Artists, designers, architects, politicians, urban planners, product developers, lawyers, teachers, trainers, producers, researchers, tv-makers, marketeers… How will Lean and Agile Project Management help you?
At Waypoint, we sometimes get hesitant feedback from creative folks:
- My work is unique.
- I’m in the creative industry.
- I have to work in free form.
- Every project is different.
- You can’t compare my work to that of a manufacturer.
- In our small team we can perfectly do without a method.
- We depend on a bunch of third parties and can’t co-ordinate all that.
Interesting enough, this is exactly what workers all over the world tend to initially object when first introduced to Lean: This is not the automotive industry, our industry is really different.
In a way they’re right. Every production process is different. And a creative process is obviously not a production process. Professionals and specialists who excel at their jobs, know what they do and how to do it. They may not need to formalize their process, because they have learned to do the right thing, intuitively. And they deliver. As long as they work as lone rangers or one-man-armies, they do well.
Problems arise as soon as individual professionals become part of a team. When every team player optimizes their own way of working, according to their own needs and interests, the team goal may be in jeopardy.
Because what’s best for the individual specialist, may not be best for the team result.
As an individual I may for instance prefer to do my production on a Thursday (writing copy, making a design, collecting data, testing results), while the team really needs it on Tuesday in order to do the design and to add the graphs on time. As a specialist I may prefer to complete my work according to my own criteria, yet the team and client may expect differently. As a professional freelancer, I may prefer to do everything myself (including the invoicing), but for the team it may be much better to split my work in tinier pieces which can be picked up sooner by a bunch of us.
So, as soon as liberal arts professionals start operating in a team, they need to co-ordinate their efforts. This co-ordination of effort is the price we pay for the help and support we get from others. The lower this price (the least effort it takes), the better it is. Because co-ordination effort is basically non-value-added.
This is where Lean and Agile Project Management comes in. It’s an extremely efficient way of co-ordinating our co-operation: Avoiding the need for chasing and expediting, eliminating emergency calls or emails, removing gatekeepers and communication managers for funnelling information.
Lean and Agile accomplishes this simply by setting up a straightforward communication structure, which consists of:
1) A two hour User Story Meeting at the start of the project, in order to make sure that the entire team is focussed on the project to be delivered, while all Team Members define and understand the stuff that needs to be done;
2) A two hour weekly Iteration Meeting to monitor progress and avoid unexpected workloads and stress towards the release date;
3) A ten minutes daily Standup Meeting (or Scrum) to funnel all mutual requests and to co-ordinate the work to be done on that day.
Yet to do so, requires all Team Members to be transparent about their work, and to share insight into the tasks they do with the rest of the Team. There’s no more hiding, there’s no more mistery on one’s specialist professionalism. So it requires Team Members to really think about their own work, to analyse what it actually is that they do and to write it down –and adjust it when proven wrong-.
The reward is an easily managed project delivered on or before time. And also, after a while, the possibility to share work among other colleagues – who may not be so specialized yet-. Finally, the reward is that as a team you get better at the work you do, you grow. And will be attracting more work to you. That’s a lot of rewards, also for a Liberal Arts Professional.