can be through regularly scheduled stand-ups and sprint reviews. Without frequent and regular communication, the fast-paced nature of agile work can easily lead to misunderstandings.

It’s transparent

Transparency is the only way everyone involved in a project can stay up to date on the latest developments. It helps stakeholders ensure their efforts are aligned with the overall objectives. Without it, the agile methodology breaks down.

Where agile delivery relies on adaptability, transparent communication can help to identify any problems early on. Well before they have a chance to derail the entire project. Feedback should also be shared candidly within teams so issues aren’t able to fester.

By ensuring that information is shared openly and promptly, agile teams can stay agile and adapt to changing circumstances quickly and efficiently.

It includes asynchronous communication

Meetings and direct communication aren’t ever going to go away. However, agile teams should be evaluating when it makes sense to work synchronously versus asynchronously.

Waiting to gather all stakeholders in a room can add an extra layer of complexity and cause unnecessary delays in the delivery process. Since asynchronous communication is not done in real-time, it ends up being faster.

In an agile environment, asynchronous communication doesn’t need to be complex, it can be as simple as email, chat messages, voice memos, or even post-it notes.

Asynchronous communication can often be beneficial for agile teams because it allows team members to communicate on their own time and schedule. It makes it possible to improve the frequency of communication. This improve transparency, without creating an additional burden.

It’s brief

It’s time to say goodbye to 40-slide presentation decks and long informational meetings. In the AMO way, communication is brief and simple for a number of reasons.

Agile is fast. The agile way of work requires that quick decisions be made. Brief communication means the key points get across, without getting bogged down in unnecessary details. This doesn’t mean that details shouldn’t be included, it should simply be easy to scan and summarise the most important information. For example, teams should be able to cover all progress and blockers in a 10–15-minute stand-up.

Agile communication should be clear and concise, to keep everyone on the same page by avoiding confusion and misunderstandings. When done right, it should be difficult to misinterpret communication in an agile environment.

The bottom line

Without effective communication, it’s impossible to be successful in an agile working environment. Agile requires that all stakeholders are on the same page at all times, despite the constantly changing requirements and priorities. By prioritising open communication, agile teams will find it easier to achieve their goals and objectives.

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