Agile for Non-Engineering Teams

It was really a pretty large group we gathered for an introduction to Agile, and none of them were software developers. This was several years ago now at a major media company where I had been recently promoted to program manager. A senior scrum master was assisting me with the training portion for the archivists who were part of my newly-formed program group. They were going to be part of an Agile transformation that would range from them through the streaming partnership team and on to broadcast engineers. And, importantly, almost none of them had ever heard of Agile before. 

Some might wonder why we even bothered with an Agile transformation for such a group. The answer is that 1) we weren't forcing it on them, 2) we really believed it would help, and 3) the PMO was answering a call to help the entire organization become Agile, if possible. It turns out that Agile practices, Jira, and a bunch of librarians combines marvelously.

It was something of a wonder how well and quickly the archive group took to Agile, and Scrum in particular. I had a scrum master reporting to me who worked with them on a daily basis, helping them through a sprint zero and then into a regular cadence. He did an excellent job. In hindsight it makes sense that Agile worked so well for them. Librarians are people who organize information.

Working in Jira the three archive teams that formed the department were able to plan their work out of a single backlog, and they loved the transparency and collaboration. Every ceremony was useful to them, although they got so good at pre-planning that the actual planning session was more of a formality most of the time. It was in the daily scrums that they synced up and were able to offer to help one another, and the retrospectives amplified the voice of each team member in the operation of the team.

The lesson here is that we shouldn't limit agile to engineers. While they've all at least heard of it by now, and might have some experience with Agile or a shade thereof, other non-engineering groups that have no idea it exists can benefit as well. 

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