How SEEK has adopted Agile and the daily stand-up
SEEK began our transition to Agile development practices just over three years ago. Integrating an element of the Agile philosophy into any business, especially the human resources and recruitment function, allows you to be nimble, fostering a culture that enables you to better respond to your stakeholder and customer needs much sooner.
Management support, great people and coaching
With an objective of delivering products to market faster, SEEK had full management support to trial Agile methodologies on two online projects. The teams approached the change with a positive attitude and utilised ‘Agile coaches’ for support. It’s fair to say our trial project teams met their goals, enjoyed working in a more collaborative way and were satisfied to see their great work in production within a short timeframe.
Since then, we’ve recruited many high-calibre Agile practitioners, and also created our own Agile bootcamp training course. We have since enhanced the training to include numerous fun and interactive activities, and made it available to any SEEK staff member who is keen to learn more.
Empowerment (rather than strict process governance)
Implementing Agile at SEEK, we have not dictated one specific methodology out of the textbook, but instead empowered our teams to use the Agile practices that work best for them. SEEK’s delivery teams use a mixture of XP, SCRUM, Lean and Kanban practices with card walls, estimation methods, iteration lengths and ceremonies differing from team to team. This is a healthy approach that allows teams to get things done, reflect, and adjust their approaches as needed.
Here are some ways to get started with Agile:
Daily stand-up meetings are a must
Daily stand-up meetings are an important ritual for any serious Agile delivery team – they communicate progress, raise problems, promote a shared understanding and most importantly help to avoid surprises. In fact, stand-up meetings can be useful for any team working towards a common goal.
There are several variations of the daily stand-up meeting, although two methods are common:
- The team self-organises in a circle and each team member states what they worked on yesterday, what they will be working on today and if they have any roadblocks.
- The team self-organises next to the card wall, steps through each story/task in play, provides a brief update, and calls out roadblocks.
A combination of both approaches can be used to keep things fresh.
Making stand-up meetings effective
- Prepare – before the stand-up you should briefly prepare the points you are going to share with the team, keeping in mind the information must be relevant and useful to your colleagues.
- Listen – pay attention to what your team members are saying so you can discuss topics/issues with them directly after stand-up.
- Pass if you need to – if you don’t have any new information worth sharing, just pass.
- Raise problems – issues should be raised but not solved – acknowledge problems and discuss it with the relevant people straight after the stand-up.
- Be concise – keep your update to 30 seconds maximum.
Things to avoid
- Waiting for late-comers to arrive before starting the meeting.
- Team members interrupting each other.
- Providing too much detail about a particular topic.
- Trying to solve issues during the meeting.
- Directing your update at one person only (e.g. Project Manager) rather than the team.
- Too many people attending (aim for less than 10).
- Meeting area too small and/or not suitable for open communication.